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SOME IDEAS TO HELP TAKE A PHOTO OF AN ARTWORK (FOR JURYING, ETC)

This Blog does not apply to those preparing photographs to be sent for Jurying, and reviews. However, as photographers we often get asked to help 2D Artists prepare their jpegs. These ideas might help:


In short, both the artwork and the camera will need to be EXACTLY opposite each

other in height and sideways placements. And both the artwork and the camera need

to be perfectly vertical in two directions: (no tilt fore or to the rear of the artwork;

and no tilt (rotation) of either one in both clockwise and counter-clockwise alignments..)

Set up your lights, preferably at 45 degree angles to each side. Photo above, and at the

same height, centered on the mid-point in the vertical dimension of the artwork. Take

a “Custom White Balance” reading from your Grey Card and set the Camera’s White

Balance to Custom.

You will need the tools as shown in Photos above. Tape measure, small level, camera bubble

level, shutter release device, a White/Grey Card to get the White Balance reading, some

Blue Tape, an Easel that will hold the artwork in vertical alignment; and of course a

camera and tripod and ball head.

After placing the artwork in the easel and aligning it in a vertical plane and level from

left to right (Photos above), measure up from the floor to the mid-point of the artwork.

Then move on to your tripod/camera. Set it so that the lens is perfectly aligned to

point at the mid-point of the artwork. This will mean measuring from the floor to

the same distance as determined when measuring to the mid-point of the artwork. The

camera/tripod will need to be moved left or right to get the lens pointing directly

to and in front of the artwork mid-point. If you don’t do these alignment steps correctly

you will not have a satisfactory photo image. (It may be a parallelogram, a trapezoid,

or “off kilter".)


Adjust your focal length (zoom) or move the tripod (if a prime lens) so that there

is a wide margin of a neutral color to the sides and top and bottom of the

artwork. This can be helpful if you were not successful in perfectly aligning

the camera and the artwork. See photo above. (the brown background is cardboard

from boxes, but a neutral matte or foamcore works well.)

Before taking any photos of the artwork, place your White/Grey Card in front

of the artwork so that it will be included in the frame. Take a White Balance

reading off of the Grey Card in the lighting that will be used when taking the

photo. (Turn off all of the lights in the room except your floods/strobes/etc.,

and close the door to the outside and shut the window blinds. i.e., The only

lights to be on are the floods/etc.) (See photo above for a typical set-up.)


Take several images, adjusting the exposure compensation a third of a stop

for subsequent images. I find Center Weighted meter reading works best because

it is not as limited as Spot Metering and Matrix (or full) Metering includes your

neutral surround.


When finished taking the photos, remove the Memory Card and place it in your

photo editor (PS, PSE, etc.) Review and select the best one. If you have done

a good alignment job, and if your camera’s auto focus works, work the best one

by first setting your White and Grey Points using Levels and the Eyedroppers

fetching readings from the White Card and Grey Card you included in your

image. Crop and Size, etc. Finish off as per normal.

This can be done with a SmartPhone, but best if you also use a tripod. One

is shown in Photo above. The alignment is still the critical factor and let the

camera do its function of taking the picture.

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