Taking stills of artwork

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HDRognli69

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Taking stills of artwork

PostFri Nov 20, 2020 11:37 am

Hello,
I just got my BPCC6K and have already been contacted to do a job.
It is taking stills of the oil paintings of russian artist friend for portfolio purposes.
In her field she is one of the best in Russia,so I am a little bit stressed since I have little time to get to know
my new camera...

My question is:
What are the best settings to use on the BPCC6K when taking stills of artwork like this?
The shooting will have to be in her home.
There is a suitable wall with a somewhat gray color where we'll hang the paintings.
There are large windows letting in quite a lot of natural light from behind
(angle wise no direct sunlight)

Any thoughts are most welcome!
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Ellory Yu

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostFri Nov 20, 2020 10:39 pm

Havard, Don't get me wrong when I say wrong camera for the job. I know the BMPCC6K has the ability to take stills but the stills are really use for reference shots taken during a filming or videography. I suggest to find a still camera. Assuming you have EF lenses for your P6K, I suggest borrowing a Canon DSLR from a friend or a rental shop for the artwork job. I also suggest borrowing or having a light meter and some lights (with diffusion) handy. Good luck!
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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostFri Nov 20, 2020 11:48 pm

Hi Havard,

There is a lot of information on the internet about taking still photos of paintings. As Ellory says, you really need to use a still photography camera. Beyond that, the issues are choice of lens, lighting, including glare if the paintings are behind glass (if possible, glass should be removed), and colour accuracy.

If your friend wants to use the photos for her portfolio, she probably wants the colours in the photos to match the colours in the paintings, which means using an X-Rite ColorChecker or equivalent. Some articles about photographing paintings, and other subjects where colour accuracy is important, refer to a Gretag Macbeth Chart. X-Rite bought Gretag Macbeth and renamed the chart.
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSat Nov 21, 2020 3:14 am

I'll third the recommendations of others. You're bringing a knife to a gun fight. Get some sort of decent mirrorless or dslr camera and follow everything the other two have said. I've shot artwork with hotlights in softboxes to diffuse the light. It's doable, but not simple. Watch out for hotspots if there is glass in front of the artwork or color reflecting from the surface of the works themselves. I use a meter to take a reading across the surface of the artwork to make sure the light is even.
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dondidnod

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 12:33 am

I hate to spoil the party, but recording 12 bit DNG still images with the BMPCC 6K gives you a lot more control over the image in post than still cameras that are limited to 8 bit recording gives you. To get the most out of a better camera that records in 12 bit raw would require a lighting setup he said he was not going to use. That camera is extremely forgiving when shooting in poor light.

I'd bring a reflector to fill in any shadows and even out the light.

I got an A in three college photography courses using a BMPCC 4K and a lot of vintage lenses. I'd say that the images I was able to show in class looked better than 70% of what other students brought in.

I'd shoot in a native ISO (400 or 3200 on a BMPCC 4K) and watch the false color image for proper exposure. Use the film setting and get aggressive with the dehaze in Adobe Lightroom to bring out the colors.

Is this a paid job that will justify the cost of renting equipment, or is he doing this as a favor? Most Russian artists I know don't have much money.
Last edited by dondidnod on Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 1:11 am

dondidnod wrote:I hate to spoil the party, but ...

I got an A in three college photography courses using a BMPCC 4K and a lot of vintage lenses. I'd say that the images I was able to show in class looked better than 70% of what other students brought in.


Great. Let's see the colour-accurate portfolio of still life product images that serious companies have hired you to make.

Or would you explain to the painter that is paying for these photos that accurately representing her paintings is less important than your artistic vision and the "look" from your "vintage lenses"?
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 1:34 am

If we were talking about hanging museum prints or creating a print run, I’d not use the BMPCC4K or BMPCC6K. But these are photos for use only in a portfolio. For example they could be posted on a website which most artists now may have as a promotional means, not for sales of prints. The artist likely doesn’t want museum quality especially to deter theft.

I’d be comfortable shooting this portfolio with the following considerations:
use a steady tripod or similar mount
use a very small shutter angle to minimize any camera movement
use the longest focal length prime lens that can fit in the room and capture the work
try to use the sweet spot of the best lens such as T2.8-T4-T5.6
try to have neutral natural light and even light, bouncing the outdoor light off a wall may be fine or use very soft artificial light but even illumination is desired
shoot raw at highest resolution
deliver TIFF 16bit or equivalent images
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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 1:56 am

rick.lang wrote:If we were talking about hanging museum prints or creating a print run, I’d not use the BMPCC4K or BMPCC6K. But these are photos for use only in a portfolio. For example they could be posted on a website which most artists now may have as a promotional means, not for sales of prints. The artist likely doesn’t want museum quality especially to deter theft.

I’d be comfortable shooting this portfolio with the following considerations:
use a steady tripod or similar mount
use a very small shutter angle to minimize any camera movement
use the longest focal length prime lens that can fit in the room and capture the work
try to use the sweet spot of the best lens such as T2.8-T4-T5.6
try to have neutral natural light and even light, bouncing the outdoor light off a wall may be fine or use very soft artificial light but even illumination is desired
shoot raw at highest resolution
deliver TIFF 16bit or equivalent images


Having done this for a painter from your country who cares about how her work is represented, I wouldn't even consider what you are suggesting. I wouldn't do it as a simple matter of personal pride. Copy work of this kind is well understood. Since when has it become unclear about what's involved, and since when has using a video camera to do it become even remotely acceptable?

Beyond that, I have no idea where your recommendation for "the longest focal length that can fit" comes from. That statement is just mystifying. It is contrary to basic copy work practice.
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 2:28 am

robedge wrote:Beyond that, I have no idea where your recommendation for "the longest focal length that can fit" comes from. That statement is just mystifying. It is contrary to basic copy work practice.


Rob, no harm in suggesting using longer focal lengths, they generally have higher resolving power with less distortion. I'd take a 135mm over a 35mm lens for example. My pick for a "vintage" normal with high resolution and without distortion might be the Nikon Micro Nikkor 55mm 2.8 AIS.

If the OP sticks to the Pocket 6K, the DNGs should be pretty malleable in Photoshop Camera RAW and fine for web use as Rick suggested.

When working directly with artists I've found it helps to photograph the work under the conditions that the artist would be regularly seeing their work. Put a color chart next to the painting and crop it out later. Do they paint in natural light during the day? Do they paint at night with tungsten light? Then have a reasonably accurate laptop nearby to go over the color with the artist. They may have a bias for seeing the paintings in a particular warm or cool light.

If you can't afford lights, getting the artwork outside on a wall out of direct sunlight can often decrease the exposure time to minimize camera shake on a tripod. It also reduces glare and hot spots from positioning lights.
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 2:47 am

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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 2:49 am

Ryan Earl wrote:
robedge wrote:Beyond that, I have no idea where your recommendation for "the longest focal length that can fit" comes from. That statement is just mystifying. It is contrary to basic copy work practice.


Rob, no harm in suggesting using longer focal lengths, they generally have higher resolving power with less distortion. I'd take a 135mm over a 35mm lens for example. My pick for a "vintage" normal with high resolution and without distortion might be the Nikon Micro Nikkor 55mm 2.8 AIS.

If the OP sticks to the Pocket 6K, the DNGs should be pretty malleable in Photoshop Camera RAW and fine for web use as Rick suggested.

When working directly with artists I've found it helps to photograph the work under the conditions that the artist would be regularly seeing their work. Put a color chart next to the painting and crop it out later. Do they paint in natural light during the day? Do they paint at night with tungsten light? Then have a reasonably accurate laptop nearby to go over the color with the artist. They may have a bias for seeing the paintings in a particular warm or cool light.

If you can't afford lights, getting the artwork outside on a wall out of direct sunlight can often decrease the exposure time to minimize camera shake on a tripod. It also reduces glare and hot spots from positioning lights.


As far as I'm concerned, you're either doing a serious job of photographing the paintings or you're not. It is well understood how to to do it right. Anybody who has ever done copy work, or even used an enlarger with a negative, knows that telling someone to use "the longest focal prime lens that can fit in the room" demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what's involved.

I've done this kind of work with well-known artists and sculptors in Rick's country.* As I said in the post above, I wouldn't do what Rick and you are talking about as a matter of personal pride in my work, not to mention that I respect the artists that I've worked with enough that I'm not about to give them BS that a Blackmagic video camera will work just fine.

* If he wants to know who, he can send me a personal message and I'll tell him.
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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 3:24 am

Here's my personal view, which I would have thought is not controversial:

If you have respect for yourself or your client, don't tell your client that you intend to use a Blackmagic video camera to make serious photographs.
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Ryan Earl

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 4:00 am

robedge wrote:Here's my personal view, which I would have thought is not controversial:

If you have respect for yourself or your client, don't tell your client that you intend to use a Blackmagic video camera to make serious photographs.


I own a medium format digital camera and work reproducing artwork regularly, mostly paintings. I get your point, but you're qualifying it with a lot of hostility. At least that's the way I'm reading it. Even extremely high res digital sensors are often "not enough" for clients with well known works of art like museums and it often demands exotic rentals on my part.

What in your mind disqualifies the DNGs from the Pocket 6K? Have you made any comparisons? What in your mind is enough?
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robedge

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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 4:31 am

Ryan Earl wrote:I own a medium format digital camera and work reproducing artwork regularly, mostly paintings. ... Even extremely high res digital sensors are often "not enough" for clients with well known works of art like museums and it often demands exotic rentals on my part.


Let us know when you tell your clients, who are paying you for the photos, that you're going to use a Blackmagic video camera instead.

You're right. I am dismissive of the idea of asking an artist to pay me to use a Blackmagic video camera to make photographs of his or her art. Your characterisation that I'm hostile to the idea misses the point. I don't take the idea seriously enough to be hostile to it.

In the real world, outside of an idiotic discussion on a forum, it sounds like you don't take the proposition seriously either.

If I'm wrong, and you intend to start charging artists to make still photos of their work with your Blackmagic video camera ... hey, go for it. Sounds like it would save you quite a lot of money.
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 8:02 am

As a pro stills photographer my advice to the OP would be to kindly thank their friend for the offer of work but advise that such an important job is best given to a specialist artwork repo specialist. This will also likely save the friendship. It’s not about the camera.
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Re: Taking stills of artwork

PostSun Nov 22, 2020 11:25 am

With a good still camera you can use long exposure, just put a good prime lens on optimal f-stop for sharpens, low ISO and long exposure. No direct or hard light, and the end result should be pretty good with some experimenting. Use a good image editing SW to get the best of the RAW pictures. A good tri-pod and remote trigger are advised.
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