Colin White                                         Photography and Digital Imaging

 

Photography in the Cultural Heritage Sector

 

How to Photograph Paintings

When photographing an artists work of art it is important that the capture is optimized to ensure the integrity of the work whilst maximising the detail of the original. This can only be done by optimising the entire capture process.

To optimize the capture system the following criteria needs to be reviewed:

  • Ensure your optical system is optimised for the lighting system that is used. Not all lighting systems are the same and in general the more you pay the better the system. This doesn't mean a cheaper system cannot be used, just that a little more care maybe required to get the best results.
  • Ensure the signal to noise ratio of the system is set to give maximum detail. This usually just means setting the lowest ISO value on the camera.
  • Make sure the image colour space is suitable for the uses you want the files to be used for in the future. Most monitors are sRGB but the print industry like Adobe RGB. There are other spaces that could also be suitable and some that are much larger but you would need to decide whether these are suitable for you.
  • Capture the work at an identical tone to the original. This means if your original is dark and with little contrast the captured image reflects that. If for output purposes this doesn't reproduce well later then you can always tweak the image to your satisfaction although this would be best done in a separate layer of the image file to preserve the integrity of the original capture.