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Author Topic: Fine Art Photography - Needing advice on lighting system  (Read 6197 times)
LKaven
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« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2012, 03:01:07 PM »
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If you're going to do this professionally or for a long time, it is worth having good strobes.  But two inexpensive strobes with power levels matched will produce a consistent color temperature.  I've done quite a few paintings with just two Flashpoint 150W/s strobes, angled in at 45 degrees, with polarizing gels.  I can shoot at f/8 or f/11 sometimes depending upon the distance of the lights.  And this was at half power.

You'll want to have a color reference card, like a QPcard for profiling.  There can be some color shift with polarizers.  But they do a really great job of making the reproduction look like the original by taking out the glare.  Works especially well on a textured canvas.  Be sure to kill the ambient lights and modeling lights before tripping the shutter.

And yes, the 60mm/2.8 AF-s micro Nikkor is great for this work.  It has almost zero distortion.
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2012, 09:34:05 PM »
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I am new to strobes - just not sure what brand and model to target (I mentioned Interfit to John).

I wish I could help but I've no idea what brands are sold down under.

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I guess you would call that a 'rake light'  - no?
So you are saying three strobe lights - 2 at 45 degrees
- and another (at a tweaked power level) and at a tighter angle
- would this require a modifier - ie vertical strip or slit
-seems you would run into issues of being hot on one side?

How large are your canvasses and how large of an area do you have to work in?

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Another question that comes to mind is the new fluorescent lights out there

Kino-Flo for best CRI & output, but you'll need to buy rolls of polarizer filter to cover the light source. Another issue is getting a good, even spread over the art. If the fixture is too small, there will be uneven light.
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K.C.
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« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2012, 05:54:34 AM »
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Well as you're discovering there are endless opinions. Many of them worth exactly what you paid for them.

My comment continues to prove true.

Tota's do get hot and they do need to be flagged. I guess they've sold a million of them for the good things they do, not the negative point others are making.

I have Profoto Pro 6s and 7s, Acute1200R packs with Acute heads and D1Air 500s. As well as Elinchrom, Balcar and Comet systems. They all have their strengths. So when I reach for the Totas despite owning some of the best flash gear on the market there must be a good reason.

As I've said many times, use what suits you. But there are some tools that are standards for a very good reason.
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LKaven
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« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2012, 01:45:24 PM »
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So when I reach for the Totas despite owning some of the best flash gear on the market there must be a good reason.

Curious what those reasons are.  Is the added blue channel gain under tungsten lighting not an issue in your view?
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K.C.
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« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2012, 09:58:40 PM »
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Curious what those reasons are.  Is the added blue channel gain under tungsten lighting not an issue in your view?

I profile the camera with each setup so I'm correcting for even small room influences and any variation in the coating on the different macro lenses used so color is not an issue. When I shot 4X5 there was a slight difference between the Nikkor AM ED 120 and 210 but I corrected back then using a minolta color meter initially and then balanced in PS based on tests printed and the profiles I'd saved.

If specularity issues present themselves I can see most of them in the camera before even taking a first test shot. After importing the DNG into LR to use as a profile I can examine every small detail and correct anything I or the artist/gallery owner find.

Pretty straight forward and faster than reviewing images taken with flash.
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Deardorff
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« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2013, 09:29:57 AM »
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Go with the Lowel hot lights and cross polarization.

It works well and has for a long time. Most fine galleries and museums who do a lot of copy work use them.


Dependable, repeatable and easy to use. Is there is a problem it is easy to replace.

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Transformer
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« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2013, 02:13:06 PM »
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I have been painting for as long as you have been photographing and texture is an issue for me...


I am an artist and a photographer. Like you, I would hate for the texture in my paintings to look 'flat'.

My approach for water colours, oils and acrylics would be to have one mighty flash illuminate the artwork from the top-left or top-right as far from the artwork as you can manage. This will provide even illumination with natural-looking shadows to form the texture. The flash could be either diffused or direct, in which case, a very large white reflector would almost certainly be required on the opposite side of the flash light source. Control the fill with the reflector to produce the degree of texture that pleases YOU (the artist!).

On your camera, step down your aperture two or three stops smaller than its widest opening, use a tripod, lock the mirror up, and use a remote trigger/cable (or the camera self-timer) to eliminate vibrations. I have never used polariser gels on my flash - I suppose it wouldn't hurt - but would definitely use a 'quality' polarising filter on your Nikon lens. It's unlikely all reflections will disappear but not to worry because this adds to the perception of texture. Include a shot with a Gretag Macbeth colour chart (they have the best neutral grey reference, period).

Processing. I calibrate my monitor to a white point of 6500K. Alongside my monitor, I have a Solux 4700K lamp (with a black back) directed at the artwork for colour reference. In Photoshop or Lightroom, I will 'sample' the third lightest grey patch on the Gretag Macbeth colour chart image to reduce any colour casts - this is the grey point. From there, tweak the colour balance to your taste. Leave the room, take the dog for a walk, come back to the screen and evaluate the colour balance once more - your initial 2-second impression will be correct as our eyes adapt to colour very quickly. Tweak the colour balance some more if necessary. Repeat the exercise the following day.

Shoot in raw, edit in Adobe RGB (1998) or better (with the intended profile activated) and convert to sRGB/CMYK JPEG if necessary after all editing is complete.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 02:32:00 PM by Transformer » Logged
Transformer
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2013, 02:42:18 PM »
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Regarding your light source, natural diffuse daylight is good, flash is is also good as is tungsten. I would avoid LEDs or fluros unless the manufacturer can supply spectrum charts that show that their product produces no obscene colour spikes regardless of whether the lights are marketed as 'daylight'. My advice, stick with flash ... it's cheap, consistent, reliable, cool and portable. Nothing wrong with a powerful off-camera speedlight or a $500 studio flash for digital photography.
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jsw_nz
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« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2013, 02:26:29 AM »
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Hi Transformer

Thanks for the response - especially regarding capturing of texture - there is a photographer (Randy Hufford) that sells a DVD on photoshop cafe that swears by the same principle - namely rake lighting to capture texture - in his case he used massive banks of vertical fluorescents (which he also markets) - and will often move them around to tweak the light (they're mounted on wheeled platform) - its very much a hands on - experimental approach - something he has been doing for years. Well anyway - I latched onto the DVD and was glad I did - he mentions a special application by Robin Myers called Equalight 3 that can be used in a given photshoot - basically 'evening out' any non-uniformity in lighting conditions. Its not a licence to bypass the goal of balanced light on a given two dimensional artwork scenario - but rather a way to minimize if not completely eliminate drop off (both from lens and lighting).

On another note is the issue of 6500K vs 5000K is an interesting one. Chris Murphy - one of the authors of RealWorld Color Management suggest that if you can manage to control light levels - to affectively achieve a digital darkroom - he suggests a monitor set to 5000K rather than the standard 6500K - I am guessing I will be going down that route - right now painting up a room with a neutral grey to achieve such a setup - and yes - I have learned from others here on the forums - the highly recommended Solux 4700K Black Back bulb - in my case I ordered the color proofing kit (4 bulbs) - not sure - but thinking it might spit out a 'little too much light' (what's your experience?) -guessing I will need to experiment with it.

On a lighting scheme - I am pursuing the use of Solux 4700K (50W x 16) bulbs for image capture as well. Robin Myers - who was with Better-Light in the early days admitted that they had looked into this scenario - at least in the case of smaller to medium sized artwork - so his admission perked my interest - he developed another application - SpectraShop that allows you to measure spectral curve in such a setup - so exploring this. Solux are not perfect mind you - they do have a warm fringe - so planning to use a set of their plano convex diffusion filters on them - and test. My backup scenario will be strip lighting with strobes - looking at Aurora brand - but so hard to find a seller in these parts in New Zealand  and not sure if the recommendation is based on brand affiliation (coming from the studio coach website).

Anyway thanks to all for the thread - still learning my way around this.
cheers :-)

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BobDavid
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« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2013, 08:02:04 AM »
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A couple of Elinchrom Digital RX1200s + cross polarization. Perfect!
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K.C.
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« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2013, 08:47:00 PM »
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A couple of Elinchrom Digital RX1200s + cross polarization. Perfect!

Yup. Pretty much any pair of lights that are consistent in color balance and output from shot to shot. Cross polarize and you're there.

Anything beyond that, simply not needed.
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jsw_nz
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« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2013, 01:26:39 PM »
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I think the discussion reveals a lot of different approaches and I think at the end of the day - this should be appreciated. To say that one size fits all - misses the point - since each situation presented by a unique artwork presents a number of variables into the mix. David Saffir, in his SpyderColor video (link found earlier in this thread) - uses continuous lighting provided by North Light HID Copy Stands. Robin Myers, who was with Better Light in the early days - when they were developing their system - admitted to me in an email that for a majority of their work - they also used North Light HID Copy Stands and in cases where artwork was small - Solux lighting was sometimes used. This was part of their strategy to counteract uneven spectral distributions where spikes (also mentioned earlier in this thread) - made capturing tough colors such as cobalt blue, quinacridone magenta and indigo a concern when trying to reproduce in various media. So my experimental approach using Solux is not unfounded. Appreciate all who have contributed to this thread - so I guess its a perfect time to agree to disagree.
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BobDavid
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« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2013, 02:36:42 PM »
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Workflow is another key element in fine art repro. It is important to get a good capture. I have been using strobes and cross polarization for thirty years. Back in the days of film, it was much trickier--practically impossible to make a "true-color" reproduction, especially when you factored in the limitations of offset lithography.

The digital age has made it possible to come within a few percentage points of accurately recording and reproducing most flat artwork.

In the days of film, I used hot lights. Bardwell & McAllister made wonderful lights for continuous and ultra even illumination across the picture plain. They are still around and I believe that light is still available.

Fortunately, the digital age changed everything for the better. About seven years ago, I began using a multi-shot camera with custom profiles, a high-end monitor, Photoshop, and large format printers.  High-quality strobe lights offered much more precision (especially with multi-shot photography) and a lot more flexibility. I also liked not exposing original artwork to hot lights. Come to think of it, I didn't like being subjected to the heat either.

Sure, you can measure any light source with a color meter and find the peaks and valleys of color output across the visual light spectrum. But there are so many steps along the way after the initial capture that are available to compensate for irregularities.

Learning how to exploit Pro Photo RGB, LAB, CMYK, and understanding additive color versus subractive color make all the difference in the world in terms of being able to efficiently reproduce artwork.  

In other words, lighting is just one aspect, albeit important, in the chain of reproducing accurate hue, saturation, and tonality in the final product.

And by the way, Better Light scanning backs are excellent--they require continuous light sources. Robin Myers knows his stuff for sure.  I opted to go with a multi-shot solution because as a platform it enabled me to use single shot in the studio to capture living things--like dogs and humans.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 02:44:22 PM by BobDavid » Logged
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