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Author Topic: Teaching Artists How to Photographer their Work - Advice Needed  (Read 3396 times)
BradSmith
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« on: April 16, 2014, 04:57:19 PM »
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I've been asked to give a lecture/demonstration with handouts to a 25 person group of skilled amateur painters on how they can photograph their work for various purposes up to, but probably not including "fine art prints" of their work.  I know what they "should" be doing and have shared the write-up with a couple of them in advance.  They've asked that I include recommendations about what specific cameras and software should they get.  I've stated no cell phones or tablets,.  I'm suggesting using a dslr and RAW, and I'm recommending Lightroom. I want them to be able to white balance against a gray card, crop, rotate and adjust contrast and saturation.  However, I recognize that a lot of them won't want to spend that much $.  What specific less expensive cameras (point and shoots??) and software would you suggest I include as possibles? 

Thanks
Brad
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tom b
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2014, 07:25:45 PM »
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Adobe Photoshop Elements at around $100 is highly suitable for the job. It supports camera raw and Auto Color Correction is probably good enough for most of the artists needs. The other thing that is important is the ability to correct distortion.

Cheers,

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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2014, 08:14:12 PM »
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Best, easiest lighting I've found for this task is a cloudy day.
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rpsphoto
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2014, 09:22:30 PM »
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Talk to them about a calibrated workflow for post production.
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BradSmith
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 01:14:28 AM »
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Thanks for the suggestion of Elements.  I hadn't been familiar with its capabilities.  I agree that the simplest lighting method is outside on an overcast day and is what I'm going to recommend.  I'm afraid a color managed workflow is beyond this group's interest or ability, although I will mention it when I discuss the "ultimate" way of doing this.

Any idea about what non-DSLR camera(s) I should recommend?
Brad
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brianrybolt
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 02:54:58 AM »
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I've been shooting with mirror less cameras for awhile now with excellent results.  Eg., Fuji EX-1.

I would include a grey card in the first shot of a series or with each shot if there is the room in the frame for it.

Brian
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framah
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 01:05:36 PM »
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How about having them NOT try to shoot large paintings in one frame!!

Have them shoot in sections with 20% overlap and then merge into one large file. Way less lens distortion and a larger file size to print from.

Lighting HAS to be even over the whole piece. Merging sections will show differences in lighting.

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BradSmith
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2014, 12:02:50 AM »
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Framah
I gave a "trial run" to one of them today, and she asked what an f stop is.  These people want to use their cell phones for this.  No, I don't think stitching is viable for them. 
Brad
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LKaven
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2014, 07:10:34 PM »
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We've been discussing this for the last couple of months in a nearby thread here:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=87426.0

While your artists might or might not have the equipment to do it, a rundown of the technique is invaluable.
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framah
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 12:47:56 PM »
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Without f stops, the little f's would run wild all over the place. That's why f stops were created.
Sorry to hear you're teaching  to the completely ignorant.

Better to convince them that they should spend  their time  painting and let photographers photograph.
I have that problem with artists who want to frame their own work.. which usually ends up looking like carp!!

Convince them that if it is done RIGHT, it will sell for more.
Or as we say, garbage in, garbage out.

Good luck!
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"It took a  lifetime of suffering and personal sacrifice to develop my keen aesthetic sense."
brianrybolt
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 01:19:00 PM »
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I disagree with Framah.

Let them photograph their own work but I would let them know that the level of their photography will most likely only be good enough to produce documents of what they are up to and not good enough for reproduction or use in a portfolio that they would want to show to galleries or graduate art degree courses.

Good luck,
Brian
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Michael N. Meyer
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2014, 08:49:31 AM »
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Most artists' needs are fairly modest. Suggesting calibrated workflows, stitching or other $$$ or time intensive processes is not going to help them. Those whose needs require those things tend to have budgets to hire a photographer.

An entry level DSLR from any of the manufacturers plus a normal lens and a decent tripod is what I would probably recommend someone purchase to do this kind of work on their own. That means a $500 investment at least. Even a point and shoot that will do this moderately well will enter that price point. A last generation m4/3s with a Sigma 30mm and a decent tripod would be pretty cheap and a good solution for doing reasonably good copywork.

One other note: you might want to touch on maximizing the quality if they do use a phone or tablet. First, many of them are probably already doing this. Second, for social media or blogging purposes the image quality will be good enough and probably more appropriate. I'll probably get flack for that suggestion, but so be it.
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BradSmith
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2014, 10:49:35 AM »
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Michael,
Thanks for the input.  I'm going to do a comparison for my own reference using my dslr, a point and shoot and my ipad.  I realize that the dslr will be best, but before I totally badmouth the other options to them, I think I should see with my own eyes and apppropriate processing.  I'm guessing that with proper technique, they may be closer than I would have expected.
Brad
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brianrybolt
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2014, 10:54:50 AM »
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I assume you are going to show your students the results.
Brian
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2014, 12:04:11 PM »
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Much of what they need seems to depend on what they are trying to accomplish. For instance, someone who needs photos of their work to submit to an art show jury probably needs a 1920 pixel wide sRGB JPEG file with reasonably accurate color. Including a gray or white card beside the artwork and later cropping it out can go a long way there. Most distortion can be eliminated by simply getting the lens axis truly perpendicular to the plane of print. Given all of that it seems a decent "point and shoot" camera in the few hundred dollar price range could work pretty well. More lofty requirements mean more lofty equipment, software, and prices. Just my 2 cents...
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2014, 07:38:29 PM »
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Quote
Let them photograph their own work but I would let them know that the level of their photography will most likely only be good enough to produce documents of what they are up to and not good enough for reproduction.

I agree. As to the required equipment, a second-hand, older generation 8-10MP dSLR even with a lowly kit lens will do a very satisfactory job, and can be obtained for under $200.   
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