Shooting glossy fine art works?

Started 5 months ago | Questions thread
Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Shooting glossy fine art works?

Ed Shapiro wrote:

In my commercial business, I do quite a bit of art reproduction, some of which is of glossy, highly reflective pieces or paintings coated with very glossy varnishes. The only method that I have found practical and easily repeatable is CROSS POLARIZATION, that is, 2 LIGHTS ARE PLACED, EACH AT 45 DEGREES TO THE ARTWORK AND ARE BOTH FITTED WITH POLARIZATION GELS. A CPL filter is employed on the lens. Rotating the filter will visually indicate when all the unwanted reflections are eliminated. It is bes to darken the room so the only the photography ligh sources are turned on. I wear black clothing or trigger the camer remotely to make certain that ligh will not reflect from me and show up in the image.

You can not strictly depend on angle of incidence manipulations because the camer needs to be exactly centered and parallel to the artwork and the lights can not be shifted to where the do not cover the piece evenly. In pieces where you want to record surface textures or relief, you can go to interprivie copying techniques by moving the lights to slight more that 45 degrees, skimming the surface or by the use of only one light. The polarizati will still hod to minimize or negate bad reflections.

Make exposure readings from each corner of the artwork to make sure the lighting is even. A reading from the center my show a slightly elevated reading but that is normal and will not be problematic. Bracket you exposures.

I use electronic flas with modeling lamps so I can assess the polarization effect.

The polarizing gels need to be oriented in the same direction. The are usually supplied in cardboard frames with appropriate markings. This system also works with pictures behind glass, and those printed or painted on high gloss plastics, some metals (where the metal is entirely printed or painted over) and super-gloss photographic papers and printing materials.

The attached screenshots show my basic setup. The two paintings were coated with numerous layer or Damar varnish- almost like mirrors in certin light- the older painting also and some burnished and cracked areas on the surface. The polarization cut through it all.

The old diagram shows a vew camera. The system works perfectly with a digital camera on a tripod. Just keep it centered, level, and parallel.

I hope this helps.

Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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PS- I am working out of town away from my studio. Theses images are stored in my phone or tablet, thus the quality is not the best. the originals were very high rez!

Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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