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Photographing artwork

You’ve finished your watercolour and now you want to show it off to the world – and it’s never been easier with all of the social media platforms we have at our disposal.

It’s not easy recreating your masterpiece of art in photographic form though, and in many cases the image can end up being a low quality reproduction of your artwork. Follow these top tips and your friends will soon be admiring your work on Facebook…

Posted on: Fri 21 Sep, 2012 by Gary Dean

Shooting angle

Firstly consider the angle to shoot from. Many choose to represent their creation by photographing their subject in a flat head form. This is the most traditional style of shooting artwork and is often the easiest, giving little distortion of the artwork. You’ll usually want to be exact with your recreation, giving as lifelike a feel of what you have recently painted as possible.


Start by hanging your art. By doing this, you are giving yourself a better chance of photographing your subject perfectly and avoiding the complicated process of angling your camera to make a propped up painting appear in shot properly.


Framing the piece correctly will require some experimentation with distance, so the best advice is to take a few practice shots from various places before deciding on the correct one.


Experimenting with different angles means that you can achieve some unique results. Practise taking shots of your artwork from the bottom up: this will give a distinct impression in your photography.


Light source

You will need to take into account the source of your lighting. Your image wants to appear vibrant and represent a true picture of what your artwork is all about. In particular, watch out for reflections highlighting certain areas. Having a glaring white patch on your final shot will not do your artwork any justice and will more than likely distract from your work.


By all means, use any available natural source of light you have to hand. Again, it might again be worth taking a few practice shots before committing to the main event.


Depth of field

If you want to be more creative with your photography then you could consider altering your depth of field setting – or aperture.


Depth of field, in simple terms, is the amount of distance between the nearest and furthest objects that appear sharply in focus in the shot. By altering your depth of field (your aperture setting) you can achieve some fantastic results. The wider your depth of field, the more of the shot becomes sharply focused. Many though will be happy to leave the auto focus on.


White balance

It is also worthwhile to check the white balance. This is nothing more than an adjustment on your camera to achieve the desired colours in your shot – it makes sure that whites appear white in your photo. Some feel that by having auto white balance on you end up with shots that are too blue, particularly when the photo is taken indoors.


Check your camera manual to determine the settings that adjust your white balance and then, once you’ve found the menu item, you can simply select the option that displays your artwork best. For example, if you are getting a cool shot indoors, try changing to the cloudy white balance setting for a warmer image. Once you have found a suitable white balance that looks good in the LCD display, leave it at this setting until the light changes. Getting this right initially might seem tricky but as always, keep practising for perfect results!

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