Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photographing Artwork

First off, let me just say that I am not a photographer. I have come to the place of photographing my own work out of frustration that those photographers that I have used and loved in the past have all retired! Well, that's not all of it. Actually, there is the cost issue and the immediacy issue too (as in having to have a photo of a piece right now). Also, I do think with digital cameras these days and Photoshop, it's easier than it used to be to shoot one's own work.

So I thought I would show my very humble method and set up.

I bought a graduated backdrop last year from B&H Photo, which I go back and forth between really liking and then not so much. I'm liking it again right now, especially since I have white ceramic heads on most pieces and dark copper bodies. The gradient holds both.

I also bought a digital camera last year that I love. A Fuji X10. I got it on Ebay used and it's worked great! My lighting system is daylight and only daylight as you can see from the studio photo above. I have a white translucent window shade (Ikea) that I pull down and a tripod. In the case of some of my wall hung pieces, like this one, I hang it off of two wires mounted to the ceiling. Then, if needed because the piece doesn't hang perfectly, I attach a string to the base of the art and pull it forward until it looks the way I want and attach the string to a weight on the floor to hold it.

Overcast days work best for lighting. Easy to find that here in the Pacific Northwest.

I shoot the photos in RAW format using the 'Automatic' camera setting and bring it into Photoshop CS6 on my iMac OSX. My shots done like this are almost always pretty awful looking when I first bring them into the computer. An example of awful below:


See, very blown out. But after I open it in Camera RAW on the computer, I start adjusting. First I adjust Exposure, then Contrast, then Saturation, then Vibrance, and then Clarity. I have to say that the magic adjustments for me are typically Exposure and Clarity. They save my behind.

"This Light of Mine"
Copper, ceramic, enamel, brass, mixed media.

Then I save the RAW image as a tiff and open it again in Photoshop to crop as needed, also erase my hanging wires and pull-string using the clone tool. Then I consider it done! 

I'm still wanting to buy a softbox for a light on a tripod and play with that, but haven't quite gotten there yet. Perhaps this year. It would also be nice to control my lighting on those little copper letters just a bit more too. So the journey is definitely ongoing...

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Morgan. Can't wait to see what else you create with your new heads!