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How to photograph a picture for the printing of art

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One of the key points for printing lithographs of art is starting from a file of good resolution and for this you need to rely on an expert in photos art that know how to photograph a picture and transfer the artwork to a digital file.

To have a basic knowledge and explain how to photograph a picture, we asked a professional of the photos art what must be the main elements to get a good print result. Ciro Antinozzi is a professional photographer since 1984, specialized in the field, who has provided us with very useful tips on how to get a perfect file for the printing of art.

The first step is to ask yourself this simple question: what is the purpose of this photo?

The photograph of the painting can be used for printing the lithograph or even for the documentation of the painting. In the second case it must perform a simple informative function or “this is the work we are talking about”, where the painting is reproduced only to document its existence and make it known to others.

In this case it is sufficient to bring the work in an illuminated area in a fairly homogeneous way and avoid flashes that could complicate the rendering with unwanted reflections and flashes.

To create a print file, instead, a professional method is implemented that requires some extra photographic knowledge and minimal equipment such as a camera complete with a lens for reproductions.

The camera can also be a normal digital SLR with a large number of megapixels just to make prints of equal size to the original or larger. As for the optics, however, we need a suitable size that must be between 70mm and 120mm focal length. The brightness is not important in this case because a tripod must be used and therefore any exposure compensation should be changed when the time ring is changed. The optics used should, preferably, be apochromatic to avoid having the most coincident chromatic focusing planes. Obviously, “important” lenses like Carl Zeiss, Rodenstock and Shneider make it easy to achieve reliable and quality results.

A good tripod (heavy) concludes the necessary to take the picture of our picture.

The camera must be placed perpendicular to the frame, to avoid that the sides of it are not perfectly parallel to each other.

Up to this point we have considered only the basics to know how to photograph a picture, but we can improve photography by taking care of the lights and the instruments of control.

A professional with experience in reproducing artworks certainly recommends using four lamps on stands (supports) to be placed on the sides of the work, with an angle of about 35-45 degrees from the plane of the painting and at a corresponding distance of at least the length of the diagonal of the panel from the side closest to the lamps.

At this stage, the utmost care is needed to distribute the light homogeneously along the entire surface of the panel and, in this regard, an exposure meter should be used, a luminous intensity measuring device which, according to the arrangement of the lamps, must (in incident light) the same value at the four corners of the picture and at the center of it. The diaphragm to be used should be around f. 11 – f. 16 with the corresponding exposure time indicated by the exposure meter.

The quality of the light, especially for the color works, must be homogeneous, so it must come from the same lamps with color temperature located in an environment totally obscured to prevent parasitic or unwanted light.

For the photography of works of art, the experience is fundamental and if you want to avoid disappointment and, above all, waste of time and money in expensive equipment, you should contact a good professional who can contribute to the perfect success of the proposed work .

Written by Magister