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How to take digital photographs for the exhibition web pages

This information has been compiled from experience working with creating digital images for web sites by Eric S. Clarke

After much testing and trying alternatives, the following information is most suitable for home photographers lacking expensive lighting and complex equipment.


A digital camera 3 megapixel (Mpix) or (MP) or better

Two gooseneck fluorescent lamps with 15W or brighter tubes (cool white) fitted.

A tripod with pivotable head assembly (only if you don’t have a steady hand).

Most importantly, this process must be performed in a totally darkened room.

Typical gooseneck lamp, neck fully extended showing tube.

Gooseneck lamp 20140516-171942P6 sm

Firstly, clear a suitable area of flooring to set up your painting and the two lamps. As the images below show, position the two lamps either side of the painting, pointing their heads towards the middle of the picture.

To get uniform light over the entire painting, try to keep the lamp heads parallel to the side of the picture frame. Image No 6 below displaying a reflection of the tubes shows what I mean by parallel to the frame

Two lamps 02 20140516-164656P1 sm

Typical gooseneck lamp, neck bent to suitable angle.

Gooseneck lamp 20140516-172031P7 sm
Two lamps 20140516-164624P0 sm

The secret to this method is to position the lamps as close as possible to the artwork without seeing the lamp tubes as a reflection when viewing from above. See image No 6 for an example of the lamps being too close. Just move each one away bit by bit until you cannot see the tubes.

If your work is not under glass, put a piece of glass on it to see the reflections. Even oils will show a bright spot if this is not adjusted correctly. As you can see from the photo drawing below, the red lines show the light leaving the lamp and reflecting off the glass at 90 degrees. With the camera positioned directly over the centre of the painting, it will only see the well lit picture and not the lamps.

Camera cannot see reflected light 20140516-164656P1 sm
Fluro lights too close to picture 20140516-164837P4 sm

Image No 6 showing a badly positioned set of lamps. Both lamps need to be moved away from the artwork.

Taking the photo 20140516-165442P5 sm

This image shows the photographer positioned over the centre of the painting ready to take the picture. Use the zoom enough to lower the incidence of barrel distortion caused by a wide angle setting on the camera. Make sure the squareness of the painting sits squarely in the viewfinder/image display. Also watch out for trapezoid distortion when the camera is not parallel to the face of the painting.

Most importantly, this process must be performed in a totally darkened room. Therefore, best at night with only the two fluro lamps for lighting. Any incident light source will show the photographer in the glass as a reflection

Trapezoid distortion caused by the camera not being level.

Many people have trouble with their artwork looking like it swelled up (also known as barrel distortion). That’s an issue with the camera lens.

The solution is to use the “zoom” on your camera, and then back further away from your art. This will create a more natural amount of depth to the photo and keep those edges from bulging outward.

Kapunda Community Gallery Inc. - This web site designed & updated by Eric S. Clarke 11/12/2018 (10:50pm) KCG Inc. © 2006 - 2018 All Rights Reserved