Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photographing Works of Art: Light

Guest Author: Carl Shortt, Jr.
Shortt leading a past ASK workshop. 
There are a number of reasons why an artist would want quality photographs of their works of art. Among them are: inventory record, post cards and invitations, web page and blog, and to use for contest or event entry purposes.

With just a little preparation and understanding of photographic processes, an artist can learn to take perfectly good photos of their work.

The purpose of this multi-part article is to talk about some of the key elements to consider in an artist’s quest to capture quality photos of their art pieces.

In my experience, most artists do not achieve their photographic goals because they didn’t understand some of the fundamental elements needed for success. What is needed? LIGHT but not just any light. Photography means "writing with light." Writing with light suggest that there are certain required light qualities. Light has a number of properties including quantity, color, direction, and quality.

Quantity of light isn’t really much of a factor with today’s digital cameras. For smaller scale art work, two clip light bases from the hardware store and two daylight balanced CFL [compact fluorescent light] bulbs are enough light to use in a darkened room. I mentioned darkened room because the CFL bulbs are really not all that bright when compared with sunlight or bright halogen bulbs that might be used in the same space. So, eliminate all of the “other” light you can. Next time I will discuss the other three light properties and show examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Shortt is leading the next Artist Survival Kit workshop, "Oh, Snap! Documenting Your Work in Photos," on February 5 at the Oklahoma City Community College Art Department. Prior to the workshop, time slots will be available for artists to sign up to have their work photographed. More details can be found here:  www.ArtistSurvivalKit.org

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