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The Painting Doctor

Specializing in the Restoration of Oil Paintings
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How to take digital photos of your painting
  1. Don't use a flash
    The flash on a camera will reflect off the surface of the painting and make white "hot spots" appear in a photo. Turn off your camera's flash and take the photo of the painting in a location where there is a lot of light, but the light is not pointed directly at the painting.

  2. Adequate lighting
    Natural sunlight provides very good lighting when photographing paintings. Try taking photos of your painting proped up near a window or outside. If this isn't possible bring the painting to a well lit room. I've found that covering a dining chair with a soft blanket makes a great stand for photographing the painting. You can also prop the painting against a piece of furniture or the wall. Tilt the painting slightly upward when taking the photo so it catches light from above and so that you are pointing the camera straight toward the painting.

  3. Camera settings
    The "auto" mode on your camera will usually yield good results if you provide adequate lighting, turn off the flash, and take the shot from at least 3 feet away from the painting.

  4. Framing the shot
    Stand about 3 to 10 feet away from the painting and use your camera's zoom to fit as much of the painting as you can within the shot. It's best if at least 1 shot contains the entire painting so you may need to zoom out if the painting is very wide or tall.

  5. Focus
    As long as you are not too close to the painting the auto focus on your camera should work satisfactorily. Most cameras cannot focus on images that are less than 3 feet away. Point your camera at the painting and hold down the shutter button half way. Most cameras focus when the shutter button is half-pressed.  When the image is in focus, fully depress the shutter button to take the photo.

  6. Close up shots
    It is useful to have close up shots of any significant damage to your painting. This includes holes, tears, and missing paint. To take close up shots of these areas first try zooming in to take the shots. If you are unable to get focused close up shots you may need to turn on "macro mode" for your camera. Often a flower symbol is used to indicate this mode on the camera. This mode enables the camera to focus when the camera is very near its subject.