Re: How to photograph an oil painting

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by nospam, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. nospam

    nospam Guest

    In article <>, Jennifer
    Murphy <> wrote:

    > This image is just the portrait, no border, but it's only 9.7 x 8.1 at
    > 300 DPI. I have to set the DPI down to about 120 x 120 to get a print
    > size close to 24 x 20.


    ideally you want 300 ppi (not dpi) but that's not always possible, and
    for a print of that size, 300 ppi isn't that important anyway. it's not
    like people are going to look at it from a few inches away.

    try printing a section on an 8.5x11" piece of paper (similar to the
    final paper you want to use) at 120 ppi and see how it looks. remember
    to look at it from a typical distance for a 20x24 print, not for an
    8x10, and also in similar lighting where it will be displayed.

    > The JPG file is only 4.4 MB. It's properties are:

    ...snip..
    > To my eye on the screen, it looks identical to the PSD file, which is 20
    > times larger.


    that's the magic of jpeg. however, you should work with the psd file as
    much as possible. if you have to send someone a jpeg, then export it as
    the highest quality jpeg.

    > Now I think we need to reshoot the painting at a higher resolution. The
    > printer that will be making the print wants an image that is 300 DPI at
    > whatever size the print is to be. It seems to me that the resolution of
    > the images we have are at least 50% too low. Right?


    ideally, 300 ppi is what you want for 'tack sharp', but 20x24 prints
    are viewed from a distance so it doesn't have to be that high.

    for 20x24 @ 300 ppi, you'd need about 43 megapixels, which is more than
    any 35mm slr currently has, although the nikon d800 at 36 mp is close
    enough (~245 ppi). still, it's overkill.

    > I called the local camera store. They will rent me a Nikon D80 (I think
    > that was the model number) with the right lens for about $180 for the
    > weekend. That's not too bad, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it
    > work. I'd hate to spend $180 and still not get a good photo.


    the nikon d80 has 10 megapixels, versus 12 mp that your friend has, so
    it would actually be slightly worse, unless you can avoid cropping, and
    even then, the difference won't be significant and certainly not worth
    $180.

    consider renting the nikon d800, but that will likely be a *lot* more
    than you want to spend.

    in any event, what you have is probably just fine.

    what's the intended purpose of the photo? is it for camera geeks who
    will analyze it for any technical flaw or is it for art lovers who will
    admire a photograph of the original painting?
    nospam, Apr 2, 2013
    #1
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  2. nospam

    nospam Guest

    In article <>, Jennifer
    Murphy <> wrote:

    > >> This image is just the portrait, no border, but it's only 9.7 x 8.1 at
    > >> 300 DPI. I have to set the DPI down to about 120 x 120 to get a print
    > >> size close to 24 x 20.

    > >
    > >ideally you want 300 ppi (not dpi) but that's not always possible,

    >
    > The printer people said "dpi", so that's the term I have been using. I
    > just looked up the two terms and it appears that ppi is more accurate.


    most people say dpi when they really mean ppi, but printer people
    should know better.

    > >and
    > >for a print of that size, 300 ppi isn't that important anyway. it's not
    > >like people are going to look at it from a few inches away.

    >
    > Actually, for this application, they are going to be looking very
    > closely -- inches away. So I do want 300 ppi.


    inches away from a print that big??

    > >try printing a section on an 8.5x11" piece of paper (similar to the
    > >final paper you want to use) at 120 ppi and see how it looks. remember
    > >to look at it from a typical distance for a 20x24 print, not for an
    > >8x10, and also in similar lighting where it will be displayed.
    > >
    > >> The JPG file is only 4.4 MB. It's properties are:

    > >..snip..
    > >> To my eye on the screen, it looks identical to the PSD file, which is 20
    > >> times larger.

    > >
    > >that's the magic of jpeg. however, you should work with the psd file as
    > >much as possible. if you have to send someone a jpeg, then export it as
    > >the highest quality jpeg.

    >
    > I'll check with the printer tomorrow, but I think they can use the PSD
    > file.


    make sure it's the last step. if you have to make a change, go back to
    photoshop, make the changes and then export another jpeg. lightroom
    makes this a breeze.

    > >> Now I think we need to reshoot the painting at a higher resolution. The
    > >> printer that will be making the print wants an image that is 300 DPI at
    > >> whatever size the print is to be. It seems to me that the resolution of
    > >> the images we have are at least 50% too low. Right?

    > >
    > >ideally, 300 ppi is what you want for 'tack sharp', but 20x24 prints
    > >are viewed from a distance so it doesn't have to be that high.

    >
    > I need 'tack sharp' (I like that term), see above.


    then you're going to need a more capable camera. the nikon d800 is
    currently as good as it gets for 35mm slrs, which will get you to about
    245 ppi. that's close enough, unless you want to take a big step up.

    that step is medium format, where you can get as much as 80 megapixels
    (10328 x 7760 pixels), which will be about 388 ppi for a 20x24. that is
    more than you need, so you would have some room to crop a bit and still
    have at least 300 ppi. unfortunately, the price tag is in the low 5
    digits, so you aren't likely to find one outside of a pro studio and
    it's unlikely you'll find one to rent either. you'll also need a fairly
    capable computer to process images that big.

    also keep in mind that you will need precise focus. if the original
    capture isn't properly focused, it doesn't really matter how many
    pixels you have or what you do afterwards.

    > >for 20x24 @ 300 ppi, you'd need about 43 megapixels, which is more than
    > >any 35mm slr currently has, although the nikon d800 at 36 mp is close
    > >enough (~245 ppi). still, it's overkill.

    >
    > Interestingly, my little Nikon S8200 has a setting labeled '16M*', which
    > it defines as 4608 X 3456 pixels, which is just under 16 mega-pixels.
    > They are stored with a compression ratio of 1:4.


    16 megapixels is actually more than your friend's 12 mp slr (although
    not by much), but its lens is not as good and the sensor is a lot
    smaller too.

    > >> I called the local camera store. They will rent me a Nikon D80 (I think
    > >> that was the model number) with the right lens for about $180 for the
    > >> weekend. That's not too bad, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it
    > >> work. I'd hate to spend $180 and still not get a good photo.

    > >
    > >the nikon d80 has 10 megapixels, versus 12 mp that your friend has, so
    > >it would actually be slightly worse, unless you can avoid cropping, and
    > >even then, the difference won't be significant and certainly not worth
    > >$180.
    > >
    > >consider renting the nikon d800, but that will likely be a *lot* more
    > >than you want to spend.
    > >
    > >in any event, what you have is probably just fine.
    > >
    > >what's the intended purpose of the photo? is it for camera geeks who
    > >will analyze it for any technical flaw or is it for art lovers who will
    > >admire a photograph of the original painting?

    >
    > Neither. I dont mean to be mysterious, but it will be scrutinized at
    > very close range, but by a different kind of geeks.


    the question is are they more interested in the artwork or the photo?
    is the goal to demonstrate how well you can photograph a painting or
    the painting itself? what happens if they notice that the photo is not
    tack sharp?

    the reason i ask is because you can up-rez what you have and it will
    look pretty good, possibly even good enough for the intended audience.
    if that's the case then what you have is probably fine. however, some
    people can tell the difference.

    > I have another techie friend who tends to have the latest and greatest
    > photography gear. He;s on vacation until this weekend. I'll see what he
    > says when he gets back.


    ok.
    nospam, Apr 2, 2013
    #2
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  3. nospam

    nospam Guest

    In article <>, Jennifer
    Murphy <> wrote:

    > >> I'll check with the printer tomorrow, but I think they can use the PSD
    > >> file.

    > >
    > >make sure it's the last step. if you have to make a change, go back to
    > >photoshop, make the changes and then export another jpeg. lightroom
    > >makes this a breeze.

    >
    > Someone else suggested that. I was all set to buy PS Elements, until
    > someone mentioned the cataloging capability and that it keeps the
    > original unchanged.
    >
    > I did a little research comparing Elements with Lightroom. (I keep
    > calling it Lightbox, for some reason.) It looks like Elements has more
    > editing features, but either probably has more than I will ever use.


    they're two different apps with overlapping features.

    lightroom does pretty much everything you need to do, including
    managing your library, the usual adjustments and in a non-destructive
    way, plus export images in a variety of formats, including web pages,
    books and prints.

    elements is better for retouching, but lacks all the management and
    export features. also, you can have a non-destructive workflow in
    elements but it's not really designed for it, so it's really a pain in
    the ass to do.

    > >> >> Now I think we need to reshoot the painting at a higher resolution. The
    > >> >> printer that will be making the print wants an image that is 300 DPI at
    > >> >> whatever size the print is to be. It seems to me that the resolution of
    > >> >> the images we have are at least 50% too low. Right?
    > >> >
    > >> >ideally, 300 ppi is what you want for 'tack sharp', but 20x24 prints
    > >> >are viewed from a distance so it doesn't have to be that high.
    > >>
    > >> I need 'tack sharp' (I like that term), see above.

    > >
    > >then you're going to need a more capable camera. the nikon d800 is
    > >currently as good as it gets for 35mm slrs, which will get you to about
    > >245 ppi. that's close enough, unless you want to take a big step up.

    >
    > That should be more good enough.


    that's what i figured, but i'm not convinced what you have isn't good
    enough already.

    > >> >for 20x24 @ 300 ppi, you'd need about 43 megapixels, which is more than
    > >> >any 35mm slr currently has, although the nikon d800 at 36 mp is close
    > >> >enough (~245 ppi). still, it's overkill.
    > >>
    > >> Interestingly, my little Nikon S8200 has a setting labeled '16M*', which
    > >> it defines as 4608 X 3456 pixels, which is just under 16 mega-pixels.
    > >> They are stored with a compression ratio of 1:4.

    > >
    > >16 megapixels is actually more than your friend's 12 mp slr (although
    > >not by much), but its lens is not as good and the sensor is a lot
    > >smaller too.

    >
    > But are those real megapixels or virtual ones if uncompressed?


    they're real megapixels. jpeg compression doesn't change the number of
    pixels, it just changes the quality of the output. the lower the
    quality the smaller the file, and the more photos that fit on a given
    card. there's a separate setting for pixel dimensions.

    keep it set to highest quality jpeg and maximum resolution. you can
    always reduce that later if needed, such as emailing a small version,
    or a thumbnail on a website that links to the full size.

    > >> >what's the intended purpose of the photo? is it for camera geeks who
    > >> >will analyze it for any technical flaw or is it for art lovers who will
    > >> >admire a photograph of the original painting?
    > >>
    > >> Neither. I dont mean to be mysterious, but it will be scrutinized at
    > >> very close range, but by a different kind of geeks.

    > >
    > >the question is are they more interested in the artwork or the photo?

    >
    > They are more interested in the photo, but not in the same way as a
    > photography geek.
    >
    > >is the goal to demonstrate how well you can photograph a painting or
    > >the painting itself?

    >
    > The painting itself. The photograph (or the photography) is irrelevant.


    the first statement says they're interested in the photo and the second
    one says the photo is irrelevant. how can that be?

    > >what happens if they notice that the photo is not
    > >tack sharp?

    >
    > They probably will be polite and not say anything.


    sure, but what i mean is does it cause some sort of problem, such as
    they don't buy the actual painting because the photo wasn't perfect, or
    they don't return to wherever this will be displayed?

    > >the reason i ask is because you can up-rez what you have and it will
    > >look pretty good, possibly even good enough for the intended audience.
    > >if that's the case then what you have is probably fine. however, some
    > >people can tell the difference.
    > >
    > >> I have another techie friend who tends to have the latest and greatest
    > >> photography gear. He;s on vacation until this weekend. I'll see what he
    > >> says when he gets back.

    > >
    > >ok.

    >
    > And he also has a high-end photo printer so we can see how it will look.
    > I don't think he can print 20x24, but close.


    which brings up another issue...colour management.

    once you get everything tack sharp, presumably you'll want the colours
    to be accurate.

    > Thanks for the help.


    any time.
    nospam, Apr 2, 2013
    #3
  4. nospam

    nospam Guest

    In article <>, Jennifer
    Murphy <> wrote:

    > >> I did a little research comparing Elements with Lightroom. (I keep
    > >> calling it Lightbox, for some reason.) It looks like Elements has more
    > >> editing features, but either probably has more than I will ever use.

    > >
    > >they're two different apps with overlapping features.
    > >
    > >lightroom does pretty much everything you need to do, including
    > >managing your library, the usual adjustments and in a non-destructive
    > >way, plus export images in a variety of formats, including web pages,
    > >books and prints.
    > >
    > >elements is better for retouching, but lacks all the management and
    > >export features. also, you can have a non-destructive workflow in
    > >elements but it's not really designed for it, so it's really a pain in
    > >the ass to do.

    >
    > I think I'll get one or the other and see how I like it -- or if I can
    > even make it work.


    both have trial versions.

    be sure to read/watch as many tutorials as possible, especially for
    lightroom because it does quite a bit and works a little differently
    than most other apps.

    > >> >> >what's the intended purpose of the photo? is it for camera geeks who
    > >> >> >will analyze it for any technical flaw or is it for art lovers who will
    > >> >> >admire a photograph of the original painting?
    > >> >>
    > >> >> Neither. I dont mean to be mysterious, but it will be scrutinized at
    > >> >> very close range, but by a different kind of geeks.
    > >> >
    > >> >the question is are they more interested in the artwork or the photo?
    > >>
    > >> They are more interested in the photo, but not in the same way as a
    > >> photography geek.
    > >>
    > >> >is the goal to demonstrate how well you can photograph a painting or
    > >> >the painting itself?
    > >>
    > >> The painting itself. The photograph (or the photography) is irrelevant.

    > >
    > >the first statement says they're interested in the photo and the second
    > >one says the photo is irrelevant. how can that be?

    >
    > Yes, well, I was talking out of both sides of my mouth, there. It's
    > about the painting unless the photo is of such poor quality that it;s
    > noticeable. So the photo is of interest only if it's a problem.
    > Otherwise, it's about the painting.


    unless they plant their nose right up to the photo, which is not
    generally what people do, it should be fine. also keep in mind, someone
    can always find *something* wrong with any photo. nothing is perfect.

    > >> >what happens if they notice that the photo is not
    > >> >tack sharp?
    > >>
    > >> They probably will be polite and not say anything.

    > >
    > >sure, but what i mean is does it cause some sort of problem, such as
    > >they don't buy the actual painting because the photo wasn't perfect, or
    > >they don't return to wherever this will be displayed?

    >
    > There is no commercial aspect to this at all. The painting was done by a
    > member of the extended family. This project is a gift to say "thank
    > you".


    based on what you've said and done so far, i think they'll be quite
    happy with the results.

    > >> And he also has a high-end photo printer so we can see how it will look.
    > >> I don't think he can print 20x24, but close.

    > >
    > >which brings up another issue...colour management.
    > >
    > >once you get everything tack sharp, presumably you'll want the colours
    > >to be accurate.

    >
    > I have been assured by the printer people that they will get the colors
    > right. I've used them before, so I believe this will be fine.


    how will they know what is right? will there be test prints? will they
    have the painting for reference?

    just because it may look right on your monitor doesn't mean they will
    get the same colours that you see. matching colours is not always easy.
    nospam, Apr 2, 2013
    #4
  5. Jennifer Murphy <> wrote:
    > On Mon, 01 Apr 2013 20:49:50 -0400, nospam <>
    >>In article <>, Jennifer
    >>Murphy <> wrote:


    >>> This image is just the portrait, no border, but it's only 9.7 x 8.1 at
    >>> 300 DPI. I have to set the DPI down to about 120 x 120 to get a print
    >>> size close to 24 x 20.


    >>ideally you want 300 ppi (not dpi) but that's not always possible,


    > The printer people said "dpi", so that's the term I have been using. I
    > just looked up the two terms and it appears that ppi is more accurate.


    Yep, printer people are ... strange :)

    Some even seem to think it's impossible to set a different print
    size and impossible to tweak the DPI setting in an image file
    (wheras the DPI is trivial changeable, it's just a number in
    the metadata).

    >>and
    >>for a print of that size, 300 ppi isn't that important anyway. it's not
    >>like people are going to look at it from a few inches away.


    > Actually, for this application, they are going to be looking very
    > closely -- inches away. So I do want 300 ppi.


    Then you probably want 400, 500 or even 600 "DPI". The first
    question is if your printer people can even deliver such high
    "DPI"s, the second question is how to record that resolution.


    >>that's the magic of jpeg. however, you should work with the psd file as
    >>much as possible. if you have to send someone a jpeg, then export it as
    >>the highest quality jpeg.


    > I'll check with the printer tomorrow, but I think they can use the PSD
    > file.


    The printer people probably don't need to work with the image (i.e.
    change the image, change pixel values, ...), they only need
    to put the unchanged image on paper. But do ask them, maybe
    they have a need for more than the (gamma-encoded) 8-bit per
    colour channel for adaption to their print mediums'
    restrictions.

    BTW, you do have shot a colour card with the painting?
    Just adjusting the grey point isn't near good enough if you
    want/need correct colours. With a colour card (and the right
    software) you can correct colours much better.

    -Wolfgang
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Apr 2, 2013
    #5
  6. Jennifer Murphy <> wrote:
    > On Tue, 02 Apr 2013 00:22:03 -0400, nospam <>
    >>In article <>, Jennifer
    >>Murphy <> wrote:


    >>> Interestingly, my little Nikon S8200 has a setting labeled '16M*', which
    >>> it defines as 4608 X 3456 pixels, which is just under 16 mega-pixels.
    >>> They are stored with a compression ratio of 1:4.


    >>16 megapixels is actually more than your friend's 12 mp slr (although
    >>not by much), but its lens is not as good and the sensor is a lot
    >>smaller too.


    > But are those real megapixels or virtual ones if uncompressed?


    Real. Just as Mexican pesos are real, just not as good 1 per
    1 than, say, USD.

    -Wolfgang
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Apr 2, 2013
    #6
  7. nospam

    Peabody Guest

    Jennifer Murphy says...

    > I have been assured by the printer people that they will
    > get the colors right. I've used them before, so I
    > believe this will be fine.


    I'd suggest you ask your printer about scanning the
    painting. I was at a local printer this afternoon, and they
    said they can scan paintings up to 4x6 feet. It can be on a
    stretcher, but not framed.

    You might also want to ask them about printing on canvas
    (giclee) rather than paper.

    My printer said he could scan in a 24" x 24" painting, and
    print a life-sized (1:1) copy on canvas for $100 ballpark.
    If this will be a gift, it might be worth doing it that way.
    Peabody, Apr 3, 2013
    #7
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