How to take a picture of a picture?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by huggy47, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. huggy47

    huggy47 Guest

    I am currently trying to save old family photographs, and I have
    successfully scanned dozens of old photographs. Some of the
    photographs do not scan well, and some of them are old metal
    photographs 100+ years old that I have not even attempted to scan.

    A friend of mine suggested that I try taking a picture of the pictures
    with my digital camera.

    I am curious, how should I go about doing this for the best

    I have an Olympus C765.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas? I'm am a very basic photographer
    (point and shoot with little frills) so any suggestions should be
    offered in novice terms as I'm not familiar with anything beyond the
    extreme basics.

    Thanks for any suggestions or help!
    huggy47, Jun 11, 2007
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  2. well, in my film days I used technical pan and used a feature of my
    enlarger, which could have a special camera holder so you put the original
    on the margeur (positive holder?) and took a photo, I think with my best
    prime which was the Nikkor 50 mm 1.4.I used 2 common spot lights to
    illuminate the pictures.Results were quite good.Now, in the digital era, I
    presume you have to use a good camera (dSLR or hi end P&S) with good
    macro?But without an enlarger, how are you going to place it over the
    photos?(My enlarger was Meopta Opemus 6, a Czech manufacture.Maybe shoot
    with flash to eliminate all camera motion?Anyone with better ideas?
    Tzortzakakis Dimitrios, Jun 11, 2007
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  3. I take photos of other photographs will good results. I continue to
    use that "failure of failures" in the marketplace--the N Digital--as
    my camera for this purpose. I use either the N-Mount Makro-Sonnar
    100mm f/2.8 or the 645-Mount Apo-Makro-Planar 120mm f/4 (with the
    Mount Adaptor, of course). You can now achieve much the same result
    with a lot less trouble.

    Based on what I see available in the market these days, you ought to
    be able to get essentially the same quality at far less cost.

    In summary, based on my experience, I certainly would suggest you look
    into taking digital pictures of your aging photographs.


    Jeff Stevens
    J. Alexander Stevens, Jun 11, 2007
  4. I inadvertantly forgot to mention that I use a simple copy stand with
    two lights to illuminate the photos. Thois setup usually works well.


    Jeff Stevens
    J. Alexander Stevens, Jun 11, 2007
  5. For a perfect result, one definitely should consider using a remote
    triggering device. A radio trigger that activites simultaneously both
    the camera and the light source is the fanciest, I suppose; but
    anything that eliminates camera shake will help mightily.


    Jeff Stevens
    J. Alexander Stevens, Jun 11, 2007
  6. Use a tripod to mount the camera.
    Shoot outside while its sunny but shoot in the shade
    in a reasonably open spot so you get good light without
    Set your camera to maximum zoom to minimise the
    risk of parallax.
    Set the image on a suitable mount, like an artists easel
    or somesuch. Use a larger backboard to give the
    autofocus something to work with.
    Position the camera at a suitable distance away from
    the image trying as best as you can to position the
    camera perpendicular to the centre of the image, again
    to reduce the risk of parallax
    Set the camera to timer, no flash. shoot.
    when you get the image onto the computer you can
    clean it up a bit and boost the contrast. Crop out any
    remaining parallax.

    Chris Gilbert, Jun 11, 2007
  7. huggy47

    Mike Russell Guest

    Always try scanning before photographing. Mount the camera securely,
    pointing down, and take a macro picture under diffuse light. I generally
    work in the daytime and let the ambient light of the room do the job. The
    results for these tiny images can be stunning, since they are actually
    negatives, and may contain enough detail for enlargement. Some of the
    images are tinted, and should be treated as color images, unless there are
    stains or other repair issues that call for removing the color.
    Mike Russell, Jun 11, 2007
  8. huggy47

    Bob Williams Guest

    You will need an inexpensive copy stand and a pair of Clip-On lights.
    A very inexpensive but satisfactory stand can be purchased for $40.

    Clip on lights can be bought at Office Depot for about $12 each.
    You might already have a few desk lamps that you can bring to the
    project at no cost.

    Having said that, I can't imagine why your scanner can't do a great job.
    That is precisely what they are designed to do.
    I have scanned many antique photos, over 100 years old, with excellent
    Whatever method you use, you might want to brush up on some very basic
    editing skills.
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, Jun 11, 2007
  9. I don't really have much to add to what Chris has said
    here, other than to point out that this sounds to me
    like the voice of experience talking! Chris has it
    right, and hit at least a little on just about every
    point I can think of.
    That is absolutely essential. So is using either a
    remote release or the camera's timer to trigger the
    shutter. And so is mounting the work to be copied on an
    easel or using some other method that allows perfect
    alignment (the camera's sensor should be exactly
    parallel to the work being copied, though corrections
    can be made with post processing software).
    Another alternative which works very well is to shoot in
    a basically white room illuminated via large windows
    facing either early morning or late afternoon sunshine.
    A cloudy day is not bad either, if the windows are large
    enough to get really good light. The idea is to use
    very soft diffuse light. (Creating that with artificial
    lights is possible, but not nearly as easy.)
    I'd go just back from maximum zoom unless you have an
    unusually good lense. There are too many aberations
    with most zooms at the zoom limits.
    One image with a grey card to use for white balance
    might be a good idea too.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jun 11, 2007
  10. huggy47

    Frank ess Guest

    Exactly what I would say. And, depending on what quality you require,
    it might be worth renting a dSLR and macro lens. Made with the
    intention that flat field work be close to optimal.

    I did a forty-page scrapbook that way, and with more care it would
    have been more perfect, but it was plenty good for recording and
    archiving the content. One white-balance of a Canon 20D and a Tamron
    90mm lens, which required quite a distance to encompass a whole
    scrapbook page at a shot. Individual items would have been done at a
    closer range, but with the 20D, crops were entirely satisfactory.
    Frank ess, Jun 11, 2007
  11. huggy47

    MG Guest

    Some time ago I did a few simple experiments with a C750. I don't have any
    fancy lights, so I did 3 simple tests:
    1) Scanning (on a rather old PaperPort scanner)
    2) Indoors, near a window, in full shade.
    3) Indoors, near a window, in full sun

    Generally the ones in full sun gave the best results. Exceptions were some
    some very glossy photos, which had some odd reflections in full sun.

    Remember to set manual white balance. The C750 calls it One-Touch White
    Balance. Put some white paper in the place where your photos will be and use
    that to set the white balance.

    Use a tripod. Use a remote or the self timer to trigger the shutter.

    Results a good for P&S.

    MG, Jun 11, 2007
  12. huggy47

    frederick Guest

    I have had exactly the same situation as the OP with metallic ("platinum
    prints?") from the 1920s/30s. They are too directly reflective to scan
    - resulting in extremely low contrast images that won't tidy up in pp
    very well at all. (increasing contrast just exaggerates every surface
    defect in the photo)
    However, I have photographed them using a dslr with macro lens using
    desktop halogen lights for illumination, and the results are fine/perfect.
    frederick, Jun 11, 2007
  13. wrote on Mon, 11 Jun 2007 17:23:16 -0000:

    h> A friend of mine suggested that I try taking a picture of
    h> the pictures with my digital camera.

    h> I am curious, how should I go about doing this for the best
    h> results????

    h> I have an Olympus C765.

    h> Any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas? I'm am a very basic
    h> photographer (point and shoot with little frills) so any
    h> suggestions should be offered in novice terms as I'm not
    h> familiar with anything beyond the extreme basics.

    I'd use a decent scanner with as high a resolution as possible.
    Old family pictures often need a little editing to deal with
    damage and loss of color and I almost always need to work on
    them a bit with PE or Printshop.

    James Silverton
    Potomac, Maryland

    E-mail, with obvious alterations:
    James Silverton, Jun 11, 2007
  14. huggy47

    Stewy Guest

    My old Durst M301 enlarger stand works very nicely as a stable platform
    to copy anything. Set up on a desk with 4 spots, it worked very well for
    Stewy, Jun 11, 2007
  15. huggy47

    if Guest

    It sounds like you are talking about daguerreotypes or something similar,
    which have what is essentially a negative image on a polished metal
    surface, this appears as a positive image when illuminated correctly.

    To get a good image you need the illumination at the correct angle with
    respect to the viewing angle, for best results you would want the camera
    square-on to the photograph and then move the illumination around until the
    image looks right.

    One thing that might help here is that it doesn't matter if the image as
    illuminated looks positive or negative whilst taking the photo, since a
    negative one can be inverted digitally afterwards.

    For even illumination something like a light box or other large diffuse
    source of illumination will probably help to ensure the whole picture is
    lit up the same.

    One thing to note about daguerrotypes: don't be tempted to take them out of
    the glass case to get a better photo of it: the glass-fronted case is (or
    should be) air-tight and should not be opened, since the delicate image
    will oxidise on exposure to air. (This caution might not apply to some
    similar technologies such as tintypes however. Tintypes used enameled metal
    I think. There are also ambrotypes which have an image on the glass itself
    with a black backing.) Yours do sound like daguerrotypes but if in doubt
    get expert opinion as to what they are exactly as the photos are probably
    quite valuable.
    if, Jun 11, 2007
  16. huggy47

    if Guest

    Just thought I would add, I would seriously consider getting a professional
    photographer to photograph them for you. Trying to get a good picture of
    tricky things like this can be an exercise in frustration if you don't have
    the right equipment and expertise. Any decent commercial photographer will
    be experienced in photographing tricky products such as glassware,
    silverware, art objects etc and with their studio setup they will be able
    to do a better job in an hour than a non-professional would manage after
    several days of hassle and well-meaning advice from friends and internet
    if, Jun 11, 2007
  17. huggy47

    Aaron Guest

    I haven't tried this myself, and I don't know if there is a simple
    and/or inexpensive way to do it, but if you poliarize the light in one
    direction and use a polarizing filter set perpendicular to that, it
    should all but eliminate specular reflection, leaving only the nice,
    even, diffuse reflection from your subject. That could be key to
    photographing tintypes.

    I have to photograph old photographs sometimes when they are too
    wrinkled, or adhered permanently to a moisture-warped board, and can't
    be scanned. One day I will try to find a polarizing filter big enough
    to fit on one of my strobes, but for the moment I can't offer any
    guidance as to specific products.

    The polarizing approach is one technique Bill Atkinson uses when
    photographing his polished rocks and judging by a video I saw (from, it works well.
    Aaron, Jun 12, 2007
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