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Photographing an Oil Painting

Tip Provided by Dave

Photographing an oil painting?
Sounds pretty simple right? Well, maybe not. If I try to use a flash, quite a bit of the flash's glare comes right back at me.

We talked about that before, so let's shoot it from the side so that the glare bounces off at an angle away from the camera.

Hey what happened, we still see glare? That's because an oil painting is somewhat 3-dimensional, the oil paint has depth to it, and that irregular 3-dimensional texture is bouncing light in many directions, some right back at us. Now what do we do?

The answer, as it turns out, is the same as it was for the plates that were causing a problem in an earlier tip. Here I used a bounce slave flash (bounced mostly off of the ceiling) and I also shot the photo from a slight upward angle (to minimize glare from the on-camera flash). Remember, we need the light from the on camera flash to trigger the slave flash.

You could also light the painting with fixed position flood lights, adjusting the lights for best illumination and minimum glare, but how many art galleries would permit that? So there you have it, the off-camera slave flash is the tool needed to solve this problem as well, but remember, it isn't automatic, you have to work at it and each situation will be a little different.

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