This is art….and this is how we take pictures of it (the photo side)

My indy rock co-worker, who I talk about in my “about” section, is a fellow named Kyle Shafer. At the newspaper, Kyle is a graphic designer and ad compostionist, but outside of the paper, in addition to telling me what music is decent, Shaf paints. I consider myself a patron of the arts, mainly because I have been trying to drop hints to Kyle that I want one of his paintings. I also have given him some of my old art supplies and some surfaces to paint on, including a 20X30 inch print of the Daudi portrait I featured in an earlier blog entry.

Kyle has close to 10 years worth of art in his apartment, from high school, through college and up to his current projects, but has not documented any of it. This is bad, because, hell, what if there’s a fire. Honestly though, I just want to help my boy get his stuff out there more. With the image files I give him, he can put his stuff on his facebook page and on the web. If we’re really lucky, maybe he can sell some of it, because as far as my untrained eyes are concerned, this is some pretty good stuff.

Shaf works in multimedia, usually painting with acrylics onto whatever surface he can get his hands on, like the aforementioned photographic print, wood, cardboard, canvas, a wall clock and even onto t-shirts (which looks way cooler than it sounds). After work hours, when Kyle has finished creating lame ads for unappreciative clients, he goes home and drinks….er, paints. These are the fruits of that labor.

The entry below this has a selection of Kyle’s art, but  first, let’s go over how we do art copy photography. Originally, you would shoot this on slide film and then would send out the slides to get critiqued, or to get into an art show or a college. Slides also were the best way to accurately render colors. Now we shoot it digitally, and they can go pretty much anywhere, although I’m sure some schools and galleries are enough of stodgy luddites to stick with slides even now.

I learned this working with my first mentor right after high school, at a commercial photography company in Chicago. We used this technique to shoot slides of fabric swatches for a furniture manufacture trade magazine. It was bread and butter work, but it was good money for him and the art director was one of the nicest we worked with. The setup is something like this.

A copy photography setup. Kyle's not the only artist on this blog today, eh?
A copy photography setup. Kyle’s not the only artist on this blog today, eh?

We use umbrellas for a nice soft light. Ideally, you would also be shooting a gray card first for custom white balance. The same commercial photography mentor I mentioned above filled me in that 35mm cameras (and hence, 35mm sized digital SLRs) have a sharpness sweet spot between f5.6 and f11. I split the difference and shot this at f8. Shutter speed was 1/250 of a second so that I didn’t much have to worry about the room lights. ISO was as low as I could go, so that’s ISO 200 on my D70. Since I wasn’t shooting on a tripod, I shot this with a 35-70mm lens set at 70mm to minimize distortion and shot fairly far back. The larger pieces, I corrected perspective for keystoning in Photoshop.

With flat art, we usually try to light it flat, so the umbrellas should be pretty much straight on. The more they come at the work from the side, the more texture, and glare they will reveal. There needs to be some tweaking for shiny or highly texture pieces. With some of Kyle’s work, it couldn’t be avoided without drastically changing the light setup (A plastic wrapped piece), so I just minimized that glare.

Anyways, next entry down is Kyle’s stuff. Hope you like it.

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One thought on “This is art….and this is how we take pictures of it (the photo side)

  1. Pingback: Farewell Photos, Part 4 | Clever, Kinda

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