In a recent post I talked about the lights I use to photograph my oil paintings (here). This was about the colour of the light used and the setting on the camera (white balance) used to adjust to this light. The next issue I struggled with was the position of the lights. Oil paint is wet and glossy and when it dries the colours change so its made wet and glossy again, by oiling out. Varnishing to matt, satin or gloss takes place months after the painting dries. I video and then photograph the wet painting as I’m painting, so gloss is a big issue for me.
If I was illuminating the painting for the purpose of painting only, then its fairly simple. Place the light, or lights, at a low angle to the surface of the painting and place myself directly in front. As long as the light is not coming from my direction it will not reflect back in my direction, simple.
Introduce the camera and the same applies regarding reflected gloss on the resultant video or photograph. As myself and the camera cannot be in the same position, the solution was to paint flat on a tabletop. I’m on one side looking down and the camera is opposite me on the other side of the table, also looking down. The lights are each side at a low angle so the reflected gloss does not affect me or the camera.
I see the painting right way up, of course, but the video is upside down. The simplest way of correcting this is to invert the video in a movie editor, otherwise the camera has to be mounted upside down while making the video. The video is a little bit skewed but that’s OK for a video. The photograph taken with this arrangement is also skewed and this is corrected in Photoshop but I have to be careful that Photoshop doesn’t apply a colour profile different to the one I photographed with.
So that is it. Lights, camera, action (paint a picture). Here’s the video.