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Colm Whelan

lighting a painting

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yet again I am presented with a large painting hung on a wall. I've tried various ways over the years to make this interesting and never been really happy. just wondering if anyone on here has ever come up with anything interesting or a way of reducing how flat it looks when you shoot straight on. I'm using tracks and am toying with creating a window frame light effect that falls over some of the painting but its a tricky thing exposure wise. any suggestions?

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It depends on why you are shooting a shot of the painting. If for an art book or documentary, then generally you just want to reproduce the painting accurately with even lighting (usually a light on each side) and the camera flat on.

 

The entire opposite end would be to, for example, shoot the painting at an angle, or with a slant-focus lens, so that only part of it comes into focus, then raking it with a shadow pattern (let's say, a hard side-light through something creating a moving pattern of tree leaves or blowing lace curtains, etc.) Maybe with a top or bottom cut as well, etc.

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Thanks David,

 

yeah its a doc. but its a large painting hung against a murky looking wall but the director wants not only the detail of the painting but also in its setting so hence the question. so they want to create some interesting lighting for it. you've given me some ideas with what you've said though so thanks

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Depending on the size of the painting, you could use a series of wide floods (pars of some sort) overhead on the ceiling in a linear line to throw a series of splashes of light on the painting. That would mimic the way large paintings are often lit and would add some natural looking texture to the painting. Carefully worked out, most of the painting could be evenly lit but towards the top you'd have the splashes. I've done similar things but admittedly I've spent a fair amount of time with the fixture's photometric data working out an even light field...Do you know a genius gaffer?

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Depending on the size of the painting, you could use a series of wide floods (pars of some sort) overhead on the ceiling in a linear line to throw a series of splashes of light on the painting. That would mimic the way large paintings are often lit and would add some natural looking texture to the painting. Carefully worked out, most of the painting could be evenly lit but towards the top you'd have the splashes. I've done similar things but admittedly I've spent a fair amount of time with the fixture's photometric data working out an even light field...Do you know a genius gaffer?

 

 

thanks Hal,

 

this was a one man band shoot. So I was rigging lights myself with an assistant. as it turned out after arriving with permission to rig we were informed by an overly sensitive employee that we were not allowed to use any lights. so we had to film on available. but thanks for the thoughts

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I was about to ask you if the painting is only oil or it has materials like gold or silver in it but I guess it's too late now isnt' it?

:(

Dim

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I always like ND'ing down a source 4 and using the slats to crop just the painting within the frame. Maybe you could use two source 4's and also crop the frame with a different level of light. It makes the painting pop. Then you can light the rest of the scene however you wish. But its a little dramatic for most doc work.

And you are already stuck anyways. :)

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I was about to ask you if the painting is only oil or it has materials like gold or silver in it but I guess it's too late now isnt' it?

:(

Dim

This can be one of those problems you never see coming until you get on location. My mother was primarily a watercolor painter, but did work with oils and acrylics on occasion. I noticed early on that the morning sun hitting the paintings at an extreme angle would nearly obliterate the oil paintings. Oil and acrylic paints create what is really a three dimensional surface, made up of thousands of concave and convex areas. Depending on how shiny the paint and how heavily it is applied, you can get very dark shadows right next to really bright reflections. I’ve photographed hundreds of paintings for historical documentaries and the thickly applied palette knife styles always create problems for me. In galleries, I can just cover the opposite wall with foam core. I can see where this could really complicate a setup.

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