Pix Art 2

Ugghh, yesterday was not one of my best days.

I spent an hour resetting the new lights and adjusting the camera settings. I had my little HP laptop patched into the camera to view the camera screen and the resulting pix we were taking.

I set the camera to F5.6, ISO 100, and the shutter speed to 1/20. It looked great so we spent the next five hours shooting pix of 27 of Tammy’s pieces of art.

Then we looked at them on my main desktop (the MSI) with my two 24′ monitors. All of the pix were still too dark.

I can use them for the prints but I would have to do some major adjustments in Photoshop on each and every shot. I don’t want to do that. I want to do this right from the jump and take better pictures.

I ordered new bulbs so I have 5500K CFL Day Light bulbs in all six sidelights. I’ll spend more time adjusting the camera settings and check the pix on my MSI before I proceed to take all of them over again next Saturday.

I also had a lot of trouble with the really cheap plastic tripod I have. It was on clearance at Walmart for like $20 a few years ago. It was “good enough” for the little point and click cameras I had but was extremely clunky trying to use it with this much bigger camera. Just trying to frame the shot was a struggle and took way longer than it should have and every time I pushed the button to take a picture the camera moved. It was beyond frustrating.

The new aluminum tripod I ordered will be here Tuesday.

Pix Art Studio

So Tammy finally decided she was ready to start selling her paintings. To sell them online we need really good, as in professional level, photos of them.

First, we needed a new camera. Our old $40 cameras weren’t going to cut it. After some research and consultation with a couple of professional photographers we know I decided to get a Canon Rebel T7. I would have loved to spend a grand or six on a top of the line DSLR but it really isn’t necessary to break the bank for this.

Next, we needed good lighting. Lighting is critical for getting high quality pix if you want to sell prints of your artwork. I saw no need to break the bank for this either and I found a lighting kit for just under $60 delivered.

Finally, we needed a studio with a plain white background. I really didn’t want to just pick a wall in the house and paint it flat white so I decided to build a temporary wall. I made an 8′ x 5′ frame out of cheap 2″ x 2″ dimensional lumber and tacked an old white sheet to it. Then tacked the whole thing to the wall in the living room with just one screw.

And then took a few test shots of one of her paintings.

Landscape

I think this is pretty good for a first attempt with the camera on a semi-automatic setting. I’ll be doing more research to find the ideal non-automatic settings as time permits.

So it turns out this is not going to be quite as easy as I thought. The painting below (On the Beach) is probably my favorite of her abstracts. And definitely my pick for favorite frame that I’ve made for her paintings.

On the Beach

As you can see the shot is not level, appears to be taken a bit from the left, and most troublesome is that it looks a little like a a fish-eye lens was used. I know the frame is straight, so I’m going to have to look to see what it is with the camera that is causing it to balloon the shot like that. (Spoiler Alert, I figured it out, see below, and wow have I forgotten a lot about photography!)

It also looks like hanging the paintings isn’t going to work. I can’t guarantee the painting is staying perpendicular to the camera making it look like I am taking the picture more from one side than the other.

THE NEXT DAY:

Well, I added a shelf to the screen wall and it has eliminated a lot of the issues I had with trying to hang the art. Now I just have to figure out the correct ISO, F8, etc settings on the camera.

LATER THAT SAME DAY:

OK, I’ve gotten the Fish-eye issue under control. I have limited space to work so I had the camera pretty close to the subject, with the lens set to anywhere from 24mm-35mm. I’ve made more room and pulled the camera back so the lens is set to about 50mm.

My lights aren’t quite bright enough to do an ISO of 100 @ F8 so it’s now set to 200. A little adjustment of the WB (I still used the wrong setting) and here is my latest attempt:

For the Light

It’s better but I still don’t have quite enough light so I ordered another, much brighter, set of light stands. They will hopefully be here Thursday, Dec 3rd.

TWO MORE DAYS LATER:

The new lights came in Wednesday afternoon so as soon as I was done with work I put them together and set up a new shot. I set the ISO back to 100 but that was the only change I made to the camera.

The difference is subtle but the lighting is much more even. I probably should have tried this with a little more colorful piece. I think I might try one more shot at ISO 200 just to make sure but I think I’m ready to go.

For the Light

The only thing that might improve things at this point would be a good light meter but I’ll hold off on that purchase for now.