Using a grey card
Include a good quality photographic grey card when you photograph your paintings. This neutral grey gives a standard to check the accuracy of the colours. Probably 90 to 95% of the photographs ever taken, are of people. Your camera is therefore designed to give humans a subtle tan. Even if you have an expensive camera, I’m afraid it is designed to photograph the bride and groom, not paintings. Thus the colours in a painting will tend to be skewed to the red. This bias can be corrected if the painting is photographed with a grey card and the file processed using Photoshop Levels, or a similar program.
Why use a grey card
I’m no geek, but I understand that a photograph of a good quality grey card has within it the exact midpoint of the red, the exact midpoint of the green and the exact midpoint of the blue. Thus all the colours in your painting will have a calibration mark if you include a grey card when photographing your paintings.You will probably be saying – I want to paint, not waste time doing Photoshop. True, but if the grey card is included, then someone else can use it to reproduce your painting accurately.
The magic of a grey card
The photos attached to this post show a painting photographed at three exposures. The top one is overexposed by one stop. The middle image is shown at the normal camera settings. The lower image is one stop underexposed. However, in each case, an adequate image was obtained after adjustment. The images on the right hand side were retrieved from their badly-exposed originals by the use of Photoshop levels and the magic of a grey card. You don’t need to know how to use Photoshop yourself, all you need to do is buy a grey card and use it. Similarly, if your camera takes Raw files, keep them also. Remember, there is nothing more frustrating than to win a highly-coveted Best Painting prize, only to find that the painting is sold and that you don’t have a good photo. Don’t ask me how I know that!
Camera shake can damage your images making them blurry. However, if you take your photos outside, on a bright day, the camera itself will take care of that. Store your painting images carefully, have a well thought out reference system and do regular back ups. So, photograph your paintings as soon as they are finished, on a bright day, outside, include a grey card and store the images carefully – you can’t go wrong!
My next exhibition of paintings will be held at the Metcalfe Gallery, Brisbane institute of Art, from 27th August to the 8th September, 2021.
Contact Christine for an invitation to my next show!