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Festival Network Online Newsletter
             Nov./Dec. - 2003


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A note from the editor..... Here it is, the end of the year .....again! It's never too early to begin preparing for next year's shows.  Before you know it all those show applications will be filling your mailbox and you'll think, "didn't I just do this?"  The most important thing you can do is to get your slides in order -  early!  I used to pull my hair out over this task until I discovered the magic of "The Gray Card."  This is an amazing tool that you can purchase (for less than twenty bucks) at any photo store.  I don't think I've taken a bad slide since.  Here's a great article that will help you with the specifics of producing great slides. Have a very Happy New Year! and as always, Keep on, Keeping on!  Diane :-).

Basic Rules of Art Photography - Photographing Your Art, Product or Work

It is pretty exciting; your work can now be seen instantly by millions of people, all around the world with a few simple mouse clicks. Not only do they see it, they know that you are the artist and they have a means to contact you. However, you have to be able to get your artwork from your studio and into the computer. That means that your artwork needs to be photographed.
Now, if talk of stops, meter readings, and film stocks make your palms sweat and your throat tighten, then I recommend that you have a professional photographer photograph your work. Ask other artists for suggestions on whom to hire and make sure that the photographer has experience in photographing artwork. Some photographers specialize in this area and do a very good job and are well worth it.

Why are show promoters still requesting slides? Well, color transparency film records a much greater amount of information than print film with greater color accuracy when used in a controlled lighting environment. Juries will see a much better representation of your work when they look at slides - versus photos.

Digital or Film?: Film is still superior in the amount of information it captures compared to most consumer level digital cameras. From film you can make large prints, make duplicate slides, and create digital files suitable for publishing. A digital camera is ideal for photographing your work for the web where file size and resolution are not critical issues and it saves you the cost of film and processing. You do not need to scan a slide to get it into digital form.

The Basics

What You Need:

The Procedure
1. Choose a background: Choose a neutral, white, gray, or black. White sometimes causes too much light to be reflected back into the lens and causes flair and colors to be washed out. I prefer black, it usually contrasts well with the art and there are no reflections to cause flair. Black felt from a fabric store works well. Attach the background to the wall, or over your display boxes. If no background is going to show, you do not need one.

2. Flat Art should hang on the background: Make sure that the artwork is plum (vertical and level). If your artwork is small, you can place your background and artwork on the floor and place the camera overhead.

3. Place Camera Perpendicular to the Art: The back of the camera should be vertical and parallel to the art and the camera should be level. The artwork should be centered and squared in the viewfinder. Leave a little extra room in the edges of the frame because some slide mounts crop into this area.

4. Place Lights at an equal distance, 45 degrees from the wall. The placement of lights is important. The lighting should be even over the entire surface of the artwork. The distance the lights are placed from the wall is dependent on the size of the artwork. If the lights are too close, then there will be a hot spot in the middle of the artwork. Move the lights back while maintaining a 45 angle until the artwork is evenly illuminated from the center, to the corners on both sides. If your artwork is reflective or varnished, you might notice some glare when you look through the viewfinder. You can try to modify the angles of the lights or pull the lights farther back until the glare disappears. Sometimes the use of polarizing filters helps eliminate glare.

5. Metering: Place the Gray Card in the center of your artwork (you may need to take your artwork down so you can attach the Gray Card to the wall, or place on display boxes). Move your camera towards the Gray Card so that the entire frame is filled with the Gray Card. Be careful not to cast any shadow with your body or camera on the card. With your lens focused on infinity, take a meter reading (Shutter Speed and -Stop based on the film speed) and set your camera to that exposure. Remove the Gray Card, place the artwork back on the wall, or display boxes,  and move your camera back to it's original position.

6. Make an Exposure: With the artwork carefully centered in the viewfinder, expose the film as to the exposure set when the Gray Card was metered. Make sure that your camera is not in an automatic exposure mode and that the exposure does not change to one other than the one noted when the Gray Card was metered.

7. Bracket Exposures: Since color transparency film has a very limited latitude, it needs to be exposed very precisely. It is always a good idea to make additional exposures. Maintain you shutter speed and open your aperture up 1/2 stop and make an exposure and then close your aperture down 1/2 stop and make an exposure. This will give you a range of three exposures and once the film is developed, you can choose which exposures looks best. In some instance where there are a lot of dark, heavy tones in a piece of artwork, the overexposed slide looks better and conversely, artwork with very subtle light tones might be better underexposed.

8. Shoot More Pieces: Remove the artwork you just photographed and place the next one to be photographed. If you do not need to change the position of the lights, then your base exposure from the previous shot remains the same. If you need to move the lights because of uneven illumination or glare, then a new meter reading needs to be made.

9. Process the Film: Choose a good local custom color lab for this. The quality of the lab can make a difference. You've just done all this work! You want the best possible results!

10. Review your slides! Look at your slides closely on a good light box with a loupe (magnifier). The custom lab where you just picked up your film probably has one. If you are going to be working with slides, a good light box and a loupe are worthwhile investments. If you can, you should always project your slides.  See what the jury will see. You'll be surprised at how different your slides look when they are enlarged.

Article provided by:
David Silver
- David is a member of Minds Island, an on-line community for creative arts professionals and members of the art trade.  Minds Island provides numerous services for its artists members developed to help individual art businesses grow and thrive. During the coming months Minds Island will be introducing enhanced functionality and services for both the creative arts professional and members of the art trade.

Newsletter Editor:
Diane Elliott Bruckner -

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