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Photographing Paintings & Fine Art Behind Glass

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Marcona, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Does anyone have any experience with photography of paintings and artwork that is behind glass? The gallery owner doesn't want to remove the paintings from the glass unless it is very necessary.

    These are being photographed in a room that has windows - not a perfectly controlled studio. Up to this point, I've been putting up cardboard in front of the windows to control most of the light - but sometimes the glass reflects the light bulb on the ceiling, etc. Perhaps it'd be easier to put up two umbrellas/flash @ 45 degree angle on either side or something? I read about this being done via google searches but it seems counterintuitive to me

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2008
  2. I shoot and archive the exhibits at a local museum after each installation, and I use slow shutter speeds as opposed to strobes and flash. If you have the ability to move the paintings around (I don't in my case) then you should be able to do this pretty easily, and keep any light sources at a very oblique angle to the surface of the glass.

  3. What do you do about the shadows that are cast from the frame onto the artwork? Or is your lighting even enough where you don't have any shadows?

    I'd like to eliminate shadows and glare.

    I quickly tried a CPL but that didnt seem to cut anything out - but perhaps this was due to the degree the light was hitting.

    I have been using slow shutter speeds thus far. I was thinking of making a cardboard tunnel of sorts - like an NFL replay booth. But then I need some light or the picture gets all grainy from the long exposure. Perhaps I should just buy large sheets of white paper and tape those over the windows and lights?
  4. Yeah, the lighting in the galleries is even enough that I don't have any real shadows, and if a particular frame is thick enough that there's a small edge-shadow, I'll bring in a big scrim or reflector and bounce a little ambient light up underneath the lips of edges that are dark. A polarizer does help depending on the light angle, but I find it's best for glass display cases that sit over an artifact or specimen.

  5. Do you think a photo/soft tent would do the trick or would that just reflect the soft light off the glass anyways?
    I can certainly move the paintings around - just wondering if maybe a photo tent would work.

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