logo for better-photographs.com
LEFT for better-photographs.com

Photographing a Painting

"Easy when you know how."

This week I received two related questions that apply to photographing a painting, magazine or any document for that matter.

Photographing a Painting

Question from Mick about copying his own paintings -

Hi, I am trying to get really sharp photos.

I am an artist and am hoping to sell some of my work by taking photos of the pictures and sending them to a canvas printer. I have tried a few times before but the quality of my photos are just not sharp enough to get a good print.

The camera i have is a Nikon D3000, which I think is the cheapest DSLR on the market. Would I have to buy a really expensive camera to get the quality i need?


- Hello Mick,

As far as sharpness in the camera is concerned, it is the lens that is the most important factor together with focussing. If you have the Nikon 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G AF-S VR kit lens then you should have few worries about the lens quality.

I suggest you focus the lens manually and that you mount the camera on a tripod or rest it on a solid surface as camera movement on near objects, even at higher shutter speeds, will prevent the quality of results you seek.

Assuming you know about Depth of Field, make sure you have enough to cover any differences in the distance from the centre of your picture and the edges of your picture to the lens. A setting of f8.0 should be enough in most cases. Some cameras allow adjustment of picture sharpness but I don't know if the Nikon D3000 has this capability.

If the results are still not sharp enough then try using the sharpening capabilities of Photo Editing Software such as Adobe Photoshop - which has a free trial on the Adobe Site.

If this still fails to meet the quality you need then you will probably find a professional (or amateur enthusiast) photographer with top of the range equipment who would be happy to undertake your project for less than a better camera and lens would cost.
Hope this helps you.

Best wishes,

John photographing a painting

Feedback from Mick - Hi John, Thanks for the information, it has helped me. I do understand about depth of field and shutter speeds etc, so I will try again with the manual control instead of the auto. Thanks again, Mick.

Question from George about photographing a magazine -

When I take a photo of a magazine, or photo in a magazine, the flash shows in the photo and obliterates the image.

I have a family picture in a printed magazine, and would like a copy of it to put in a frame, what is the best method please.

- Hello George,

This is a problem you will face if you use on-camera flash in front of a reflective or shiny surface.

The method I prefer is to position the magazine in even shaded daylight and use a tripod for the camera with the flash turned off. That way I can check that there are no reflections, set the camera's one-touch white balance (or to shaded daylight {about 6000ºK} if the camera does not have a one-touch white balance capability), and use a slow shutter speed if needed.

It is, of course, possible to use artificial lighting positioned to the sides of the magazine but this is a more complex solution which is not really necessary for the majority of situations.

Best wishes,

John photographing a painting

Feedback from George - Hi John, Thanks for reply, I only use a digital Nikkon Coolpix, which is fine and does all I want, its just when I photo the odd image in a magazine.

- When contacting Better Photographs, please ensure that you supply your correct email address and that you follow the guidelines about whitelisting which appear with all our contact forms.

If you do not, our reply may not reach you so you may think we haven't replied and your time will have been wasted.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Better Photographs

Photography Techniques

Image of the Month
Image of the Month
Click here to download it.

Find It

Custom Search

All of the advice, tutorials, masterclasses and ideas on this website are available to you at no charge. Even so, its upkeep does incur costs.

You Are Secure!

If you feel that the site has helped you then any contribution you make, however small, would go towards its ongoing maintenance and development.

Thanks for your help.

Book of the Month

Click here to read the review.