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Old 16-01-08, 08:37 AM
Alexandra van Cruyningen Alexandra van Cruyningen is offline
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Default How to photograph an egg tempera painting?

Dear Members,
Hope you can give me some advice on how to photograph my paintings in egg tempera. They are so much better in real life and I can not get that on camera. I have a Nikon D50 with a portrait lense. I have tried in northern light, but It still comes out lousy. I have posted some on the critique forum. Do any of you have any tips?
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Old 17-01-08, 12:13 AM
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paintrman paintrman is offline
Kelley Vandiver
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Location: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
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Default Alexandra

As you are using a D50, your work is already digital so my advice to you is to open the file in Adobe Photoshop and correct the levels, color, and saturation in that wonderful software program. You can make an average looking photo into a perfect photograph with Photoshop. I also take all of my own photos and find that none are perfect and could use a little help.

I wish you much luck with your photos/paintings. I really liked your painting of the novelist!

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Old 17-01-08, 01:14 PM
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JeffG JeffG is offline
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Location: US (NJ)
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When I do photos myself, I do mine outdoors on overcast days... when it is bright but no shadows.

Lately, I get the important ones done professionally, at really high resolution. But thats only when I have the time to get one shot (a weeks turnaround) and it doesn't have to go out the minute I finish it.

One good idea Ive been doing lately is getting a professional color card and shooting that with the painting. I always crop the edges of the digital image anyway, and the colorcard lets me tweak the colors and value more precisely, even on the professionally-shot images.
Jeff G
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Old 18-01-08, 06:15 PM
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RobM RobM is offline
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Location: Nottingham, England
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Just got to agree with Jeff........photograph outside on an overcast day. I use a tripod and either lay the work flat on the ground and check for any light differences through the view finder......otherwise I prop the painting at about 45 degrees to catch the maximum of the subdued sky lighting.
On a sunny day I rely on clouds passing.......I sit and wait and just as the cloud totally obscures the sun I shoot....usually a number of shots as nothing is really wasted on digital. I clean up with photoshop.
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Old 26-01-08, 11:25 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 205
Default Photographing your work

One other thought if you are considering a scanner at all for your smaller paintings.
I have an Epson Perfection 4990 photo scanner and it is a dream. It makes great scans
not only for reflective art, but also from slides and from 8" x 10" transparencies.
All can be color retouched with Photoshop or another photo program as previously mentioned.

Good luck, I have been enjoying seeing your postings of your work.
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Old 02-02-08, 09:14 AM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: NWT, Canada
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I've been wondering the same thing. I've had oil paintings shot by a bunch of photographers, and I found one who parents are painters who has a golden touch with copy work. The problem being he is on the other side of the country since we just moved, and not cheap. I was trying to contact him to see if there was any equipment he used that i should invest in as I was hoping to document more work in progress for the blog, and work that I will be sending to other places. The photos and scans I tried didn't do egg tempera justice at all. I tried to contact him through another photographer who sent me this advice. If I get any more information once I'm in touch I'll be sure to share it here.

This is the email my photographer friend sent me. He has documented some of my early work and did a very good job, but there was something this other professional was doing, which makes me think he must have some special trick or expensive equipment that made all the difference.

if you have a video lighting kit you are already on your way.

This is really not as complicated as people think.

I'll send a couple of diagrams but the general principle of any copywork is to have two equal stength lights at 45 degree angles to your art work. This cuts down on the reflecting of light off the surface onto the lens.

Look up a picture of a "photo copy stand" and you'll get the idea.

Paint, of course, has it own ideas so a little "fudging" on the angles until you get the desired result.

satin or low gloss is easier than oil :^)

The "trick" setup is polarized light but any electronic strobe or tungstun lighting will do the job. Tungstun ( or light bulbs) is better for beginners as you can see what the light is doing. Just have to remember to use tungstun balanced slide film or have your colour balance set to tungstun on a digital camera. Depending on the camera you can do a custom white balance to get perfect colour.

The camera should be square to the copy surface.
50mm lens and above is perfect. Wide angles distort the edges. for the camera.

6 megapixels minimum (this will give you a very good 8X10 @ 300dpi file)

remember, with digital cameras, bigger IS better.

The next thing is the settings. If the camera can do a manual white balance this will ensure proper colour balance.

You can adjust the contrast, sharpness, saturation in the camera to get the preferred results but Photoshop/Gimp does the trick also to tweek the file to get the saturation and luminosity you desire.

It doesn't get much simplier than this.
My friend has been a digital photographer from way back. Tweaking and photoshop can be fine for online, but (and correct me if I'm wrong) don't most galleries and funding agencies still expect slides? i guess it's possible to have digital images turned into slides. i'm not sure... but maybe the point to people asking for slides is to have a more accurate picture of the actual work? but then again, if tweaking makes it closer to work in the flesh, then that would be the case wouldn't it?

hope this makes sense. time for me to catch up on sleep...

Last edited by jpohl; 02-02-08 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 02-02-08, 03:53 PM
AlexGarcia AlexGarcia is offline
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Location: Allentown, PA
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Default Slides from Digital Files

I have made slides from digital files using this company: and have had good results.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:34 AM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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well that worth bookmarking. it's a new age! i still have to wonder how well the light quality in egg tempera can be captured on film. i'm a bit far from Florence to compare the copy work of some of the great masters, but what kind of difference do other people see between photographic reproductions, compared to work in the flesh in tempera as compared to oil? i know the glare on oil may make things tricky sometimes but I was wondering how well the luminosity in tempera could be picked up on film? seeing as i only have my own work to go by.. way up here near the arctic circle. I can see images that look great online or in print, but have no way of knowing how they compare to the real thing. My next tour of museums may be a little way away...

i should start saving up for that trip to Florence soon.

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Old 03-02-08, 09:52 AM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Originally Posted by AlexGarcia View Post
I have made slides from digital files using this company: and have had good results.
Well I may not make it to Florence this year, but I just followed your link and seeing your work and demonstration online is very inspiring... Thank you everyone who helped to put this website together! It is an amazing resources for those of us so far removed! The light and detail in your work is wonderful, but how do you find it compared to the actual work? How did you set about doing the copy work?

Not to pick your brain or anything. (^;

I have a long path ahead of me I know...
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Old 03-02-08, 03:43 PM
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jim jim is offline
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dear jp, about photographs.
i've been trying to make photographs of my paintings for at least 40 years, with a variety of inexpensive cameras, and very mixed results. and i have never had access to any really fancy studio equipment, altho some of my friends have. right at the moment, i'm using a nikon digital camera (coolpix). i shoot on a tripod for stability, and i light the paintings either by natural window light or i shoot them in the shade in the alley outside my studio. direct sunlight doesn't seem to work well for me, and i most often use the regular programmed setting, where light exposure is automatic. i know this seems so simple it must be stupid, but some of the pictures are pretty good. and as you say, the computer can make some very helpful adjustments in terms of contrast or color. i have two friends with much more expensive camea setups who both say they will give me a hand at photographing some of my paintings, and i have every intention of making use of their kind offers, but for various reasons i have not gotten to it yet. wish me luck.
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