Saturday, 15 December 2012

My Photographs are so Poor, I Can’t Use them for my Artwork

Producing a work of art often involves using photographic reference. The artist may prefer to produce photos rather than source from other image banks, but soon discovers that poor photos could have an impact upon the painting. Blurred images or elements too small could force the artist to fill in the gaps, resulting in an unsatisfactory piece of art. How does the artist create photographs that will support the artwork?

Common Problems with Photography

How to Take Great Photos (photo credit of Iraqi man,
Christiaan Briggs)
The artist may feel disappointed with photos meant to support an oil painting or similar work of art. The photos might be blurred or contain insufficient visual information to be of any use. The following comprise common reason why photos are immediately deleted from the pictures file on the computer.
Images appear pixellated.
The images are blurred.
The subject matter appears too small in the photo.
The subject exhibits little detail due to poor lighting.
Vital elements are either obscured or cut off on the photo.

Solutions for Poor Photos

Before improvements can be made, the photographer needs to identify the causes at fault. The following are common causes for poor photography.

Simply pointing and shooting without any further thought for how the photo is composed.
Using a camera phone for vital pictures.
Using the digital zoom for zooming into objects far away.
Photographing the subject into the light, causing a silhouetted effect.
Using flash photography.
Not getting sufficiently close to the subject.
Low visual awareness of what lies within the LCD screen, causing important elements to be cropped.
Camera shake.
Using a wide angle lens for close ups, causing distortion.

Tips on Good Photographic Lighting

Great photos are vital if used for creating artwork. Really, a good photo depends upon three factors: good lighting, good focusing and good composition. Firstly, good lighting is vital. Don’t shoot indoors and avoid using a flash. Look for interesting light and shadow over the subject matter, such as a landscape. Bright light will enable your camera to use a high ISO and a short shutter speed, which together retains good pixellation and reduces camera shake.

Good light can be found outdoors on a bright cloudy day or in sun. Don’t shoot into the light, or the subject matter will appear as a silhouette. To illuminate deep shadows, shoot near a reflective surface, such as a white wall, or use a fill-in flash. If shooting indoors, do so near a large window or in a conservatory. Ensure the camera is able to employ a shutter speed in excess of 125th of a second. Failing that, a tripod would be vital for shutter speeds slower than 60th of a second.

How to Focus the Lens

Squeeze the shutter release gently, not abruptly. This will reduce camera shake. If wanting to get the background in focus, set the aperture to a smaller size. This might be F8 or smaller. A small aperture will create a deep focal length, so that objects of various distances will be in focus. Note that the closer the object is, the shallow the depth of field will be. Zooming in will also create a shallower depth of field. Diligent use of the aperture setting will ensure more objects will be in focus.

Tips for Excellent Photos

Avoid using the digital zoom. This function simply crops the view through the LCD screen rather than actually zooming in optically. If the zoom function is important, invest in a digital camera with a powerful zoom (say x 5 or more) and with good resolution. Don’t go for a super megapixel camera boasting more than 15 megapixels in resolution, for this will detrimentally affect the quality of the image. A digital SLR offers the photographer full control over the photographs. Cameras with a fixed lens may rely solely on the digital zoom for close-ups. Avoid if possible. Detachable lenses can now be purchased, where an additional lens can be screwed onto the digital camera's existing lens to attain a more powerful zoom or a wider viewpoint.

Perfect Portrait Photography

When it comes to taking shots of people, exercise all of the above, but avoid using the wide angle lens in close-ups. This will have an unflattering effect upon the subject, creating oversized noses or mouths. I would zoom in optically in order to flatten out the planes of the face. Describe form by trying out sidelight rather than shooting the subject fully lit. This will create interesting shadows over the face, ideal for oil painting art techniques.

Taking a Chance with Photos

Always take more photos than you think you will need. Try out different vantage points, lighting and proximities from the subject. Unsuccessful photos can always be deleted once uploaded onto the computer. Make sure nothing essential has been cropped from the viewfinder and watch out for the subject appearing too small on the LCD screen. Bear in mind that a combination of photos can be used for the painting rather than just one.

Photography Tips for Artists

Producing photos for artwork can be frustrating if the images turn out poor. Raising visual awareness of what lies within the LCD screen is the key. Look out for poor lighting and beware of using the digital zoom or of cropping off vital elements. Good lighting is vital for high detail in a photo. This means a small aperture can be used for deep focal field. If high quality images are imperative, consider investing in a digital camera with high zoom capacity, resolution, or a digital SLR.

Further Tips on Photography and Oil Painting

Difference between digital zoom and optical zoom in photography
How to increase depth of field focusing
Take great photos for Ebay
Art materials for portrait painting
What are complementary colors?