Taking Images of Art Work

Taking Images of Art Work



Taking images of your work is time consuming, and it requires a different skill than making the work. There are plenty of people you can pay to do this for you but it tends to be expensive and inconvenient. With a little practice and a few failures you can easily obtain high quality images.

Images become a documentation of your work. This is important for a number of reasons. If a piece is sold or destroyed (fire, theft, etc.) you have a record of your artistic production.   The primary reason though is a convenient way to show your portfolio to get into graduate school, juried shows, art residencies, galleries or to give public presentations

(lectures) of your work (this may include a job interview).

Unfortunately if you have poor quality images your work will be judged to be of poor quality. You should make every attempt to get the best image possible that represents the work accurately. Avoid showing anything in the back ground that is not part of the work (wrinkled blankets); this also includes not showing a person to show scale. Use an image list that indicates size and materials. Once you get a good image you will never need to photograph it again so take the time to do it right.


What you will need: Check these out from Room 120. You must leave your I.D. card. Hours are posted on the door of room 120 (Plaster Room).

35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) digital camera

Tripod for camera

lights and light reflectors

2 extension cords

Clean surface to shoot against


Terms to know:


Color Temperature– Different types of light sources give different color light (daylight, florescent bulbs, and tungsten bulbs). You must match the type of film with the color the light produces in order to produce slides with a realistic color. Mismatched lights and film can produce a blue or green tint to the slide. The Color Temperature of a light is determined by heating a black carbon bar to very high temperatures until it starts to glow. The temperature and color it produces are noted giving a Color Temperature scale that is then compared to light sources.


Daylight: 5000K Color Temp

Type B Tungsten light: 3200K Color Temp

Household lights: 2600-2900K Color Temp


Film Speed– Sensitivity to light (25,32,40,50,64,80,100,125,160,200,250, etc.


Focal Length– The number in “mm” on the front of the camera lens.

Wide angle: less than 40mm

Normal: 40-60mm

telephoto: greater than 60mm


Aperture-The size of the hole in the lens that lets in the light. Also called “f-stop” (1.8, 2.8,4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, etc.) “Little number, big hole – big number, little hole”


Depth of Field-How much of the foreground, middle ground and background is in focus. Related to Aperture: the larger the Aperture number the more will be in focus.


Shutter Speed-How quickly the shutter opens and closes. B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000.   Most people can hold a camera by hand down to 1/60 of a second with success. Make fractions by putting “1” over any of the numbers to give you the fraction of a second the shutter will remain open. (Example 1/1=one second, 1/2=one half second, 1/4=one quarter of a second, etc.)


Bracketing –This can be set automatically on the camera by using the aperture to adjust the amount of light entering the camera to produce a good image with the right amount of light and dark. One number up from the correct meter reading gives a little more light (lighter slide) and one number down from the correct meter reading gives a little less light (darker slide). Hopefully one of these three will be correct.




You can get good images of smaller scale works by using the auto mode with the flash off on a good quality digital SLR camera. You must turn off all the lights except the photobooth lights. The camera will adjust the settings for you but you must compose and entirely fill up the frame with the object. Take a ¾ view, slightly looking down on the object. Do not take images directly from the side so the object looks flat.


Procedure for Taking images:


  • Put artwork on a clean photobooth.


  • Set up two lights so there is one light above and over the camera, just to the right (dominate). The other light (secondary) is in front, and below the camera, to the left.  Avoid having the lights so close that there are bright spots on the art or reflections off the surface.   Adjust the lights by moving them back or angling them slightly away from the art to produce a soft, consistent light over the entire piece of art. There should be shadows that define the 3D surface of the form. Shut off any other lights in the room; close the door and the blinds so no other types of light enter the room.  DO NOT LEAVE THESE LIGHTS UNATTENTED OR ON UNNECESSARILY! THEY GET EXTREMLY HOT!
  • Remove the lens cap.
  • Turn the small button on the top, right side of camera from Off to ON.
  • Turn the big round knob on the top right of the camera clockwise completely until the square box with a zigzag arrow through it lines up with the white mark (to the left of the round knob). This disables the flash.
  • Put the camera on the tripod and position it slightly above the art vertically (adjust the tripod up and down) and center it on the art horizontally (move the tripod left and right). Look through the view finder and spin the art to a 3/4 view that creates a good composition in the view finder.


  • Look through the viewfinder and move (twist) the zoom lens adjustment ring on the lens (the outer ring just behind where it says “IMAGE STABILIZER”) so the art almost completely fills the picture frame.


  • While still looking through the view finder press the shutter button half way down to focus the camera. The object should appear sharp and crisp.


  • If the focus is sharp and the object completely fills the frame, press the shutter button all the way down. You should hear a click and that tells you a picture has been taken.


  • To review your image, press the blue play button (on the back of the camera, lower right corner of the screen). If you want to keep the image, press the shutter button half way to resume shooting. To delete the image press the “trash” button then select Erase with the right arrow and press


  • Turn the art work to take a second view and repeat steps 6-10.


  • Continue photographing all work.


Downloading images to the computer


  • Once you have taken all the images, turn the camera Off and turn the computer on. Plug the camera in to the computer using the small cord connected to the computer. On the left side of the camera there is a small door marked “Video Out”. Open this up and find the correct place for the plug. Keep the camera turned
  • Log on to the computer.
  • Go to the Windows Icon (the start button flag thing, very lower left) and double click.
  • Double click on “Computer.”
  • Turn ON the Camera
  • Double click on “CANON EOS Digital Rebel XSi”
  • Double click on “SD” (storage device).
  • Click on “DCIM” folder.
  • Click on “100 Canon.” Your images should pop up.
  • Press and hold “Ctrl” while you click on the images you want.
  • Now right click on one of these highlighted images and select “cut”
  • Find “My Pictures” to the left and click.
  • Look at the menu bar at the top and click on “New Folder”(right side).
  • Find and click on the new folder to highlight.
  • Now right click. Select and left click on “Paste”. Your images are now on the computer.







Accessing Mahara


1) Log on to “MyPlymouth” by clicking on the Internet Explorer icon.

2) Click on “MyCourses.”

3) Look on the right side of the screen and scroll down until you come to “MyLearning.”

4) Click on “ePortfolio (Mahara).”



Uploading images to Mahara


Look on the Mahara Home page on the left hand boxes for instructions on all things related to Mahara!


Sharing your Page (images)


Email the Secert URL to your professor .


Finishing up


Make sure that you’ve emailed your View’s Secret URL to your professor


Turn off the lights and pack up the camera and return to Room 120 attendants to get your ID card.


If you have questions please contact your instructor or Phil Lonergan,D&M 116, X5-2549, email plonergan@mail.plymouth.edu


Here is a pretty good video about how to set up lights. You can skip the the camera info.