Recently we had a client come in to work look to get his painting reproduced on the printing press. This gave me an idea!
Working in the printing industry I’ve learned a few things that most of the public ignore. The most prevalent lesson is that we have trouble reproduce oil and water colour paintings in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). The colour gamut is very small in CMYK printing. We have to try and reproduce the colours of a painting while compensating for the colour of the canvas behind it compared to the paper stock it’s being printed on. It’s a difficult time consuming and, at times, painful experience.
The general way to get the painting into a electronic images has been for a local photographer to shoot if with a film camera and give us a transparency. From that we have to scan it in on a high-end scanner. The problem with this is the transparency is rarely colour correct to the painting, and the scanner sees some colours differently to the human eye. this means that the colours are completely out of whack by the time we show the client a proof.
Knowing all the problems involved with a painting of this sort gave me the idea to try and shoot the painting myself with my digital camera and cut out the extra handling. I used a couple different light set-ups combining natural light with diffused flash.
This shot below is what I think is the closest to the original. It was taken in the shad with a direct diffused flash (thanks to my sb-900 and Gary Fong Lightsphere). I got the white balance correct by using a WhiBal white balance card.
As I said, this is the one “I think” is the closest to the original, the client chose a different image which I think is too blue. But the customer is always right (unless they are wrong 😉 ). Either way it has made my job at work much, much easier!