Lighting for photographing a painting

Here is an example of what happens when you photograph a painting with an on-camera flash.  The light reflects straight back at the camera, making the painting seem “washed out,” especially toward the middle. Using a light on each side of the painting creates shadows on each side, but, the contrast and evenness of the lighting make it much more flattering.  Having lights to the side also help show the texture and brushstrokes better… this picture is too small to see that though.

You could, of course, shoot the picture with the on-camera flash, as long as you shoot it from an angle.  The painting would be skewed a little bit though, and, the lighting wouldn’t be nearly as even.

The image on the left was shot with a light on each side of the camera, each light being at about 30°  from the painting.  The picture on the right was shot with an on-camera flash.

The image on the left was shot with a light on each side of the camera, each light being at about 30° from the painting. The picture on the right was shot with an on-camera flash. Oddly, the shadow under her jaw is completely messed up in the on-camera flash picture... The artist must have used a less reflective paint in that area.

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