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Do I need a macro lens

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Old 22-03-12, 15:48
scoody scoody is offline  
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Default Do I need a macro lens

Hi all,
I am hoping that someone here can help me with a specific issue I have!!!
My wife is an artist and paints on canvases usually about 100cm x 100cm. She used thick oil and acrylic paint and the paintings are very textured.

I use a Nikon D3000 with a 18-55mm standard lens to take picture for sending to clients and agents etc.
At the moment I am struggling to get a true colour likeness of the painting as there are very colourful and some colour seem to get lost. I am also finding it hard to capture the depth and texture of the painting. My poor photography is reflecting bad on my wife’s brilliant work.

I was wondering if I get a macro lens this would help with the colour and detail I am trying to achieve.

Any help\suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Shane Horkan
P.S. you can see some of my poor photography and my wife great work at www.victoriahorkan.com
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Old 22-03-12, 18:20
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miketoll miketoll is offline  
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Off the top of my head I can think of several things to check out, I am sure there are more.
1) Lighting. To show texture you need the light falling slightly more from one side than the other, ie not straight on. Make sure your camera is set up precisely at 90 degrees to the painting and stop down to say f11. Also make sure the camera white balance matches the light source perhaps use a custom white balance (see your cameras manual). Best to shoot in RAW so you can adjust as necessary.
2) Use a tripod to make things precise.
3) As colour is important calibrate your monitor, I use a Spyder calibration system which works well.
Hope that helps for starters. If you can happily fill the frame with the kit lens I do not think a macro lens is necessary unless you are after absolute top quality, more a matter of your technique so start there.
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Old 22-03-12, 19:49
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Arthur53 Arthur53 is offline  
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Sorry, don't know if you need macro. I am impressed with your wife's work. Butterfly are very good but for me the light paintings 31, 33, 34 are the best. Like the style very much. Nice site simple to use. Photos look ok but lack 3D / depth on my laptop. Guess a photo will never look as good as the real thing.
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Old 22-03-12, 21:38
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petrochemist petrochemist is offline  
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No you don't need a macro lens.

I think miketoll pretty much sums it up, but I'll add a few comments.

White balance is the most important aspect for getting the colours right, though there are usually other settings in the menus that might want tweaking (My K7 has various shooting modes such as Vibrant, Bright, Natural, Muted... which effect the JPEG colour output) the contrast setting might also make quite a bit of difference to the final image.

For the texture I find an off camera TTL flash is the easiest way to go. There are plenty of TTL flash cables available on e-bay & the likes for £10-20, that will work with most makes of camera. Flash is also generally one of the easiest lights to get the right white balance for (Tungsten & fluorescent lights are much more variable). If you've not already got a TTL flash (they are quite expensive) custom white balance with a desk light should work OK. In either case as mike said it want's to be coming from towards one side, just how far over depends on how strong you want the texture to show.

I don't think a calibrated monitor will make that much difference in your situation, where you a taking images for a website, as most visitors of the site won't have calibrated monitors. So in any event the colours being displayed will vary somewhat from the true values...
If you do try tweaking a RAW image to match the colours then a calibrated monitor may put you closer to the average of all the uncalibrated views, but with the right white balance/colour settings/contrast the JPEG straight from the camera should do that reasonably well.

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Last edited by petrochemist; 22-03-12 at 21:45.
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Old 23-03-12, 00:58
robski robski is offline
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I don't know if you feel the attached is a step in the right direction but this is what can be achieved with a bit of editing in photoshop of a screen grab from the website. Experimenting with the camera or raw processing ICC (colour) profile may help. The Adobe (intended for cmyk printing) has a wider range of colours in the blues and greens compared to the standard monitor srgb profile.

Of course it may not be possible to capture the full vibrance of the acrylic paints with a camera if the gamut of the acrylic colours exceeds the range of a digital camera system. The role of profiles is often to compress a colour range of one system to match another system.

Also understanding how lighting conditions affect vibrance and depth of colour takes a while to grasp.
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Old 23-03-12, 11:38
scoody scoody is offline  
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Thank you all for taking the time to reply to me.

All the comments and suggestions have been noted and I now have a weekend of camera and PS testing (Plus a 20 mile training run for an untramarathon :-( )

You really have brough out the colours with what you have done to the image. What editor do you use, or recomend please?

Thank you all...
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Old 14-05-14, 11:10
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wolfie wolfie is offline  
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I think your questions have been answered, so I'll just mention Perfect Effects 8 which has a lot of preset filters which you can alter. This maybe just what you want as you can compare the results directly to the original.
There are quite a few other programs which do similar things such as Nik software, but these cost money. So try out Perfect Effects 8, as you have nothing to lose by doing so.


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Old 15-05-14, 11:56
davet47 davet47 is offline  
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Default Macro Lens

Just looked at your wife's website-her work is excellent. However, she should disable the right click menu in her settings-it's easy at the moment for unscrupulous people to right click and "save as", especially as the pictures appear to be 1021x1024px. This is easily big enough for a reasonable sized print to be made.

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