Digital Capture - Quality Matters

Posted by Guy Maishman 15/09/2014 0 Comment(s) Painting Digital Capture,

I want the prints of my artwork to look exactly like the originals.  Capture quality is the essential first step.  Today's technology enables original artwork to be digitally captured in several ways.  Over the years, I have found that not all digital capturing technology provide results that are easy to work with, in spite of the best efforts of well-intentioned professionals.


My First Digital Scanning Experience:

I started by having my originals digitally scanned at a high quality printer using direct scans of up to 8200 dpi by a large format BetterLight scanning camera.  It was mated with specialized optics and a HID lighting system to minimize glare and reflection to capture every nuance of detail from even the largest of orginals.  Very detailed digital images were captured but there were problems.  When I zoomed in, I found many hundreds of small white dots liberally distributed all over my captured images:

  • The dots congregated on the color boundaries and on slightly ridged painting surfaces.
  • The dots had to be photoshopped out, using the cloning tool.
  • Cloning took many hours of work.
  • The more I zoomed in, the more white dots I found.

The resulting prints look just like the originals, but the hours of photoshop cloning work that had to be done took the pleasure out of creating them.


My Second Digital Scanning Experience:

I tried another organization that used a Cruze overhead digital scanner and worked with the technician that performed the capture. The results were better but:

  • There were still too many white dots to generate a great print.
  • Many hours were again spent cloning them out.
  • Once you start cloning it is very difficult to know when to stop.
  • The more I zoomed in, the more white dots appeared.

The technician worked very hard to reduce the number of white dots, but it was the same problem only less.


My Professional Photographer Experience:

I found a professional photographer experienced in capturing images of objects used in high-quality advertising materials.  He studied my previous digitally scanned images and could not really explain how all the white dots got there.  We worked on the essential elements required to get great digital photo captures:
  • Lighting:  The photographer set up soft light, worked out the lighting angles that were the best for each of my paintings, angled his high definition digital camera so that the images were captured head on.  Multiple pictures were taken to see which lighting angles produced the best images.
  • Exposure:  There must be enough to get the richness of the color to come through on the image the way you see it in life.  A professional can make sure that the exposure is right for the lighting conditions.
  • Focus:  A highly focused image is essential for a great capture.  However there is a limit before the capture starts to look odd, like a cardboard cut-out of itself.  So, a professional's judgement is essential to push the focus to the limit before a capture starts looking strange.
  • Image Checking:  We looked at each image on the computer linked to the camera.  I was present during the whole session reviewing the capture of each painting.
    • Multiple pictures were taken of each image to lighting angles produced the best images. 
    • Some touch up work was required at the computer to make the images look like the originals.
    • We zoomed in to make sure there were no "new" white dots!  A few appeared where the diffused light did reflect off some of the brush strokes, but the photographer changed the angle of the light so that the reflections were minimized.

The capture of each painting was unique, and some paintings posed more problems with others.  I had the right of customer approval before each capture was finished, and I ended up with digital captures with high resolution, clarity and focus that satisfied my needs.  No follow-up photoshop cloning work was needed.


High Quality Captures Result in High Quality Prints

I work hard to paint color everywhere and really resent any white dots that are introduced in the image capture process.  So, I am glad to say that working with a highly trained photographer using the latest technology has provided the best image capture solution for me.  The next step is to take the file captures to my high-quality giclée printer to get some test prints made and color balance them with their amazingly precise printers.

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