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Thread: Copywork Questions

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Copywork Questions

    I am relatively new to 4X5 copywork and have a couple of questions.

    1) How much lighting are most people using for studio copywork? I was thinking 4 Lowel 500-750 watt Tota Lights, but I want to make sure this is not too much for what I want to do.

    2) do most people stop down to f/22 for copywork? I am using a 150mm G-Claron and am finding that f/22 does not provide suffiicient lighting, which leads me back to question #1.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated...

  2. #2

    Copywork Questions

    Dear AJB,

    I must assume you are photographing flat work. Is that correct? What size? I do a lot of this type of work for other photographers and artists, painters etc. and usually use studio flash and daylight film if color and Tmax 100 or 400 if B&W. Usual 45 degree lighting set up adjusting slightly for texture and glare on some types of paintings etc. Many artists need slides of there work and others 4x5 transparencies. Flash eliminates color balance problems. I use a wooden 4x5 camera and make sure standards are parallel to each other and the artwork with a small bubble level and/or angle finder. I use a 210mm lens most of the time for 4x5 and only stop down to F/ll or F/16. If everything is parallel you could almost shoot wide open except for a little softness at the edges and corners. The results I get are tack sharp.

    With smaller pieces of flat art a 150mm lens may be too short. Moving in close, centered even though parallel, there is a bit of distortion at the edges that can only be overcome with a longer lens. Hope this helps.

    Photo on


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Copywork Questions

    Gary, thank you so much for your reply. I am photographing flat art work. The size ranges from 11"X14" up to 4'X6'. How do you solve your glare issues? Do you ismply move the lights to a more acute angle or do you uses polarizers? I have tried both and have not had much success with the polarizing gels and filters.

    Thanks for the suggestion on only stoping down to f/11 or f/16.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Copywork Questions

    Set up two lights at a 45 degree angle to evenly illuminate the flat artwork. Place polarizing filters over the lights and the camera lense and then adjust the polarizing filter on the camera lense to eliminate glare (you will see the effect on the ground glass). Make sure all othe lights are turned off in the workspace and that no ambient light is coming through windows, doorways etc.

  5. #5

    Copywork Questions

    I use two Tota Lites with polarizer filters over both the lens and lights. For my 4x5 work I use a 180 mm Nikor because that is what I have with EPY. My exposure is time 8 seconds and the f/stop ranges from f/11 to f/22. I photograph for museums, artists and galleries and for two dimensional work I have never needed more than two tota lites. In the art world EPY is the standard and the Tota Lites with polirizer filters will server you well.

  6. #6

    Copywork Questions

    When I am using studio flash, I use them in 36in umbrellas. I move the light to a more accute angle at times to solve some glare problems. I don't actually have much of a glare problem most of the time. Maybe it is the umbrellas and the more diffused light.

    I copy old photos for clients also, old snapshots etc., nothing that is copyrighted or even looks like it may be. These are usually under 11x14, mostly old snap shot sizes. The copy set up is tungsten with two homemade strip lights containing four 25 watt bulbs in a vertical row. These are held from the wall on articulated arms that allow positioning of the lights. I have polarizers for the lights and camera but never use them because I never get glare. The photos are held flat in an 11x14 contact printing frame with non-glare glass. That's right! Non- glare glass. The room is dark except for the copy lights. The dull side of the glass is against the object to be copied and there is very little or no loss of sharpness. I've actually done tests without the glass and printed comparison prints of the same old photos and they are indistinguishable. My old mentor of 30 years ago used this method and when he first showed me I thought he was crazy shooting through non-glare glass, but it works. The biggest issue is making sure it is flat against the glass. Because it is non-glare glass it is also neuton ring free, anti-neuton ring glass is essentially non-glare glass anyway. The prints are made conventionally, archivally processed, and I charge accordingly.

    Good light


  7. #7
    Andy Eads
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Pasco, Washington - the dry side of the state

    Copywork Questions

    Copy work of flat art 4'x6' will take some serious lighting. The light from each lamp will be spread across the entire area. Additionally, the intensity of the light will fall off as the distance from the lamp increases. The old style copy cameras had huge strip lights with specially shaped reflectors to assure even light across the artwork. These were not wimpy lights either; they often were large halogen or pulsed xenon. Polarizing filters sized for those lamps and durable enough to handle the heat were very expensive. Be sure you know what you are getting into before you committ to copying the big stuff. There are several old classic books on the topic. Kodak, Focal Press, and Amphoto are publishers with books or pamphlets on the topic that come to mind. Search Amazon and eBay for some titles. Good luck!

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