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Thread: Lighting for a copy stand

  1. #1

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    Lighting for a copy stand

    How do you do it for even illumination?

  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    If you Google Copy Stand, and look at images, you'll see a bunch of examples. Basically, two to four lights from the perimeter, all at a low enough angle not to cause reflections.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

  3. #3

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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    You first need lights that emit even illumination at close distances. Then the light on the left side is directed to the right side of the copy board and the light on the right side is directed to the left side of the board. That way you don’t over light the center of the board. Both lights at equal distances and equal angles to the copy board.

    There are some instances where totally polarized light is best. That requires a polarizing filter on each light set and the same degree of polarization and one on the lens set at the same degree. This type of copy lighting will work on basically all subjects except precious metals and is the best type for art work to eliminate all reflections and show details of the brush strokes. But you need foils that can withstand the heat from the lamps.

    If you are shooting color best lamps are daylight fluorescents at 5500K and a cri of 95 or better or equally corrects LED lamps.

  4. #4

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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    You will find in the books that lights are at a 45deg angle to the copy board, but there's a refinement to this...

    Lights with a parabolic reflector generally have a hot spot in the center of the beam, and if well designed, have an even fall-off off-axis... You would aim the hot spot towards the far edge of the copy area, and read the falloff with a digital incidence meter (prefer one with 1/10 f-stop resolution) and get the area across the copy board within a couple of 10's... Then, turn off 1st light and repeat the process with the other light, then read across the copy area corner to corner to within a 10th stop, with all areas matching... The lights start aiming at 45deg, but might find the lights nearly aiming at each other as you adjusted for falloff... (Use a good lens shade)

    For a copy area of around 8X10, 2 lights should be enough, but for larger copy, the lights might have to be further away, or 4 lights... You might have a little more freedom having lights on stands, but will take longer to set-up... You should locate the rig somewhere you can leave it set-up, so you can copy at will... Spend an afternoon or evening setting it up beforehand, and take notes so you can replicate this in the future...

    A useful trick is standing a pencil (on a base) straight up in the center of the board that will cast a shadow in two directions evenly so you can see if the lights are on the right axis...

    If your copy has a smooth, flat surface, you can usually not have to polarize the lights... An enlarging easel can work well to hold copy prints, or glass for really curly stuff (but sometimes Newton's rings will appear on glossy materials)... The camera will reflect onto the glass, but you can kill this by cutting a lens hole into a piece of black foamcore that covers the camera or black fabric...

    That should get you started, but there's Kodak books on copying etc, that cover filters + more for specific problems with copy originals...

    Good luck!!!

    Steve K

  5. #5
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    You need to be a lot more specific. How large of are the pieces you need to copy? What kind of camera and lens do you intend to use? Is this going to be in color or just black and white? Opaque copy only (like prints) or also backlit transparencies? Anything shiny? What kind of budget do you have in mind?

  6. #6

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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    Just go to the Kaiser web site and look at their copy stands and light systems and you will get a good idea of how it all works.

    http://www.kaiser-fototechnik.de/en/...oduktsuche.asp

    Just remember your camera has to be properly aligned to the subject, trickier if you don’t have a good copy stand.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    There are more lighting options these days then there once were. Just depends on how serious one wants to get.

  8. #8

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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    Thanks for the help!

    I am using a small Fuji digital cam. Mostly color photos. Letter size or smaller items. I guess I was wondering what would be a good, affordable set of lights to get or if you jury-rigged a set of lights.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    I tried all the usual suspects for copy stands. Bought, modified and junked them all.

    I was doing a lot of 20X24" images on 28X32 paper, copying very good color pencil on high grade paper. Not all the same size. All different. Each a one off masterpiece.

    Lighting was a problem until I set up a room sized copy stand.

    I now use an 9ft tall Arkay Camera stand, and 3 Paul C Buff Einstein strobes on C-stands. I use a grid to align the DSLR with 20" monitor. Then I lock down the camera and consider lighting.

    With a very while 11 ft tall ceiling as reflector I opposite bounce 2 strobes on the long dimension. Since the Arkay stand is on one short side, I put a large white bounce card there and the third strobe opposite. I also have to consider camera shadow.

    Then I tune the light for evenness over the subject area with my spotmeter.

    Last is manual focus locked down with gaff tape.

    I also add popsicle sticks marked for direction as his work is difficult to know which way is up.

    Then I am ready for the whirlwind. This guy is way more manic than I. We talk and work fast and I try to slow him down. He unpacks his portfolio. I have him place the art. I center it. Then pop about 5 shots of each. Usually about 20 in 30 minutes and he is gone.

    He takes all the art with, despite my desire to have it to compare color...

    So I run it all through PS and do what I think best, which does involve slight edge cropping, squaring his hand made art and color correction.

    I also make him small sales books to carry into galleries. I resize all his work for online gallery submissions. Which vary.

    His work sells for $1000 each and up. No frame. This is his hobby, it helps him relax after a day of actual Government work. It looks computer made as it's often geometrical, but all hand done with amazing perfection.

    I also lecture him about data protection as once somebody steals his work it is gone.

    We did this for 5 years. Then I moved far away. He has found no one to replace me.

    So it goes
    sin eater

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Lighting for a copy stand

    I've made and used some pretty fancy copy setups. But I eventually tossed em out due to space limitations - had to find another enlarger station, and in this case, a fairly big Durst L184 color unit. So what I did is machine a lensboard for the Durst enlarger with a little hole accepting a regular 3/8-16 inch tripod head bolt, though in this case, a longer bolt going through an extra spacer too, to give the pan/tilt head more clearance, enough for either P67 copy applications or a Nikon DLSR, as well as my film Nikon. I already had appropriate copy lenses for these cameras. Then I fitted arms to the enlarger baseboard to hold copy lights on either side. In this case the baseboard is quite large; but in principle, any enlarger with vertical column (preferably) can be adapted for copystand use without giving up its primary use as an enlarger. Mine almost instantly goes back and forth. I'd post an image except for the fact this current computer still needs a bit of software interface tweaking to do so; and it's my wife's computer, not mine for imaging purposes.
    Now lights. I have an excellent set of old Lowell hot lights with barndoors and gels holders which I previously used. But hot lights are indeed hot, and make the workspace uncomfortable, and burn out bulbs from time to time. Primitive photoflood bulbs will work if you're own a tight budget. But I thought it was time to rethink this and do something a bit more luxurious; and besides, my opthamologist wants me to stay completely away from bright lights to minimize cataract risk in old age. So I did some research on current LED panel options and finally settled on a pair of Savage rim lights that had good even illumination without any pattern showing on an even surface (a symptom of some LED panels). These are mid-priced units but plenty powerful for copy use. The rated color temperatures are never correct because they don't take into account the yellowing effect of the diffusion material itself or differences between specific lights. But these particular units have both an adjustable color temp and adjustable lumen output. So using a big sheet of medium gray matboard, a spotmeter, and a color temp meter, I adjusted the lights for perfectly even illumination (in this case, NOT at 45 degrees - they differ from spotlights), both matched to 4500K, which yields excellent color accuracy using a MacBeath Color Checker chart and my DLSR set to 5000K. The only minor tweak it needed is a pale salmon Sing Ray KN filter, though an ordinary skylight filter is nearly as good. This seems to give better accuracy than fooling with the internal app on the camera. I was lucky to run into an inspected and warranted Df Nikon which sold for a third of the normal price because it had been dropped and dented, luckily, where this had no functional effect. This particular model is nice because it has dial controls on the top which are accessible when the camera is mounted vertically on the stand. But this was a brief rainy weather project now on hold, since I've already tested it. It's actual color printing season for me now.

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