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Thread: Photographing Drawings

  1. #1
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    Sep 2011
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    Photographing Drawings

    I'm a long time lurker on this forum and for the most part I was fine reading the posts and browsing the sketchbooks for quick fixes of motivation. However, I've wanted to start a sketchbook of my own for a couple of month now but I don't have a scanner.
    What I do have though, is access to three cameras, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice on photographing pencil/pen drawings.
    Things like how to position them and on what background? What light source to use and in what angle so there is no shine? What camera setting should I use? Flash or no flash?

    If it helps you these are the camera names:
    1. A simple digital point and shoot camera "Canon S90"
    2. A "Canon EOS 40D" with a 55mm lens that came with the camera.
    3.A "Canon 5D Mark 2" with a 24-105mm Macro 0.45m lens.

    Also the extra lenses are:
    1. "Canon" Macro EF-S 60mm lens.
    2. "Canon" Macro 100mm lens
    3. Canon 85mm lens

    I have a stand so stability isn't a problem, and I know I should experiment and just find out on my own, but I was wondering if anyone with some past experience with this could share some simple tips before I start.
    Thank you.
    (Was gonna post this on the photography forum but it seemed kinda dead with only four topics in it...)
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  3. #2
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    May 2008
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    I have seen a thread somewhere about it, but can't remember where.
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  4. #3
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    Oct 2007
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    I did a fair bit of copystand work back in the day. You want to light from the sides to avoid hotspots. Preferably from both sides at once. Flash will probably not be your best option. A good directional desk lamp on either side, far back enough to avoid making a spot anywhere. Try to align the camera and the artwork as much as possible. If either is tilted, you get a keystoning effect (which also distorts your drawing).

    Or, if none of that is possible, just pop away and experiment for a while and throw away the failures. Electrons are cheap.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Near Philly, US
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    Follow Stoat’s advice on lighting and camera/art alignment.
    You can also take your rig outside for light, though not as convenient.

    I too have done my fair share of copy work on transparency film, both 35mm and 4x5 with a view camera, using strobes for light.

    You have everything that you need, minus the lights, maybe.
    I’d use the 60mm macro, it’ll get you in closer than the 100. Since both the 60 and 100 are probably true macros, there probably also flat-field lenses as well, which means you won’t have to worry about lens barrel distorted images (curved lines near the periphery). It’s great you have the copy stand available, too. Let’s hope it extends high enough for your larger paper sizes.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by bill618; March 14th, 2013 at 08:47 PM.
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  6. #5
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    Sep 2011
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    Thank you very much.
    I'll gather a few lamps from the house and give it a try.

    @bill618 The largest size I have is A3 so it shouldn't be a problem. I'll start from the 60mm and see how they turn out.
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