|Oak Creek Blues - 9x12, pastel - Tweaked Image|
I am about to start pulling work for my annual web-based Holiday Sale. As I get paintings ready, the problem of posting good images of the work raises its ugly head.
Other than doing paperwork, one of my least favorite tasks as a professional, working artist is the imaging of my work. Back in the old days, it was bad enough. You'd get out the photoflood lamps, buy a roll of tungsten film, bracket your shots, and with a bit of luck, you ended up with some slides that looked reasonably similar to the actual paintings. But these days, what with the differences between models of cameras and scanners, monitors and printers, it's a lot tougher.
Recently, I decided I'd gotten pretty good with my digital SLR or, if the work was small enough, my flatbed scanner. With a few tweaks in Photoshop, I could get what looked to be an accurate image. (In the camera, I set a custom white balance and bracket my exposures; in Photoshop, I fine-tune the temperature and exposure.) Images uploaded to my blog and web site looked decent - or so I thought.
But at shows and galleries, people were remarking, "Your paintings look a lot better in person than they do on the Web!" Things finally came to a head this summer. Over the course of last winter, I'd been making my adjustments on my Dell laptop; but when I got to my other machine, a Dell desktop, at my summer studio later, all the images looked alarmingly warm and washed out. Prints looked just as bad, too. I had to run all those images back through the Photoshop mill to correct them. They look better now - but who really knows? Your monitor is different from my monitor.
I understand that there are calibration tools available to make the image on-screen look just like the original, and similar tools for printers. Photoshop uses concepts like "color profile." (My Photoshop CS2 is set for color profile sRGB -IEC61966-2.1.) I'm sure there are other adjustments I could make, but I honestly don't know what they would be. I'm envious of the painters who effortlessly take a snapshot and throw it up on the web, and get great results.
For comparision, I wanted to see how one of my images looked on different screens. At the top of this blog is an image that looks to me pretty close to the original. Below are some shots of the same image on a variety of monitors; plus the original scanned image and a shot with my little Canon Powershot. (I didn't feel like dragging out the DSLR.)
So, I'd like some feedback from fellow artists. How do you get successful shots of your work - and are you sure that they do, in fact, look close to the original?
|Tweaked image on Trina's laptop - too blue, cool, but still better than my laptop below|
|Tweaked image on my laptop (left) and big monitor (right); |
laptop is too cool, big monitor looks warmer and about right
|Original, untweaked image from Canon PowerShot - too cool; |
set on auto white balance and shot on a covered porch on a sunny day
|Original, untweaked image from Umax flatbed scanner - still too cool|