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Manchester Open 2020: How to Photograph Your Work

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Setting up your artwork

  • Place your artwork against a neutral background.
  • If your work is not mounted, attach it to a backing and hang or lean it against a wall to photograph. For smaller artwork you could place it on the floor and shoot from overhead.
  • If your artwork is under glass, remove it from its frame. If this is not possible try using a polarising filter to reduce reflections.
  • Make sure the whole artwork is under a soft and even (diffuse) light, for example next to a window, or under an overcast sky if you are outside. You want to avoid shadows, reflections or bright spots.
  • If you are using natural light, make sure all electronic lights and your camera’s built-in flash are turned off.
  • If using electric lights try putting a white sheet in front of the light to make it less harsh. Be careful and don’t do this with hot lights.
  • If your camera has a daylight setting, use this when photographing in natural light.

Setting up your camera

  • Use the best camera you have access to; this could be a professional camera or the camera on your phone.
  • The camera or phone should be steady to make sure your image is sharp. Place on a flat surface or on a tripod with the camera parallel to your artwork.
  • Align your camera (or artwork) so that the centre of the lens is directly in line with the centre of your artwork.
  • To make sure you don’t get any shake from your hands, use the camera’s self-timer mode or a remote or cable release.
  • Make sure the whole artwork is in the frame, but only leave a small margin around the work to ensure you get the maximum resolution.
  • If you have the option, put your camera on the lowest ISO setting (50, 100 or 200).

Taking your photographs

  • Use auto-focus.
  • Avoid wide-angle lenses as these may distort the edges of your artwork.
  • If you are using a DSLR, choose a focal length between 50-100mm and then move your camera closer or further away from the artwork as needed.
  • If you are using a compact camera, set the optical zoom at a middle range.
  • If you are using a smartphone or tablet, avoid using the zoom as it will reduce the quality of your image.
  • Take several photographs and check them so you can adjust the light, ISO, focus or distance to get the best image.
  • Before packing away your equipment, check your images closely on your computer.
  • With smaller pieces, where there is no surface texture, you could use a desktop scanner.

Editing and saving your photographs

  • If using a smartphone, please don’t add any filters to your image, including any black and white filters.
  • If using a computer, download your photographs and use editing software to remove the background around your artwork. Zoom in and check your image for any flaws or focus issues.
  • There are lots of free editing software options: for Mac use Photos; for Windows use Google Photos; or use online editing software such as PicMonkey or Pixlr.
  • Do not over-edit your image. We want to see a true representation of your artwork.
  • The file size of your submitted image should not exceed 20MB and should be at least 96dpi.
  • Images must be submitted in one of the following formats: JPG, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, TIF