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Submitted on
July 20, 2013


2,595 (1 today)
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Hello friends and members!

My name is BASbird  and I’m a moderator for  :iconwatercolorists:.

As we strive to keep this group a handy resource for water based medium lovers and learners, we have come across some submissions that are wonderful and that we’d love to have in our :gallery: but the scanning was so poor we had to reject them.

We understand that many are not financially able to have access to a scanner, so this Aqua Tip is about using your camera for scanning an image.

There are several key things that lead to a bad photograph.
-Uneven lighting
-Not enough lighting
-light source being blocked by arm or camera resulting in a “spot” of shadow on a piece
-crooked shot
Out of all of these, the crooked shot problem is the easiest to fix. Out of all of them, the spot shadow problem is the hardest to fix.
The Basics to remember:
-Natural sunlight is the best for taking photographs. If you can take your picture during the day, that’s the best. There are special light bulbs that mimic natural sunlight, but they’re WAY expensive.
-if you’re taking a photo with a light source that is concentrated like a lamp, make sure you’re BEHIND your light so you don’t cast a shadow when taking a picture.
- and don’t stand between your light source and your picture. Stand at a 90 degree angle, or a 45 degree angle.
-if you don’t have a tripod, objects like blocks of wood, books, chairs…anything can be a tripod!

-The copy stand method-

For the best photographs, we’re going to make a make-shift copy stand.

A copy stand is a set of two lamps set at 45 degree angles converging at a point with a camera directly over head behind the lights. The piece goes at the point where the two lamps converge. A copy stand looks like this. ... ...

Diagrams courtesy of

In which the object in the pictures is our piece of art.

Copy stands can run from a thousand dollars or more, but with two portable goose-neck lamps and a phone/MP3 player camera, we can make one that does the same job for a fraction of the cost. Bed Bath and Beyond has small goose-neck lamps for 15 dollars each.

The lights are at such an angle that the piece is fully lit and yet the light source is not obstructing the view of the camera. The copy stand is/was used a lot for animation recording, thousands upon thousands of images could be quickly captured without moving the camera and quickly sent to a computer/roll of film. All old 2D Disney movies were shot with a copy stand.

-Things to remember:

-Make sure the lamp isn’t LOOMING over the picture, it should be next to it casting light from an angle.

-Make sure the camera is straight, and securely strapped to your tripod! In times of doubt, duct tape is your friend.

Hopefully these tips will help you take better photos. Slowing down to take time on presentation is key! Many art classes won’t consider your art if it’s crooked or shot poorly, and most importantly, capture errors take away from the beauty that should flow naturally from your art.
Happy Painting!!

Many thanks BASbird for the time and effort you spent putting this Aqua Tip together of our members.

We invite all of our members to add your ideas and experiences, in the comments below, that will help the rest of us do a better job scanning with a camera.

warm regards Cmac13
Add a Comment:
InkySnowflakes Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
this is super helpful! i'd kind of worked out on my own that daytime lighting works best, but the rest of these tips are invaluable! thank you very much for writing this C:
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014   General Artist
thanks for the input Fella Kiss (Love) by Ehsan-m much appreciated
InkySnowflakes Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
it's no problem whatsoever!! ;u;
BASbird Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Student General Artist
Here are the direct visual aides everyone!……
ChiakiNeko Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for the tip about the copy stand! 2 angled lamps definitely work better than 1 direct lamp xD
nelchee Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
The copy stand diagrams links don't work.
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
try copy and paste into your browser :nod:
nelchee Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Professional General Artist

You don't have permission to access /borisat/nenam/ on this server."

I think this URL is incorrect. There are "..." dots after the supposed URL, so the author must have copied these links from some forum or other place and the rest got lost.

abasss Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013
Nice tip. I fully support taking your pictures in the natural light, I always got the best results in that way, even if my camera wasn't great. }

One thing though; links are not working!
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Hi Agus :iconslipperyhugplz:

really? darn

i have not found a way to edit these journals - just delete or submit a new one - any ideas on how i can get back into it to fix the links?

:heart: Carole

PS we miss you :glomp: hope you're well :manhug:
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