Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The graphite portrait I've been working on has been approved.  There were only 2 thumbnail size photos available for me to work from and ordinarily I would have declined as I couldn't see much detail.  However there are exceptional circumstances so I did this on a 'no obligation' basis.  I liked the slightly unusual pose here.  My client has been working overseas but will be back in England tomorrow and will drive to meet me/collect the portrait.

But ..... how do you photograph your graphite pictures?  No matter what camera setting I use the pics turn out blue.    I've got very basic photo-editing packages (Photoshop Elements 2.0, PaintNet and Irfanview) and haven't found a way of dealing with the problem.    The drawing is on Brilliant White Mellotex paper and the photos are blue as you can see

I've adjusted the brightness level but have lost definition

and in the following 'tweaks' I have increased the Red and the Green levels respectively.   Its so frustrating.

I'd be very grateful for any advice about how to deal with this in the future.    Most of my pictures have to be photographed as they are larger than my A4 scanner.


Pauline said...

Lovely picture Sue, it has an illustrative quality to it. I find scanning better than the camera and then stitch them together. I scan as a 'document' rather than 'photo'

Jan/PetsToPosies.com said...

No matter how you tweak it, it's still a gorgeous painting, especially considering what you had to work with!
Since I don't work in graphite,I don't have any first hand knowledge to share about getting a good graphite photo. I have heard that the best way is to scan it with a piece of clear mylar between the scanner and the painting. I know you said this is too big for your scanner though.

sue said...

Thanks Pauline ... I've passed on your suggestion to the 'technical department' - David!! If he can find how to stitch on any of our programmes I'll give it a go.

Thanks Jan - your research and link to Smilla Enlarger helped enormously in getting maximum detail from such a small ref photo. I've never heard about using mylar (drafting film) in that way so I'll experiment with that tomorrow on a small piece :o)

Jennifer Rose said...

i have the same problems taking pics of graphits, i just do the same thing pauline does. can be a pain for a big piece, but i find it a lot easier then messing around with the comp

Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Hi Sue, I have an Epson flatbed scanner which has a Grayscale setting under colour options, eg. where it might normally say 48bit colour, you could click on that and see if you have other options. I find this gives the most accurate scan for black and white drawings. I think you have done an amazing job too, considering you only had thumbnails to work from - good for you!!! :)

Jan/PetsToPosies.com said...

Well,I think the absolute best stitching software is PhotoStitch which comes free with Canon products (you may have it already on an installation cd from a Canon product.

If not, I did a quick search for free stitching software and came up with the following:


Most stitching software that's any good is not free. I haven't tried the MS software so can't recommend it. David may know of something I don't know about too.

Jan/PetsToPosies.com said...

Of course I find something else after I've already posted! The following is from Serif & I usually like their free software but I always use a "throw-away" email addy (like a hotmail email) as they can get aggressive with pushing their for pay products. Again, I've never used this stitching software but it's probably very good:


Laura Barber-Riley said...

I feel your pain! You mentioned that you have tried different camera settings- does your camera allow you to change the white balance? If so, and if you haven't already tried it that should help with the blue a lot. Also, have you tried photographing in lots of different places around the house? I generally march about the house and garden with mine taking lots of photos and just pick the best one! I'm sure you have probably tried both those things aready though!

Beautiful portrait!

sue said...

Thanks for all the ideas ladies. I'm just off to voluntary job at the Hospice eBay office so won't get a chance to really look into them till this evening.
Client meeting me around lunchtime to collect this portrait but he has already approved it despite the poor quality photo :-) I'd like to know how to do better next time though.

Chrissy said...

Some interesting suggestions in here, some art is diffciult no matter what you do I think. I find that paper shine messes up mine. Nice work on the portrait Sue, I would really struggle with something small as a ref!