Technology

Technical standards for photographing art

My extensive technical knowledge comes in very handy for photographing art. Many factors affect the quality of the final image. The choice of equipment is important, so I use the most reliable and stable light sources and a professional-calibre camera. Next, the light must be measured and adjusted to not only serve the object but to avoid any unnecessary reflections. Calibration is done using standard colour charts: all photos are provided with a specific colour profile. Thanks to all these steps taken on location and while editing on the computer, it is possible to print the photos with a predictable result. In the photos you see below, the quality standard and approach were determined in close consultation with the Mauritshuis in The Hague: with the aim of making high-quality images that can ultimately be used for a variety of purposes. Photos I’ve taken for them can be viewed via their website .

Sometimes more than just standards and measurements are needed. A good example is when a painting is framed under glass. Ideally, we would like to see the artwork without shadows at the edges of the frame or bothersome reflections in the glass. Additional technical adjustments are required: so the painting appears in the photograph how you see it in real life. Another challenge is when a very large painting is hanging in too small a space, and there’s no possibility to move the work to another location. There is a risk that the light sources will end up in the image or cause dreadful reflections. But even faced with this problem, it is usually possible to come up with a solution and make a representative image.

First, you see a pastel framed under glass by Cornelis Troost, Singing Round the Star on Twelfth Night from the Mauritshuis collection in The Hague. Next an example of a large painting in a small space, namely Haarlem Brotherhood of Jerusalem Pilgrims by Jan van Scorel. The painting measures 114 x 275.7 cm and was photographed in its on site at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem. Then we see how a colour management chart is photographed for the documentation of Rembrandt’s painting Saul and David, during its restoration at the Mauritshuis.