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Photography/glare in copy work


QUESTION: I just reread the article in the Aug/Sept issue of Professional Artist, and you mention glare often. I recently painted a series of pieces that have very dark to black colors. I'm having terrible problems w/ glare. I use 2 daylight/5400K lights at a 45 degree angle. In the past I moved the lights farther away (6-8 ft) and the distance helped. I have diffusers to put over the reflectors but isn't helping and I'm not happy w/ the results. I guess I'll have to go to indirect lighting but I'm not sure what I need. I tried a search of Professional Artist for past articles but can't find what I am looking for. Help! I read all your articles in Professional Artist and have followed your advice often.
Thank you for your help over the years.
Heidi Hybl


Thank you for your kind words. It is always good to hear that people read the column. Your problem looks like it is a combination of the texture of the surface of the paint and the shiny paint itself.

There is one suggestion which might help. It is rather odd but easy enough to try. If your studio has white walls and a white ceiling try bouncing the lights off of them. You will lose a lot of light in this process but bouncing the lights may just soften them enough to further reduce the glare, if not eliminate it.

Try it and get back to me if it didn't work. The one drawback to this is that you might not only lose the glare you might lose some of the sense of shape of the surface. But try it.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I take the photos outside or in a large gallery that lets me use their space. Unfortunately, the bouncing off the walls suggestion won't work. The work has texture so the light gets picked up by the ridges. I want as little noise as I can get so I turn the painting around and photograph it so that I get as little glare on the ridges as possible, then use Photoshop to remove white spots. The red/green section of the second painting doesn't have much texture, but it does have a lot of glare. How can I do indirect lighting in a cavernous or outside space? By the way, I see that you have a book for doing digital copy work. Where can I get it? I'm mostly self taught and I experiment a lot, but I can probably use more professional advice. Thanks for your help.
Heidi Hybl


I wish there was a simple answer but there is not.

The issue is softening the light so you might try getting and using photo umbrellas or softboxes (over the lights.) These would diffuse the light and perhaps help. You can find them on eBay and they are not very expensive.

My book is available from a number of sources on the web...Google "Photographing Arts Crafts and Collectibles." It should be selling for between $20-$30.

Finally, when you shoot besides your lights are there any other lights on in the space, large windows etc? Perhaps some of the glare is from sources other than your lights.

Also in Photoshop I assume that you are using the Enhance>Lighting>Shadow/Highlights control to reduce the glare. right?

Good Luck



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Steve Meltzer


I am a professional photographer and I've been shooting for newspapers, magazines, commercial clients and artists for over 30 years. I have shot stock photography for dozens of years and in 1977 created West Stock (Seattle, WA) which was one of the first to produce stock photo CDs and later one of the first to establish an online stock photo slaes site. I have a new book on digital photography "PHOTOGRAPHING ARTS, CRAFTS AND COLLECTIBLES (Lark Books, 2007)which is available at, and in bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. I have another book, CAPTURE THE LIGHT which will be puiblished in November, 2008. I write 20-30 feature articles and columns for regional and national publications a year. My education includes studying with photographers like Cornell Capa, Duane Michels and Oliver Gagliani (from the Ansel Adams Center.)

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