View Full Version : How to photograph your paper maps

03-18-2009, 05:29 AM
Good link here (http://www.bermangraphics.com/digital-jury-resources/photographing-art.htm) on how to photograph artworks.

Problem is that it looks like you could spend a fortune on getting all the kit to do it, but here are some money savers:

Greaseproof paper stretched over a frame makes a good light diffuser. Use a powerful desklamp.

You don't need a huge tripod - since you're likely to be taking the photograph on a table one of those mini tripods (the size of a handspan) should be good enough - or just balance the camera on a pile of books and use the timer to take the picture so you don't get camera shake when the image is taken.

I'll look into posting a 'cheapass' version of this tutorial which will require a compact digicam and stuff you can find around the house.



03-18-2009, 06:06 AM
White garbage bags also make good diffusers. If you use incandescent light, make sure your camera is set up with indoor light settings or all your artwork will look quite orange. It's simple enough to correct the color temperature later with your image editor (if your monitor is close to properly calibrated), but you'll get the best contrast if you do it right in the camera to begin with. If your camera wants to know the temperature of the light, an incandescent lightbulb puts out light at approximately 2600 degrees Kelvin.

Since most tripods cannot shoot straight down, you can set up your art on a small easel in order to get it parallel to your camera's sensor. If you need to stiffen it, a black foamcore presentation board costs less than US$2 at Office Depot or another such supply store. Use a bit of rubber cement on each corner of the piece to attach it to the foamcore and keep the piece flat. I use black rather than white because it's easier to crop the board out of the image that way.

03-18-2009, 09:51 AM
A couple more tips-
Use the maximum optical zoom (telephoto) you can then move the camera back until the source fills the frame. This will minimize barrel distortion in your source image.

If photographing some thing flat (like a map) you really don't need diffusers, just multiple sources of light. I use three cheap hardware store clamp lamps with 13W CF daylight bulbs in them.

Adding to Midgardsormr's post, if your camera has a custom white balance setting (most do) learn how to use it with the lighting set-up you use.

-Rob A>

03-18-2009, 11:23 AM
If photographing some thing flat (like a map) you really don't need diffusers, just multiple sources of light.

I disagree with that a little bit. If the light is too hard, you risk "hot spots" on the image. It's probably not as bad with CFLs, though, since they are a larger light source to start with. The gas inside the entire lamp glows rather than just a thin filament, which makes the light softer.

By the way, if you use the white garbage bag method, be careful not to get the plastic too close to your lamps! That stuff melts pretty easily.

03-18-2009, 03:22 PM
I would also add, use the lowest ISO setting and highest res setting of the camera. What I have done in the past was take a white paper version of the photo area first then used the arithmetic to remove the negative of that image from the photo - hey presto, no more hot spots.

Another useful tip is that if your map is on white paper itself then put a black sheet under the paper if there is any text, print or something like that on the other side of the paper. I.e do that when photographing a magazine map for play later on. All the black lines on the reverse side don't show through any more - or at least are not contrasting against the black paper.

I was building a wooden jig for my camera to take about 20 photos at set places and I was soldering up loads and loads of white LEDs but they are not all the same brightness or color so I have some hand held bars of about 100 white LEDs all packed together to have a go instead. It gives pretty uniform lighting when lit up. I think the 12V halogen bulbs are better but they are very point like so the shadows and stuff would be a problem.

03-18-2009, 04:01 PM
Wow! Excellent advice all round! We could do our own tutorial together!