Author Topic: Photographing v Scanning  (Read 1965 times)

Offline Ken Fraser

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Photographing v Scanning
« on: November 17, 2014, 04:44:55 PM »
Iíve always posted my writing  from scanned images of my artwork as I believe that, in this way, it
most accurately represents the contrast and sharpness of the original. When the original writing is
dense black on pure white, this is how it appears on the screen, as a close match to the original.
Also, using a flatbed scanner ensures that there is no distortion of the artwork.

For me, a great deal of the beauty of formal calligraphy lies in the balanced symmetry of line weight,
slope, and matching x heights. Photographing a two-dimensional piece of artwork with a conventional
camera, can often cause problems as the slightest deviation in the parallel planes of camera lens and
flat artwork leads to image distortion with everything out of kilter. Shades appear to be of different widths;
letters slope at varying angles and the x height of the letters can appear to be different from one side
of the artwork to the other.
 
Iíve tried to avoid those pitfalls in this example of photographed writing.

« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 04:46:31 PM by Ken Fraser »

Offline Brad franklin

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 05:18:56 PM »
When I scan my work, it does not look right. I don't know if I have the right settings or not.

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 05:32:49 PM »
Another problem for me (in my photographic ignorance), is that I can't avoid a degraded, grey background. if I want to keep the fine hairlines. If I try to photograph with increased contrast to match the original black and white, I lose the hairlines.

The above writing is black on a white background.

Ken

Offline AmyNeub

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 06:30:54 PM »
Black and white setting on the scanner works best, not greyscale. Depending on the ink (iron gall and walnut sometimes doesn't show), it will show the hairlines.

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2014, 06:51:58 PM »
Black and white setting on the scanner works best, not greyscale. Depending on the ink (iron gall and walnut sometimes doesn't show), it will show the hairlines.

I have no problem with scanning and always use the black and white setting. My problem is trying to achieve comparable results with photography. I get the impression that many feel that photographing writing produces a more natural result than scanning. I don't agree with this view BTW. :)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 06:55:07 PM by Ken Fraser »

Offline AmyNeub

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2014, 07:23:36 PM »
I can get any good light here in my condo for natural photos. I don't know how people photograph their work well. I guess they hire a studio to do it.

Offline Alphabetguy

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2014, 10:48:54 PM »
I have no problem with scanning and always use the black and white setting. My problem is trying to achieve comparable results with photography. I get the impression that many feel that photographing writing produces a more natural result than scanning. I don't agree with this view BTW. :)

Ken,
It makes no difference if you scan or shoot a digital image. A quality digital camera with high mega pixel range is a benefit with proper lighting. A 1200 dpi scan is another option.

I screen grabbed your lettering image to reference the Photoshop levels option. You can adjust levels to increase contrast of an image and still hold fine details of the lettering.  Minor retouching will be required if a thin area of the lettering drops out. Same process as retouching an original using digital tools to fine tune the image file. If you start with a high resolution digital file chances are retouching will be minimal compared to a low resolution screenshot image.

Alan


Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2014, 03:41:51 AM »
Alan,

Thanks for your interest and the time you've taken to explain the possibilities.

You may be interested in this example of the same artwork, which I have scanned and uploaded, unretouched.

I know that the same results can be achieved with a properly set up camera and good lighting, but this can be
a fiddly, expensive business, compared to the results from a modestly-priced flatbed scanner IMO.
After all, we're dealing with a two-dimensional subject for which a scanner is ideally suited.

Ken






Offline AndyT

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2014, 04:10:17 AM »
Having no scanner at present, I use a camera - and quite frankly it's a considerable pain in the neck.  In days of yore document copying was a distinct photographic specialism with its own set of problems and equipment.  If you're happy with scanning, Ken, and you've reached the conclusion that it would save time and annoyance if you just didn't bother, I concur.

For decent results without undue Photoshoppery, you need:
  • Diffuse lighting, whether in a light tent or overcast daylight.  Or, heaven help us, some sort of ring flash   ::)
  • A tripod, preferably one which will let you mount the camera underneath, directly over the middle of the page.  A copy stand, if such things still exist, would be even better
  • To set a custom white balance, because the presets never seem to work out quite right
  • To overexpose by a couple of stops if the paper is white; underexpose by the same sort of margin if it's black
  • Ideally, to use the RAW format in case you need to make significant adjustments to the exposure in post processing
I suppose the potential benefit would be more accurate colour rendition, especially with metallic inks.  My impression is that you'd prefer to avoid digital retouching as far as you can - which is entirely possible, but it'll cost a good deal of writing time to figure it out.

Offline ericp

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Re: Photographing v Scanning
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2015, 05:22:21 PM »
I know that this is an oldish topic but I would like to add a couple of things to those already mentioned by AndyT:

Personally (and maybe that may be due to my career-long exposure to font rendering technology on computers) I really like the imperfections of handwriting as opposed to the perfection of digital uniformity.  Just like a musical performance, I prefer all the subtle things that humans do and that computers won't (or can't).   This is why (so far) I dislike scanning.

So if I want to scan or photograph my work, it's a dilemma.  The scanner will be easy to use but will "flatten out" a bunch of details that I can't recuperate afterwards in Photoshop no matter how hard I try.   I feel your pain there and I concur that it is probably the best compromise.

Photography requires complexity in lighting and technology to achieve decent results, which is unfortunate, because with proper lighting and the right lenses and spatial considerations, etc/fiddly/expensive  :) ,  it is able to preserve some of the more subtle aspects of artwork.

Color balance.  Oh yeah, that is a pain either way you go...

If you decide to go with photography, I can recommend to use a long quality prime lens (e.g. > 50mm) and a software tool like DxO Optics which has optical distortion correction and allows (as AndyT pointed out) quick and painless manipulation of the RAW image.  The license is below 100$ which is reasonable IMHO.