Sunday, 17 May 2009

scanning versus photography of watercolours

A friend asked me what is the difference between scanning and photographing watercolours when I said I usually photographed my paintings. I do not know exactly what the technical answer should be, but here are a couple of examples of why I do just that.

If I scan the paintings, I often find that the scan does not adequately represent the colour variation in some of the washes, especially in the skies or high toned areas. I do not fully understand why this should be so but have assumed that it is something to do with the ability of the scanner to recognise as many colours / tones. Don't quote me however! If you have a better explanation I would love to hear it.



The above images have been scanned at full size (3.5 inch wide which equates to about 1200 pixels or thereabouts), and then reduced in size to 350pixels wide for inclusion in this post. The same two images photographed are shown below:-



I rest my case. The second set of images is far better, and more representative of the original watercolour. The paintings are photographed at 96 dpi to fill about 2/3 of the image finder using the macro setting on my run of the mill digital camera. These are cropped to the edges of the paintings which gives quite a large image compared to the scans. About 3-400 Kb compared to 150-200 Kb. I then reduce the size of the images to 350 pixels wide for inclusion in this post.

After explaining this it has struck me that the original photo image is quite large compared to the original scan image, could this be the reason why........? I will try to find some time to experiment with scanning at different sizes and see if I can improve upon the images. If I can it will be so much easier. Even tho I use a tripod to photograph paintings, I still have issues with focus, mmmm.... must see what I can do. Thanks for the question Nancy.

I will report back if I have anything significant to discuss.


June said...

Totally agree with you on scan v photo. I use my scanner only when absolutely necessary as 9 times out of 10 the camera does a much better job with anything.
Love these paintings by the way :)
Hugs June x

My name is CINDY...... said...

Interesting John, and I can see the difference. Unfortunately the technical bits are lost on me, I just do point and click!!! lovely watercolours.

Pattie said...

Beautiful work John ! dontcha just LOVE watercolours.......

nancy said...

There is a huge difference! The whites are really bright in the scan and the definition seems better; but, as you say, focusing can be an issue with the definition in the photo.
I think the bottom line is whether it's closer to the real thing or not, and if the photo does that, it would definitely be the way to go.
I'm just amazed at how different they actually are.
Thanks for taking the time to show these.

Steven said...

Hi John
I always use a camera. Not only is it so much quicker but with Photodeluxe 2.0 I can get it to look exactly like the original. Keep painting!

Marie Reed said...

Your paintings are just beautiful! So relaxing and eye catching!