Your artwork will be installed where?
That was my question to painter Arlene Mead when she came to The Scientific Photographer for a unique project. She had been commissioned to install one of her paintings in an elevator shaft in a private residence.
Technically challenging projects are a real treat for me. I get to push my problem-solving skills and the successful outcome feels well-earned.
For Arlene, we needed to photograph her 24-inch wide by 80-inch tall painting and create an image file for digital printing of the artwork that would be 30-feet tall. That’s no small order!
The first step was to determine the imaging requirements.
- What was the final required file resolution (pixels per inch) at the output size (30-feet tall)?
- What area of the painting needed to be imaged at a time to be tiled together (like a panorama) to yield the required capture resolution?
We needed one digital print at full height (30 feet) of the left half of the painting to install like wallpaper on one wall of the elevator shaft.
Then I needed to photograph the right side of the painting in the exact same way for a separate 30-foot tall printed output for the other wall of the elevator shaft.
The actual photography of her painting involved precise alignment of the camera to ensure the camera sensor was exactly parallel to the surface of the painting as the camera was moved to photograph the artwork in sections.
I photographed the left side of the painting from the bottom to the top in 10 sections, then repeated this for the right side.
Each individual image capture had to have some extra overlap so that they could be aligned using panoramic stitching software.
I always use a LASER and mirrors to align the camera and artwork. For this project, the heavy camera stand had to be shimmed up to ensure the camera traveled in precise alignment from the bottom to the top.
A practice run or two allowed me to check alignment and mark each increment on the camera stand column. Check out the stop-motion video below.
Each individual photograph I captured was about 140 mb. When the 10 images of the painting were composited together, the image file was about 1.2 gb.
After a little final check of details, we had an extremely accurate reproduction of Arlene’s original painting, properly color-managed. Then it was off to the service bureau to create the output.
We are all thrilled with the final results and looking forward to the installation in the private residence so that passengers in the elevator can have a visually stimulating ride.
The Scientific Photographer
I help museums, organizations, artists
and collectors document their artworks