Art studio lighting is more important than I thought!
September 02 2021 – Bart Watkins
This was written by a young artist and graphic designer. He put so much effort in to it we thought we should post it.
It can be really, really hard to get the proper lighting when you're shooting some cool pictures of your art. I'm a painter (and graphic designer, but nobody takes pictures of their digital art), so naturally I've gotta take some pics of my work. Usually, I'll just post them to my socials and my website. It's always nice to get people complimenting your art, but every once and a while one of my "friends" would make some comment about the quality of the pictures. Not the art, the pictures. Honestly, I've gone through so many setups trying to get my art studio lighting working properly. At first I'd used just my regular old room lights.
And let me tell you, that did not work. Seriously, I'd end up with a bunch of half lit, shadowy pictures which could barely display my paintings properly - let alone look good. It's kinda like when you take a selfie, post it to your socials and then realize your double chin showed up. And I'm an artist. Maybe it isn't this way for anyone else, but to me this includes looking good everywhere. Hey, art is half presentation. So I ditched the room lights and started looking for other alternatives I could use.
Then, I tried setting up a bunch of extra lights. I got some really flimsy stands with colored LED bulbs and tried my best to set up my lighting system using those. It worked better than the room lights, but better isn't good. I could never get the color right, and it really didn't seem to focus very well on the actual painting. Instead, everything around it took the spotlight and the painting seemed to fade into the background. It didn't pop. A big part of photography is the focal point. You always want whatever the focus is (in this case my paintings) to draw the attention of whoever's looking at it. But these colored lights just didn't do it properly.
Recently, though, I upgraded to a light that DID work. It's called the Method Light - ML- Direct Art Studio Light, basically some futuristic looking "double bulb" from the looks of it. It's got the first extension, then the second one. All around the second extension there's a circle of lights (told you it was futuristic). The nice thing is it comes with its own remote, so I could instantly change the lighting on my canvas as well. And honestly the price is not bad, either. Especially with the results I've gotten.
I'll admit that when I got it I wasn't entirely sure about it. I had plugged it into one of my flimsy stands, and that absolutely did not do the trick. It flopped out of the socket like a - well, you get the picture. Then it pulled the entire flimsy stand over with it.
Luckily though, I went ahead and pulled out one of my higher quality stands and set it up. And let me tell you, that bugger lit up the canvas. One super nice feature it's got is the ability to light up the canvas in so many different styles and at so many levels. There's a neat little button on the remote that'll let you set some presets for the light - but hey, where's the fun in that?
I much prefer playing around with the other buttons, 'cause they'll let me do pretty much anything. There's one set of buttons that'll let you adjust the warm-to-cool tint of the lights (which is basically how artificial or natural you want the lighting to be) and another set of buttons that let you adjust the actual brightness of the light.
Word of advice, don't stare straight into it at the highest level - this bad boy can crank out some serious light! That light is a must for taking pictures of your paintings, though. It got rid of all the unneeded shadows on the canvas, and helped improve the contrast from what I can tell.
It's honestly improved my pictures and presentation so much. And did I mention I'm a sucker for presentation? All the new images I take of my paintings actually display the paintings how they look - if I may be biased enough to say absolutely smoking! ;)
Another nice thing about the light is it saves me time in setup as well, cause it comes with a neat little memory feature that saves my previously used setting whenever I turn off the light. Any previous lights I've used to try and make my paintings look better either haven't had this feature or it's been incredibly buggy, which is honestly a heartbreaker. Not so with this light. Its memory and save feature is incredibly simple and easy to use. At this point, after the novelty wore off I've just started using the same cookie-cutter setting over and over. Hey, if it works it works.
Overall though, this light is a lightsaver - sorry, lifesaver! Freudian slip. I'll admit I've been obsessed with this light lately. At this point, I've gone out of my way to use it for everything - not just paintings. Need a picture of some old phone I'm selling on eBay? Method Light. Or do I want to take a really cool, dynamic selfie? Method Light. Or what about using it to annoy my neighbors at night - well, I haven't gotten to that yet but you get the idea. I have to give kudos to the fellas over at Method Lights, cause their light has saved me a crazy amount of time, and improved the quality of my pictures an almost indescribable amount.