The Photography of Art

Feb 15, 2019  By Albert Knapp MD & Ruth Oratz MD
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Photographing art is a unique niche of photography as art. In 2005, Albert published “The Challenges of Museum Photography” in Viewfinder (Volume 38.4, pgs. 15-18).

We recently traveled through Germany and Austria with a particular goal of visiting some of the world’s greatest art museums. Berlin, Dresden and Vienna house extensive and fine collections of rare antiquities, Old Masters, fine porcelain, objects made of ivory and gold and gemstones, Impressionists and Expressionists and Secessionists.

To engage more closely with these spectacular artworks we undertook to photograph them. But, how to show the original art work at its very best, how to enhance the colors in a painting while remaining true to the artist’s palette, delineate the texture of brushstrokes or render 3 dimensional
sculpture into a 2 dimensional format? Museums today utilize scientific methodology in the organization, restoration, preservation and displaying of artwork. Special attention is paid to original materials and techniques, requirements for temperature and humidity control, considerations of natural or artificial lighting, and effects of UV radiation. Some pieces are behind glass; others glare because of the shiny high gloss finish of the paint itself. Window reflections, shadows from frames and fixtures also pose impediments to capturing the work directly in the camera.

PIETER BRUEGEL THE ELDER (1525/1530-1569) HUNTERS IN THE SNOW [WINTER] (1565) KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM VIENNA AUSTRIA

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