Video: 2-D Art Copy Photography

First of all, is that an awesome quilt or what?

Ditto the copy shot. Getting something like this to translate to a digital file is no small feat. It takes even lighting and attention to detail that borders on obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Ever wonder what goes into a large-scale, high-quality copy shot? Strobist reader Ben Peoples has posted a time-lapse YouTube video of his copy photography process. He clearly shoots a lot of 2-D objects for people. Or Peoples, if he is doing it for himself.

The basic techniques is even-field lighting with a pair of Alien Bees, But he also uses a speedlight on a nearby stand to direct a little kiss of light wherever he wants, for emphasis or texture. Nice.

If you wanna know more, watch the video. But whatever you do, check out the quilt at hi-res. It's awesome, as are Ben's copy art skills.


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Blogger Bill Morgan said...

I've got a very similar set up for Flat Art photography ... quilitArt.

I would agree: this is not easy.

Getting the light evenly to all four corners is a great exercise in learning about light.

The video was fun and actually verifies that my set up was right on target ... but, I used four lights aimed at each corner for larger quilts (8' x 10' and larger). Smaller quilts light easily with ben's setup. Well done.

March 29, 2007 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...


I think 4 lights would work better-- in the video I initially had the lights much closer to the board, but then moved them out as I was getting a nice evenly lit spot in the middle.

This set up did give me enough evenly lit area to do the entire grey muslin (128"x120") dead flat, but I wasn't able to shoot much above f/8 @ ISO200.

March 29, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Great video, I would say that this is the best way to light a quilt without strip banks. Strip banks are ideal in this situation.

March 29, 2007 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with matthew - strip banks are best. We shoot copy work all the time and I don't agree with the hand holding of the camera as good technique at all. That just leaves things having to be skewed later on in PS. Get things right as much as you can in the shoot so your PS is minimal.

March 29, 2007 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Awesome video...and great copy images! I always enjoy watching another phtographer doing their thing...

I don't know why, but the hyper-active fan in the background cracks me up.... looks really pleased with itself to be cooling you ;)

March 29, 2007 3:16 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

Hey! I was going to say I loved the fan too! "Hyper-active" -Ha! That's it exactly!

Thank you for this great video Ben! Was that a commercially prepared color standard you were using?

March 29, 2007 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BUT - who made the quilt???? I admire the photography. BUT - WHO?

March 30, 2007 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Hey -- FYI, I accidentally deleted the photo from flickr. It is back up, but is of course named differently. New link is here:


January 10, 2008 2:25 AM  
Blogger David Weaver said...

Thanks for the tips on the Alien Bees! What happened to the video?

July 08, 2008 5:32 PM  
Blogger TrueSilver said...

I would say nothing would be possible without the fan's reassuring presence on the far left. :)

Great job, really enjoyed watching the setup.

March 03, 2011 1:06 AM  
Blogger j. d. spurlock said...

I'm looking for someone in Chicago to shoot 2 paintings.
please email me at

vanguardpub (a)

March 19, 2012 1:08 PM  
Blogger Javier Sanchez said...

Just got booked to shoot a 28' by 8' quilt. Pray for me.

April 17, 2012 2:41 PM  

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