I am trying to take a good picture of an old oil painting (a portrait) in a gold-painted wooden frame (no glass), and I’m having some trouble avoiding glare on the frame.
My basic setup is this:
- painting is mounted on the wall, about 2m from the camera (mounted on tripod)
- the room is completely darkened with no ambient light
- two LED lights (5500K) are positioned about 2.5m from the painting, at roughly 30–40° angles, both shining through a shoot-through umbrella to diffuse the light
- camera is set to F11 aperture and exposure times between 15 and 30 seconds
(It’s worth noting that, while I do have some basic gear, I am a hobby photographer, and I don’t have access to a proper studio or real, professional-grade gear like dedicated softboxes or diffusion screens. I have the two LED lights and a few umbrellas – two shoot-through, one bounce – but that’s more or less it.)
When I take the picture, the actual painting itself is fine – there is very little glare, despite the oil being very reflective and very black, making glare very obvious.
The wooden frame, however, is very three-dimensional and curvy, and the paint used on it seems to have a fairly high refractory index, so whatever I do, however I position and turn the lights, I get terrible glare on either side of the painting where the curved bits reflect the light straight back at the camera lens.
This wouldn’t be an issue if I could just crop out the frame, but unfortunately the frame itself is essential and must be part of the final image.
I’ve tried fiddling around with shooting several exposures, combining them to an HDR and brushing in adjustments to reduce highlights and whites, but that just ends up making the wood look like dark mahogany with bright white spots – the ‘dark’ parts of the wood are apparently bright enough that they count as highlights, and the glary parts are just shot out and unsalvageable.
Is there some way to avoid, or at least minimise, this wooden glare while still maintaining the frame well-lit?
Here is an example of a shot with the obvious glare on the wood: