The technical evolution of fine art photography from expert Ali Elai of Camerarts

by leslierankowfinearts

Digital Work Station Camerarts, New York

Digital Work Station
Camerarts, New York

IN OUR WORLD OF INSTAGRAM AND PINTEREST, TO NAME JUST TWO, WE ARE INUNDATED WITH A DELUGE OF IMAGES:  PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL, FIGURATIVE, LANDSCAPE, INTERIORS, EXTERIORS, FOOD!….  BUT THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHING ART DEMANDS AND IMPLIES SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS OF PURPOSE, QUALITY AND FOCUS THAT ONLY THE UNIQUE TALENTS AND TRAINING OF THE PROFESSIONAL ART PHOTOGRAPHER CAN PROVIDE.  WE ALL HUNGER FOR THE VISUAL EXPERIENCE AND ARE ACCLIMATED TO PLOWING THROUGH AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF VISUAL MATERIAL  IN THE COURSE OF EACH DAY BUT, IN MY VIEW, THE VISUAL DOCUMENTATION OF A WORK OF ART IS A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT ART FORM OF ITS OWN.  MANY PAINTINGS ARE EXTREMELY LARGE IN SCALE AND THIS ALONE CREATES ISSUES OF PERSPECTIVE AND FOCUS THAT AN AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER CAN NOT RESOLVE. SCULPTURES AND INSTALLATIONS ARE COMPLEX, AND THE NATURE OF THE MATERIALS CREATES PROBLEMS IN ACCURATELY CAPTURING THE SCALE AND SCOPE OF THE WORK. ADDITIONALLY, WORKS ON PAPER AND PRINTS ARE FRAMED UNDER GLASS AND REQUIRE SPECIAL LIGHTING TO AVOID GLARE AND REFLECTION.  THESE ARE JUST A FEW ISSUES THAT I, AS A LAYMAN, POINT OUT.  ALI ELAI, FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL OF CAMERARTS, HAS TACKLED AND CONQUERED THESE AND MANY OTHER VISUAL CONCERNS IN HIS CAREER  PHOTOGRAPHING WORKS OF ART FOR MUSEUMS, COLLECTORS AND GALLERIES.

TODAY HE WILL DESCRIBE THE ADDITIONAL ADVANTAGES AND CONCERNS THAT OUR NEWER TECHNOLOGY CREATES. CONTACT ALI AND HIS TEAM AT CAMERARTS,

Tel: (212) 517-3982  Fax:(212) 249-9295,  camerarts@gmail.com

ALI, SINCE MOST GALLERIES USE THE iPAD, PARTICULARLY AT ART FAIRS THAT ENABLE THEM TO SHOW THEIR ENTIRE INVENTORY OF WORK EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY, HOW HAS CAMERARTS CHANGED TO ACCOMMODATE THE TECHNICAL CHANGES WE ALL ENJOY?

Camerarts has changed surprisingly little in response to the iPad. I do not use one in the office. In addition, while the newest iPads have quite high resolution screens, this is not a situation where I need to increase the resolution of my images so that they’ll rise to the level of the iPad. To the contrary, the files that I create digitally are already of the highest resolution, higher than could ever be fully represented at the resolution available on an iPad screen.

WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF CURRENT FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY?  HOW DO YOU TAKE PICTURES AND IN WHAT FORM DO YOU PRODUCE IMAGES?

The technical aspects involved in fine art photography can be quite numerous, but at a basic level they involve the choice of camera and film stock, and adjustments regarding the placement of the light source(s), the choice of indirect versus direct light, the choice of natural versus artificial light, and the use of reflective surfaces to alter the light shined upon all or part of the artwork, etc. Later in the process you may also correct for color balance, color saturation and hue, retouch imperfections appearing on the artwork such as dust and scratches, or enhance significant details for better visibility. As to the tools of the trade, for years all photography was done using large format film stock and all post-photo work was done by hand with large darkroom machinery, glass light-boxes, and paints. These days, high resolution digital cameras are prevalent and professional computer softwares are often used for the corrective work. These new options have allowed more people to try their hand at it than ever before, since ownership of the equipment is no longer a hurdle. Still, as when everything was done by hand, a deft touch and a thorough understanding of the process is crucial to doing good work. In addition, no matter how high the resolution on a digital camera, large format film without a doubt gives the finest quality images, with continuous tone and great color saturation. Therefore, for as long as the film companies find it profitable to manufacture film, most professionals and photo enthusiasts will stick to film over digital media for creative work. As for me, I have grown accustomed to using both mediums depending on the needs of my clients.

DO THE IMAGES DIFFER FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES SUCH AS A MUSEUM PUBLICATION OR A POSTING ON A GALLERY’S WEBSITE OR PRIVATE COLLECTOR’S ART MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?

I photograph artworks according to the clients’ needs. I recently made life size reproduction of an client’s collection printed on canvas. To do that I needed to first photograph the works on 8×10 transparency film in order to get the highest resolution and finest image quality in scanning. This takes time for film processing, hi-res drum scanning and proof printing before the final product. If the need for the image is for the web insertion then a small file would be sufficient. Although, the process of creating the image regarding lighting, etc. is the same. In other words , the process of photographing do not differ based on who the end client is. We do work with clients to suit their particular photographic needs, which might affect the cropping, lighting, or position of the artwork, among other aspects.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, ALI WILL EXPLORE THE FUTURE OF FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY. HE WOULD BE PLEASED TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE.

I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU AND APPRECIATE ALL YOUR COMMENTS AND SUPPORT.