Take better Photos from your artwork


We know how it is, we have just finished our painting and like to make a good picture for your website, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever.
You look outside and it is a cloudy day, not really the right light to make a photo while the colors you carefully painted are so delicate to you.
What can you do? We usually set our camera on automatic, so it takes the most average photo under the circumstances.
But when you do this, its more then likely the colors from your painting are nothing near your photo if the light isn’t good.
The solution is to go look in your camera, if there is a White Balance modus, usually it says “WB”.
On some cameras you have maybe three choices, and on others you have 20 to choose from.
Mine is a old Canon G3 and I have 9 choices on this one, although the last two are the same.


I set my camera on the P of program, so the sharpness and light measuring is still handled by the camera itself.


And on the back of the display I choose the first WB I take a picture with. Automatic White Balance


My light source is a fluorescent lamp from 55 Watt, almost the same as 275 Watt in normal light.
Its daylight light, and it is 5500 Kelvin. Look between 5000 K and 6500 K if you want a fluorescent lamp.
Under 5000 is is to yellow, over 6500 it is become to blue.
Kelvin explained here.

My fluorescent lamp. The cloth is a diffuser.


Final result is this one, its not 100%, but good enough to posed.


The first picture I take is with the AWB, automatic White Balance. See the red Arrow. I know for sure it is not the right WB, cause it’s the same as the camera on automatic.

automatic white balance

Second photo is with the White Balance on Sunny, also I know the result will be dramatic, cause a fluorescent light is not the sun. Its called a day light lamp. But its really different from the sun. The result is slightly better but no where near perfect. A bit less yellow I would say.

whitebalance sunny

The next photo is with the WB on Cloudy, so when you are outside and there is no sun, this is the modus you make better pictures then on Automatic. But for our indoor situation not good enough! A bit more yellow then the last one. With clouds the overall color outside is bluish. So to compensate the filter is more yellow.

white balance cloudy

Next photo I take I set the WB on light-bulb. This gives a yellow light, the reaction of your camera is to make a sort of blue filter, so that the yellow light will be balanced. I use no light-bulb so the effect is a blue photo! Without knowing how the original looks, this is for a snow-scene not very wrong. Only again no where near the original.

WB Lightbulb

Now we come to the WB fluorescent, that is the right one for my lamp, so I think it is a better choice then the ones before. And indeed the colors are better, the white is whiter. so the WB is better.

WB Fluoriscent

Then we have another fluorescent choice the  Fluorescent High. this choice is for lights with a higher percentage of Kelvin. About 6500K or higher. the fluorescent light gets more blue, so this WB (filter) is slightly more yellow to balance the blue light. The last WB is for me better I know now!

WB Fluorescent High

Why don’t you just use a camera flash? Well, watercolors are very transparent, so the reflection will be high on your photo. You can take a picture on a angle, then you can use a flash. Better use a tripod without flash! Here below with flash. it’s a very pale watercolor now!


We have another WB choice, you can let the camera measure your WB and your light source by doing this! The result is somewhere between the two WB choices from fluorescent light in. I use this one a lot! You are always on the right track with this one!

WB white measurement

I decide to use this one, and work on the lights and so on in windows 10 own photo retouching program.  make it a bit lighter and crop the image.
If you don’t have a photo-program you can try www.pixlr.com


All the photos I took in this tutorial I made with the same light source, just to figure out what is the best way for me to take a photo from my watercolor. I could do this also outside when it is a cloudy day.
If you don’t have a daylight fluorescent lamp like me, try to be as close as you can with the WB. If it is cloudy outside take a picture with the cloud on, or take a WB measurement.
I hope this will help a bit, and I wish you all success to make better photos from your art work.

This is no way near a tutorial for professional photographers, but just for people that want to make a decent photo from the painting they made.

Edo Hannema

2 thoughts on “Take better Photos from your artwork

  1. Thank you so very much for this explanation! I have a Canon with similar settings, but have never really understood it. This was very helpful for me. Your artwork is lovely! I follow your blog and am inspired.

    1. Hello Kate, glad that you liked it. I noticed a lot of people were struggling with this, also myself, so I dived into it, and posted the results. Its amazing how accurate the White Balance measuring is! I use it all the time for my paintings now!
      Thanks also for liking my watercolors! Regards Edo

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