Troubleshooting tricks for competition entries


Stop!  Before you send off that photograph of your painting, ask yourself is it doing your work justice?  Can you see the image clearly, does it look like the original?  If not, glance over our guide to find out what has gone wrong and how to fix it.


I’ve uploaded my picture but it hasn’t appeared.  What have I done wrong?

Always use a generic file type, like a jpg, jpeg, png or gif, rather than ones specific to your software. Remember that not everyone will have the same software as you. Please make sure the individual image file size is no larger than 1mb.


My picture is blurry and I can’t see the image clearly.  How do I fix it?

This could be due to camera shake or the picture may be out of focus.  Almost all modern cameras have auto focus – make sure this is turned on and that you have given your camera time to focus – often there is an audible bleep when it is ready.  Using a tripod or standing the camera on something of the right height will eliminate camera shake, at slow shutter speeds this is essential.


The image looks grainy when I enlarge it, can I solve this?

The picture has been taken at too low a resolution.  Make sure your camera is set to the highest picture quality setting.  Alternatively, you may need to switch to a slower ISO of 200 or less.


My picture has a blue/orange tinge to it. What can I do?

Colour casts generally occur when the wrong white balance setting has been used.  Identify the type of light falling on your picture – is it daylight or tungsten for example, then adjust the setting on your digital camera to match.  You will need to compensate with filters.


The picture looks squashed and the perspective is off.  How do I correct this?

Always be sure to take the picture ‘square on’.  The camera must be at the same height as the centre of your painting and at the same angle as the face of the painting.  Try lining the edges of the picture up with the edges of the viewfinder.


What should I do if I can see a reflection in the image?

Take the picture out of the frame if it is in one as light will reflect off the glass.  Avoid using the built-in flash – at best it produces harsh shadows, at worst obscures your picture with the reflected light.


There are shadows around the edge of my painting, or it is darker at the top than at the bottom.  What should I do?

Make sure the painting is evenly lit all over.  A spotlight from above, below or to one side will bathe half your picture in light and cast shadows on the other side.  Equally, if aimed at the centre, shadows will be cast around the edges.


Although some of these tips may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many of the images of paintings we receive at the SAA are unusable because of their poor quality.  Don’t let your photography let you down; make sure you are happy with your reproductions before sending them off.