Featured Advanced Coin Photography

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Denis Richard, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    Is there an optimal angle for the glass in an axial lighting setup? Whatever I am doing wrong I cannot get the light focused directly onto the coin. Or could it be the lighting? I have 2 adjustable strength led's on flexible stalks but only use one level with the camera. Sorry for a beginners question here but asking the experts seems the way to go
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  3. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    this is an axial lighting diagram;

    axial lighting diagram.jpg

    I would also recommend you add a black card on the other side of the glass plate to prevent light passing through the glass from reflecting back of other things and into the camera.

    This is basic axial lighting set up:


    Light to the left, adjustable diffuser, rotating disk to hold and spin the glass plate, and a black velvet blocker to stop return light. Camera is not shown here.

    this is the modified set up I use right now:

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  4. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    Check out my axial lighting post on page 4 to see how you can modify your current set up to produce better images. One thing though, remove the cardboard around the coin. It will lend a colour cast to the image.
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  5. Razz

    Razz Critical Thinker

    Don't you need a block to shield direct light from the coin in axial lighting? Should be only indirect light from the glass onto the coin, no? Polish_20200914_184417143.jpg
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  6. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    Sorry for the delay in giving you many thanks for your response. A real misunderstanding of what happens within the setup. I had the light source on the wrong side of the glass, thinking that it would be refracted downwards, without even considering that it would actually bounce upwards instead from that side of the glass. It is 9am here in Spain and have to go to work, but will adjust everything tonight and post my efforts. Feeling like an idiot right now
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  7. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    You can add a blocker around the coin if necessary, and I find I need to for 1 in 50 coins I shoot. It depends on the surface. I find it really flattens the look of the coin. I use the side light from the light source to create catchlights in the eyes, edge highlights and relief shadow across the coins of more image depth. Of course, the distance of the diffuser between the light and the coin is critical in this process. It determines the amount of contrast in the coin and length and darkness in the shadows. Sometime I need a small thin strip to just block light from the very edge of the coin, so I don't get a hot spot.

    April 15 2020-3.jpg
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  8. brg5658

    brg5658 Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, you are 100% correct.

    A true axially lit photograph blocks all side lighting, and the only light reaching the camera sensor is that reflected directly up to the sensor - at a 90 degree perpendicular angle. What @Denis Richard shows above is a hybrid/mixture lighting method. True axially lighting rarely demonstrates any "sparkles" or "catchlights" on surfaces - what we'd generally call luster.

    Axial lighting generally emphasizes toning and make legends and text on a coin more readable. However, a coin looks flat and lifeless in terms of relief and luster.


    Direct lighting:
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  9. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    My system is a hybrid. No doubt. I call it dynamic axial lighting as I often rotate the glass panel on the axis of the coin and can, when necessary, tilt the panel from the 45 degree position, as opposed to the static axial lighting setup. I often adjust the level of light diffusion too. This adjustability makes an tremendous difference in the texture, detail And colours you capture in a coin image. 6549DEB6-C8F7-4CE5-935A-2FB342ECE0F3.jpeg
  10. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    This evening I cobbled together various items and started experimenting. The two coins featured is when it started coming together. Some obvious points that have come to the fore.
    A/ I need different light source
    B/ Need to work on focus. I don't have a macro lens and the Alpha (A) 330 is not able to be tethered to my PC.
    Otherwise these two are far superior to anything I have been able to capture previously. Admittedly, I only inherited this DSLR in December and still very green about this subject.
    DSC00593.jpg DSC00596.jpg DSC00586.jpg DSC00585.jpg
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  11. brg5658

    brg5658 Supporter! Supporter

    @expat you should be able to use manual focus. Also, make sure you are at least the minimum working distance away determined by whatever lens you're using. A photo that is in focus but only filling 1/2 your sensor is better than a full-senor image that is out of focus.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  12. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    Thanks, I assume that the image in the eyepiece is a truer view than the liveview screen. Whenever I use the liveview the image does not look how I captured it when I download it to my PC.
  13. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    any tips from the photography pros on whiting out the background?
    I tried laying coins on a glass plate, with an air gap between the glass and a sheet of white paper below. Then a torch pointing at the paper.

    The effect is nice, but laying the coins on a glass plate can scratch them if I'm not careful because sometimes there is a little grit after photographing some of the older, dirtier coins. Also sometimes small marks or debris are visible lying on the glass.

    I was thinking maybe I could place the coins on a little raised pedestal so that you can't see the pedestal from the camera. Then placing the whole thing on one of the artists backlit drawing boards. That way the coin would be raised a few inches from the backlit light and so the background would be blurry and no debris visible.

    Any thoughts appreciated!!
  14. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    I tried my shots with a torch the first time round and the light was uneven like in your photos. Try getting a larger light source and adding some diffusion material between the light and the axial glass. That way the light will spread more evenly over the coin.
    I found an LED grid of lights to be ideal with a diffuser attached.
    This is the one i'm currently using, which gives you an idea of what I mean: https://www.google.com/search?q=aputure+al-mx

    It's a bit small though really so something bigger would probs be better
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  15. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    You can’t use just one light to properly expose the coin and background in the same shot, so your choices are:

    1- my first choice is ignore the background exposure, expose the coin correctly and cut out the coin on your editing software and place it on a background of your own. I think this is the choice of most professionals.

    2- backlight the coin. I do this by placing the coin on a clear plastic spacer on a white translucent plastic table top with a flash beneath it. Be careful to balance the light and not blow out the edges of the coin
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  16. Mike Thornton

    Mike Thornton Learning something new everyday.

  17. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    Further to my previous comment, we should first appreciate the difference between "shooting" your coin image and "presenting" your coin image. Shooting is not about the background. It is only about the coin. Presentation is where you add a background of your choice; white, black, color or image.

    With that said, this image is right out of camera.

    NUM BATCH-057.jpg

    The coin is sitting on a white card, however, the white card appears grey in the image because it’s underexposed. That is perfectly normal when the coin is correctly exposed. If I were to expose the image so the white card appears white in the shot, it would overexpose the coin. The opposite will occur with a black background. If that is confusing I suggest you research how cameras handle light and exposure. So, above, I exposed for the coin and cut it out in with my editing software.

    This is the same coin, cut out, straightened and put on a white field with a drop shadow.
    NUM BATCH-056.jpg

    One step further, I only use front and back lighting when I'm photographing entire slabs. I don't use back lighting if I'm only shooting a coin within a slab.

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  18. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    And here's something different for those interested.... Coin detail brought to life.

    Aug 24 2020-1.jpg
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  19. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    thanks for sharing Denis, really useful info!

    I was wondering, is there any chance you could share some pictures which demonstrate how the glare changes on the coins when you rotate the axial glass?
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  20. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    I have some shots for that. I’ll post them soon.
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  21. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    Results are slowly improving with the help of this thread!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    But... still a total bodge job haha
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