Featured Advanced Coin Photography

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

  1. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    I like your Churchill coin. I shot one like that not long ago. 28.jpg May I suggest you turn the coin toward the light when you shoot it, so the shadow is on the back of his head, and the front edge is highlighted.
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  3. Malleus Maleficarum

    Malleus Maleficarum Well-Known Member

    I got a Sony a6000 recently. My copy stand arrived today. I have 1 cheap LED light panel and a better one on the way. So with that said. I took some pictures today and would like some critique. I'm excited about the possibilities. Settings for these pictures. F8 ISO 250. 1/160 DSC00242.jpg DSC00243.jpg DSC00244.jpg DSC00245.jpg DSC00240.jpg DSC00241.jpg
  4. Malleus Maleficarum

    Malleus Maleficarum Well-Known Member

    After reading this thread and visiting the Hipshot Photography site, I had a little fun tonight. After a week of owning a decent camera I don't think it's too bad of a start. Here's my first real project. I added an 18th century scene in the background.

    habermann_1770 copy.jpg
  5. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    Looks good. As the saying goes, you are only limited by your own imagination
  6. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    Interesting suggestion, the thought had not actually crossed my mind. silly me!

    I tried various angles and they all came out looking quite similar. not sure why, need to experiment a bit more.

    These are 360 degrees of angles

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  7. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    My first question is, where is the light coming from? if it's straight down, it won't make any difference. In your video it looks like there's a lot of stuff blocking the light from the side. Is that correct?
  8. Malleus Maleficarum

    Malleus Maleficarum Well-Known Member

    I created a holder for a plate of glass today at work. So I tried taking a photo of a coin with a similar setup which was on the Hipshot web site. This is what came up with. F-8, ISO 320 1/200.

    DSC00264.jpg DSC00265.jpg
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  9. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    I too have started experimenting after this thread was created. Trial and error (mostly error). I was going through my sterling silver proofs as these seem to be the most difficult to capture. This coin struck me as perfect to try some things. The image on it shows either sunrise or sunset, so I used a coloured tracing paper as a diffuser so the sun was the context. I am having a lot of fun and wish to thank @Denis Richard for sharing his considerable expertise with us.
    DSC00822.jpg DSC00821.jpg
  10. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    I got busy this week designing and weekend building a simple but sturdy rig/machine for photographing my coins. I need something sturdy that can't easily be nudged out of focus or alignment so that I can quickly photograph large batches of coins.
    Thought I'd share here!

    Any thoughts on improving it would be cool! :)

    The results:
  11. brg5658

    brg5658 Supporter! Supporter

    Beautiful photo - very sharp and lovely design!!

    Once you have the focus mastered (which you clearly do), you can tweak the lighting as necessary to achieve the look you desire. Axial-type lighting is great for catalogs, variety attribution, and reproduction in print because details of the devices are very clear. However, if you want to show off the luster of the coin, direct lighting will get you a bit better of an "in hand" look. It all depends on your use-case.

    Kudos on your set-up! The backlight is quite nice for auto-cutting out the coin! Nice sturdy build - well done!

    I still contend that the hassle and fidgeting with glass required for "axial-type" photography as @Denis Richard swears by is overly complicated. I'm pretty sure that coin has some decent luster - which is lost in the "axial-type" set up.
  12. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    Thanks for your reply and encouragement, you definitely got me thinking and I went back and read your previous posts too.
    lots of food for thought.
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  13. Jo Wo

    Jo Wo Member

    How exactly was the coin with "Direct lighting" lit in this example photo
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  14. TonkawaBill

    TonkawaBill Well-Known Member

    heavy duty ... [8^)
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  15. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    Nice work with the set up. I enjoyed watching the video.

    I noticed in the image you posted, your “results” shot, there seems to be a slight greyish tone over areas of it. I don’t know if the image has been edited or not.

    This is what I’m talking about.


    I mention it because it looks familiar. I have seen this kind of “greying” before with coins and I’m wondering if your image has the same kind of issue I’ve experienced. This may not seem like a problem, or even worth mentioning, but I think it might be improved.

    Let me show you what I mean. Below is a Canadian pre-confederation coin I shot recently. This image was taken with axial lighting, set as static axial lighting, with the glass plate at a 45 deg. angle, parallel to the light. The same way you have your rig set up, though mine doesn’t have a back light. I don’t recommend it for axial lighting. You may notice a similarity to the kinds of greyish tones on face of your coin, as you see here, though my coin is much darker, so the increased contrast makes it more obvious. The more coins you shoot, the more often you will see this situation, so you might as well know how to deal with it.


    This coin image is right out of the camera, and it may even look fine as it is. It’s sharp, and well defined. It is a dark brown coin, but it appears more grey than brown here. It doesn’t look like the coin when it’s in my hand. I found that this greyness is coming from the light pointing straight down on the coin, combined with whatever the surface of the coin is. This “greying” occasionally happens with some coins under static axial lighting conditions.

    Fortunately, most coins don’t have any issues with this. Unfortunately, as I learned, and you will too, this can't be fixed with static axial lighting, but it can with my system.

    I found that if I take just a few seconds and rotate the glass about 60 degs left, or right while I’m looking through the view finder I can watch as the light falling on the coin shifts from straight down to angled, and the dull greyness disappear. The deep, rich brown tones of the coin become clear. I’m still lighting the coin, but not directly down anymore.


    Personally, I almost never keep the glass in the static axial lighting position. It is usually the worst angle for glaring reflections off the coin. This is not always true, but far more often than not.

    May I suggest you also try rotating the glass and see what happens with your coin? You will need to increase your exposure by about 2/3 to 1 stop when you do. I think if you do, you’ll find a greatly improved image, with more colour depth.

    ...more like this

    1902 Penny.jpg

    For reference, the same situation applied to all of the images below, and changing the glass angle, in various amounts, solved the issue for all of them. This is just one of the many benefits of my “overly complicated” system.

    627969_ALTMORE11.jpg 627969_ALTMORE15.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  16. brg5658

    brg5658 Supporter! Supporter

    Two or three semi-diffused overhead lights.

    I'm not trying to disparage the axial method - clearly you guys are getting super quality coin images with it, so go with what works for you. I find fiddling with a piece of glass to be a PITA. To each his/her own.

    As has also been pointed out previously, for those of us who are primarily shooting coins in slabs, axial imaging just doesn't work. It creates a huge glare on the plastic. I photograph almost all coins in slabs.
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  17. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    Agreed. I don’t use axial lighting for slabs. It’s a raw coin tool. It can work in a pinch For a slab but it’s never my first choice. I use a very different system for lighting slabs that gives me images like this.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  18. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    Care to expand on that different lighting system?
  19. bruthajoe

    bruthajoe Still Recovering

    I try to avoid photoshop as much as possible, I will only adjust contrast and shadows. But I do love to .GIF and macro stack... FB_IMG_1575635215031.jpg
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  20. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    FYI. yes, axial lighting will glare on the plastic in the static position, but just as with the coin in my example above, if you rotate the glass the glare will disappear. Sometimes solving that causes other problems, hence why it’s not a go set up for slabs.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  21. Denis Richard

    Denis Richard Well-Known Member

    sure. I’ll need to take some shots of the set up to go along with the text but here’s the executive summary. Essentially I use a large diffused light source above the coin that illuminates the coin from every direction. I shoot the coin almost straight down, but not quite. I shoot from a 4 degree angle, and that part is key. Using a small white card, placed just right, I block only the light hitting the slab at the opposite 4 degree angle, which when reflected, comes directly back at the camera. This way the coin is flooded with soft light from all around and the glare is blocked. Later I correct the 4 degree angle with perspective control tools in photoshop.
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