Shooting against a black background is best even if you plan to digitally paint the background black. If you shoot against anything with color, the color is reflected onto the edges of your coin and it is just about impossible to correct. Even though I painted my homemade copy stand and coin platform with matte black paint, there was still quite a bit of light reflected from the paint, made worse by the bright light shone upon the coin. I'd love to paint my copy stand and platform with Vantablack but it is not available to the public. There is one artist licensed to use Vantablack-- Anish Kapoor. Enter Stuart Semple, an artist with a grudge. Incensed that he could not use Vantablack, he set out to create a better black. It's in its third iteration now-- Black 3.0 acrylic paint. While it doesn't achieve the black hole-ish black of the carbon nanotube based Vantablack, it does prevent about 99% of light from being reflected. That's pretty darn black and very helpful for those of us who want black backgrounds for our coin photos! Here's my homemade copy stand, assembled from scrap wood plus an inexpensive clamp. The coin is held on the skinny dowel with a small ball of firm silicone putty similar to this. The putty keeps the coin from falling off the dowel and it allows me to tilt the coin a little bit if needed. It does not harm the coin although if a bronze coin has a delicate patina it could pull off loose flakes. I've used this putty to remove loose dust and stuff from coins prior to shooting. Isn't it annoying when you shoot what seems to be a perfect picture only to find bits of lint or dust on the coin when you check it more closely? This was made several years ago and I've been very happy with it but I still have to do considerable editing to get the background uniformly black. The stand and components were sprayed with a matte black paint but as you can see in the picture it still reflects quite a bit of light, and that makes for less-than-black backgrounds. Recently I bought a bottle of Black 3.0 and painted the shooting platform (just the separate little block of wood with the small dowel). The paint is quite thick and I only had a cheap and stiff paintbrush. The brush marks are visible in very strong light but the paint is matte enough that they aren't visible in the photos. For lighting I use an Ott lamp, 5000K color (very white). It's like shooting outside on an overcast day... but you don't have to wait for nature to provide the perfect light. The light is usually positioned between 10:00 and 2:00, a little off perpendicular (oblique). If a coin has a portrait I usually bring the light in a little more from the front of the face rather than from the back of the head. Here's the Ott lamp. The neck is flexible. I push the two light panels together. The camera is a Canon Powershot G16 in manual mode, manually white balanced, on a 2 second shutter delay to avoid motion blur. Settings are usually f8.0, shutter speed in the range of 1/20 to 1/30, ISO 80. Even though I manually white balance sometimes the color is off so I put a scrap of white paper in the shot so it can provide a reference for white balancing during editing, if needed. Because the light is positioned at the top of the coin, sometimes the bottom edge isn't well light. I hold a piece of plain paper near the bottom if needed to bounce some light onto the bottom edge. You'll see that paper in some of the uncropped shots below. Here's a shot of my Athens tet (size of image reduced but otherwise unedited), prior to using the new Black 3.0 paint. You can see that the background is not fully black. The color is off too, although that's probably not due to the less-than-black platform. Here's my Taras nomos reshot with the newly painted dowel platform. The image is unedited except to reduce size. You can appreciate the blacker black of the dowel platform against the copy stand. Below is the same image cropped but with no other editing. The background is almost fully black. Every pixel is not perfect #000000 black but it's so close that if I adjust the brightness maximally, none of the background pixels lighten. Here are prior images of the Taras as presented on CoinTalk last month: Here's the reshot reverse (with Black 3.0 painted shooting platform) compared to the old image: I wasn't unhappy with the old images but I think the new ones are better. It's not a perfect comparison test since there were probably subtle differences in lighting between the two shots. You might wonder why I go to great lengths to get a black background when I usually crop out the coin and plop it into a fancy template... It is much easier to extract the coin if the background is uniformly black. Editing time is markedly reduced. Comments and feedback welcome .