Seeking Coin Photos Opinions

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gsimonel, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    After reading some of the coin photo tips from different groups members, I decided to try an experiment. Normally I shoot my photos outdoors on sunny days, using an old piece of black construction paper as a background. I use my camera's macro setting, which automatically sets the aperture and shutter speed. This usually causes the background to appear pearly gray behind bronze coins. Yesterday I spray-painted the base with satin black paint. I then photographed a coin of Gallienus in about average condition twice, once against the new, blackish background and use with the construction paper behind it. The lighting was similar for both photos.

    My initial reaction was that the darker background caused my camera to increase the aperture size too much, making the coin appear too light and washed out. I suppose I could compensate for this using a manual setting, but I'm not an experienced photographer, so I don't think it would be worth the time investment for average-grade coins to set everything from scratch for each individual coin, especially when I am trying to photograph 10 or 15 coins in an afternoon. I know I'm not going to get perfect photographs, but if a small change can yield a noticeable improvement I'm all for it.

    So my question for the group is, do you have a preference for one photo over the other?
    Here's the black background:
    and he's my usual background:
    Let me know what you think.
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  3. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    The black background is far better, the gray one distracts from the coin. The coin on the gray background looks better. Honestly you should just learn to mess with the manual settings. After you snap a few pictures and play around with it, you'll get the hang of shooting manual. In my opinion, even $5 coins that are worth collecting deserve decent photographs.
  4. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    I don't collect Ancients so I don't really know what the coin should look like, but I prefer the "usual background" best (minus the shadow in the lower left quadrant).

  5. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    A lot of my first 12 coins, each coin images with a point-and-shoot camera on a tripod, cloudy sunlight, and edited with Paint:


    I think these came out pretty good and well worth the time it took to learn the camera.
  6. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

    Personally, I don't like coin images shot in full sun (across the board-- not just your photos). The lighting is harsh, you have no little control over lighting direction, and the shots are always overly contrasted.

    The lighting on the coin with the gray background is slightly better than the one with the gray background. It looks less harsh although the direction of lighting wasn't optimal for showing details on the coin. The black background images have better details on the coin but at the expense of losing the coin edges and having too much contrast.

    I'd somewhat prefer the gray image if the background was photoshopped black, but that is a time-consuming hassle.

    You could save a lot of headaches and whims of nature by using a daylight bulb on a gooseneck lamp or other position-adjustable lamp. Buy some super matte black paint and you can get your background uniformly black without any (or much) digital retouching, if black backgrounds are your preference.
  7. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    @TIF you have not yet showed us your experiments with very dark paint.

    I took the background out digitally, with Gimp. If you are concerned about the color of the coin compare this photo with your black photo. Which looks more like the coin? glenn.jpg
    Johndakerftw, Alegandron and Bing like this.
  8. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    What, is 8:06 am too early for ya! :D:p:hilarious:;)
    TIF likes this.
  9. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    Well, here we go again. In my opinion, the lighting on the second pic is superior to the first one (black background). OK, so lighting is an issue.

    Now here's were it gets testy. Look at the 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock edges on both obverse pics. To me, the one with the black background looks like it was "cropped" - a very sharp, defining edge, whereas the one with the grayish background has a 3 dimensional look with regard to the edge - it looks like it's rounded.

    JMO :happy:;)
  10. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    I took the liberty to remove your background (using - a super easy tool [note: I have no conflict of interest]).

    This allows to focus on the coin, instead of being distracted by the background.

    I prefer photo 2, though it's a bit dark.
  11. bcuda

    bcuda Well-Known Member

    Just wondering what is the preferred background color to have when shooting a coin?
  12. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    I think we have a consensus that the proximate cause of the appearance of the coin is the lighting, which can certainly be affected by the background.

    However, IN MY OPINION, the secondary problem is with the appearance of the edge of the coin, which I believe is affected by the background, regardless of the appearance of the coin itself.

    You didn't merely "remove" the background, you made it all black. And this, TO ME, makes it look like an artificial edge. I'd rather see a coin that "looks" 3 dimensional.

    So, my preferred background is gray (assuming correct lighting balance).
  13. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter


    Not too early... I just have far too many things on my plate right now (and for the last couple of years) and I really shouldn't try to multitask. The volume of my typos is testament to that! :oops:


    See above. Lately I promise more than I can deliver.

    Maybe this weekend I can get something ready in this regard. I do have one set of images ready but it is of a coin I haven't yet posted and I'd rather show it for the first time in its own thread.
  14. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    It looks best to shoot with a background that matches the web page or catalog where the picture will be used.

    When I display my coins in person, silver coins go on a dark background but bronze coins go on a light background (in my case that is red).

    In an image, the background of the coin should match the background of the place it will go. Even if the image has a transparent background, the pixels on the rim will partially take the color of whatever was behind them.
  15. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    I know... look how long it's taken me to find one! :D:D:D;)

    Hope everything id going well! :happy:
    TIF likes this.
  16. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Well-Known Member

    I use a free editing program called "GIMP" to edit the background colour of mine pretty simple to use theres even a youtube guide on how to do it with coins as well
    Pellinore likes this.
  17. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Many years ago I used to put my coins against a light blue background, but I gave it up because it was too time consuming to paint around the edge of the coin. But removing the background using the web site Roerbakmix suggested makes it a lot easier to experiment with different backgrounds. Here's my original:
    With a white background:
    With my old light blue background:
    And finally, with a black background. You'll notice the edges do not look very good with the black background:
    I think both the white and light blue backgrounds are improvements over the original, but I'm not sure if I prefer either one over the other.
  18. halfcent1793

    halfcent1793 Well-Known Member

    I always shoot on a neutral gray background, and I'm usually shooting copper. The images generally need very little manipulation after shooting.
  19. bcuda

    bcuda Well-Known Member

    Im still working on my photo technique. I have figured out a little but have a lot to learn. I just did this one a few minutes ago , I am still not happy with the outcome.

    IMG_6479 (2).JPG

    another one with out the sun casting a shadow.

    IMG_6488 (2).JPG

    and another one with a black background.

    IMG_6492 (2).JPG

    last one with a white background.

    IMG_6491 (2).JPG

    Seems like all of my pics have to much light .
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    Orielensis, Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
  20. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Quite agree. I've never had any luck photoging coins outside in sunlight.
  21. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    This is me. My wife tells me to stop promising to good causes.

    I like to take pictures on a blue background in diffused sunlight. The blue gives my pics a better color. I add a flashlight when I want to highlight features. I want to post these from my London trip, but am still working on writeups.
    note you can see both sides of the top coin in this view
    TIF, Johndakerftw, Bing and 1 other person like this.
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