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Coin photography is tough!

Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

I spent hours with my camera setup. It's time to learn to use it. I've been avoiding it by using my cell phone. Imaging coins is very tough to do.
Once I start something I get a little OCD. I know these images are not perfect but you should have seen them when I started last night. This is a work in progress.
I have been getting some pointers from FlyingAL. He knows his stuff and got me on the right path with plenty of information. I am grateful for him taking the time to help me.
No sense taking images of coins without sharing them.
Remember this is a work in progress.
You can kind of see the progression as I am improving. Someday I will be able to take better images. It takes practice and learning a little at a time. I wish it was point and shoot but it's much more difficult.














Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

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Comments

  • TomBTomB Posts: 20,592 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Overall, I think your images are fantastic and I am certain you will get closer to the in-hand look as you take more.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
  • TrampTramp Posts: 651 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree, it's difficult.
    Your pics looks pretty good to me!

    USAF (Ret.) 1985 - 2005. E-4B Aircraft Maintenance Crew Chief and Contracting Officer.
    My current Registry sets:
    ✓ Everyman Mint State Carson City Morgan Dollars (1878 – 1893)
    ✓ Everyman Mint State Lincoln Cents (1909 – 1958)
    ✓ Morgan Dollar GSA Hoard (1878 – 1891)

  • anablepanablep Posts: 5,008 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice progress! The Walker images look great.

    Always looking for attractive rim toned Morgan and Peace dollars in PCGS or (older) ANA/ANACS holders!

    "Bongo hurtles along the rain soaked highway of life on underinflated bald retread tires."


    ~Wayne
  • The_Dinosaur_ManThe_Dinosaur_Man Posts: 818 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You did a good job. Some of your images look a tad washed out or overexposed. Keep fine-tuning with the shutter speed, aperature, and ISO, as well as your lighting set-up. And remember too that there isn't a single set-up that works for all coins, even when they're from the same series.

    Custom album maker and numismatic photographer, see my portfolio here: (http://www.donahuenumismatics.com/).

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,225 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not bad! And legions better than the ones you used to post!

  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 9,153 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Shoot on manual and bracket your exposures.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Much better than the ones we started with! I'm confident that with time and experimentation these photos will keep getting better. Good work!

  • etexmikeetexmike Posts: 6,779 ✭✭✭

    Not too bad for a work in porgress. You have some pretty good images there. Keep up the good work.

    etexmike

  • lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,607 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Those images look pretty good! There are a couple that might be a little overexposed but the Walkers look really nice. I found better results with manual settings. Good luck!!

    Collecting: Dansco 7070; Middle Date Large Cents (VF-AU); Box of 20;

    Successful BST transactions with: SilverEagles92; Ahrensdad; Smitty; GregHansen; Lablade; Mercury10c; copperflopper; whatsup; KISHU1; scrapman1077, crispy, canadanz, smallchange, robkool, Mission16, ranshdow, ibzman350, Fallguy, Collectorcoins, SurfinxHI, jwitten, Walkerguy21D, dsessom.
  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,893 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One of the best video games out there, is what your playing. ( I think )
    PHOTOGRAPHY MOTTO
    Good, Better, Best.
    Never let it rest, until your Good is Better,
    and your Better is Best.
    Cool.

  • crazyhounddogcrazyhounddog Posts: 13,745 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Looks like you’re on the right track.

    The bitterness of "Poor Quality" is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
  • JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,664 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Those pics ain't shabby.

  • ctf_error_coinsctf_error_coins Posts: 15,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Photoshop works wonders when processing your images.

    The bigger the file (more information) you start with, the better.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,225 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Photoshop feels like cheating.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ProofCollection said:
    Photoshop feels like cheating.

    It’s not. It’s just like adjusting your camera settings when done right.

  • calgolddivercalgolddiver Posts: 1,376 ✭✭✭✭✭

    great start

    Top 25 Type Set 1792 to present

    Top 10 Cal Fractional Type Set

    successful BST with Ankurj, BigAl, Bullsitter, CommemKing, DCW(7), Elmerfusterpuck, Joelewis, Mach1ne, Minuteman810430, Modcrewman, Nankraut, Nederveit2, Philographer(5), Realgator, Silverpop, SurfinxHI, TomB and Yorkshireman(3)

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 29, 2024 1:13PM

    Fighting with sharpness today. Seems like a new setting for each coin. This 1940-S is immaculate and very white.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 29, 2024 1:40PM

    Sometimes it pays to clean the lens.
    This are a little better. I need to get the brightness up a bit.
    I think this coin will grade 67 or higher. I am conservative when it comes to grading. This coin has no distractions.



    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,594 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Your lights are mostly too low. This is causing the fields and other flat areas to be underlit and therefore dark, which is causing you to overexpose edges. Raise the lights a bit and also add some diffusion to them to reduce the contrast. The PL 1921 Morgans look too bright overall, so reduce the exposure in the camera on these, too. Big patches of bright white from being overexposed do not have any recoverable information in them. Attempting to adjust the exposure in post processing won't be beneficial here.

  • labloverlablover Posts: 3,543 ✭✭✭✭✭

    messydesk is right on.

    I would add, when raising the lights get them above the lens and/or the camera. Usually three lights diffused (I used waxpaper) is enough placed in a triangle arrangement. At least it worked for me.

    Here's a few toned coins I shot:

    "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers
  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,225 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm still learning but from my experience, lighting is like 80% of the job.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ProofCollection said:
    I'm still learning but from my experience, lighting is like 80% of the job.

    That's what I'm struggling with myself. I'm going to try tye wax paper and see if that helps. It's fun for a while but good to back off of when it gets frustrating.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • ctf_error_coinsctf_error_coins Posts: 15,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I hate diffused light.

    I use 10" flood lights which gives soft but directional light.

  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,418 ✭✭✭✭✭

    To all aspiring numismatic photographers:

    https://www.amazon.com/Numismatic-Photography-Mark-Goodman/dp/1933990090

    Look around, there are better prices than this. Worth every penny................


    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,418 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ctf_error_coins said:
    I hate diffused light.

    I use 10" flood lights which gives soft but directional light.

    Diffused light has a purpose on particular types of coins................


    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
  • ctf_error_coinsctf_error_coins Posts: 15,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @spacehayduke said:

    @ctf_error_coins said:
    I hate diffused light.

    I use 10" flood lights which gives soft but directional light.

    Diffused light has a purpose on particular types of coins................

    I disagree.

    Here is a colorful toned coin shot through plastic with directional flood lights ....

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,225 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:
    I’ve tried all types of lights from the kind that will burn your face off to the ones that are cool to the touch, from large 8”-12” to those with a light head no larger than a half dollar. For me the smaller the head the better. Diffusion, wether it is a tissue paper, wax paper or a ping pong ball cut in half, works great. If there is color and luster on the coin, diffusion does nothing to hinder it. The same goes for coins with their natural fresh from the mint look……..shot through the slab or not.

    What temperature of light is best? I would think something near 5000k to avoid extra yellowing, I'm curious on your thoughts.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec is right for sure. Try stuff out and use what works for you.

    I don’t use diffused light. It works great for me for almost ever kind of coin. That’s my personal preference though.

    I do, however, recommend that axial lighting is not used. It takes considerable skill to get right and for me there are easier ways of achieving the same result.


  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,418 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ctf_error_coins said:

    @spacehayduke said:

    @ctf_error_coins said:
    I hate diffused light.

    I use 10" flood lights which gives soft but directional light.

    Diffused light has a purpose on particular types of coins................

    I disagree.

    Here is a colorful toned coin shot through plastic with directional flood lights ....

    Then you really don't understand much about photographing a diversity of numismatic coins if you don't use all of the tools to make the best image possible of each......................... Diffusion is part of that tool chest........


    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @spacehayduke said:

    @ctf_error_coins said:

    @spacehayduke said:

    @ctf_error_coins said:
    I hate diffused light.

    I use 10" flood lights which gives soft but directional light.

    Diffused light has a purpose on particular types of coins................

    I disagree.

    Here is a colorful toned coin shot through plastic with directional flood lights ....

    Then you really don't understand much about photographing a diversity of numismatic coins if you don't use all of the tools to make the best image possible of each......................... Diffusion is part of that tool chest........

    I think it's bordering on ridiculous to state that Chris doesn't know how to image a diversity of numismatic coins. His images are clearly some of the best out there.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 3:40AM

    @robec said:

    @ProofCollection said:

    @robec said:
    I’ve tried all types of lights from the kind that will burn your face off to the ones that are cool to the touch, from large 8”-12” to those with a light head no larger than a half dollar. For me the smaller the head the better. Diffusion, wether it is a tissue paper, wax paper or a ping pong ball cut in half, works great. If there is color and luster on the coin, diffusion does nothing to hinder it. The same goes for coins with their natural fresh from the mint look……..shot through the slab or not.

    What temperature of light is best? I would think something near 5000k to avoid extra yellowing, I'm curious on your thoughts.

    As long as you set your camera’s white balance to your lights you should be fine. My lights are about 2900°k. If the cameras white balance wasn’t set for the lights that were that warm the color would be on the orange side.

    You can see in this photo how the lighting in the surrounding area and slab has an amber color, but the coin and gasket that surrounds it on the monitor is the correct color.

    BTW, this is the coin in the monitor. I didn’t want you to think the lighting made the coin look amber.

    Those lights look nice. I've been setting my lights up at about the same distance. I'm having trouble with other parts of the camera that I don't understand. I keep my ISO set at 100 F is at about 5.6 the other number and I am not sure what it does is at about 1/30.
    If someone could help me understand what the F means and the other number I might have a chance.
    I'm also going to try the wax paper trick.
    Those look like halogen lights?

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I took a couple of images before work. It's going to take time and practice. I'm starting from ground 0. I'm am very new to camera setting, lighting and photoshoping.
    I only use photoshop to play with color, sharpness and brightness. I do not try to embellish the coin. I want to take good honest images.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 8:02AM

    @Morgan13 said:

    Those lights look nice. I've been setting my lights up at about the same distance. I'm having trouble with other parts of the camera that I don't understand. I keep my ISO set at 100 F is at about 5.6 the other number and I am not sure what it does is at about 1/30.
    If someone could help me understand what the F means and the other number I might have a chance.
    I'm also going to try the wax paper trick.
    Those look like halogen lights?

    The lights are LED with a cap from a 50¢ size plastic coin tube covering the light head as a diffuser. The square cap worked very well but it kept catching on one thing or another and get knocked off. I switched them out with ping pong balls.

    I keep my ISO at 100 also. The f stop (aperture) I use anywhere between 7.2 and 11. The larger the number the smaller the lens opening. The 1/30 is the shutter speed. The less light you have the longer the shutter will remain open. I shoot my coin manually in Aperture mode, which on my Canon is the Av on the setting dial. This will automatically adjust the shutter speed according to where your aperture exposure is set (5.6, 7.2, etc). This is a very simplistic description.. I’m sure there is someone who can describe the workings with a lot more depth.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 8:37AM

    @Morgan13 said:
    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Mismatched light sources can cause problems. They need to be the same (or close) to the same color temp. The bell doesn’t ring over night. For most of us it takes years with a lot of experimenting and a ton of practice before the results are close to where you want them. Thank goodness for digital. Tons of practice with film would be more expensive than the coins.
    BTW, I don’t want to interfere with what @FlyingAl is teaching. He does a great job and knows what he’s talking about. We all have a subtle difference in work flow and setup. By the time you’ve perfected the craft you’ll look back and find your work flow and setups have changed a good number of times. It’s amazing how much the process evolves over time.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @Morgan13 said:
    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Mismatched light sources can cause problems. They need to be the same (or close) to the same color temp. The bell doesn’t ring over night. For most of us it takes years with a lot of experimenting and a ton of practice before the results are close to where you want them. Thank goodness for digital. Tons of practice with film would be more expensive than the coins.
    BTW, I don’t want to interfere with what @FlyingAl is teaching. He does a great job and knows what he’s talking about. We all have a subtle difference in work flow and setup. By the time you’ve perfected the craft you’ll look back and find your work flow and setups have changed a good number of times. It’s amazing how much the process evolves over time.

    You’re not interfering at all!

    I would also recommend the same light source. I use three LED lamps that are no longer on the market, but I hear IKEA’s Janso lamps work well.

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @Morgan13 said:
    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Mismatched light sources can cause problems. They need to be the same (or close) to the same color temp. The bell doesn’t ring over night. For most of us it takes years with a lot of experimenting and a ton of practice before the results are close to where you want them. Thank goodness for digital. Tons of practice with film would be more expensive than the coins.
    BTW, I don’t want to interfere with what @FlyingAl is teaching. He does a great job and knows what he’s talking about. We all have a subtle difference in work flow and setup. By the time you’ve perfected the craft you’ll look back and find your work flow and setups have changed a good number of times. It’s amazing how much the process evolves over time.

    You’re not interfering at all!

    I would also recommend the same light source. I use three LED lamps that are no longer on the market, but I hear IKEA’s Janso lamps work well.

    Those are what I use. Like yours, those are off the market as well.

  • ctf_error_coinsctf_error_coins Posts: 15,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @Morgan13 said:
    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Mismatched light sources can cause problems. They need to be the same (or close) to the same color temp. The bell doesn’t ring over night. For most of us it takes years with a lot of experimenting and a ton of practice before the results are close to where you want them. Thank goodness for digital. Tons of practice with film would be more expensive than the coins.
    BTW, I don’t want to interfere with what @FlyingAl is teaching. He does a great job and knows what he’s talking about. We all have a subtle difference in work flow and setup. By the time you’ve perfected the craft you’ll look back and find your work flow and setups have changed a good number of times. It’s amazing how much the process evolves over time.

    You’re not interfering at all!

    I would also recommend the same light source. I use three LED lamps that are no longer on the market, but I hear IKEA’s Janso lamps work well.

    Those are what I use. Like yours, those are off the market as well.

    My lights are the oldest, for sure, 100%

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 11:53AM

    @ctf_error_coins said:

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @Morgan13 said:
    Bob you explained everything in a way I can understand. I'm doing everything right according to your description.
    It must be the lighting. I do have mismatched lights and they are not diffused. I'll work on that.
    I keep looking trueviews realizing I will likely never ne able to take images that good. I have an old camera, cheap tripod and the lighting situation.
    It's still fun. A little frustrating but I take breaks.

    Mismatched light sources can cause problems. They need to be the same (or close) to the same color temp. The bell doesn’t ring over night. For most of us it takes years with a lot of experimenting and a ton of practice before the results are close to where you want them. Thank goodness for digital. Tons of practice with film would be more expensive than the coins.
    BTW, I don’t want to interfere with what @FlyingAl is teaching. He does a great job and knows what he’s talking about. We all have a subtle difference in work flow and setup. By the time you’ve perfected the craft you’ll look back and find your work flow and setups have changed a good number of times. It’s amazing how much the process evolves over time.

    You’re not interfering at all!

    I would also recommend the same light source. I use three LED lamps that are no longer on the market, but I hear IKEA’s Janso lamps work well.

    Those are what I use. Like yours, those are off the market as well.

    My lights are the oldest, for sure, 100%

    The last non LED lights I used were these huge round CFL bulbs with the daylight color temp of 5000°k. The lamp shades (if you can call them that) were made of aluminum and were 10”-12” in diameter. They were so large (and hot) you barely had room on the desktop to do anything. They did throw out a lot of light….and heat. I can’t count the number of times my arms and face got a swift jolt of pain from touching those metal lamp shades. LEDs were such a welcome change.

    This was before I tethered my camera to the computer. It was the old fashioned way of looking through the camera’s wee little viewfinder.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is the closet I have come to a good picture. I know they are dark but both of these coins are PL. If I can build off of this I consider it a good starting point.



    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Morgan13 said:
    This is the closet I have come to a good picture. I know they are dark but both of these coins are PL. If I can build off of this I consider it a good starting point.

    White balance is mucho improved.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 2:28PM

    Much better. Now try and even out the positions of your lights so that the shadows are minimized. Try and put them at the height of your lens, right next to the lens, and at 10 and 2.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 30, 2024 3:32PM

    Played around after work. I did to balance out my lighting as the led lights have multiple setting. I shot in AV mode.
    Changed my background to white.
    This is what I got.
    I did a little photoshop work to what my eye likes best for these shots.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,524 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Morgan13 said:
    Played around after work. I did to balance out my lighting as the led lights have multiple setting. I shot in AV mode.
    Changed my background to white.
    This is what I got.
    I did a little photoshop work to what my eye likes best for these shots.

    The best shots yet!!

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Much better! I use manual, and would suggest you do the same, but as you figure out how things work AV will do.

    Your images seem small size wise. Are you shooting in raw or JPEG?

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,594 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Morgan13 said:
    Played around after work. I did to balance out my lighting as the led lights have multiple setting. I shot in AV mode.
    Changed my background to white.

    The background color you are using will affect the exposure when using automatic exposure settings. A black background will cause the camera to overexpose a little, a white background will cause it to underexpose. Start with the last walker picture, which is good, and first work on the sharpness by focusing manually. Once that's good, we can mess with the lighting and exposure. One thing at a time.

  • Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm shooting in raw L which I believe is raw jpeg.
    Am I right?

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,594 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "Raw L" probably means raw plus a large JPEG. At this point it doesn't matter a lot which you're using, since the basics of controlling sharpness, lighting and exposure need to be done either way. Once you have that under control, shooting raw will give you the ability to do more with the image in post-processing. For now, it may simply introduce an extra step of converting from raw to something you can edit.

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