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Numismatic Photography Thread, Diffused Lighting Coin Photography (Capture the Color) in Miscellaneous Numismatic Information; INTRODUCTION Have you ever owned a gorgeously toned proof coin that you wanted to show off to all of your ...
  1. #1
    Toning Freak! Lehigh96's Avatar
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    Diffused Lighting Coin Photography (Capture the Color)

    INTRODUCTION

    Have you ever owned a gorgeously toned proof coin that you wanted to show off to all of your friends in the virtual world? Have you ever tried to photograph a toned proof only to find out that no matter what you do the colors that explode off the coin in hand seem destined to hide in your photos? Photographing coins can be very frustrating. Photographing toned coins can drive you insane. Photographing toned proof coins can be enough for a collector to throw the camera in the ocean and look for a new hobby. But don't despair, diffused lighting is here to save the day.

    I will not begin to give a lesson in the principles of photography, but I would like to show everyone the benefits of diffused lighting in coin photography. Diffused lighting is especially useful in photographing proof coins which don't have cartwheel luster. This lighting technique will make the appearance of traditional luster disappear from your photos of your mint state coins. However, the ability to show color is greatly increased. Diffused lighting is very useful in three different scenarios.


    TONED PROOF COINS


    Let us look at a typical photo of a toned proof coin. The photo below is of a wildly toned 1964 Jefferson Nickel NGC PF67.

    Standard Lighting




    Unfortunately, the colors on the coin are obscured by the mirrored surfaces of the coin and can only be partially seen on the high points. Most collectors would look at this photo and have no idea of how impressive the coin looks in hand. Now let's look at the same coin photographed with diffused lighting and admire the end result in all it's glory.

    Diffused Lighting






    PROOF CAMEO & ULTRA CAMEOS

    Not only can diffused lighting be used on toned proofs to show color, it can also be used on proof cameos and deep cameos to show a reverse cameo effect. When diffused lighting is used on cameo coins, the fields will become white and the devices dark, creating the reverse cameo effect. While this appearance does not suit every collectors' tastes, it does provide an impressive alternative to the standard black and white cameo presentation of a proof coin. Here is a 1992-S Kennedy Half Dollar Silver NGC PF69 ULTRA CAMEO

    Diffused Lighting






    ELUSIVE COLOR MINT STATE COINS


    The last application for diffused lighting is with those extraordinarily hard to capture color mint state coins. There are toned coins that no matter how you angle the light, the only way to capture the color creates a glare on the slab right over the coin. For these coins, you can use diffused lighting to reduce the glare and show the full range of colors. However, any cartwheel luster on the coin will disappear in the process. I recommend that two sets of photos be taken for these coins. One will show the luster and the other the color. By viewing both, the observer can generate an idea in his/her head of what the actual coin would look like in hand. Here is a 1958 Washington Quarter NGC MS66* that is a perfect example.

    Standard Lighting


  2. #2
    Toning Freak! Lehigh96's Avatar
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    Diffused Lighting



    Notice the complete lack of apparent luster in the second photograph but the color range is phenomenal. Personally, I like the appearance of the first photograph better, but if I were ever inclined to sell the coin, the second photograph would bring the money.


    DIFFUSED LIGHTING SET UP

    Now I know what you guys are thinking: I don't have the tools to diffuse the lighting. Please know that every photograph I have shown in this thread with diffused lighting used only two additional household items: a rubber band and a paper towel. If you don't believe me, see for yourself. Here is the set up.





    Okay guys, go experiment with diffused lighting and see what you can show me. Have fun!

  3. #3
    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    Thanks for the write up. Once I get back home and have a little more time on my hands I'll add a numismatic photography article section on the homepage and promote this one. I'm hoping to have a great page on photographing coins. I'm mostly a wildlife photographer, but I like to shoot in my studio, and shoot macro also and I've found that shooting coins is much harder to explain since we have different combinations going on (e.g. proof with toning, proof without toning, brown copper, gold, etc etc...). I went ahead and bought photographingcoins.com too, which will eventually either point to it's own articles/page or will just redirect to the homepages numismatic photography section.

    Take it easy!

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    Numismatic tmoneyeagles's Avatar
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    Loved this thread my man. Very helpful read, I haven't really been taking photos, at all, because of my crappy camera.
    I'll get a nicer Cannon for Christmas, and I'll be sure to test this out then!
    Travis
    (Leader of the Kokapowa)

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    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    You'd be surprised that you can get good results even with a lower end camera. Unless it's really junky What kind do you have?

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    Numismatic tmoneyeagles's Avatar
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    Jesh, I have a Exlim Casio (don't know what model) it is a really crappy camera.
    I've tried every which way to take pictures with, every set up that everyone has told me to do, I'm great at taking pictures, but I feel my camera really does hold me back.
    I want a quality Cannon, as I've heard good things about Cannon cameras. Once again around Christmas, for a few hundred dollars.
    Travis
    (Leader of the Kokapowa)

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    Numismatic Travlntiques's Avatar
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    Some of the best pictures I've taken were done with a 2003 3.2 megapixel Fuji..... When I bought my current 8.3 megapixel camera I was really disappointed at just how little of a difference there was. Make sure the new camera has good processors and an even better lens..... megapixel size comes 3rd.
    This is an outstanding thread. I've just started using a CFL bulb within the past few weeks and the colors are so much more true-to-life.

  8. #8
    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    Higher MP won't make a difference unless you are cropping, and contrary to popular belief, higher MP does NOT mean a 'sharper picture'.
    If you want to print 5x7 shots, you really only need 3MP.

    Design215 megapixels comparison and maximum print size charts

  9. #9
    Administrator Jesh's Avatar
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    I can't capture the color of this 1884 that is my avatar. I can't get the true color to pop unless it's pointed at the light source, and then it's all washed out even if it's diffused lighting. Any tips? Tried everything in nuymismatic photography book, but it's just glaring off the slab bad?

 

 

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