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Beauty is in the Eye of the Camera Lens



...Or is it rather in the skill of the photographer.

About two years ago, I spent a goodly sum of money to upgrade my photography equipment. If they say replication is the highest form of flattery, then Brandon of BRG Collection fame has spent a lot of time blushing. That being since he has helped countless persons, including myself, to take higher quality pictures of their coins. Now I dont quite consider myself in his league, but in two years time I have come a long way and I have the pictures to prove it.

When I bought my current set-up it was basically the same equipment Brandon uses to take his pictures, the same bellows, lens, and a comparable camera in the Nikon D3100 (Brandon uses a Cannon). Additionally, I have the same Jansjo LEDs that he uses with the exception that I also use daylight lamps. Now one might think, same set-up equals same quality. Well the real truth is that while my pictures were better, they were no-where near the quality of his or even my own pictures now two years later. So what gives?

Well in two years of trial and error and thousands of pictures the key is in the skill of the photographer. This skill is especially apparent in the way the photographer sets up his lighting. I hate to say that lighting is everything, but lighting is everything. The equipment you use can be of lower quality IF you have good lighting. Through trial and error I learned how to take pictures of different coins minted with different metals and differing surface conditions.

Furthermore, macro photography magnifies and sharpens the finest of a coins detail allowing the luster and die polish to pop. When I learned how to take good macro pictures, my pictures improved accordingly. Still this took lots of trial end error to get me to the point I am today.

At any rate two years ago, I photographed an 1853 arrows and rays quarter dollar for my Dansco 7070 Type Set. That quarter with a crusty surface was certified XF-40 by PCGS. In other words, the coin has very little eye appeal in the hand. The pictures I took two years ago with my current equipment were better than my previous attempts, but the photographs were still un-appealing.

Now fast forward two years and Im working towards re-imaging all my coins and I got to my 1853 quarter and nailed it. I even made the crustiness look attractive in this attempt. Notice the sharpness of the coins surface details when compared to the original picture. I had considered upgrading this coin but now I like it so much that I may not do it.

Now Im not trying to improve the appearance of the coin with editing tricks but I do want to accurately accentuate all the coin's features. I feel that this attempt is the last re-do for this coin.

In summary, Im not saying that I have arrived, but that in two years I have made significant progress in honing my macro photography skills. I am attaching the new photograph to this post and Im going to post the old one in the thread. Like anything a person wants to be good at, it takes time and practice.



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