I was so impressed by Alan Lastufkas, Most Improved post that I thought it was high time I kick it in gear and improve upon a few images of my own. Thus, this post features an image upgrade of one of my all time favorite coins, the Austrian 1908 Franz Joseph I, 60th Anniversary of Reign 100 Corona.
Every one of the images of this coin I photographed several years ago and at the time I considered them to be satisfactory. Nevertheless, what was satisfactory then is no longer so today, especially considering the quality of the pictures I take today. This left me with no choice but to re-mage many of the coins in my collection. However, before I get into the photography aspects of re-imaging this coin let me present a little background information.
I bought this coin raw from a German dealer through E-Bay in 2008. Subsequently, I sent it to NCS to have it encapsulated. The coin received an AU-details grade for rim damage. However, since I bought this coin solely for its reverse design, I am glad that the rim damage is only visible from the obverse.
When I purchased this coin the only way I could afford it was if it had a problem preventing it from obtaining a full grade. Recently, an AU details (hairlines) example of this coin sold through Heritage for just about four times what I paid for mine. Ergo today, I would be hard pressed to purchase this coin at all.
Although I am working towards replacing most of the details graded coins in my collection, I have made an exception for coins like this one that are either very scarce or very expensive.
Along the way I decided to encapsulate my coin in a NGC holder. When I got the coin back there was a splotch of dried glue on the surface of the holder. I should have returned the holder, but for some reason didnt. This became a real obstacle to re-imaging this coin because it would take a lot of time and effort to carefully remove the glue without permanently damaging the holder. Then theres always the hassle of retrieving the coin from the safe deposit box. Finally, Alans timely post became the straw that broke the camels back.
With that, I decided that enough is enough and I retrieved the coin from the safe deposit box. Once I removed the glue I thought that re-imaging my coin would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, nothing could have been further from the truth.
I began by used three Jansjo lamps as my source of lighting. I placed them close to the camera lens and perpendicular to the coin about 120 degrees apart. Then I photographed the coin using three different f-stops and two different shutter speeds. In the end after all those samples, I could not find a single image that I was totally happy with. However, if these were the best images I was going to get, I decided to save the best of the worst.
After that, I tried adjusting the angle of the Jansjo lighting in reference to the coin and the images got worse. Then I tried using diffused daylight lamps, but to no avail. Finally, I decided to throw in the towel.
It was then that I felt the weight of the coin shift in its holder. I looked closer at the fingers holding the coin in place and noticed that the coins thickness was much thinner than the fingers holding it. Thus, I could shake the holder and alter the coins position. This meant that the lighting was perpendicular to the holder but NOT necessarily to the coin.
Could this be the source of my frustration? The only way to find out was to photograph the coin one more time. I banged the holder on a flat surface to get the coin to rest flatly on one side of the fingers. Then, returning to my original lighting configuration, I shot two sets of pictures using different f-stops and the rest as they say is history. It is so amazing to me that a tilt of just a few millimeters can make all the difference in the world.
After hundreds of hours working on my photography skills I learned that the learning never stops. That said, some things always seem consistent. First, my best shots are done with my original Jansjo lighting configuration. Next, if I am getting crumby pictures I need to look for another solution other than radically adjusting the lighting. Finally, the diffused daylight lamps are only good for narrow applications where a softer effect is desired.
I hope that you enjoy my before and after shots including the best of the worst and the best of all. If re-imaging my coins wasnt fun, I wouldnt do it. However, having already paid for the coins and the photography gear, I consider this a very fun and inexpensive way to enjoy my coins.
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