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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Preparing an NGC Submission



There are some things I don’t particularly care to do. When it comes to those things, I usually procrastinate getting them done. Preparing submission forms to send coins and medals to NGC for grading is something I always procrastinate. I just don’t like itemizing the submission form, looking up the market value, separating my medals from my coins, modern vs. classic, etc. Then packing them up and running to the post office is such a pain in the neck. Well, today I finally said, “This is the day” and I grabbed the first item to be submitted.

The first item in my submission is a 55mm 1876 William Barber classic, Centennial Medal struck in white metal. Since I just recently finished experimenting with my lighting, I thought, “Why not try a few of those new techniques on this medal.” Well, that’s all it took to successfully kick the submission can down the road a little farther!

The first set of pictures was so-so in that they did not significantly improve on the pictures I already had. Then I had the hair-brained idea to try something that I typically have a hard time getting just right to see if I might get lucky. Why not? After all, the alternative was to get back to work on that submission. Besides, the best time to take pictures of coins is in their raw state and this would be my last crack at it. This medal though not classified as a proof has mirrored fields. Why not try to see if I could get the full effect of those mirrors in my picture?

The best possible placement for lighting is perpendicular to the object you are photographing. As you can see with my set-up, that is kind of hard to do given that the camera is in the way. There are two workarounds that are quite effective in redirecting the light to simulate a perpendicular lighting source. The first is axial lighting as described in Mark Goodman’s excellent book on coin photography entitled, “Numismatic Photography.” The second is to tilt the coin towards the lighting source. I chose the second as the easiest thing to do.

The tricky part in this is to minimize the reflections and there WILL be reflections. Now I used a soft cloth to tilt this medal toward the lighting source about four degrees. Then I tried my best to position the reflections to a place on the medal where they are not distracting. On the obverse, the reflection was under the date 1876. On the reverse, it was in the middle of the 13 radiating stars! Perfect, I thought, because the reflection made the center of the stars look like the sun!

Now when you tilt a coin relative to the camera you will run into issues with focusing the camera and distorting the shape of the medal. Because of the tilt, the camera will see the round medal as slightly oval. To improve the focus, I moved the camera farther away from the subject effectively making the image smaller relative to the frame. Then I corrected the oval camera distortion using Photoshop Elements 2019. Please notice the picture on the back cover of Mark Goodman’s book showing the coin tilted towards the light to see that his set-up is similar to mine. Now I use lights on both sides of the medal but since the medal is tilted towards the one, it is tilted away from the other. Thus, the lamp tilted away has little or no effect on the picture.

I am posting two pictures of my medal. The one that has darker fields is a picture showing the medal perpendicular to the camera. The other one with the lit-up fields is a picture showing the medal perpendicular to the lighting source.

I just had to post this! Now back to my submission? Nah, but I will get to it soon unless I run into more distractions! Gary







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So.... what you're saying is that you have the attention span and self-discipline of a domestic cat? Good to know! lol

All kidding aside - awesome pictures of an interesting piece.

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On 5/11/2020 at 8:17 PM, Revenant said:

So.... what you're saying is that you have the attention span and self-discipline of a domestic cat? Good to know! lol

All kidding aside - awesome pictures of an interesting piece.

So... if I have the self discipline of a domestic cat, then I'm not alone. :) I posted this journal concurrently on the ANA's member blog and most of the responses weren't about the pictures but about submissions! Still, if I don't want to do something, I usually wait until the last minute and "get-er" done anyway after 5 or 6 complaints from my wife like, "When are you going to get this done." If you want me to get something done, give me a deadline and it will be done weeks in advance. When I worked in the cell phone industry, I worked five new build sites at once that some spreadsheet-wonk engineer decided should be finished by a certain date. My reasoning here was this, get it done now so that when things go wrong like they inevitably do I'll have lots of time to work through the unforeseen technical problems. Ahh, retirement has been a great stress reliever, no more spreadsheet wonks! In the end though, I think I'm a typical guy. I am including a link to the other blog https://www.money.org/my-ana/viewpost/7828

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I identify completely with your procrastinations. It takes me forever to get a submission ready for NGC or to send off to great collections. It is even longer for eBay postings since they are so much smaller, dollar wise, and require even more effort for the return.  Rainy days like today help me to play catch up on these "onerous" chores :)  Keep having fun and experimenting. It is what makes life more interesting.  Great pics and tutorial by the way.

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2 hours ago, gherrmann44 said:

So... if I have the self discipline of a domestic cat, then I'm not alone. :) 

Definitely not alone. One of these days I'll get around to buying some new flips and such and then I can start thinking about submitting some civil war tokens and such to use some of that grading credit they gave me 4 months ago. lol 

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I encourage people to photograph coins.. personally, I love it. I have Mark Goodman's book, Numismatic Photograph. As a professional numismatic photographer, I can say that there is useful information in Mark's book, but it is only a starting point, and in my opinion, most if it is not the best way to photography coins. For example, images like those I've attached here were not achieved with Mark's methods, but rather a custom built 3 axis hybrid axial lighting system that requires no tilting the coin, no depth of field issues and allows complete control of the light gradient across the face of the coin and image contrast. I have a shot of my set up on my Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/p/B9cElD2ng0_/    Check it out and many of my other coin images in the gallery.  

Feb 27 2020-2.jpg

May 9 2020-1.jpg

May 14 2020-1.jpg

Feb 27 2020-4.jpg

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Great pictures - I think quality of photography is critical to this hobby and attracting new collectors. It is also essential for accurate recording of information for reference purposes - and as a collector of the smaller denominations to make up for my eyesight:roflmao:

I am still trying to make a choice on a camera/lens etc and due to the costs ideally the same one for video and stills?????hm

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