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