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Coin Photography Workshop

Admiral Mike-migration


As we speak (ok...type). Thought I would share some pointers for those interested.

As coin collectors it is only natural to want to show off our coins. This can be a real pain as alot of us keep our coins locked in a safe deposit box. Some have their coins stashed away at home in a nice safe, as do I. But in either case it can be a pain to drag them out. This is where coin photograpy can be a real blessing. Once imaged and saved, we only have to clickey-click the mouse a couple of times and we can see all of out little gems. We can even see the ugly ones too. All we need to do is have some pictures.

One of the reasons I am hosting this workshop is because I realize not every collector has the resources to photograph their coins. So..today until 6pm I am at the Clearfield, Utah library, at this very moment... ready and willing to photograph coins and send them to each individuals CS page. It is also a great idea to have your coins imaged for insurance purposes too. Insurance for your coins is another subject altogether.

Now. To photograph your coins, obviously there needs to be a camera. Digital is preferred. You get the pictures right away, and if you don't like a picture, press a button and it then resides in the twilight zone, never to be seen again, hopefully. Having a macro zoom lense on your camera is also very helpful. Most digitals have zoom/macrozoom, but it has been my experience that these are limited in scope and function. So I sprang for the few extra bucks and bought the macro lense. In fact, it cost more to ship the darn thing from Australia than the actual purchase price of the lense. Go figure!!

Lighting is important. You don't need to spend thousands or even hundreds on lights. I usually use two types of light. Natural light from outdoors and a 75 watt "REVEAL" bulb.

Other items I use... I do not have a fancy stand. I simply use a very sturdy cardboard box with a nice velveteen cover. A cheap walmart tripod. A Qx3 microscope for very detailed images.

I have a Sony DSC-P92 camera that I bought new a few years ago, just because I am a gadget person. The exact same camera can be bought on ebay for under 100 bucks, the microscope for 50, a lamp for 5 bucks, 3 for the REVEAL bulb, 10 for the zoom lense, another 10 for the tripod. You can be completely outfitted for well under 200 dollars.

When photographing your coins, you need to pick an area that has good natural lighting, preferrably a place with a window close by. Don't use dark walls/ceilings as they will suck the light right out of your pics. While good light is important, the type of light is important too. Flourescent lights will have a tendency to give your pictures a green tint. I have mentioned the REVEAL bulb because I have stock in the company...no no no... because the REVEAL bulb emits a pure white light. I have the natural light placed in front of me, and my REVEAL light behind me. Not too close though or it will overpower your pics. When imaging proof coins I have also found it helpful to use a large overhead cover than I can move to reduce glare and shadows.

Once you are happy with the surrounding lights it is now time to take the picture. I use a dark velveteen background for all of my coin pictures. There is no chance for extra glare from the background environment with a dark cloth. Using my macro lense, I take the largest picture (physical size) my camera screen will hold. When saving the image, do the opposite. Save to the lowest file size possible. This is usually marked on your camera as "VGA" or "Email" mode. If your camera allows, use compression. The reasons for this is if you want to upload your pictures, many places, like CS have a file size limit, which in this case is 75k per image. Many people see that their camera will take a 8mb pic, so they take those pictures with those millions and millions of pixels, only to find out that the file is waaaaay to big to upload. Feel free to look at my gallery pictures. I think there are some really good pics, and of course they are all under the 75k file size...else you wouldn't be able to look at them, right?

After you are happy with your coin picture, you may decide to add some information to the image, such as date, type of coin, owners name ect. I personally use the PhotoImpressions software, though, there are many excellent programs you can use to showcase your coins before uploading them. I invite you to look at my Proof Eisenhower set. It is a small set, only 11 coins. All the pictures were taken with my P92 and the background information was done with PhotoImpression V.4. This is a small expample of what you can do to really show your coins to the CS community and even look semi-professional.

After saying all this... I would have to add this... take your time. Get to know your camera, play with lighting, play even more with your photo editing software and most importantly... HAVE FUN!!

This picture is one taken here at the workshop, using my Qx3 microscope. A 1954-S Washington Quarter with reverse die crack. The crack runs from the lower left side of the left wing to just past the top of "Q".


Michael Cooper




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