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My Own Photography Experiments



Absolutely nothing takes the place of good pictures on the front end.

First, I want to give kudos to W.K.F. on all his hard work in documenting his photographic experiences. Then I want to thank Bammer for the tip that will yield sharper, neater, more consistent coinage images in my registry sets.

I have spent countless hours trying to take perfect pictures of my coins, getting somewhat better along the way, but never entirely satisfied. One of the things that annoy me most about my pictures is not just the quality of the coin?s photo, but the presentation aspect in my sets. From what I can tell there are two primary ways to present images of the coins in your sets. You can either display your coins with their holders or crop the holder, showing only the coins. My own personal preference is to display just the coins. That said, I had to find a way to deal with those hideous looking prongs on NGC holders OR the goofy colors PCGS holders sometimes assume through the eye of the camera. With that, I have been searching for software that will effectively mask out those defects and accentuate the coin against a solid color matte background. None of the free downloads does this for me, leaving me to crop or doctor the pictures the best I can. To make matters worse, NGC introduced the slide show feature that showed the inconsistencies in my pictures. I simply could not let this stand, as my slide shows were awful.

About a week ago, I noticed in Bammer?s post that his ?56? Franklin had a matte around it, so I sent him a note asking what software he used to get this effect. He replied that he used Microsoft ?Picture It Premium 10?. A quick Google search revealed that this software didn?t seem readily available for my Vista operating system, (I HATE Vista). Bammer also suggested Photoshop might do what I want, but that he wasn?t sure. With that, I decided to take a chance and purchase Adobe ?Photoshop Elements 8? at Staples for $99 with a $20 manufacturer?s rebate.

When I got the software loaded on my computer, I spent many frustrating hours trying to figure out how to make this complex software do the one thing I wanted. Then by pure chance, I stumbled upon it. The first thing I thought was, ?What did I just do?? after which I spent the next 10 minutes figuring out what keystrokes I made to get the desired effect. Now I am in the process of editing all my pictures, and while I am not quite finished, please check out the slide show feature on ?Gary?s 20th Century Type Set? and see what you think. Notice the difference between the finished coins and the ones I have yet to fix and you will come to the same conclusion I have, that for the slide show to look good, the coins need to be presented consistently. As for Photoshop, now that I discovered how to do the one thing I want, I am discovering all the other neat things it does. From my perspective, the expenditure for this software is well worth the $79 I paid after rebate.

The teaser on this post suggests no substitute for well-taken pictures. For example, if your pictures are blurry to begin with, there is not much the sharpen feature on your editing software will do to improve your pictures. I have had no end to trouble trying to get the color, lighting, and contrast on my coins precise. Frequently, the color of my coins comes out un-natural and I have to spend a considerable amount of time correcting my pictures. With editing software, I can improve the appearance of my coin, but never get it quite right. I have tried every kind of light imaginable in my quest for the perfect picture without being fully satisfied. Usually, when I take my pictures, I use the macro feature on my camera and get as close as possible to the coin. While I have had good results with the focus on my pictures, I still had trouble getting the right colors. Afterwards, I tried using the flash, but at that close range, all I got was a bright flare on my pictures. Then I thought, ?Why not set my tripod higher, zoom in as far as I can with the macro setting, and use the flash.? I reasoned that with a high-resolution 10-megapixel camera I could crop off 90% of the picture and still be left with a sharp, in-focus picture of my coin. Additionally, I can set the power of the flash on my camera if bright flares become a problem. I was literally amazed with the results. Not only were the colors' right, but with the flash the auto focus of the camera worked better to produce even sharper pictures. When you view the coins in Gary?s 20th Century Type Set take notice of all the cents, the nickels except for the type 2 Buffalo Nickel, and all the dimes except for the Barber Dime. Each of these pictures was taken with a flash and has no edits except for the matte and cropping. Simply amazing.

The photo I am attaching has been doctored by photoshop. With July 4 coming, I am attaching a photo of an MS-66 Bicentennial Quarter. Happy collecting all!





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