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thedeadpoint

A relief

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Some coins have high reliefs. What are the challenges of taking pictures of these coins? Additionally, what is the best practice and methods to capture the relief in all its glory without sacrificing a great shot elsewhere on the coin?

 

Most of our modern coins now have low reliefs. What are the challenges to taking pictures of them? I imagine some coins have such a low-relief that the fields and design can be washed out. What are the tips for photographing a low-relief coin?

 

What about incuse coins?

 

 

As always, post pics! :)

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Light and shadow are required to define relief. Obviously, high relief needs something to demonstrate the effect. I turn the coin:

 

5021448526_127d55628f_b.jpg

 

but I'm sure there are other good ideas as well.

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The 1921 Peace dollar I posted in the "favorite pic" thread is raised relief:

http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php?/topic/29045-post-your-favorite-pic/page__view__findpost__p__511200

 

As you can see in that picture, the fields of the coin are not flat, either. It all depends on getting the lighting just right to show the slight concave rounded look towards the edges. Gentle, indirect light from an angle works best to bring out the contours of the raised devices, similar to how my avatar picture was made (50 kopecks 1914, embossed striking).

 

Axial lighting can also work well, but a combination of head-on axial light plus one or two additional light sources from the side can be very dramatic with raised strikes.

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Over the last decade since I went digital, I have shot many coins repeatedly until I got a shot I could live with. Not having to pay for film really opened up new avenues of experimentation. What I discovered is that there is no best lighting for all coins and sometimes you can take the same coin in several ways and have a hard time selecting the one you prefer because each will have something of an advantage over the other. I shoot mostly ancients which are easier for me than modern coins I suspect because I have shot several thousand of them and only a few dozen moderns. I also most firmly believe that the choice of camera is one of the least important factors as long as the camera has a minimum level of quality and allows a full range of adjustments. Currently I am using the same 100mm Canon macro mentioned above but the sharpness advantage it offers really doe not show up unless I am shooting for large prints (12x18 or larger). There are so many other factors that are vastly more important including lighting and a securely mounted camera. For illustrations, I'll show a few sets of three photos each showing one coin in three different lighting methods. One is a US gold which I found impossible to show accurately because it combines recesses and reliefs on the same coin. There is also the question of how accurate we want a photo to be. Should a shot emphasize faults to be most fair to a potential buyer or should it play them down to make the coin Hollywood Handsome?

 

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Over the last decade since I went digital, I have shot many coins repeatedly until I got a shot I could live with. Not having to pay for film really opened up new avenues of experimentation. What I discovered is that there is no best lighting for all coins and sometimes you can take the same coin in several ways and have a hard time selecting the one you prefer because each will have something of an advantage over the other.

 

There is also the question of how accurate we want a photo to be. Should a shot emphasize faults to be most fair to a potential buyer or should it play them down to make the coin Hollywood Handsome?

 

 

The best advice possible, shoot many different images and experiment with the light.

 

And, the question that needs to be answered, what is the purpose of the image? Different purposes may (will) require different light.

 

Great examples in the images you show.

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Great pics, doug. In the first set of photos, the pic to the right is most fair to both parties I think. In the other two sets, the middle pic is. To show relief, the leftmost of the gold set shows the incuse best, in my opinion. I cant decide about the others...

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