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A Few Roman Emperors


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I'm preparing to take some of my Roman coins to the ANA to sell. They represent a part of my collection that has fallen into the less than interesting category as my interests have focused on other areas (Celtic, CeltIberian, and the early emperors or the "sons of Caesar."

 

I spent an evening rephotographing the coins in question aiming for the highest quality images that I can produce given my set up and experience to date. This includes post-processing, etc. aimed at the best image, not necessarily the most true image that I might produce if I wanted to sell the coin. I've drawn ideas from the Becoka reflection template that some have used here--not using the template itself, but modifications for my own purposes. I want to show the coin, the relief where it is exceptional, and a traditional catalog description of the coin. Finally, I want the image to be aesthetically pleasing.

 

The first image is a denarius of Clodius Albinus. It is the only piece of this lot of coins with significant relief, so it is the only image that I have tried to show the relief. The master image is scaled for the printer so that the smaller image in the lower left corner will print actual size as opposed to the larger image in the central part of the picture. Since the digital image will show at different sizes, I included a scale with the small image.

 

Let me know what you think and I'll post each of the images here as I build them. I'll try to incorporate good ideas and feedback in later images. A small one here and a link to a larger version for those who want to see the image in more detail.

 

3737049671_d29a522ec9.jpg

 

A larger image.

 

Warning, the largest (really big) image.

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The emperor Gallienus. There seems to be several varieties of this coin and I am not certain the RIC number is correct. However, the RIC attribution is as I received it from Harlan Berk and he attributed it to a Gallic mint (not necessarily Lyon).

 

3738358698_a4998cc632.jpg

 

The large link.

 

The really big link.

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You mentioned Celtic! Why don't you post some of your Celts! They are my favourite branch so far...

 

Those will come in time. In the meantime, check out my thread on the Pixtilos Celtic series (I do need to rephotograph them, but I'm still working out how I want to do it).

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I'm preparing to take some of my Roman coins to the ANA to sell. ....

 

Let me know what you think and I'll post each of the images here as I build them. ....

 

 

First of all, in my opinion, they are very good photographs, so I really am responding to the "Let me know what you think."

 

Here's what I like.

 

The sequence shots that include the the coin edge. That's nice and adds to the presentation. Not just the edge, but a different angle to contrast the head-on shot and show the degree of relief. A second one for the reverse might also be nice.

 

The text - informative and in a nice font (not too artistic so as to be distracting).

 

The small, sized (ruled) photo - again, very informative.

 

I think you also have nailed the lighting pretty well.

 

I am not a fan of the reflection effect. It was novel, but I have seen it a lot and I guess that, for me, it does not add anything.

You have a lot of blank space - now I go back and forth on that. On the one hand, it's artistically pleasing - in the way that a museum-style picture frame is pleasing. The effect as a whole makes for a wonderful book cover, pamphlet cover, flier or something similar - quite professional. On the other hand, you have a lot of blank space where you could have coin.

 

Overall, a very nice style of presentation - terrific job.

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Those will come in time. In the meantime, check out my thread on the Pixtilos Celtic series (I do need to rephotograph them, but I'm still working out how I want to do it).

Not sure where to go, but will try and find the thread..

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Here's what I like.

 

The sequence shots that include the the coin edge. That's nice and adds to the presentation. Not just the edge, but a different angle to contrast the head-on shot and show the degree of relief. A second one for the reverse might also be nice.

 

The text - informative and in a nice font (not too artistic so as to be distracting).

 

The small, sized (ruled) photo - again, very informative.

 

I think you also have nailed the lighting pretty well.

 

I am not a fan of the reflection effect. It was novel, but I have seen it a lot and I guess that, for me, it does not add anything.

You have a lot of blank space - now I go back and forth on that. On the one hand, it's artistically pleasing - in the way that a museum-style picture frame is pleasing. The effect as a whole makes for a wonderful book cover, pamphlet cover, flier or something similar - quite professional. On the other hand, you have a lot of blank space where you could have coin.

 

Overall, a very nice style of presentation - terrific job.

 

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that the lighting came out well on these two pieces. I'm working on two others where I have one side good in my opinion, but I haven't been able to match the other side as yet. Each coin is so different in the challenges to not only light the piece to show the detail, but also to match the coloring, etc. I have good shots of both of the coins I am working on now, but the two sides look like different coins if I try to match detail. If I match color, one side is poorly reproduced. Both are going back under the lens for more work.

 

I like showing the relief on the first coin. The other has no relief to speak of, so that sort of image doesn't really show anything.

 

The reflected image doesn't really add anything to the information in the image, but the feeling of depth is interesting. I think I'll try some variations on the theme as I finish my Roman coins, but I'll try something different with my Celtic/Roman Republic pairs when I get to them.

 

As for the size of the image (the negative space), I was in fact thinking of a printed image as opposed to a screen image. That is the point of the actual size picture of the coin so I have a blow-up and an actual sized image on the same print. I added the scale since I can't control the display size on any given computer screen. I'll experiment with a landscape version for a coin with good detail.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

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Okay, my response to syzygy's feedback follows. I like the feeling of depth, but I've modified it some and reflected the coins in the background. The reflection is the mirror image of the opposite side of the coin (as it should be if a true reflection) and it correctly shows the die rotation.

 

(Edited for color correction.)

 

3744593019_c3187178b9.jpg

 

A larger image.

 

The largest image.

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For so much effort expended it bothers me that you did not color correct. On my screen, the reverse of the Carus looks decent but everything else is red. I have no use for the edge reflection as used on the Gallienus and even less love for the blank space at the top but I do like the Crus style reflection showing the axis. Overall, I suspect the contrast may be just a little more than necessary but it is always hard to say where to draw the line on that. As general rules, I tend to over contrast and over saturate colors and find I like it better when I back off. Especially when using coins with less than perfect surfaces (as with 99.9% of silvered ants), a little soft lighting and restrained contrasts can be easier on the eye.

 

Except for the red color, these are better than 90% of the coin photos we see. Light angles are good and they show care in presentation. Just opinions.

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I like the way you did the Clodius coin with the 3 images. The reflection is very slight and doesnt distract. My only critique would be one already stated, the empty space...otherwise very attractive layout.

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For so much effort expended it bothers me that you did not color correct. On my screen, the reverse of the Carus looks decent but everything else is red.

 

Thanks. I was trying to match the colors, but I am red-green color-blind. They do match to my eye. I'll pull back on the red and repost the image.

 

I agree on the contrast, but backing off too much means the loss of the fine detail in the helmet crest and the beard. It was a toss up in trying to capture the crispness of the image and not have too much contrast.

 

Again, thank you for the helpful feedback. I think the Carus is a good candidate for another go this weekend in trying to reduce the contrast while maintaining the detail.

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Color blindness explains it. Perhaps the answer would be to select the coins individually and use an auto color control on each. You could also select a neutral spot on the coin and adjust so the color values match but that requires careful selection of the spot to be read with the eyedropper tool. I selected a spot in the reverse field of your Carus and got a reading of a9aaac suggesting it was pretty neutral. A similar position on the obverse field read b9a6ac suggesting excess red. In all honesty, if I were you I'd work in Black & White but that is a personal choice.

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Color blindness explains it. Perhaps the answer would be to select the coins individually and use an auto color control on each. You could also select a neutral spot on the coin and adjust so the color values match but that requires careful selection of the spot to be read with the eyedropper tool. I selected a spot in the reverse field of your Carus and got a reading of a9aaac suggesting it was pretty neutral. A similar position on the obverse field read b9a6ac suggesting excess red. In all honesty, if I were you I'd work in Black & White but that is a personal choice.

 

Its not always a problem and usually I ask my wife to do some basic checks. Review the image now. She believes it is very close to the actual color of the two sides of the coin (and they are visibly different even to me). My red/green color blindness is not total, I can distinguish the two, but faint hues and the edges blend into what for me is a brown.

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This is interesting. I first viewed this page using Firefox. Today I went back and saw no differences (things were still red). I tried viewing the page using Internet Explorer and color improved but I still must say I have not seen a Carus period coin as red as that obverse. I'm wondering if my system buffered your original images and did not update when I revisited but IE saw the new versions since it had not been there before.

 

There is always room of opinion on color balances and there is nothing to say both of our monitors are calibrated exactly. I have a page of images processed over a period of years so there will be variations.

Doug Smiths coins

Do you (or your wife) see these as excessively cyan/green? Do these seem to vary all over the place or do you see them as consistently off color in one direction?

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I've reimaged the Carus piece, but I'm happier with what I have posted here so far. I do see a variety of colors on Doug's images, as does my wife, but without the coins in hand, it is somewhat difficult. So, I'm still thinking about further processing on the Carus image with preference to getting a fresh image that I like.

 

In the meantime, I moved on to a Carinus piece (son of Carus). I've dropped the reflection and added a relief image. I'm not happy with the relief image myself, in part because there is not really enough relief to add additional information in my mind. If I was happy with it, I would go back and find some different lighting options , but what I have here seemed to me to show the relief the best. Despite the uneven loss of silvering, I like this piece because of the Medusa shield. It is a rare type.

 

As with the others, comments are invited.

 

3756668574_ec9e4d1dde.jpg

 

The large image.

 

The largest image.

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A coin from an early collection (the collector died in 1906 and his collection was sold in 2005) with the original cabinet tag. I've positioned the obverse image over the tag in the same position it occupied for nearly 100 years as indicated by the foxing on the tag. I've also shown the entire tag.

 

3756364365_6da0fc4115.jpg

 

The large image.

 

The largest image.

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After the last two, I added the hint of the reflection of a surface the coins are standing on (I like the feeling of depth I think it lends to the image) and the reflection of the backside of the obverse and reverse images. I dropped back the surface and did not reflect the coins in that surface.

 

3756707017_da33aa62f3.jpg

 

The large image.

 

The largest image.

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Alittle different approach, three coins from the same family:

 

3760180417_208e16d4f8.jpg

 

A larger image.

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I like this last one but probably for the wrong reason. It does not appear as red. Compare the Carinus to the same one above. I believe the balance is the same but the color satutation is now lessened so it looks more natural.

 

This entire project wins or loses depending on a couple factors. The information is great but all the blank space reduces the size of the coins to a point we lose detail. That bothers me as it is presented but the complaint goes away when we bring up the larger and largest images offered. The shots all remind me of things prepared for very high end auction catalogs and would make nice cover shots for that sort of use. Coin after coin, page after page, I find the effect less pleasing. It is rather like the idea of the 3/4 angle shots - some coins benefit while others do not. Similarly some coins benefit from an enlarged inset while others are best shown as a whole, flatly lighted and filling all the space available. This series has been very interesting and does make me want to try some different things. Except for a few 'educational' shots like the ones below, most of my images have been boring mug shots compared to yours.

 

66415331.jpg

91787699.jpg

112633515.jpg

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Bill, why does the Carinus have a mottled appearance of red and silver? Is that rust? It kind of looks like a poorly mixed copper/silver alloy.

 

Silver coins are seriously debased by this point in time (Roman time) and are no longer good silver. At some point they basically become bronze coins with a silver wash. I have to go back to the books to place the Carinus in the proper sequence of debasement, but I believe it is a much degraded, base alloy with a silver wash. The silver wash is gone over much of the surface and yes, that is a low grade form of "rust" that you see.

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I like this last one but probably for the wrong reason. It does not appear as red. Compare the Carinus to the same one above. I believe the balance is the same but the color satutation is now lessened so it looks more natural.

 

This entire project wins or loses depending on a couple factors. The information is great but all the blank space reduces the size of the coins to a point we lose detail. That bothers me as it is presented but the complaint goes away when we bring up the larger and largest images offered. The shots all remind me of things prepared for very high end auction catalogs and would make nice cover shots for that sort of use. Coin after coin, page after page, I find the effect less pleasing. It is rather like the idea of the 3/4 angle shots - some coins benefit while others do not. Similarly some coins benefit from an enlarged inset while others are best shown as a whole, flatly lighted and filling all the space available. This series has been very interesting and does make me want to try some different things. Except for a few 'educational' shots like the ones below, most of my images have been boring mug shots compared to yours.

 

 

112633515.jpg

 

Comments in order of yours:

 

I reshot the Carus piece using different lighting and was unhappy with the results compared to the first image. When I went back to the original raw image, I realized I had introduced the over saturation and color shift at some point in the early stages of processing the image. Rather than replace the original Carus image once again, I put the Carus family together and added Numerian. The Carus obverse is the same used for the previous image greatly desaturated, with a much lowered contrast, then tweaked brightness. If anything, it is too light compared to the coin in hand, but it shows the wonderful detail of this piece.

 

I agree that page after page would get boring and one needs to mis things up. Again, I did the Carus family page as I started building the Numerian image. I have several goals with my photography. One is simply a record for my inventory and the other is for use in places like Omnicoin for discussion threads and posts on CoinPeople. Another purpose is for a photo album of my collection so that I can show off pieces and enjoy them myself without necessarily dragging the coins out. These I print 8x10 and that leads to the general format I use here. I keep one image pair sized at 1 to 1 for printing so it is actual size on the page with the enlarged image where one can see much if not all of the detail. The challenge is in finding the right mix to present the images of the coins, present some relevant information, and make it visually interesting.

 

I like the three-quarter view for high relief coins and am interested in the image stacking as you demonstrate on your site. As for the turtle, that's just a damned fine image. I don't collect that type of coin, but I love holding and examining them for exactly the reasons your image reveals. The relief and detail is beautiful. I also haven't really delved into fine details, but that is something for next project with my Celtic coins. Some of the imagery is meant to be seen at an angle and some of the fine detail needs to be separated from the background before one recognizes it as a separate image. New challenges for both photography and then putting the images together to tell the story.

 

Thank you for your comments and feedback. I hope I have managed to convey that I am listening and trying to learn even if my head might be a bit thick.

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  • 11 months later...

Hi guys,

 

I am new to this numismatics caper, but I am excited by my first acquisition!! :ninja:

 

I bought this coin whilst overseas for $25 in a Syrian souk, it looks in pretty good condition (hoping it is not a fake). The peddler said it dates back 100AD, can anyone shed any light on my purchase?

 

Thanks so much in advance.

 

Paul

 

ac001.jpg

ac002.jpg

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