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Engraved Edge Photography


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I posted this image in my ANA thread, but I thought I would post it as a general post as well. I have two ANA medals produced by the Gallery Mint in thick pewter with engraved edges. I photographed the edge in segments and then assembled them in Photoshop. The perspective varies across the edge run since the medal is curved and I worked with a minimal set of images. I know there is a method using mirrors to accomplish the same thing except the inscription appears encircling the medal, but I've not constructed a set up of that sort. Any way, I wanted to share my results.



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That's a nice job Bill. I have an large ANA Medal that is custom engraved on the edges and have tried a number of things to get a good image of the engraving. No luck. I even tried rolling it on soft clay and such. I might have to attempt to copy your technique.

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Most of my photographs are shot using axial lighting. My set up is a piece of glass angled at 45 degrees between the camera and the coin. I use one fill light at the base of the glass with a sheet of black paper to stop the reflection in the glass. I then use a strong light from the the open side of the glass and manually play with the location and angle to find the best image.


The edges were shot with the medal braced edge on to the lens. I rotated the medal in set intervals for each exposure. In photoshop, I extracted each edge image and overlaid it on the next aligning at a distinctive letter about half way between the top of the image (the center) and the lower edge of the image. That explains the rolling effect in the edge image. I then erased in the far ends of each image until I got to the letter I chose to align on. I used small nudges to get the alignment where I wanted it. I saved several intermediate steps so I didn't have to start over if I made a bad mistake.


When I was satisfied, I collapsed the layers into one. I then used the black paint brush to create an even black background. Again, I used small strokes as I approached the medal edge so as not to paint over it. Finally, I had to deal with the fact that the highest points are brightest and the lowest points are darker. I could not completely eliminate that, but I used the dodging tools to lighten the darker areas and darken the lighter areas until I had an effect that satisfied me. I save that image, enlarged the canvas and then laid in the other three images. I re-sized the edge image until it visually appeared to be the right scale to match the tilted image in the middle.


It was labor intensive, but anyone can do it. It takes a little thought and an hour or so of processing to complete the image presented here.


If these directions are not clear, I could probably be convinced to show a variety of images in the steps I used if that helps.

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  • 11 months later...

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