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Author Topic:   Coin Silverware Photography

Posts: 54
Registered: Dec 2004

iconnumber posted 12-17-2004 09:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for florida_bob     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello all. I would like to take photographs of my coin silverware, and was wondering if anyone had some advice about lighting, which seems to be the most difficult part. I probably need to acquire a light tent and some lights, but I do not know which ones are best for this. Any recommendations?

Bob M.

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Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 12-17-2004 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is what I did. I bought a 3 then later a 4 mega pixel camera. You need at least a 3x optical zoom, digital zoom doesn't really help the quality. Then, and here is the tricky part, find a room that no one uses, preferably with some decent lighting. If you can find a commercial tent, you are a better man than I am. Everything I found was trash, or too small. So I made a wire frame, out of whatever I had available, the suspended old sheets from the inside of the frame. On the back wall and the table I spread a continuous sheet of photographic grey paper background. I hung some flood lights, some fluorescent lights, and there is some sunlight. Then I set the white balance on the camera. All the lights are on one switch, so in an instant I can recreate exactly the same lighting every time. If you have a very reflective surface you have to hang a sheet with a hole for the lens in front of you and the camera. It works great, when it doesn't I use software to fix it on the computer, but that is rare. I have received compliments from professional photographers. Before I had a digital camera, I couldn't take a decent picture to save my life.

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iconnumber posted 12-18-2004 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have always been prone to improvise, but I have not had the success Maurice has had, as I like to grab shots without time consuming setups -- I have no space to leave a permanent set-up.

For hollow ware, a studio light tent can be set up quickly, and broken down to store easily. You are only interested in spoons, and your photos of coins have been excellent - I should think you could adapt your techniques easily to spoons. However, if you want a tent, here is a selection of domes and tents from a reliable mail-order house. For smaller hollow ware or other three-dimensional objects the Paterson and/or Photek tents should do nicely. There are identical innovative "Cocoon" style tents by Paterson and Red Wing that might be ideal for spoons - the medium (Paterson) size should do at least up to tablespoon size or the small (Red Wing) size if you have only teaspoons. All of these zip apart for storage and would set up in minutes. They will not suffice for marks, as you have to get too close. I have alway preferred side lighting as I do not like flat lighting, but that is a matter of personal preference. Of course, your coin techniques will do nicely for marks.

If you are still using film, you might want to consider switching to digital, which is now at an acceptable level of quality to match film for all but the largest reproduced images. I will probably never shoot a roll of film again. There are now single-lens reflexes that take existing lenses if you have the "right" ones. New 6 megapixel cameras by Pentax (*istD) and Minolta (Maxxum 7D) will take any lenses from their older film SLRs, if you have a closetful of them left over, as I do. The Maxxum has image stabilization built into the body, so that it does not have to be built into the lens (for those other cameras that have that feature), which is why the old lenses work and the new ones are less expensive - with that feature, and a steady hand, you can even dispense with the tripod! Digital cameras usually are subject to digital "noise" at higher resolutions and sensitivities -- these two cameras also have superior digital noise suppression. There are any number of good digital cameras with built-in lenses - they have the advantage of an electronic viewfinder, and a couple even have inage stabilization, but have other limitations, especially when dealing with macro- or telephotography, that are eliminated with the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. Most are also "noisy."

With digital you can experiment until you get it right, as you can see immediately what you have gotten, delete the bad images and continue until you get it right, all without the expense and delays of film development. And if necessary, you can manipulate the images to tune them up, either in camera or on the computer. The future is here.

Given the quality of the photos you have posted so far, I really don't think you need any advice - and this may be more than you wanted - but you asked.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 12-18-2004).]

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