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fox-and-the-hound

Photographing your coins

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A short while back someone had asked how to photograph coins and the various techniques were both enlightening and sometimes frustrating for the amateur photographer. I had tried for a while to hunt down the old method that I showed people how to use, but have recently moved up to an even simpler method that I had the pleasure to demonstrate at geocoinfest. (Snoogans, I haven't forgotten, I'll get the pictures for you!) People have been very generous in their appreciation for the photos I've taken, but I feel a bit guilty about how silly simple it is to take a great picture so it's time to share with you the method.

 

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Now, admittedly a 3d coin shows up better with all it's beautiful shading and if it's an antique finish it's even easier. However, when we get into shiny finishes (particularly silver) it's gets really tough really quick. Typically you end up with an almost black reflection as the coin pics up the reflection of the camera shooting the photo and it's very frustrating. With a quick bit of work we'll get you set up to take great pictures cheap, easy quick!

 

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First thing you'll need is equipment. Don't be scared, it consists of a cheap point-and-shoot camera or even better a cellphone. Yes, I know that sounds counter intuitive, but what we're looking for is a small lens diameter. I use a 8 year old olympus point and shoot, a samsung rugby phone or my brand new Canon T3i, but it's easiest to use the one of the first two. Other than your picture taking instrument (even a tablet with camera works!), you'll need a piece of white paper about 1 inch by 1 inch (I just use the back of the little printed card in the coin flip usually) and a 2quart milk jug that's heading into the recycle bin.

 

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Take that jug and clean it good (no one wants to smell sour milk while shooting coins pics!) and chop off the bottom with a steak knife or razor blade.

 

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Use a pair of scissors to smooth up your hacking off the bottom and try to get as uniformly trim as you can so when you sit it on the counter with the top up it's sits pretty square and even. Go near an outside window or even better go outside and try to aim for about 1-3pm for best results. Light changes color during the day and just after lunch to early afternoon is your best light time.

 

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Notice it's not very light, bright or even moderately even lighting on my window sill at the office. Don't worry, your magic redneck-lightbox-jug will fix that for you! Set the jug over your coin and focus your camera through the neck of the jug to zoom in and take your photo. I'm shooting on a piece of white paper here which works really great, but if you're shooting on a colored surface, put your little white paper chip about an inch to 2 inches away from the coin. This will give your camera a reference for white balance and keep your colors looking their best.

 

Tips for better shots:

 

1) If your camera has a macro setting (that little flower picture in the options) then use that.

 

2) If you're having a hard time getting your camera to focus, try focusing on the edge of the little paper chip. A sharp defined edge helps your autofocus get better results.

 

3) If you're seeing a dark spot reflecting on the coin, try tilting the jug just a little bit and you'll see the dark spot move off of the coin.

 

4) To keep your camera steady, lean it right on the top of the jug to stop the shaking.

 

5) If your camera has a lens that moves in and out (and it's larger than the jug opening), just hold it very lightly against the jug top as it's focusing to avoid damaging the lens motor.

 

With about 5 minutes or less practice you should be able to get results likes these...

 

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I hope this simple trick helps you take and post great pics of your beautiful collection! - Hound

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Thank You, what a great idea, I will be trying this soon when I take pictures. Keep On Caching! ~Valarie of sweetlife

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WOW!

 

sounds good!

I use photo stativ.

 

Thanks for advices.

 

Borek

aka Bo.T.L. Czech Geocacher and GEocoins Collector

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Thank you!

 

A technique I've used with 2D coins that is not shiny is just to put them on the scanner and scan them. Nowhere near as versatile as your technique, of course. Just an alternative if you have a multifunction printer with a scanner handy. Best part of this technique is that you can place a bunch of coins on the scanner and do them at one go.

 

Sample :

 

i-V3nVsmF-M.jpg

 

(Edit : forums doesn't like Dropbox links)

Edited by Chrysalides

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Well thats just simply amazing.. this worth a sticky post maybe?

I agree. It is brilliant in its simplicity.

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Someone asked "what if I want just some shadows, but not a lot?" I've run into this and found an easy fix. Use a small flashlight directly against the side of the jug from the direction you want to project the shadows. ie: Want shadows down and to the right... shine from the top left. The additional light will add a bit of shading contrast that will be picked up by the camera without losing your nice overall lighting. Too strong? Move away from the jug a bit. Need more? Wait until a little bit later in the day to take the shot when you have less overall light penetration.

 

Forgot to mention, best overall lighting is on a cloudy day rather than a sunny day. The clouds do the same thing the jug does by delivering a more even lighting rather than strong direct rays with hard shadows.

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Wait, you didn't give me enough notice to show up in facepaint while you gave this demonstration! Houston, we have a problem.

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I gave it a quick crack this afternoon, not there just yet... But heaps better than I have got before. Practice makes perfect they say :anibad:

 

Thanks for letting us all in on your method Christian, it is a cracker :)

e1e4e7fa-ad47-45b9-9ba2-82c36e40fff1.jpg?rnd=0.3901662

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I gave it a quick crack this afternoon, not there just yet... But heaps better than I have got before. Practice makes perfect they say :anibad:

 

Thanks for letting us all in on your method Christian, it is a cracker :)

e1e4e7fa-ad47-45b9-9ba2-82c36e40fff1.jpg?rnd=0.3901662

 

Looks great!

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Wait, you didn't give me enough notice to show up in facepaint while you gave this demonstration! Houston, we have a problem.

 

Yeah, How the heck did we miss this out there?

 

Nevertheless, I take back everything I said about the F&H after reading this great how to.... :cool:

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I was in the audience for the GCF demonstration. Used it the next week at Going Caching for some easy nice pics to post on FB. Got home and am trying to perfect the process. No where near as good as Hounds but 17.34 times better than anything I have done in the past. Great info!

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I gave it a quick crack this afternoon, not there just yet... But heaps better than I have got before. Practice makes perfect they say :anibad:

 

Thanks for letting us all in on your method Christian, it is a cracker :)

e1e4e7fa-ad47-45b9-9ba2-82c36e40fff1.jpg?rnd=0.3901662

 

This looks great! Quick tip: if you're using photoshop to put the coins on a background just make a duplicate copy of the two sides merged together (turn off any effects like glow/dropshadow/etc.) and turn this top layer copy to "soft color" mode at like 15%-25% to remove any hazing and recapture the true lights and darks you see with the naked eye. :)

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Wait, you didn't give me enough notice to show up in facepaint while you gave this demonstration! Houston, we have a problem.

 

Yeah, How the heck did we miss this out there?

 

Nevertheless, I take back everything I said about the F&H after reading this great how to.... :cool:

 

Ha! I'll bring my fancy photo rig again ;)

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I had troubles with making such a diffuser because in Poland milk is not sold in bottles like the one needed. :laughing:

 

But finally I found that a 4 liter cannister of windscreen cleaning fluid would do. I tried it and the defects are really OK. Thanks for the hint!

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

I ordered the Vodka... :cool:

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

I'm excited to hear how it works out! I doubt it's "more portable though" because you have to actually carry it where I can just grab a free one out of any nearby recycle bin! :anitongue:

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

I ordered the Vodka... :cool:

 

:laughing:

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

Hey, when it comes in, try and shoot a pic of a enamel domed coin if you could. I have a new Rohrpod underground and it's the worst possible combination of super dark glittery fill with a shiny clear overcoat. I got it to work, but had to use a BLACK fill card for reflection so that the camera could catch the nuances.

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

Hey, when it comes in, try and shoot a pic of a enamel domed coin if you could. I have a new Rohrpod underground and it's the worst possible combination of super dark glittery fill with a shiny clear overcoat. I got it to work, but had to use a BLACK fill card for reflection so that the camera could catch the nuances.

 

Uncle L you crack me up, lol.

 

Mack, I think I have a coin that has epoxy on it, so I'll give it a go. The Foldio will have 2 LED strips, I think they had an option for a dimmer on it. It will be a couple months before it gets here. I'll post a couple pics to this thread when I get a chance to try it out. You know I'm just yanking your chain though and I owe you a few because of how mean to me you were at GCF ;) You're like the big brother I never had :P

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Cool, I'm glad it worked out! I actually used a plastic water jug for the how-to session at Geocoinfest. As long as it's translucent and white you should be good to go :) I'm actually curious to see what a frost glass bottle would look like in comparison. Just need to finish off that vodka now! lol

 

I ordered that Foldio on Kickstarter :) I can't wait for it to get here. It's just more glamorous than that milk jug and more portable. hahahaha

 

Hey, when it comes in, try and shoot a pic of a enamel domed coin if you could. I have a new Rohrpod underground and it's the worst possible combination of super dark glittery fill with a shiny clear overcoat. I got it to work, but had to use a BLACK fill card for reflection so that the camera could catch the nuances.

 

Uncle L you crack me up, lol.

 

Mack, I think I have a coin that has epoxy on it, so I'll give it a go. The Foldio will have 2 LED strips, I think they had an option for a dimmer on it. It will be a couple months before it gets here. I'll post a couple pics to this thread when I get a chance to try it out. You know I'm just yanking your chain though and I owe you a few because of how mean to me you were at GCF ;) You're like the big brother I never had :P

 

Oh, yeah, sure, it's all fun and games until someone shows up in full facepaint! lol :D :D :D

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I gave it a quick crack this afternoon, not there just yet... But heaps better than I have got before. Practice makes perfect they say :anibad:

 

Thanks for letting us all in on your method Christian, it is a cracker :)

 

 

This looks great! Quick tip: if you're using photoshop to put the coins on a background just make a duplicate copy of the two sides merged together (turn off any effects like glow/dropshadow/etc.) and turn this top layer copy to "soft color" mode at like 15%-25% to remove any hazing and recapture the true lights and darks you see with the naked eye. :)

...aaaand, whoosh, that went over my head... rolleyes.gif LOL

 

CF30

 

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...aaaand, whoosh, that went over my head... rolleyes.gif LOL

 

CF30

 

I bought my wifeygirl a Nikon 3200 with all these lenses n whatnot. and dang if I cant my phone to take better pics! Even on Macro...what gives! :lol: Thanks for the tip!

Edited by 007BigD

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Finally I tried this and it seems to work pretty well.

 

I have one problem though: my Caching under the Stars Geocoin from 2006 has a lot of polished silver on its front side, and I didn't manage to get rid of darker lines coming from reflections of the container's ireegular shape on the picture. Tilting the container made those lines turn.

 

cachingunderstars1.jpg

 

Can you see the brighter horizontal line between those brownish areas? That's parallel to the handle of the container I'm using.

 

As you can see I printed out a paper with a black area so I can gimp the picture with black balance and white balance. That seems to be necessary - because the picture taken is a little dark all over.

 

My solution was to put the whole container sideways, because the sides of it are plane (no handels or other irregualities). Only disadvantage: I have to take the picture in a lower angle, so you see more of the edge of the coin and it's not a circle anymore...

 

cachingunderstars2.jpg

 

Underneath the coin you can see the edge of the container and my paper.

 

After using Gimp's balancing feature it looks like this:

 

cachingunderstars3.jpg

 

I guess I need a little more light in general to get rid of the 'crumbled' colors at the top of the picture in the first place...

 

Any other suggestions how to get rid of those dark/bright lines in the first picture?

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Finally I tried this and it seems to work pretty well.

 

I have one problem though: my Caching under the Stars Geocoin from 2006 has a lot of polished silver on its front side, and I didn't manage to get rid of darker lines coming from reflections of the container's ireegular shape on the picture. Tilting the container made those lines turn.

 

cachingunderstars1.jpg

 

Can you see the brighter horizontal line between those brownish areas? That's parallel to the handle of the container I'm using.

 

As you can see I printed out a paper with a black area so I can gimp the picture with black balance and white balance. That seems to be necessary - because the picture taken is a little dark all over.

 

My solution was to put the whole container sideways, because the sides of it are plane (no handels or other irregualities). Only disadvantage: I have to take the picture in a lower angle, so you see more of the edge of the coin and it's not a circle anymore...

 

cachingunderstars2.jpg

 

Underneath the coin you can see the edge of the container and my paper.

 

After using Gimp's balancing feature it looks like this:

 

cachingunderstars3.jpg

 

I guess I need a little more light in general to get rid of the 'crumbled' colors at the top of the picture in the first place...

 

Any other suggestions how to get rid of those dark/bright lines in the first picture?

 

Hmmm... I usually shoot it with the sides on a 45 degree angle so I'm getting a better diffusion of light coming in through the window from outside. You might try that and zooming in a bit more so the camera has less background to coin ratio for a better balance of light color.

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