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Steven G Webb
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:48 am

I just wanted to pop in with an update of sorts: My client has recently acquired a supply line for a high demand coin that promises to provide a healthy return and our agreement includes a percentage participation residual income for me. I've simply got to create the ad and listing photo. Sounds good, right? Except this coin is going to make me rip my hair out. It is silver and upon first look appears like a reverse proof with the relief frosted only rather than the balance of the coin being brilliant, this one has three unique textures. There are fine details in the the matted portions, there are polished facets in other areas. This coin is beautiful when viewed with the naked eye but my attempts at photographing it are flat and unimpressive. Thank goodness I've got about a week to find something that works.

This was lit with a 24X36 softbox overhead on a boom and angled forward at about 2' above the tabletop. Camera position was forward of the coin slightly (originally looking for a dark field angle).

No need in pointing out the focus issue at the top of the coin here. I was moving the camera and got out of tolerance for the depth-of-field. Anyway here's the problem child. The bright white field below the panda is brilliant, the white legs, ears, and spots around the eyes are polished and faceted, the bands at the top and bottom are not grey as they appear here but are somewhere between polished and matted and engraved with tiny detail, the central portions that are not panda are polished. This is about the ugliest representation of a really pretty piece of silver since the history of ever. My thinking is bringing the softbox down, aiming it more toward the camera so it skims the surface rather than bouncing at such a high angle.

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Re: Coins

Postby Duck » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:24 am

Steven, you'll smack yourself on the forehead when I tell you the solution.

Inverse the colors.
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:52 am

Duck wrote:Steven, you'll smack yourself on the forehead when I tell you the solution.

Inverse the colors.


Thanks Duck. Man, if this works out the smack will be heard around the world.
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:55 am

Duck wrote:Steven, you'll smack yourself on the forehead when I tell you the solution.

Inverse the colors.


OUCH! That's going to leave a mark. Thank you! That was a huge step in the right direction.
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Re: Coins

Postby Duck » Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:45 am

Steven G Webb wrote:OUCH! That's going to leave a mark. Thank you! That was a huge step in the right direction.

Glad to help. Post your solution so others can see.
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:56 am

Duck wrote:
Steven G Webb wrote:OUCH! That's going to leave a mark. Thank you! That was a huge step in the right direction.

Glad to help. Post your solution so others can see.


Both images side-by-side Left is the original Right is inverted colors:


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Re: Coins

Postby TomCofer » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:31 pm

Nice work! I always think it's so damn cool when someone gets stuck on here and another person helps them get to where they're wanting to go. :)

My suggestion would have been to try going HDR, but keeping it realistic and not over the top.
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:34 pm

TomCofer wrote:Nice work! I always think it's so damn cool when someone gets stuck on here and another person helps them get to where they're wanting to go. :)

My suggestion would have been to try going HDR, but keeping it realistic and not over the top.


You're right, Tom. I appreciate being in this community. The next best thing to knowing something is knowing someone who knows and is willing to share.
I've never had an occasion to use color inversion and did not know anything about it or its results. I'm hoping that HDR isn't the textbook answer because I have absolutely zero experience with it and no dedicated software for it. I'm not even sure how the exposures would be adjusted since aperture adjustment isn't recommended, the shutter speed under studio lights is fixed. That leaves only adjusting the flash outputs and metering them. My set isn't glued down so strongly that I think absolute alignment would be maintained through the changes. I have the same concerns to a lesser degree with composites. So the challenge continues.
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Re: Coins

Postby Steven G Webb » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:52 am

Progress continues in it's slow grinding pace. I may have to try every method published then invent a couple more before I'm done. Here I have altered course slightly. This time I achieved the lighting effect that was created on the previous attempt by inverting the colors. This time the "colors" are as photographed. I brought in a small light source, elevated it slightly above the table surface so the light would skim across the surface. I added the overhead soft box at a reduced power and finally placed a reflector opposite the small flash. The primary light is coming about 45º across the panda's head. Now some detail in the coat is coming up. Also noted: Changing the direction of the light has also revealed some dust and surface contaminants on the coin, not seen with the naked eye. I will address those as we proceed nearer the final photos. If anyone has anything to offer, please chime in.
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Re: Coins

Postby Duck » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:54 am

Sometimes looking at a problem with fresh eyes is the best thing to solve a problem. After reading your last post the only additional thing I can offer is to not get overly hung up on a one setup fits all situation. Think of it more as a one size fits most but allow for variances (like in this case).

For this kind of work I would not suggest HDR as the issue is not exceeding your exposure range. Specially since you are in control of the range with lights. It's rather a light control issue. In particular, refer to Ed's notes earlier in this post, specially about light fields and my own tutorial on "Understanding angle of incidence". Both of these hold clues on how to solve this issue in the future. While this inversion method can work on silver coins, it will not prove as easy with gold coins.

Another trick is to use live view and, while looking at the display, move a flashlight around and over the coin until you find a suitable angle that works. That will also give you a cue as to where to place your lights.
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