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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 34, August 26, 2007, Article 9

COIN PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUE QUESTION

Dick Johnson writes: "I was reminded by something Alan Weinberg
said in his ANA and Heritage Auction report last week when he
mentioned the photography work of Walt Husak. Alan said "I frankly
prefer Walt's coin photography which is more vivid but taken at
a very slight angle with a shadow at the bottom of each early
copper. The coins look more 'real' in my opinion with the lustre
and surfaces more alive."

"The ‘slight angle’ triggered memories of two professional
photographers I had hired over the years. Larry Stevens, whose
work appeared in COINage, and Robert J. Myers, longtime photographer
of Stack's, both photographed round coins and medals slightly
tilted.

"They processed their own prints so they knew how much to tilt
back in the printing process to compensate for this so the end
result -- the final prints -- would be perfectly round coins
and medals. Other photographers I had hired over the years did
not do this. Coin photography is a subject I admit a lack of
knowledge so I am curious.

"I am wondering if this technique is used by other coin photographers,
or is this just something a handful of professional coin photographers
would do.

"I would like for someone like John Nebel, a stellar coin photographer,
to express his opinion. I have one of his photographs of a silver
dollar blown up 18 times original size as an example. If you saw it
you would understand why I call him a "stellar" coin photographer.”

[Dick copied John in his note to me, and here's his reply. -Editor]

John Nebel writes: "There are images of my photo apparatus on
ancientmoney.org - see the About page.  The lighting is axial
with a half-silvered mirror adjustable with 3 degrees of freedom.
The mirror can be seen better in the first photo which is of an
earlier setup, then at ANA.  The second photo is the current setup
except the constant-intensity xenon source has now been replaced
with a precise strobe with a digital 1/10 stop luminance adjustment.
The coin is not tilted; the adjustment on the stage holding the coin
is useful for ancient coins which were not made to neatly stack in
piles."

[John photographed some of my Pittsburgh medals for a couple of
Numismatist articles I wrote the year of the Pittsburgh ANA convention.
The photography was indeed stunning.   The resolution was so high,
and the photos so detailed, that I saw parts of the designs I'd never
noticed in all the years I'd owned the pieces.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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