Roger Burdette recently wrote a review of Mark Goodman's new book, Numismatic Photography. A version was published in the September 2008 issue of The Numismatist. I asked Roger for a copy for publication in The E-Sylum, and here it is. -EditorBook Review of Numismatic Photography by Mark Goodman, published by Zyrus Press, Inc.
A great many coin collectors soon turn to photography as a means of documenting their collection and a vehicle for sharing their latest .find. with fellow hobbyists. As author Mark Goodman observes, photographing coins has become more important as the visually-oriented internet and on-line auction sites have taken hold. Yet, for all its popularity with coin collectors, making a good photo of a favorite coin has proven to be a difficult, frustrating experience for most. Problems range from getting a large, detailed image, to correcting color, understanding lighting and dealing with glare form plastic coin holders. As noted in the author.s introduction, wide-spread availability of good quality digital cameras now allows the coin photographer to see results almost immediately. The replacement of film with CCDs and electronic circuitry virtually eliminates variables associated with color balance and photo processing.
Mr. Goodman.s first numismatic book is an impressive addition to the coin collector.s arsenal of knowledge. Through seventeen generously illustrated chapters plus two appendices, Mr. Goodman explains the selection of cameras and lenses, demystifies f-stops and shutter speeds, and carefully guides the novice through the numismatic photography process.
Other than Gerald Hoberman.s The Art of Coins and Their Photography, a scattering of articles in hobby publications and online, and an obligatory (usually useless) chapter in basic photography books, Mr. Goodman.s book has no competition for the coin photographer.s interest. Mr. Goodman concentrates on photographic technique leaving computer image adjustment for another project, or possibly a future book. The treatment of contrast is particularly good and will help collectors better understand how to approximate the in-hand .look. of a coin in their photographs.
Numismatic Photography is a .coin. book that should be read and re-read before the novice begins to make photos. Acquiring a basic understanding of photographic terminology, and how it applies to coins, is something few can do with a single reading. For those with some experience in photographing coins, one of the most helpful sections is Appendix B, .Troubleshooting.. This includes several concise tables that deal with specific photographic problems and their solutions. There is a good index but, unfortunately, no bibliography.
I would have liked to learn more about handling .Color and Luster. (Chapter 8) and .Imaging Slabs. (Chapter 15), but these chapters are too short to convey the knowledge that the author obviously possesses. Lastly, the novice coin photographer might benefit from a .walk through. of photographing a typical coin so they could better understand how the material fits together.
Who will benefit from Numismatic Photography? Obviously, coin collectors are the target audience. However, this book will also be of great value to working professional photographers who are occasionally asked to photograph coins and medals. Mr. Goodman.s technical understanding of the subject surpasses that found in most photography books.
Numismatic Photography is recommended for anyone interested in making better coin photos, or in learning how these images are made.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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