Thursday, January 24, 2008

Important Information About Photo Fluorescents

This post is especially directed to those who have been following my coin photo teaching. The bulbs I have been recommending from Wal-Marts are no longer being carried by my local store and I assume that is true of all stores. The bulb I speak of is the "Lights of America" Sunlight fluorescent bulb. I have gotten very good results with the bulb but again it is no longer available where I live.

Wal-Mart now carries a GE fluorescent that plays havoc with the color balance on my Fuji S5000 and I assume that would be true of other digital cameras. I could not find a GE daylight bulb at Wal-Mart. However, I bought one of the bulbs and found I had wasted my five bucks! I have busied myself looking for an alternative source and I have found a bulb I like very much. After trying Lowe's and other stores I finally found a bulb at Home Depot.

The name and nomenclature of the bulb at Home Depot is as follows: N:VISION Daylight bulb. Be sure you buy the daylight bulb. I like the 14 watt bulb. I won't get into the numbers but suffice it to say the daylight bulb is as color balanced as any bulb I have bought off the shelf. The bulbs sells for around five dollars. I am now using two lights and I love the lower wattage. I don't get as much glare from my silver coins.

I am still working with my coin photography and I think things improve each day. I Have built a few photo tents but I like placing my white material right on the heads of my aluminum reflector lights. Please take a look at the accompanying photo. I am still not where I would like to be with photographs of my silver. If you find balanced daylight bulbs elsewhere please share with us. The pro photo bulbs are pricey and I think when you have balance you have balance. I think these N:VISION bulbs could very well be called photo balanced.

One other thing. I set up the new bulbs and set my camera to a daylight setting and got the same results I would have gotten from shooting outdoors on a nice clear day. I plan to talk with the people at Wal-Mart in Arkansas and see if they will be stocking the daylight bulbs. I can't imagine GE not making a balanced fluorescent.. thanks for reading and I hope this information helps.. God Bless.. Jerry.. PS: I need help with attributing the posted coin..

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Coin Photography: Size And Placement

A very important ingredient in ancient coin photography is size and placement. Placement pretty much speaks for itself. I think we will agree that a centered coin looks best in a coin photograph. I will address the sizing for the most part. Please observe the photograph above as a reference point. I have three separate photographs of the same coin. I created a different negative space for each coin so we can tell one from the other.

Look at the coin on the left. I have purposely left too much empty space to illustrate how the coin is lost in such a large negative area. Please use a sheet of paper to cover the other two coins on your monitor while observing each coin and as we go through the steps. We are visually uncomfortable as we view this image. I often see coin photographs much wore than the one I am using for this illustrative purpose.

We now move to the center coin. What is wrong with the photograph? Obviously I have cropped the coin until we feel uncomfortable with the photo. Why? I think it is like trying to fit the 300 pound man in a child's chair. It is cramped and does not work visually. Intuitively we seek visual relief from this photo. If it was a painting the same principle would apply.

Now, let's take a look at the composition on the right. Ahh, just right! Why? Because we "feel" it is right. We know we have something that is visually comfortable in terms of the design elements we have at our disposal. There is a "balance" between the positive and negative elements. I hope this is a meaningful presentation for each of you and I would like your feedback.. Thanks for reading and I am open to constructive criticism.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ancient Coins, Photography And Texture

I am using the coin photograph above to illustrate how texture can be used to effectively enhance our photos. I have taken the exercise to an almost absurd level in an effort to illustrate my principle. Please look at the photo on the left and you immediately see how the negative space (the background) competes for visual recognition with our central subject matter which is the coin. I have chosen a negative area that is not very subtle to demonstrate how the eye desires relief from the complexity of the overall composition.

Now, choose a piece of paper and block-out the highly textured left side of the photo by holding the paper in the proper location on your monitor. Your eye feels immediate relief from the complexity of the composition as it rests on the non-textured right photo. With the textured photo there is conflict and with the non-textured photo the eye finds the calm it seeks and desires.

There is visual conflict even if one uses a heavily textured fabric such as burlap or cotton duck. Also observe that I have used a cool color with a smooth surface for the negative space on the right.

Please try this exercise on your photos and you will get much better results as you learn and apply these simple principles. Please let me know if this information is meaningful to you and if so, please bookmark. Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, January 11, 2008

Coin Cleaners: The Stiffest Brush Of All!

I was wandering the aisles of WalMart and stumbled across the stiffest plastic brush I have ever seen. The bristles are plastic so they should not harm your coin and the brush is a great size. See the accompanying photo above. The overall length of the brush is 7" and the brush head is 2 and 3/8" in length. The bristles measure 3/4" in width.

I have never seen a plastic brush this stiff. The item is called a "Grout Brush" and as I indicated I found it at WalMart. The price is .97 cents. It is large and very comfortable to hold. Please rush out, buy one and share your opinions with us. Thanks for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

See Coin Below: Will A Zap Clean The Coin?

I bought the coin pictured above and took a chance that it might clean up well. I received the coin in the mail today and thought it would be a good coin to use for a demo zap. Please click on the following URL and see the cleanup results:

The coin is a Macedon Antigonus Gonatas 277-234 BC and possesses the kind of character I love to find in a coin. I am quite pleased with the results. The coin has a light texture but it has wonderful detail. The coin would have been very difficult to salvage using any techniques other than zapping. If you like the results and would like to learn to zap please join us at CoinZappers. The URL is as follows: You will encounter some of the kindest members on the net at CZ and we are willing to walk you through each stage of the process. Just say Jerry sent you. thank you for looking and God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Aesthetics In A Malformed Ancient Coin

I was about to stop zapping the little coin you see above since I had other and more exciting coins in the "soup." I took one final look at the coin and began nudging the encrustation with my now famous Bamboo Tool. Suddenly I experienced that "aesthetic moment" I sometimes write about. What a little gem! What a beauty!

It makes no difference that the little coin is misshapen and malformed. We often overlook the beauty in our daily lives. The flash of a redbird flying by or the colors of the leaves as they change. I had almost done the same with this beautiful coin. This tiny coin contains all the elements and principles needed to make it a work of art. It is indeed art. It is a tiny piece of sculpture.

Enough said. I hope you can relate to what I am trying to express. If so, please let me know. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..