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..


Alessandro from Italy said...

yeah, i agree with you.
and it has a geometrical explanation. What you (and we) feel right it dued to the fact that...... the free space around the coin (left+right, or up+down)is just the half of its diameter, approximatively.
look it by yourself.
everything has its geometrical composition, don't you think? (pardon me for my bad english and t.y. for your interestin article)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jerry, I think you are right on! I have been guilty of the overfilling of all avaliable space. My images will look better in the future, thanks to your insight. Keep posting!!!!!