Monday, January 19, 2009

Coin Stilts And Coin Photography

I have made several stilts for my coin photography and I am sharing the details with all my Coin Photography friends. First of all, please allow me to explain why I use the stilts. The stilt (dowel) elevates the coin and causes the negative space (background) to fall out of focus. The stilt also helps to cast any shadows well to the side of the photograph and out of the coin’s picture plane.

As you observe the photo above you will see four of the stilts I have made from scraps of wood. I almost always have scraps of wood handy and never throw any cutoffs away. Please note the dowels are of various heights and diameters. The smallest diameter dowel I have used is 3/16”. The largest is 3/8”. I find the 3/8” dowel meets my needs about 99% of the time.

The 3/16” is for the extremely small diameter coins. You will also notice that I have varying heights of stilts. I use different heights to meet special lighting needs. My lighting setup dicates the postioning of the coin and the height stilt Iuse. I also have a tendency to go into overkill when creating items. I could get by easily with two stilts.

My favorite stilt is 3/8” diameter and 3” in height. The base measures ¾” in thickness.
I have spray painted the stilts a flat primer gray. I think gray is the ideal color for the negative area for those who will be filling the background with another color. I am a sucker for seeing how inexpensively I can build anything. I used Wal-Mart brand .99-cent spray paint and I think the paint is really great to be so cheap.

Some of our Coin Photography members like to tilt their coins to get a good cast shadow. That means cutting the dowel on a slight diagonal on the top to accomplish this. Doug Smith and I have discussed this to some degree and I am going to let Doug and my readers in on my secret.
I use “Elmer’s Tack” which is removable adhesive putty. My wife keeps the tack around to help hold pictures in place. Just a small amount will aid in keeping pictures from shifting on the wall. It is just tacky enough to hold poster board, calendars, and messages in place. In fact, one could place a 1/8” thick layer on top of the dowel and simply shift the coin as needed.

I place a small amount on top of my dowel when I need to elevate the coin to one side or the other. I use about a 1/16” small “ball” of the substance on top of the dowel and that way I can tilt the coin to the position I want. I can’t conceive of anything working better. I used to keep varying thicknesses of wood handy but the “Tack” is so easily pushed to the right position. The tack can also be used repeatedly and I guess it can be used for years, as it does not dry out. Thank you for reading and please share any photo tips with me and our readers.. God Bless.. Jerry..

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