Saturday, February 28, 2009

Retain Coin Character Without Over Working

I am using a Leton Widow's Mite to illustrate how the character of a coin can be maintained without over working in post processing. I could have removed most of the bright spots on the coin and I could have "processed" the coin until I had created the image of a pristine coin. However, I chose to allow the visual integrity of the coin to remain manifest.

After all we are dealing with a coin that is over 2000 years old. I really enjoy the lights and darks and I also like the less than perfect "age spots".. I see the character of a coin that "speaks" to me from 2000 years ago as opposed to a highly post-processed coin edited in PhotoShop.

I know this is a highly subjective issue and you may of may not agree with me. I have discovered that the coin most often dictates to me the degree of editing that should be done just as the degree of encrustation "tells" me how much I should clean the coin. As an artist I have always attempted to teach others that esthetics is a purely personal thing and that we should never let another would be "scholar" try to determine our tastes.

I hope you have enjoyed and I hope to hear from you. I love to listen to other's opinions.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creating Copy Stand From Old Enlarger

Well, I am at it again. I recalled I had an old enlarger in the attic of my art studio and my nephew crawled into the attic and recovered it for me. It is a pretty day so I have been working on my rear deck. You can see my art studio in the background. I have the world's most cluttered studio I think! The enlarger should make a great copy stand so I am sharing with you.

The unit is an old Beseler 67CP I have had for eons. As you can see from the photo above I have stripped away the head and other non-essential items such as the lens, bellows and other metal devices. You can see the items on the table top. I encountered more small screws and bolts than I would have thought. As I disassembled the unit, I was constantly aware of how much better things were made back then than now. I am about 12 bolts and screws short of having enough to open a small hardware store.

I will most likely wait until Monday to proceed. I need to drill and tap two holes in the front of where you can imagine the camera will be mounted. I plan to fabricate a device that will mount on the front and hold the camera. The unit is very sturdy and I think it will make a fine copy stand. I have no idea where one would find and old copy stand such as this one but I think it would be worth keeping one's eyes open for one.

I plan to test drive the copy stand sometime next week so I will let you know how it works out. One quick note. I just happened to have the Beseler and if it had been any other make I would have attempted to do the same. In other words if you are interested don't think the Beseler is the only enlarger that will make a good copy stand.. Please ask all the questions you like and please post.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photos Using $2 Sterilite Light Tent

I have been shooting more photos using my $2 Sterilite orange juice container. I am sharing a couple of photos and I hope the photos will prod members to give my technique a try. Please allow me to encourage you to play with your white balance settings. Also feel free to write me and ask questions.

I am pretty sure this tent will become my standard. I have not found anything that enables me to come close to the results I am getting. I have tried a "pro" model and dozens of other models of my creation and nothing comes close to measuring up to the $2 tent. However, it is my nature to continually seek new and better systems and there may be something new on the horizon. Who knows.

As you find sources for the Sterilite container please share with all our Brothers and Sisters. Please bookmark my blog and please visit periodically to see what is new.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Best $2 Light Tent Yet

Well, now let’s take a look at the long awaited Cadillac of light tents. As you look at my cluttered photo above I am afraid you may already be disappointed but before you jump ship please hear me out. I will repeat that the upside down pitcher you see above is the best light tent I have created and I have dozens of efforts under my belt.

I am going to spell everything out as well as I can and I will provide you with names and sources. I am really sold on this puppy and I hope to see tremendous strides made by our ancient coin photographers. Our focus will be on what I will call the orange juice container you see directly under my camera. My camera is a Canon XTI and is mounted on a copy stand I designed.

I shoot all my coin pics using a Sigma 105mm Macro lens. I think a custom white balance is great but I don’t think this exercise will leave anyone out regardless of camera. Back to the orange juice container. I bought my container from one of the Dollar Stores for either $2 dollars or $2.50. I cannot stress how important this particular container is. I have used all kinds of frosted plastic and none measures up to the frosted plastic used to construct this container.

I am about to provide you will a URL and a picture of the "right" container and I will provide you with the item number. The unit comes from Sterilite and here is the URL to their home page: Please look at item number 0482. This is the container I want you to purchase. I have used many other containers and they are unlike this element of perfection! This is a 2 quarts or 2 liter unit.

Please take a careful look at the plastic pitcher. Unfortunately I could not find anything other than the name "Sterilite" on the pitcher. I assume that all will be able to locate the pitcher. Call the company if you have to and ask for the nearest distributor. Once you have the pitcher in hand, you will be ready to proceed.

Remove the blue and gold top. The top of the pitcher will become the bottom. You will now need to cut the bottom out of the pitcher. I say this with a great deal of trepidation because I am terrified someone will end up with a nasty cut. If you are not skilled at working with your hands, please recruit a friend or neighbor to help you cut the bottom from the pitcher.

Once you have achieved this then you are ready to move on to lighting. The Canon has a very good custom white balance setting and I don’t have any idea what your camera is capable of doing with white balance. I have a Fuji that does not have the custom white balance but it does have an array of settings. If you don’t know about white balance then read your camera’s manual carefully relative to white balance.

The lights you see in the photo positioned on each side of the orange juice container are flex-arm lights and I have using common 60 watt incandescent light bulbs in each. I need to sum up by stating that I think shop lights will work well. You will need to practice with the angle of the lighting and you will need to practice with light proximity.

A note here. When setting your white balance, be sure and move the camera's lens as close as possible to the top opening. Be sure your lights are on and set the light your camera is 'reading" from inside the container. I am sure I have left out a couple of obvious things. Please feel free to write me and ask all the questions you like. We have quite a few members on our sites who are members of our Yahoo CoinPhotography group. I hope they will jump right in and start publishing their coin photography results. Thank you for reading and please bookmark my blog. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Most Recent $2 Light Tent

Greetings readers. I have been experimenting with my photography and lighting and the coin photo you see above is a result of my latest creative efforts. The “light tent” cost me $2 and was intended for use other than photography. I am very excited about my discovery and I am prepared to share if you would like for me to. The new tent provides me with wonderful illumination using two 60 watts incandescent light bulbs.

I don’t recall if I shared the coin or not. It is the product of one of my Zapping sessions and I have it attributed as a Commerative Augustus struck under the rule of Tiberius. Back to the photography. I have shared quite a bit about my lighting and my lighting tents and I don’t know if you are prepared for another! However, each tent has brought me closer to what I have now developed and I consider this tent to be my consummate effort.. Thanks for reading and let me know.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ancient Coins: A Budget Hobby

A bit of dialogue on one of my sites prompted me to write this article. I know there are many ancient coins that can cost one a small fortune and I know some of the coins are extremely scarce. However, I am amazed that I can sit here in my home in South Central Mississippi with what amounts to hundreds of museum pieces.

Of course I am speaking of my ancient coins. Most of my coins are the result of Zapping coins I have bought for a buck or so. On occasion I will spend as much as 3 bucks each for a group of crusty coins. I still think ancient coin collecting is one of the best kept secrets around. Unlike many of my coin friends I have invested very little in coin books. I depend on the wonderful coin sites to help provide me with attribution material.

Today, I bought an AR 6th century coin with beautiful imagery for $35 dollars. I consider the purchase to be an amazing bargain. The coin really belongs in a museum for others to enjoy as I do. I can think of no hobby that brings me as much joy as ancient coin collecting does and especially when one considers the expense of other hobbies. Dollar for dollar I think we coin enthusiasts get the most bang for the buck.

I will not attempt to match hobby cost against hobby cost but I think we are very fortunate to enjoy our interest for so little money. I realize there are those who spend thousands on ancient coins but the great thing is I can enjoy my $35 coin just as much as he/she enjoys his/her golden ancient. Thank you all for being my friends and thank you all for being tolerant of this old man.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Safe Way To Store Your Coins

As your ancient coin collection grows, I am sure your thoughts will or have turned to safe methods of storing your coins. There are several ways of safely storing your coins but I will address only one of these methods. I think plastic “flips” are a great way to store your coins.

There are flips that are unsafe and there are flips considered archivally safe. Never use flips that contain PVC. PVC is harmful to the coins and I don’t think anyone will question the veracity of this statement. Ask your vendor for archival safe flips and I think you will also find the price of the archival flips is very reasonable in contrast to the unsafe.

A nice feature about flips is that the flips can be bought in sheets and placed in a three ring binder. This makes for convenient and nice presentations of your coins. This method will also allow you to show your coins without the viewer coming in contact with your coins.

The binders can easily be labeled and shelved in a convenient place. These binders can be purchased at Wal-Mart or at an office supply store. The binders also make for easy transportation from to coin shows, etc. In terms of preservation, I think this is one of the most efficient, safe and economical investments the collector can make.

If you would like to share your preservation methods, please do. I am always looking for a better ways to do things. I hope you have enjoyed this article and while reading please go through the remainder of my blog. Please bookmark and visit on occasion.. God Bless.. Jerry..