Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photographing Coins In An Effective Way

In this article we will talk about our coin's background or as an artist what I call negative space. There are a few simple color tips I will share with you and perhaps you will be somewhat enlightened and better able to create good negative space choices that will enhance your coin photos.

I am sure most know about warm and cool colors. Warm colors lie on the red and yellow side of the color spectrum. Conversely, we find cool colors on the blue and green side of the spectrum. I could expound on the statement I just made endlessly but that is not our objective. When photographing our coins we need know that our primary objective is to focus on the coin and our enabling objective is to present the coin in the most pleasing way we can. The coin is our central subject matter. The negative area should be highly secondary to presenting our coin in the best environment possible.

Warm colors advance and are very difficult to use effectively in a negative area. The warm colors distract from our coin, our central subject matter, so remember we are interested in the coin presentation and not a handsome negative area. Warm colors will almost always dominate our coin composition.

Cool colors recede and are the easiest to work with when presenting a coin. However, this depends on the value and intensity of the color I choose. Please observe the pics you see above and you will find that I purposefully included what I consider to be both good and bad color choices. Please understand that I am not saying a particular color is not "pretty." I am simply saying there is a consummate way in which we can best present our coin. We can use pretty colors in our landscape compositions, etc.

We will now move on to white and black. White is the presence of all colors and black is the absence of all colors. After spending a few years photographing coins I think I prefer white as opposed to black. The black and white thing is very personal and there is no right or wrong, simply a matter of preference.

I would like for you to perform the following exercise. Cut a square hole roughly the size of one of the coins you see posted above. Center the hole in a sheet of your copy paper. Now move the coin from pic to pic and concentrate on what you are seeing. Are you seeing the coin or are you looking at the negative area. Find the pic you like best. REMEMBER, we are interesting in diminishing the pictorial value of the negative area.

If the space in and around the coin is our negative area is negative space then what do I call the coin space? I call the coin the positive space. That is the object we want the viewer to see in and above all else. Once more, we are not speaking of pretty; we are speaking of effective coin presentation.

I hope this will help with your coin compositions and presentations. I am always ready and eager to help others when and if I can. Please feel free to ask whatever you like and I will try to help. One quick thing, never use texture in your negative space. Texture clutters and moves the eye away from the coin.. Merry Christmas and God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"TEST CUT" What And Why?

"Test Cut" What and Why? Apparently counterfeit coins have been around since ancient times and one of the most common methods of counterfeiting was to coat a bronze or copper coin with a silver wash. The answer to counterfeit or not was for the potential recipient of a questionable coin was very often a test cut.

The test cut was a readily easy method to expose the "innards" of the coin and reveal what was beneath the coin's surface. Some would scratch the coin's surface while some would cut a large gash as we often see in ancient silver coins. I have wondered what transpired if the coin was proven to be counterfeit.

Was the owner of the coin hauled off to prison? Was there a penalty for owning said coin? Perhaps our ancient coin scholars will be able to enlighten us. I suspect the cut most often revealed a good coin but sadly for many, we have inherited the products of the mistrust of our ancestors.

As I search for coins to add to my collection, I have observed that the Athenian Owl appears to be the coin most often attacked. I am sure there is a reason why the Athenian Owl was so mistrusted. If my observation is correct, I think our coin scholars will step forward and explain.

I recently ordered quite a few test cut coins and must admit I find the coins very interesting or at least I find the psychology of the test cut interesting. I am awaiting arrival of my coins and will own for the first time a test cut coin. I really want to hear from all who are willing to share. Post to my blog and others will be able to read your opinions.. Thank you and Merry Christmas.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coin Enthusiasts: Locate Stolen Laptop

A stolen laptop is just one thief away. We all know the price of laptops and even more the personal data we could potentially lose would be a nightmare. With all this in mind has created a freeware program that can help us track a stolen computer.

I have read very good reviews about Prey and I suspect many individuals will be adding the program to their computers. In essence, Prey sends out timed reports from a missing or stolen laptop, containing information on the laptop's status and location. Network and wi-fi information is also provided. If really fortunate, you may capture a pic of the thief!

Remember, this is all free and installation is a piece of cake. In addition, Prey is open source, which leaves open the possibility of better things to come. If you decide to give Prey a shot, please let me know what you think. I would love to see reviews from our ancient coin enthusiasts.

Prey had the following to say about their program. "Prey is a lightweight application that will help you track and find your laptop if it is ever stolen. It works with all operating systems and not only is it Open Source but it is also completely free." I Pray you had a great holiday and I Pray you have a Merry Christmas.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, November 11, 2011

Which Coin Are You Buying

Have you ever bought a coin and were surprised when the coin arrived? The visual appearance was pretty much unlike what you thought you were buying? Perhaps the coin you bought had been post-edited or Photo Shopped. Photo Shopping is a method employed by a seller to enhance the coin and make it look better on the web than the coin actually looks in hand. I have found this to be a very common practice and less than ethical in my opinion.

Take a look at the photos above to see what I speak of. The photos on top are the way the coin really looks in hand. I think the bottom photos make the coin look much better. I simply took the coin into PS and dropped the values a couple of clicks. As a result, I have a much better looking coin than the coin in hand. There are many vendors out there who have much more expertise than I do when using Photo Shop and they can make a poor quality coin look very fine.

With a modicum of effort I have found that I can easily hide a coin's pitting, change the coin's color, or even repair a broken or chipped coin using PS or some other photo editor. Is this a common practice? I can only say I know the problem is there to some degree.

There are preventative steps that can be taken to help you when dealing with an unscrupulous dealer. Over the years I have gotten to know my dealers and I only encounter the problem I allude to on rare occasions. Get to know your dealers and keep a list of the good and the bad. Don't be shy, ask the dealer if the coin is as represented. Ask the dealer if the coin has been touched up using any kind of post processing program.

I think the best vendor to deal with is one who will unconditionally accept returned coins if the buyer is unhappy with his or her purchase. There are many ethical dealers who will accept returned coins so one can be selective when making a coin purchase. Again, keep a list of honest dealers you buy from as I do.

I hope my article enlightens you and makes you more aware of a problem that exists within our ancient coin community. Allow me to reinforce what I said earlier. I find most dealers to be highly ethical and I have found the unethical dealers to be small part of ancient coins. Don't be afraid to ask the questions you need to ask and you will be a much happier ancient coin collector.. Have a wonderful Thanks giving and God Bless..

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ancient Coins: Save Money

Perhaps I should have said save money on accessories. I was about to run out of coin envelopes so I shopped for the best prices on the small manila envelopes and was surprised at the escalated prices. I did locate one vendor online who had the best price. I have an Office Depot right down the street so I decided to see what they had in the store.

The in store price were a few bucks more than my online source and I told the salesman I had found them cheaper online. He asked for the source, looked it up and matched the price. I assume this is true with other items also. This may not be a big deal to many but with the economy as it is, I am always happy to save about four bucks.

I think I will try this with other items also. I hope I save you a few bucks. Please let me know. By the way, I bought 500 2 1/4" X 3 1/2" Kraft 28 pound envelopes for $17.64 including 7% Mississippi sales tax. I also bought the sealable at this price.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cleo VII: Do You Prefer This Or This?

I recently bought a group of uncleaned coins from an Ancient Peddler member. As you can see from the photo above left, I felt I was taking a chance but I decided to take the dive anyway. I have been Zapping coins for close to ten years using techniques I have developed and I thought I saw something in the photo the vendor provided. I am very pleased with the results I get and I am very pleased with the results of this Zap.

In the middle pic you see the obverse after the Zap. The pic on the right depicts the reverse of the coins subsequent to the Zap. It took a bit of Zapping and prodding to reach the coins' surfaces. I keep plenty of Bamboo Skewers handy to aid me in removing the crud as I Zap. One quick thing. Click on pic to enlarge.

My question to my Anti-Zapping friends is as follows: Would you prefer to own the coins on the left or would you prefer to own the coins on the right. I have been under the weather but I am always happy to talk with anyone about my Zapping. If you have questions, observations or cruddy coins for sale I would love to hear from you. I am too old to engage in bickering and I have no interest either so I will not go that route.. May God Bless us and our Nation.. Jerry..

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spruce Up Your Ancient Coin Photos

I have an old copy of Adobe PhotoShop 7 and I know just enough about PS 7 to help with a few issues. For the past few days I have busied myself playing with PS tools with which I am not familiar. I have surprised myself and I suggest you do the same if you are a PS novice as I am.

The photograph you see above is the product of trial and effort. I created plenty of photo copies and began making an effort to learn something new about each tool. Those of you who know me know that I dislike linear programs very much. In spite of this I am quite pleased with what I have accomplished.

Most of all, I have learned some things about PS I would not have known otherwise. I played with tools I had never used and I tried new settings I had never used. Give it a shot and surprise yourself as I did.. God Bless.. Jerry