Ian Fenn's Blog

23 Nov 2015

Photographing copper

Exonumia | Ian Fenn

On my last blog World_Coin_Nut asked about photographing toned copper, so today I did a series of photos using different lighting set ups. right from the beginning I will state I personally think the last technique produces the best result on darkly toned copper. that said, often it comes down to a matter of personal taste. I used two coins; both NZ pennies;one bright the other toned. In each photo you can see how I set up the lighting using either diffusers or reflectors.

The first photo shows a pair of Aluminium honey comb diffusers, I find they always work best on bright shiny coins.
The second shows a pair of Five hole diffusers.
The third is a pair of single hole diffusers with black out material on one side of the diffusion panel. this pair of diffusers gives a lot of control over the light.

The fourth picture is an Aluminum foil reflector it works well on shiny coins
The fifth is a polypropylene reflector, it produces results almost like axial lighting but its subtly better. Like all the diffusers it is made out of a kitchen cutting board. It is thick and translucent and the light reaching the coin is much like it had been reflected from a cloud. the light is reflected from both the surface of the reflector and from within the polyprop. I also suspect that the Titanium dioxide that is used to color the board fluoresces producing a whiter light quality. In this blog its not that clear but the toned copper coin really does look best under this lighting. The big problem is this reflector is heavy and it is mounted to the filter ring of the lens. the Aluminum reflector is mounted the same way but is much very light in weight, Normally I would only use the white reflector mounted on a bellows lens. In this case it is mounted on a Sony FE 90mm F 2.8 Macro lens ( an expensive piece of optics)

All theses reflectors and diffusers may look fancy but each pair cost not more than US$6.00 to make. I let you decide which technique works best. I only tried five separate methods there are many more options I could have tried. there is no one perfect method I believe each person has to develop techniques that suit their style and equipment



Level 6

Nice set-up! Sure beats my little Coolpix! : )


Level 7

Hi World_Coin_Nut! For your message.you wereon the money. Two coins were expensive. A1917 d walker and a 1918 Illinois centennial. Had both in house for six months before I sent coins out they come back improperly cleaned. Broke my heart. I sent a reply but I don't think you got it. I'm still finding my way around. Thanks for getting back to me. Mike


Level 5

Wow indeed! You have a very nice setup! Thanks for the pictures and interesting methodology.


Level 5

Very thorough. Thank you Ian.


Level 3

Very interesting, and nice pics! Way better than my set up with my iPhone, hahaha...


Level 6

WOW!!!!!!! Sorry, i hit the wrong key. Thanks for the details on a tough subject.


Level 6


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