Old habits die hard!

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coinsandmedals

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When I first started collecting coins, I purchased whatever caught my attention with little to no discipline. As I matured, I found myself focused on EAC and early U.S. type coins. Eventually, I abandoned those areas of focus and shifted my attention to world coins. More specifically, almost all of my collecting efforts are focused on English and Irish copper, emphasizing the Soho coinage.

Perhaps it is this intense focus that makes my newest purchase so odd. It is not copper, it not English or Irish, and it predates the bulk of my collection by multiple centuries. Given that this coin is so far removed from my ordinary pursuits, I would have been lost without the detailed description inscribed on the envelope by the previous owner, Eric Newman. The envelope is marked Arab Sasasnian Abbasid Silver ½ Dirham. The description continues identifying the piece as struck at Tabaristan Mint (Muqatil). Newman graded this piece as XF, and he noted that it was acquired from the Morris Collection. I find this coin interesting, and I look forward to doing a little more research as time permits, but this is not the only reason I purchased it.

As it relates to my area of focus, the world coin market is very hot right now. The higher prices have made it difficult for me to add new examples to my collection while maintaining the general quality I have come to expect. As an alternative, I have been purchasing relatively inexpensive eye appealing coins to hone my photography skills. I have a fair amount of experience with copper, but silver is a metal that I rarely work with when photographing coins. The fact that this coin was silver, toned, and not perfectly round made it an ideal candidate to test my skills. Overall, I think the images do a decent job capturing the color and character of the coin, but I found the editing portion to be cumbersome as I had to test out entirely new techniques to account for the jagged edges and irregular shape. I am happy with how the images turned out, and I look forward to applying the lessons learned from this experience to a much more complicated project already in the queue.

1477610301_AH174Transparent.thumb.jpg.060821d7e3958c6baad53dcf2d4bba27.jpg

Arab Sasasnian Abbasid, AR ½ Dirham, AH 174 (AD 790-791)

Issue: Muqatil – Governor of Tabaristan

Mint: Tabaristan

Size/Weight: 23.20mm, 1.80g

Provenance: Eric Newman Collection, Morris Collection

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That is a really good picture! Good job! I think that silver is much easier to photograph than a lot of copper coins, especially when they have dark brown toning. I think red-brown coins make for the best copper coin pictures. Good job on nailing down how to edit coins that are not round. It took me a lone time to figure that out also. I find raw coins much easier to photograph than certified coins because of the plastic. Gary 

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@coinsbygary I agree. Dark copper can be very tricky to photograph. I've learned a few lighting techniques over the last year that have helped me, and I hope to learn more at the 2022 ANA summer seminar. The 2019 and 2021 seminars were canceled due to COVID, but luckily the ANA scholarship I received transfers to the 2022 event. I have had a fair amount of experience with raw and certified coins. Glare and fine hairlines on the plastic are the two biggest obstacles to overcome with graded coins. The real challenge is when you come across a dark, albeit slightly toned, copper piece in a holder that looks like it was used as a hockey puck. If I did not know better, it wouldn't be a wild notion that some dealers actively try to scuff up their holders. 

What type of software do you use to edit the pictures of non-round coins? I used 3-D paint because it is free, but I imagine there is a more effective way of doing this. 
 

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@coinsbygary I haven't tried it yet, but I found a license for the 2019 version of photoshop elements in the Walmart discount aisle for $10. I have it installed on my computer, and it seems to have a lot more editing ability than what I am used to. It may take me a bit to figure it out, but it never hurts to have more tools at your disposal. Any tips would be much appreciated! 

I haven’t tried axial photography, but I hope to in the future. I have several nicely toned pieces that I can not fully capture with my current setup. 

Excellent photos, by the way! The clash marks are apparent on the half-dime. 

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@coinsandmedalsIf you can learn to work in layers you will know a lot of the power of this software. 2019 is the version I have. I don't upgrade it every year but use it for as long as Adobe supports it. I am doing an editing demo by ZOOM for my coin club on March 10. After that, if you want, I can do a ZOOM demo for you. Send me a message through NGC if you are interested. The most important tip is this, Elements can't make a poorly taken picture look good, it can only make a good picture look spectacular! Gary 

Edited by coinsbygary
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5 hours ago, coinsbygary said:

@coinsandmedalsIf you can learn to work in layers you will know a lot of the power of this software. 2019 is the version I have. I don't upgrade it every year but use it for as long as Adobe supports it. I am doing an editing demo by ZOOM for my coin club on March 10. After that, if you want, I can do a ZOOM demo for you. Send me a message through NGC if you are interested. The most important tip is this, Elements can't make a poorly taken picture look good, it can only make a good picture look spectacular! Gary 

I use Photoshop creative cloud for editing all my photos - my portraiture of family and my wife, my mini / macro shooting and my coins. It has more power for general use than elements but it costs me $10.81/month after tax and I don't know that I'd give up elements if I could have it without a monthly fee.

I can sometimes save a photo with photoshop but it's usually better and easier to just take a good photo in the first place. With coin photography,  it seems that either the detail and the luster is there or it isn't. Very little in between.

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On 2/28/2021 at 1:48 PM, Revenant said:

I can sometimes save a photo with photoshop but it's usually better and easier to just take a good photo in the first place. With coin photography,  it seems that either the detail and the luster is there or it isn't. Very little in between.

I agree it is always best practice to do it right the first time. The editing I do for coin photography is mostly limited to cropping and fixing any minor contrast issues. The free Canon Digital Photo Professional is far more sophisticated than I need. Photoshop is something I mainly intend to use as a cropping tool for irregularly shaped coins. I have used PowerPoint and 3-D paint in the past, but these have limitations that I hope to overcome with Photoshop elements. Had the license been more than $10, I probably wouldn't have purchased it as I do not think I will use it often enough to justify the cost. Of course, this could change once Gary shows me the ropes! 

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