There may be something to this whole axial lighting idea ;)
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I've just started experimenting with axial lighting techniques and the results appear promising. I've been trying to photograph a real bear of a coin - a 2001 Silver Britannia business strike. This coin is basically a liquid mirror which makes lighting difficult enough. Add a slab (this is one of my MS69s) and it's practically impossible to get a decent shot using conventional lighting. After getting frustrated for the umpteenth time, I finally got the inspiration to give axial lighting a shot for the first time.

 

Using the axial lighting technique described by Mark Goodman (the technique isn't his, but I was going by his writeup), I tossed together a makeshift setup using a picture frame glass, a roll of quarters to angle it, and some bare incandescent bulbs. The initial results are making me happy. I'll mess with it more tomorrow and probably post a writeup at some point when I've got it working well for me - if anyone's interested).

 

 

One of my first attempts:

axial_91.jpg

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Axial lighting works great for proofs.

 

Please take a pic of your setup.

 

That's a great photo, too.

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Wow... that's a real of a coin to photograph. I know, I tried it! I would love to get a description of what you did to get that coin to look that good.

 

Scott :hi:

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Mike,

Does the size of the sheet of glass matter, or the thickness? Which type bulb does better? OTT, halogen, incandescent? Thanks, great article by Mark Goodman.

Jim

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Thanks for the compliments on the photo, y'all. I'm going to turn in now, but I'll try and be back tomorrow with some more photos and to answer the questions here. If things work out well with the technique, I may post a WYNTK article on the topic.

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Mike,

Does the size of the sheet of glass matter, or the thickness? Which type bulb does better? OTT, halogen, incandescent? Thanks, great article by Mark Goodman.

Jim

 

Sorry, I've not done enough experimentation to feel comfortable answering this question with any authority.

 

When I played around with it I used a piece of glass also from a picture-frame and halogen and incandescent lights. I prefered the look of the Halogen. It worked well for raw modern proofs, but not so well with slabbed coins.

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Does the size of the sheet of glass matter, or the thickness? Which type bulb does better? OTT, halogen, incandescent?

 

The dimensions of the glass do not matter so long as it is wider than the coin and/or camera lens. Thickness should be kept to a minimum since this will help avoid ghost images due to secondary surface reflections. Tilting the mirror away from the “ideal” 45-degree angle will produce better results for some coins. Axial lighting is commonly used for record photos since it usually shows detail the best. However, if you want to emphasize other aspects of the coin, other techniques might be a better choice.

 

The glass must be clean and free of defects. Go to a local glass shop and tell them what you want. Do not use plastic. (Back in the 1950s a NY photographer named “Weegee” made a name for himself by taking portraits through warped glass – kind of “Fun House” looking images.)

 

A smaller diameter light source will produce greater contrast; a larger diameter source will give somewhat lower contrast. Use any type of light source except fluorescent (due to the skewed spectrum of most).

 

You can shoot through slabs only if the coin and front surface of the slab are not parallel.

 

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Great pic there Michael! I copied the article also. Hopefully when I get my other PC up and my camera set-up back together again I can try this out. Looks great! (thumbs u

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This was sent to me a while ago from RexCAt ( Paul ) with his setup. We were discussing how to get the most colour out of my 1883 Cent and Trade Dollar ..

 

 

51339-axail-set-up.jpg.d399409908b518b50d4807b6401e1421.jpg

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Some things to think about...

 

After my initial success with the technique, I'm encountering a little more difficulty getting 'the shot' - nothing that won't iron out with a little time, I believe.

 

[*] Getting the plate glass to hit the right angle is a little difficult without a better setup. I think that a wooden block with a grove sawed out at 45 degrees ought to work fine.

 

[*] The type of glass I use, from a photograph frame, may be coated with something that's screwing up my white balance.

 

[*]Actually, it may be the bulbs I'm using (Phillips natural 60 watt). They appear to have variation in their coatings so that the color of the light changes from one orientation to another. I've got the bulbs very close to the slabs and I don't like having that heat so near to plastic. The last thing I want is a melted slab.

 

[*]The tiny logo branded on the top of the bulbs is reflecting - blurily - off of the coin or the slabs (not sure which, but same effect either way). The effect is distracting to me. It took me a while to realise what was causing it, but by changing my focus, I was able to resolve the logo and figure out what was causing it. (photos)

 

[*]Primary problem is that I'm having trouble replicating shots. Until I can predict the results of the technique, it's not too useful - though it clearly has potential, as my beginner's luck shot indicated.

 

Let me play with it some more and I'll get back to the thread.

51349-axial1.jpg.fa4ef156b21c064525c38fecf9a916c2.jpg

51350-axial2.jpg.fbaaecebc91c0d1830ca70588439afbc.jpg

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This was sent to me a while ago from RexCAt ( Paul ) with his setup. We were discussing how to get the most colour out of my 1883 Cent and Trade Dollar ..

 

 

 

Hey Mike, thanks for the props!

 

I am working on a new diagram for axial lighting, soon...

 

If you really want the correct lighting source for axial lighting you have to use a light box($$$) or the lighting system used in photo enlargers called cold lighting. What makes these work is they project a flat even light that will light up the coin evenly.

 

Well I don't have a darkroom any more or a light box, but I have found a 75 watt globe works just fine. (thumbs u

 

But globe bulbs only come in soft white :o

 

Big deal, that's why we take pictures with digital cameras these days! :cloud9:

Between white balance on the camera and software a photo should like the right color of the coin, even if you can't hold the camera still.

 

I've done a lot of different set-ups lighting my coins while taking hundreds of exposures of the same coin over time. Sometimes I'll use both off axis and axial light source together.

 

Actually when I take a photo using the setup shown in Mikes post the coin is not lite purely by axially directed light, some off axis light is hitting the coin directly on a low angle from the bulb. To stop this light from hitting the coin the coin must be shaded from direct lighting. This is not really a bad thing, it highlights the coins features nicely, but it does pale the colors abit. This is because the light hitting a coin directly from the source is way brighter than the axial rays of light which had to reflect off the glass. I used to grind telescope mirrors and I think glass reflects somewhere around 10% of the light.

 

I see on your nice photo Michael, this is the case, how?? The bright glare on the top edge of all raised features, that is also the direction of the light. If a coin is lite totally by axial lighting all edges appear dark, this is because the light is traveling straight down, any surface that is perpendicular (like the fields) will reflect the light right back to the camera and will appear the brightest, less perpendicular surfaces on the relief are darker as they get steeper.

 

Here's a half lit by axial lighting, notice how Ben's portrait is dark at the edge all the way around. Bringing out the colors is what this lighting does best, it also hides hairlines real well (thumbs u

 

1962-half.jpg

 

I'm going to have back surgery (lumber microdiscectomy :eek:) tomorrow, but would gladly reply to pm's on the subject later, when I feel like sitting and typing. lol:insane:lol

 

There is much more that could be talked about this type of lighting, not only how to do, but when to use. Some of my coins in "Cat's Meow" have photos showing the same coin lit two different ways to better try to convey the look of them of the web.

 

Rexcat's tip #2534:

 

Take steel wool or a gritty cleaner and rub any printing on the end of the bulb off. I do this on any bulb I use for macro shots.

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I will have to give this a try. Thanks Michael and Paul great photos. Roman that coin looks great. Paul hope everything goes well in your surgery tomorrow. :wishluck:

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Amazing results by those who have used this technique!!!!!!!!!! (thumbs u thanks for sharing. :)

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