Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Photo A Day #6 -- Beaver Close Up -- 6 January 2016

Day 6 ...

Things are getting busy around here as I prepare for a last minute business trip to Texas ... the clouds rolled in again this evening just as Jupiter was cresting the houses in the east, so plan B was a desperation shot again. I almost decided to do a series of older images just because I have quite a few that are worthy of a photo of the day, but for now I am going to try to shoot an image every day if possible.

So today's treat is one I thought about as I was shooting the zlotych note the other day. I have a wickedly shiny nickel that makes for a difficult but interesting macro shot. I did not have enough time nor the right setup to shoot this properly, which is something I plan to rectify at some point this winter, but for now I used the same daylight clamp lamp shining down onto a blue foam board, the kind you get in a multi-color pack at craft stores. They are small and can be stuck onto a surface by peeling the back.

In this case, I simply put the nickel on top of a blue one and aimed the light at it from an angle. That reflected into the lens and the shot was not bad. I did not have the space to set up the full tripod and get a perfectly focused image across the whole coin, so I went handheld and did the best I could to get the important parts in focus. The result is pretty good, but lacks contrast. I used a large roscoe diffuser panel between the light and the coin, which softened the light a bit too much, but I still think the image looks good and would be great if I shot it perfectly straight on. That's for another day ...

The parts to look at are the beaver's head, the maple leaf near his head and the "5 ce" characters. Great dimensionality ... also note how dark the blue came out. This is because the light reflected from the shiny nickel was so intense that I had to drop the overall exposure to get it to look good, and the background dropped almost out of sight. I raised shadows to get it back somewhat.

Next, I grabbed a black foam board and held it above the coin to block direct light and create a dark reflection in the shiniest parts. This looks terrific as a contrast to the beaver and lettering, but it dropped the exposure from 1/3200s to 1/125s ... almost 5 stops. The only light on the nickel came from leakage around the foam board. Black is also known to suck away light, which deepens shadows.

I did manage to get more in line with the nickel, making most of it sharp. But the head and 5 cents are less sharp than the previous one. Overall, not a great image for sharpness, but then this is a demonstration of tonality more than sharpness. Another change to note is that the coin and the background are now reflecting the same amount of light since it is all indirect. That means that the exposure of the blue is much brighter.