Proof Coins Photography

Bright-field Lighting

US Sacagawea Gold Dollar Proof Coin US Sacagawea Gold Dollar Proof Coin tilt

Move mouse over image to see tilt effect.

Lighting the coin on it's perpendicular axis.

Because of their highly-polished, mirror-like fields, proof coins require special attention. The preferred lighting method, known as axial lighting, is able to illuminate the troublesome field evenly, without reflections. Modified versions of this technique can be used to add depth and character.

Dark-field Lighting

Zachary Taylor Dollar Proof Coin dark-field

Lighting the coin on it's parallel axis.

As the name suggests, this technique leaves the field dark, illuminating only the relief. Not as useful commercially, dark-field lighting is more appropriate for collectors who want to fully appreciate the relief detail.

This Zachary Taylor dollar was photographed using simple side-lighting. The only editing done to the image was a shifting of it's black-level to deepen the black and eliminate any stray flecks of light in the field.

Composite Lighting

Washington Quarter Proof Coin Washington Quarter Proof Coin dark-field

Lighting the coin on various axes.

Proof coins are often advertised using a partially-darkened field. This effect can be achieved a number of ways, including the use of multiple images. The contrast between light and dark presents an implied luster.


James K Polk Presidential Dollar Proof dark-field Zachary Taylor Presidential Dollar Proof dark-field 2007 Washington Quarter Proof 2007 Washington Quarter Montana Proof Lincoln Penny 2009 Proof front William Henry Harrison Presidential Dollar Proof