It doesn’t have to be this way

We all scan cards, right? I’m always quick to the scanner with stuff like Gyspy Queen, Ginter, and anything without gloss. I hate the way Chrome cards scan. I either scan them and spend 20 minutes in Photoshop trying to get them to look normal again, or I don’t scan them at all.

I’m sick and tired of “it looks way better in person” and “this card didn’t really scan well”. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m a photographer, I can do better than this. Why am I scanning cards I know won’t scan well?

No more!

I’m still working out the details, but after putting together a quick, 10-minute, proof-of-concept, I’m already convinced that a light tent is a better way to go. They’ve been available forever in the photography world, and I’ve had several over the years. They’re not super durable, and they don’t last long, but they’re handy for quick table-top photoshoots. I’ve shot jewelry, I’ve shot glass, I’ve shot nick-knacks and antiques. Quite honestly, I’m embarrassed I hadn’t thought of doing it with baseball cards.

But, doesn’t that take longer? Good question. It really depends on the setup. I made a quick light-tent out of a cardboard box and a couple 8×10 sheets of thin paper. It’s small enough to leave on my desk, ready to go. I have a long (30ft) usb cable and I’m shooting directly into Adobe Lightroom. I created a quick import/hot-folder action to automatically rotate the photos and apply color correction. If I can standardized my cropping (and automate that as well), then I’ll have finished images as fast as I can shoot them.

I can do more at one time on the scanner, 20+ cards per scan. I can do entire team sets. I also have to pull the files into Photoshop and color correct, resize, and crop anyway. So, it’s actually about the same.

It’s the “right tool for the job” type of thing. For sets of cards, or cards with matte finishes, the scanner works best. For single, ultra-glossy refractors, a photo is definitely the way to go.

I’m going to invest again in a more professional set up, but these images are my tests. These are made with a small cardboard box, some white paper, and two old Canon flashes, nothing more. I did not use my “good macro lens”, or my “good lights”. Just imagine if I had. Look at the way the sparkles/highlights/colors pop on these.

Test4

Test3

Test1

Test2

I need to make a “stand” to prop them up so that it eliminates the shadow, but I think we can all agree these look better than muddy scanned versions we all normally get. This will be a fun little experiment. I wonder how small I can make a light box? If I can make something “card sized” I can pretty much leave it on my work desk indefinitely. Back to the drawing board for a final version, but I’m liking the direction it’s going.

Diamond Kings

When I saw the initial “preview” of Diamond Kings a couple months ago I thought I could safely ignore it as a product I didn’t really have any interest in. Then I saw the checklist. Then I saw it in person. Now I’m all in. I love these cards. They are awesome. Panini has done an exceptional job with these.

2015_DK_Ortiz_AKAPapi (more…)

Recently Acquired

I was going to say “What I’ve Been Buying Lately”, but that’s George’s thing, and I didn’t want to sound like I was ripping that off. Quite honestly, this spring has been absolutely boring. With the exception of Gypsy Queen, which I’m on the fence about, and Diamond Kings, which I’ve loving, there hasn’t been anything to really get excited about. Bowman is boring this year, I can’t actually find any USA Baseball or Prizm for that matter, and nothing else interesting gets released until Ginter in July. I was going to pick up some Americana, but then I saw the checklist was mostly hollywood stars and musicians and kind of tuned out. So, random single cards with combined shipping was the order of the spring.

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Today

Today is a rather somber day. Today we received word that our department might be on the chopping block at work. Normally I wouldn’t even mention work, but layoffs are a pretty big deal, and it pretty much destroyed my good mood today.

You see, today is also the anniversary of this blog. On April 29th, 2001 I started blogging on this domain. A previous blog existed on another, but this anniversary is specifically for this blog, and not my blogging in general. Fourteen years! That’s both remarkable, and kind of crazy at the same time.

I had planned on telling the tale of early blogging, my thoughts in blogging in general, and how fortunate I was for both the ability to write what I please, and for the people who actually bothered to listen.

Instead, I’m actually rather depressed at the moment. I’m being asked to, essentially, justify my existence, again. We’re a small group, just 3 guys. We had 5 at one point but one got let go and another left for greener pastures. You’d figure that removing 2/5 of the salaries in the group over the past few year would be enough in these cost cutting times, but apparently we’d both be wrong about that. We’ve been more efficient. We’ve gotten the job done with 3 rather than 5. Apparently they want to find out if it can be done with 1, or even none.

Nothing is certain. We all may be fine. But when they ask an entire department to submit “detailed reports” about every item you work on, and what you do every day, they’re looking to make cuts. They want to see who has “real” work and who is just barely keeping busy.

I don’t care about much of anything outside of the current situation. I’m sure you might be more interested in what cards I got, or what BBQ place I tried the other day but I can’t bring myself to write more than a sentence about that stuff at the moment.

Thankfully, I’ve written about my blogging in the past. So, just for today, on my blog’s anniversary, I’ll refer you to a post from a couple years ago…

The Back Story.

Happy Blog-Birthday Everyone…

My Fantasy Team by the Cards

Last Saturday our Card Bloggers Fantasy League drafted. I thought it would be a fun little side project to try and put together a “team set” for my fantasy team this year, the Texas Penal League All-Stars, with cards I had sitting around. I’m short by one, but that’s mostly because I pulled these from stacks I have sitting around my office, and I didn’t dive into any boxes just yet.

So, let’s see how the ol’ fantasy team stacks up this year…

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All Fixed!

Yay, all fixed! I moved servers and had a PHP version conflict. It was stopping everything from running. Should be back to 100% now.

Please Stand By

Web server doing weird things. Lots of issues. May have to delete/reinstall WP. Don’t worry, doing backups, but site may be up, down, up, down for the next couple days.

Out of the Blue

I mentioned yesterday that I found the one multi-team card I need for my set by buying a 60+ card lot from a dealer. He had a pile of the “Rookie Stars” cards and some various inserts that he apparently couldn’t move otherwise, so he lumped them all together and I bought them for $2 and free shipping. It was a win-win for me as I got the one card I needed and some random trade bait that I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. I never have a problem buying large lots like this because I figure I can always give away some of the extra cards to you guys later on. Plus, with the “Rookie Stars” cards being unofficial RCs, sort of, it might be good to hang on to a couple of them.

Regardless of the reason, I buy the lot and the seller ships them fairly quickly and this week the whole box shows up in my mailbox. I thumb through them, pull out the Sox/Tigers card I need (see yesterday’s post), and start scanning the rest…

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Deep Heritage

I have a love/hate relationship with Heritage. I love the idea of it. I like the thick card stock, I like the retro designs, I like most aspects of Heritage. Then, there’s the configuration. Too many cards, too many SPs, too many gimmicks, too much complete and utter junk.

This year is proving to be fairly annoying in particular. There are four Red Sox players as short prints, an image variation, gum stain “errors”, color swaps, and all manner of exceedingly aggravating things that my completionist brain is having trouble processing.

I’m sorry.

Let me say this another way. SHORT PRINTS ARE RIDICULOUS. When David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, arguably THE two faces of the Red Sox franchise are both short prints, on purpose, not to mention Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez, that’s when I called Shenanigans on Topps.

There are 75 short printed cards. They are, in general, the 75 most popular and/or newest stars in the league. That’s terrible. I’m sorry, it is. They’ve purposely made everyone’s favorite players harder to find. Not because of some actual scarcity, or through some printing snafu, but through actual planning and forethought.

I bought my team set, and found 3 of the 4 SPs from the same seller for $1, so I can’t complain about over-spending or opening too much product to try and find what I needed, but it’s really the principle of the thing. I am very sick and tired of David Ortiz consistently being the short print in every set. It’s gotten old. I’m sure those of you who collect Harper, Jeter, Trout, Hamels, Verlander, Kershaw or Puig, you can all relate.

I don’t even know why I’m showing these, except to say that while I don’t agree with the product configuration, at the very least I can appreciate the cards for what they are.

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That’s a whole lot of Mookie

Ok, four cards isn’t a ton, but that title sounded better than “a whole lot of Swihart”.

Mookie_Lot

I stumbled across a seller on eBay with “rookie lots” and picked a couple of them up for $0.99 each. I had a regular copy of the two horizontal RCs, but never picked up the foil and the gold. The Bowman “Top 100″ was hard to find and I had never gotten around to it. The regular Bowman Chrome was the only one I already had, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having an extra copy. These are a good addition to Mookie’s growing section of my Player Collection binder.

Swihart_Lot

The same seller also had two different lots of Swihart cards. 2010 Bowman Chrome with Blake on Team USA and 2011 Bowman Chrome with him officially in the Sox organization. I had a non-Chrome copy of both, and figured a few extra couldn’t hurt.

Just stocking up on random rookie card. Huzzah for combined shipping!