I am excited to report I have some new equipment that should make photographing our coasters, trivets and plaques easier. We got a new to us Olympus E-510 & a light box with 2 lights & 4 different colored backgrounds (black, white, blue, red). The light box came with a tripod but it did not work with our camera for this setting.
Dh, a hobbyist photographer set it up for me. He worked with the setting to get the photos I am showing here. We used the remote control to take the photos. We tried it with the lights outside the box to get a diffused light. Then we tried it with the lights inside the front of the box, which is how we took the photos included here.
I needed only a slight crop for each photo. I did not use any other retouching or alterations on the photos. Well, one photo was slightly skewed so I straightened it.
Much better than the original images you posted. But the images still need to be adjusted for color and contrast. I've edited one of the images as if I were preparing it for jurying and reduced the size to 300 pixels so it can be placed next to your original and embedded it in this thread.
Thanks Larry your first statement made my day! As I stated, I didn't take time to "fix" anything ... to see what the response would be with unaltered photos. I plan on taking a bunch more today, mostly because it is a desperately needed task I need to do, but also to practice. Then I will get some editing done as needed. Thanks again for your input.