Watch Photography: Thoughts and Lessons Learnt

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by atwl77, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. atwl77

    atwl77 Just Started

    Sea-Gull mechanical manual-winding watch that I got for my wife for Christmas.

    I tried my hand at watch photography using the TS-E 90mm lens and it is very tough and demanding to do it right. My setup was a single-light setup using a 24" softbox. One of the most important aspects in watch photography is to control all the reflections and highlights on the watch itself. I started with a few black and white cards, but throughout the course of experimenting, ended up with a little make-shift fortress of cards built around the watch.

    One of my older, retired pocket watches that ran on Quartz movement, brought out just for a test shoot.

    Another extremely important aspect is detail, both good and bad. Dust and fingerprints can be very hard to deal with, and often not noticeable until after the image is brought up onto a larger screen for post-processing so it is extremely important to keep the watch as clean as humanly possible.

    Left out or half-visible details are to be avoided, and sometimes it is very easy to miss out on these especially on tiny LCD screens or viewfinders. Having the camera tethered to a laptop with a larger screen for live view shooting is certainly a good way to deal with this. Here, I have missed the “Made in China” tag at the bottom of the Sea-Gull watch, as well as the odd reflections at the bottom of the Swiss Army pocket watch.

    My current and trusty timepiece from Epos that has served me for a good six years now.

    Another useful aspect of tethered live view is to be able to judge focus better. Although I can easily zoom in to 10x (or more) from the camera itself, but the process can be very tedious especially when attempting to use the tilt function of the TS-E lens to adjust the plane of focus and make it parallel to the face of the watch.

    In these three shots, I have somewhat misjudged the plane of focus when I attempted to tilt the lens. The result is that only the upper half of the watch remains in sharp focus, while the bottom half varies from slightly out of focus to being visibly out of focus.

    One final thing to consider is dealing with glare. Although more complex control of lighting can be used to combat it, my single-light configuration resulted in noticeable loss of contrast on the glass. I only thought of using a polarizer on the second shot onwards, so both the Swiss Army and Epos watches show better contrast compared to the Sea-Gull watch
  2. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    I can only imagine the amount of work you put into these shots. Controlling for the reflections can't be easy. I have glare problems even with matte metal surfaces. :(
  3. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    I don't think I have the patience to take such photos... haha

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
  4. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    atwl77, you should share the picture you took of how you took the photos above! :D
  5. Trinity

    Trinity Little Kiki Staff Member

    Makes me miss my old S400:cry:
  6. atwl77

    atwl77 Just Started

    Here... see I even roped in my Thinkpad Tablet 2, because it is black and tall enough to block out the direct glare from the softbox.

    Attached Files:

  7. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    Wow...this is still workable for a small product...
  8. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    :thumb: :thumb:

    When I saw it, I was amazed too. :D
  9. atwl77

    atwl77 Just Started

    Testing another concept:

  10. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Must be very difficult to control the lighting with the additional reflective surface!

    The remaining shadow does detract a bit, I think. Even obscures the "epos Switzerland" label.
  11. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    I believe some shadows were there on purpose... :think:
  12. atwl77

    atwl77 Just Started

    Not all shadows need to be eliminated; you still need highlights and shadows to define form and shape.

    The part with the Epos label was a problematic spot though. It's not really in shadows, it's more like I was trying to highlight that part using a white card. Problem was that was as far I could get without the card itself intruding into the frame. I suppose I could have cheated and took two shots and merged them, or maybe manually lifted the exposure on the logo...

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