HOW TO: Watch photography, strobist style and use of photoshop

Thread: HOW TO: Watch photography, strobist style and use of photoshop

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  1. #1
    Editor Dimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    HOW TO: Watch photography, strobist style and use of photoshop

    I've been asked a few times how I make my watch pictures. So I thought I'd post my workflow.

    This is the picture I'll talk you through (I've posted another thread with this pic, but that was only a before and after, here is the complete how to):

    First what equipment did I use?

    Canon 5D Classic with 24-105L + polar filter and Cactus V4 transmitter:

    Vivitar flash with Cactus V4 receiver:

    Reflector (IWC book :D)

    The whole lot:

    In this case I've used my 5D and L lens, but expensive equipment like this isn't necessary. An 'old' 350D with kitlens will do just fine! The flash I used is only $90.- and the wireless transmitter and receiver are about $40.-.

    The trick with the reflector is to reflect the light from the flash onto the watch and to reflect the white board onto the crystal/dial, so you'll get a clean crystal without reflections. This way you can see all the details in the dial. Don't forget to set the time to 10:10!

    When you do this right, the result will be this:

    1/100th second
    Flash M (full)

    To make the watch the 'centre' of this picture I'll crop the picture a bit:

    Then I add a bit of contrast and clarity:

    This is a good base to start working with in Photoshop. The first thing I do when I open Photoshop is make a copy of the picture and paste it in a new layer. When you make mistake it is easy to correct.

    As you can see, there is a lot of blue in the picture. I took this pic in broad daylight under a blue sky. The colour of the watch case is metal/gray and the wooden table is brown. So I remove the blue:

    The colour of the AR coating on the watch crystal is actually blue, so I'll bring that back:

    A tool that is great to highlight and darken certain areas in a picture is the dodge/burn tool. Dodging decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wishes to be lighter, while burning increases the exposure to areas of the print that should be darker.

    In this picture, I used the burn tool to darken the shadows in the paint/wood chips on the table to create a more dramatic feel to the picture and to let the watch pop out more:

    The burn tool is also great to darken the dial without losing the details in the highlight, such as the hour markers, hands and print:

    The Anti Reflection coating is still very visible. Some might like this, but I like the dial to be black. So I copy and paste the dial and desaturate it:

    This looks a bit unnatural, so I bring back a little bit of blue on top of the crystal by playing with the erase and desaturate tool. I also use the dodge tool to highlight the hour markers and print on the dial:

    So we went from this:


    I hope this gives a bit more insight in how to get a good watch picture. The making of this picture, setting it all up and the pp work, took me about one hour.
    - IWC Ingenieur Automatic IW3227-01
    - Omega Speedmaster Mitsukoshi
    - Casio G-Shock G8900DGK-7 DGK
    - Casio G-Shock GW-7900RD-4JF

    - Panerai Radiomir 1940 PAM512

  2. #2
    Member nelsondevicenci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: HOW TO: Watch photography, strobist style and use of photoshop

    Bravo !!!

    Really nice pic, and the program too.

    Thanks for sharing.

    <img src= border=0 alt= />

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Re: HOW TO: Watch photography, strobist style and use of photoshop

    Thanks for the info, it is always nice to see the equipment and technique used in making shots come to life.
    Appreciate your sharing spirit.

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