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Pugwash

Pugwash's "How to photograph watches" - part three

14 posts in this topic

I'm now going to assume that you've done the first two parts and are familiar with your camera and have taken a pile of photos, some of which you're secretly really proud of. If this is where you're at, I hate to say it, but that's it. You can now photograph watches. You're on your own, you don't need my help, you take perfectly good pictures and don't embarrass yourself when posting them to the replica forums.

This was what we set out to do, right? Increase the average quality of photographs on the forums? Well we've done it, and for that I thank everyone that put the effort in. We're done. Carry on, you don't need me any more.

Pardon? You want more? But you're taking pictures of watches. You understand about the importance of light and stability and you may even have bought a light-tent and tripod. What more can I do for you?

Oh, okay, let's see what we can do.

At this point, we're no longer in the crappy camera and pillowcase phase. If you don't have a tripod and a light-box, you should go and get them, even if that means a desk tripod and making a light-box out of translucent folders like I did.

38625-38681.jpg

This, however, will be the last tutorial for the cheaper cameras. After this, you'll need a camera that can take filters as we're going to use the miracle that is the Polarising filter. That's for the next lesson, though.

Today, we're doing the last lesson on basic setup that will allow you to take perfectly lit pictures. We're going to discuss White Balance. Go get your camera manual and check how to set the white balance on your particular camera, as you'll need to know how to do this to avoid this kind of picture:

38625-38682.jpg

That picture was taken with default white balance settings and indoor lighting. You can fix that in software, as described in my basic Picasa tutorial, as I have done here, although I used iPhoto on the Mac.

38625-38683.jpg

Obviously, if you used your camera's white balance setting beforehand to set it for indoor lighting (usually a picture of a light bulb) your pictures would be lit as follows:

38625-38684.jpg

There you go, basic lighting explained. Read about how to set up your white balance. It's very important, and it's different for every camera, so you're on your own at this point.

That's it for the simple stuff. You have it all.

Here's a checklist of how to take a picture the Pugwash way:

  1. Clean the watch
  2. Light the scene
  3. Set the camera's white balance
  4. Make sure everything is in focus and framed
  5. Stabilise the camera
  6. Turn on the timer
  7. Press the button
  8. Stand well back
  9. click
  10. Import the picture into the computer
  11. Check the levels, colours, etc.
  12. Crop, scale and export
If you follow this routine, you'll get useable pics every time. You'll be taking photographs, not snapshots.

Thank you for taking part in these basic lessons. I hope some of you will be interested enough to go past this and start trying the hard stuff. If this is you, here's a sneak into the next lesson, just to keep you interested:

38625-38685.jpg

38625-38686.jpg

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Here's a checklist of how to take a picture the Pugwash way:
  1. Clean the watch
  2. Light the scene
  3. Set the camera's white balance
  4. Make sure everything is in focus and framed
  5. Stabilise the camera
  6. Turn on the timer
  7. Press the button
  8. Stand well back
  9. click
  10. Import the picture into the computer
  11. Check the levels, colours, etc.
  12. Crop, scale and export
If you follow this routine, you'll get useable pics every time. You'll be taking photographs, not snapshots.

Thank you.

very useful tips indeed.

I did not know your light box was made from tranp folder!

I would like to set up like this too.

Thank you

:thumbsupsmileyanim:

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I did not know your light box was made from tranp folder!

I would like to set up like this too.

Very cheap. Very easy.

I've ordered a proper light-tent as it's clear I'm going to be doing a lot more photography like this, but every single one of the photos you've seen up to today has been taken with a crappy home-made, makeshift device. I've gone through several designs, involving pillow cases, hanging paper, etc. They all work and I hope my pictures show you don't really need to spend any cash unless you want to.

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Hi ,

Thank you for the great ideas for taking smooth pictures!

What a nice watches do you have, where did you get the 16610 en the 16610LV??

greetz arthur

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Thank you for the great ideas for taking smooth pictures!

What a nice watches do you have, where did you get the 16610 en the 16610LV??

I got the Sub from TTK ($120) and the LV-alike GMT from Silix-prime.

Thanks for the bump. I hope you use the tutorial to encourage yourself to take pics of your eral Submariner. :D

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I certainly do!!

Realy less money for goodlooking reps!

cheers...

I got the Sub from TTK ($120) and the LV-alike GMT from Silix-prime.

Thanks for the bump. I hope you use the tutorial to encourage yourself to take pics of your eral Submariner. :D

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Thanks pugwash,

you've shown me that my panasonic lumix dmc fz20 is capable of a lot more than I get out of it !!!

Gerco

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you've shown me that my panasonic lumix dmc fz20 is capable of a lot more than I get out of it !!!

It's still capable of a lot more than I get out of it, too. :D

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I am a learning photographer, and your articles are really helpful!

Lighting is always tricky....

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Well, I looked back at some of my earliest attempts at watch photos, and I'm clearly in your "target audience." Thanks for the tips. The makeshift lightbox idea was especially helpful.

:)

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Well, it's been over a year since I wrote this and I never did come out with part four. Do you need any more tips, people? Or will this, coupled with Jiro's photoshop guides and my Picasa guide, be enough?

Should there be a part four, and if so, what should be in it?

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hey Pug,

Have you figured out the optics of AR coating? It seems to reflect most around dawn.... how would you go about reproducing that with a studio setup? :huh:

Best wishes!!

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I used to work at a very famous American jewellers, in their photography dept. We often used lights away from the item being photographed with large white reflectors (sometime 2 or 3 metres across) bouncing the light down onto the jewellery or watch to give large areas of "flat light". Also this made reflections less of a problem and often rendering AR coatings invisible.

Just my two cents worth. ^_^

Rich

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