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andy_s

9,942 posts

147 months

[news] 
Tuesday 26th June 2012 quote quote all
Indeed Andrew, these pics





And the description of how they were taken:

"For those interested I maximised the depth of field
by taking multiple shots varying the focus and then combining
them in photoshop. In most cases an SLR lens achieves its best
results in terms of clarity with an f/stop (aperture) of 8.
Obviously the smaller the aperture the greater the depth of
field but image quality is compromised. This technique maintains
quality and achieves virtually any level of depth of field
(focus) you want. The first picture was a combination of 7
images and the second was 4. This technique is often seen in
commercial watch photography where the subject is pin sharp from
front to back. Digital photography and Photoshop CS5 have
changed the depth in depth of field forever."

AndrewWF

280 posts

30 months

[news] 
Tuesday 26th June 2012 quote quote all
It worked well, nice, sharp images. Combine that with changing the lighting per shot to pick out different aspects of the watch and then blending it all together, it begins to make sense why manufacturer press release images look so different to point and shoot!

It's a fascinating process, and one that I always keep learning more and more on.

AndrewWF

280 posts

30 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
As a follow up to my previous post and a response to discussions regarding composite photography, I have picked another example that required several shots to be lit and taken separately to complete the final image. I have assumed that you have read our previous tutorial, so I have not described the processes in as much detail. If you are unsure how to perform a certain step, the answer should be given in my previous post, however please do ask if you still aren't sure.

Anyway, today's subject is a Rolex Daytona in rose gold with a black dial. A black dial makes things more complex, because without the correct lighting, a black dial looks white and washed out with glare. The problem occurs when lighting to suit the dial; the lighting doesnt then suit the rest of the watch. The solution? Composite imagery. This will be the image we want to end up with:



First of all, we need our images. The first shot I took was the for the case and bracelet, which is a mix of brushed and polished sections. With the watch on its back, angled slightly towards the camera which was held above and slightly below it to minimise reflecting itself, I used two softboxes on either side and one honey comb grid aimed from diagonally above and in front of the watch dial, pinpointed at the top portion of bracelet. This is so the direct light was not in the angle of incidence/reflection to glare directly onto the dial and cause horrible flares and artefacts in the image. Don't forget to pull the crown out too, otherwise compositing the images will impossible!

I then used a translucent reflector mid way between the honey comb grid and the watch, angled towards the watch to achieve the right 'softness' from the light. Moving it towards the light gives harder contrast and blown specular highlights, moving it away gives smoother gradients and transparent highlights. I wanted something inbetween the two.

I then used A4 pieces of white card above and below the watch (propped up on the table) to clean up the reflections on the watch, giving smooth gradients with no odd shapes. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the reflections right without blocking the light altogether, so don't forget that small imperfections can be edited out afterwards.

I also used two thin strips of black card, laid above and below the watch and slightly behind the return of the bracelet, to add a solid line of black on the polished bits and a dark gradient on the brushed bits, giving it shape and contrast. This is the setup and the resulting shot:





As you can see, the case looks ok, the bracelet looks ok, but the dial looks flat and washed out. This will form the basis of our next shot. The lighting setup is very similar, but this time we do away with all the card except for a single sheet of black. We use the black to catch a reflection in the dial, removing the glare and giving us a nice, deep colour (or absence of!). The area of reflection is found around the angle of incidence/reflection, a line mirrored from that between the camera and the reflective surface, which should be just slightly above the path of light coming from the honeycomb, which we aimed just a bit before the dial onto the bracelet. The setup and shot look like this:





So now the dial is black, but the reflective hands and markers are too - we could use the hands and markers from the first image, but they are too flat, with no contrast, so a third image will be required.

This time we aim the honey comb directly at the dial, and use a white card instead of a black card to reflect against the markers, holding it in the same place as we did with the previous black card. This serves two purposes - we get a nice rich gold colour on the hands and markers, and we also use it as a gobo to block some of the light, cast a shadow and create a contrasting gradient on the underside of the hands and markers, removing the flatness we saw originally and giving the markers some shape. The setup and image end up like so:





Next we open the images up in Camera Raw and adjust the sliders to bring out the colour/contrast etc, and open them in photoshop.

Starting with the case, use clone/heal to tidy up dust/smears, remove any unwanted reflections and then use dodge/burn to bring out the shape even further. We then have this:



Before we move on to the dial, several issues need to be addressed first. The crown needs to moved in with some cutting and cloning, but more complicated is the lower part of the bracelet.

For a consistent look on the bracelet, it is easiest to copy and mirror the top half. The reflections are even and tidy on the top half compared to the bottom half, which is a little untidy. With the top half copied and mirrored, its a case of using transform and cloning/healing to make the bracelet fit correctly. Here is the result:



Next up is the dial. A simple bit of dust removal and a layer mask from a circular selection (feather of 1) sees the dial dropped in place:



Then we add the hands and markers. Again, use a layer mask, using a brush to reveal the hands and markers on the dial, like so:



Last of all, we cut the watch out with the pen tool, creating a layer mask and adding a white layer below:



Done!

AndrewWF

280 posts

30 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th August 2012 quote quote all
As an update to my two previous posts, I've gone a step further to create an image of a complex reflective shape using four separate images. Because of the nature of this watch - a Cartier Roadster - getting a clean shot all in one is virtually impossible, so I will demonstrate how composite imagery can be used to achieve the desired result. I'll skim over the nitty-gritty how-to in this guide, but if you want to understand further about a particular stage or technique, the two previous examples should give you all the detail you need. Alternatively, fire me a question and I'll be glad to answer.

Ok, so here are the four images I've taken on which to base the image:






(Feel free to load these images up in photoshop and attempt the final image yourself - the majority of the work is done in post, so its a good bit of practice if you want it.)

So rather than try to light the watch all in one, I've lit the top, bottom, left and right parts of the watch separately. I used the same lighting setup as used in the Daytona image, but instead of using white card around the watch, I used a second diffuser, placing it on the side of the watch I wanted to light without needing to adjust any of the actual flash positions (to clarify - the use of two diffusers gives very smooth gradients on the polished metal without any harsh hotspots. Lighting the case at the bottom can be achieved either by using the diffuser to reflect the light from the current flash positions, or by moving one of the flash heads to light it directly, using the diffuser to soften the light. Technically this process is possible with just one off-camera flash and a diffuser, moving the flash around the watch and diffusing the lighting until you have enough images to make a full lit case image from.

Next comes the post. Tweak the levels in RAW to suit, bring them all into one photoshop file, overlay them and make sure they all line up. Next, using layer masks, we can paint in each part of each image that we want, building an image of the completely lit case layer by layer.

First, the bottom of the case is painted in over the top. I will also use the dial section from the first image, but depending on the watch, you may need to shoot a dedicated dial image to mitigate reflections and capture dial relief. A further image may even be required for the hands and markers if they are polished:



Then the left side of the case. Using a soft brush means you can play with the hard black reflections on the unlit portions and blend them in to the lit portions to introduce shape and volume:



And the right hand side of the case. Pick a crown from one of the images that looks good - that might not necessarily be the one lit from the right, and may even end up being a composite of a few crowns from the image selection:



Cut the image out, straighten it, touch out any unwanted reflections and dust etc, and do final levels. When all is good, do the high pass sharpening technique, and you are finished!


Chrisw26

105 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 21st November 2012 quote quote all
I'm a complete photo and watch amateur. Probably sacriledge to admit that my watch was bought to match my boat. Used the wife's Nikon D40X in a dark boat shed.
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Stuart

11,585 posts

139 months

[news] 
Wednesday 21st November 2012 quote quote all
Chrisw26 said:
I'm a complete photo and watch amateur. Probably sacriledge to admit that my watch was bought to match my boat. Used the wife's Nikon D40X in a dark boat shed.
Right, you can't just drop that into a thread here and expect to get away without providing more. smile

We're definitely going to need closer up pictures of the watch, and further away pictures of the boat. biggrin thumbup

Chrisw26

105 posts

39 months

[news] 
Wednesday 21st November 2012 quote quote all
Sorry - seems t'other closer pictures are available via thumbsnap.

Boat pic below. She's a 1963 Riva Superflorida alledgedly capable of 50 knots and used for the waterskiing world championships pre fibreglass. I've done half that speed which is plenty fast enough thank you. Wouldn't fancy hanging onto a rope standing on piece of tree behind it, but the kids might when they're older.


Stuart

11,585 posts

139 months

[news] 
Wednesday 21st November 2012 quote quote all
Chrisw26 said:
Sorry - seems t'other closer pictures are available via thumbsnap.

Boat pic below. She's a 1963 Riva Superflorida alledgedly capable of 50 knots and used for the waterskiing world championships pre fibreglass. I've done half that speed which is plenty fast enough thank you. Wouldn't fancy hanging onto a rope standing on piece of tree behind it, but the kids might when they're older.

Beautiful. Nice one.

slomax

3,608 posts

80 months

[news] 
Sunday 25th November 2012 quote quote all
excuse me if im being a retard. BUT, why are nearly all professional/semi-professional photos of watches taken with the hands in the 2:10 or 10:10 position.

It must have come from somewhere?

Stuart

11,585 posts

139 months

[news] 
Sunday 25th November 2012 quote quote all
slomax said:
excuse me if im being a retard. BUT, why are nearly all professional/semi-professional photos of watches taken with the hands in the 2:10 or 10:10 position.

It must have come from somewhere?
I've always assumed that it's for a number of practical reasons:

1. Logo tends to be at 12, with secondary detail often at 6. So hands at 10 to 2 don't obscure this.

2. Date tends to be at 3 or 6, so these too would be unobscured.

3. The hands are reasonably symmetrical on the face, so you can see the design well.

andy_s

9,942 posts

147 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th November 2012 quote quote all
...and having the hands at 20 past seven makes it look unhappy frown

Niiiice boat by the way Chris.

JREwing

4,568 posts

67 months

ThatPhilBrettGuy

11,623 posts

128 months

[news] 
Friday 1st March 2013 quote quote all
JREwing said:
It's so sharp it makes my eyes hurt hehe


JREwing

4,568 posts

67 months

[news] 
Friday 1st March 2013 quote quote all
ThatPhilBrettGuy said:
It's so sharp it makes my eyes hurt hehe

What can I say? The dude knows how to hide defects

robbiekhan

39 posts

65 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th February quote quote all
I like to use depth of field and keep it simple. No need for lots of lights. Although watch photos isn't what I specialise in I do like "different" product photos. This is my Bambino:



Simple setup, a single flash wirelessly triggered, bounced (trial to control lighting from different angles) and use manual exposure/aperture to control the rest of the image.

hiscocks

247 posts

71 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th May quote quote all
I've just put this on the main forum but guess it would be more appropriate here?

I'm a keen photographer but my tools (digital rangefinder) don't let me do any macro stuff so I used my iPhone for this shot.

Cheers
ped

Longines Spirit Chronograph by chiscocks, on Flickr

learningtofly

13 posts

47 months

[news] 
Sunday 1st June quote quote all
This is a great thread, and good to see some of Andy's shots as I've always liked the consistency and "simplicity" (I mean in a good way) of his watch photos.

I've been taking quite a few shots over the last three years or so, and I'd say that it took me about two years to reach a point where I was happy with the results and had developed a kind of style that I could replicate fairly successfully more times than not. Most of my photos are on my blog at www.halfpastthehour.wordpress.com and if I was going to offer some advice it would be as follows.

1) Practice - loads. The more shots you take, the more you'll understand what works and what doesn't.
2) Use a tripod. The difference in achievable sharpness is substantial, and it also means you can shoot from angles that would otherwise be difficult.
3) Try to maximise the amount of light at your disposal (whether natural or artificial). This doesn't mean you have to end you with a bright photo (you only have to look at mine!) but it does mean that you have more options regarding shutter speed and aperture (i.e. more sharpness and depth of field).
4) Get rid of dust and fingerprints before you shoot - it's much easier than doing it afterwards.
5) Be aware of reflections, both on the crystal and the case. Using some kind of light tent or opaque material can help a lot and also softens/evens out the light nicely.
6) Have a play around with photo-editing software if you can get your hands on something. PS Elements can be brought pretty cheaply (especially versions that have been superseded) and even full versions of Photoshop are available as free downloads.
6) Practice - loads. The more shots you take, the more you'll understand what works and what doesn't. (Yes, that was deliberate smile)

I'm sure there's more, but hopefully there are a few pointers there that will be of use.


kman

663 posts

99 months

[news] 
Sunday 1st June quote quote all
i personally like the low key shots like the Sinn above. I've practiced a bit but need to get into it again...

these are just messing about at home, in hindsight theres quite a bit wrong with these i would fix now...






100thmonkey

46 posts

4 months

[news] 
Saturday 13th September quote quote all
Kman (Khalid) pictures are some of the finest I have seen, they capture the watch in its purist form and I have a few of his images as screen savers and desktops, keep it up p,ease

robbiekhan

39 posts

65 months

[news] 
Saturday 15th November quote quote all
Also depends on the watch as every watch photographs differently and you want to accentuate certain areas of its detail that no other watch has the same way - Always worth trial and error I guess tongue out

Some more photos I took recently.








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