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"How to photograph watches" - part one

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  • pugwash
    started a topic "How to photograph watches" - part one

    "How to photograph watches" - part one

    (reposted from Tea-Are-Sea)

    Introduction
    We've all seem the amazing photos dealers put up (yes, we're looking at you, Neil) to hock their wares and we've seen the eyecandy specials that make us drool inexplicably over yet another Panerai even though it looks just like every other one. We've also seen technical breakdowns with sharp details that truly are worth a thousand words.

    And then we've all seen the rest. The blurry good-enough-for-ebay pics where you ask yourself if they make an orange Sub or a green PO, because honestly, it could be either.

    And you sheepishly realise that you took one of those pics and you posted it here and got the mickey surgically extracted for your efforts. Or, you didn't post it because you realised the scorn that would be heaped upon your person if it ever saw the light of day. If this is you, this article was written with you in mind.

    Everyone wants the quality of pictures to go up here, so I've decided to help people to take better pictures of their watches to increase the average pictures on this board, one reader at a time. I don't pretend to be the best photographer here, but if nothing else, you should be able to learn to take photos at least as good as this:



    We'll get back to taking this kind of pic in part two, so let's speed through the essentials before we get there.

    Equipment
    What do you need? Well, let's start with a digital camera. Oh, and a watch. The question always arises about which camera to get, and the answer is usually the same: It doesn't matter, as long as it's a camera. No, not a phone, a camera. That's better.

    There are several kinds of cameras, but I'll keep it simple and use three groups: SLR, SLR-like and Snapshot.

    SLR is the one where you look through a viewfinder and it bounces through a prism and shows you the view through the same optics that the camera uses. It's the big fancy one with changeable lenses and the high price-tag. Common models are the Canon EOS-350 and ... the others. Yes, the Canon is that popular.



    SLR-Like, or Prosumer, high-end or any of the other titles is the pricey one with a big lens on the front and all the toys. It's not quite as flashy or expensive as the SLR, but it's nearly as good. Models include the Fuji Finepix S9000, the Sony DSC-R1 and the Panasonic DMC-FZ30.



    Snapshot cameras are the sort everyone has. Designed for carrying around and taking the occasional pic, the lens on the front is much smaller than the SLRs and Prosumers, but hey, at least they take pictures, right? In fact, in the hands of most users, these cameras will take pictures that are just as good as their more expensive brethren. There are too many of these to mention, but we'll assume you have one.

    Controversially, for the purpose of this article, I'm going to lump the SLRs and Prosumer SLR-alikes in the same group and not even discuss them yet. If you believe you can tell the difference in quality of photograph between those two, this article is not for you. We're talking to the beginners here. You'll get your turn in the comments section.

    So, let's start on a snapshot camera and take a pic of a watch. No messing straight into it! I'll grab my FinePix A204 snapshot camera and snap away!



    Yeah, rubbish, isn't it. What went wrong? I pointed the camera at a watch and pressed the button. The flash went off and everything!

    Where do we start?

    Firstly, out of focus. Reason? Not enough light for the auto-focus.

    Second, boring! Reason? No background or anything interesting apart from a watch at a flat angle. If you're determined to just have a picture of a watch and nothing but a watch, you can either do a TTK and use lots of black, or you can go press shot and use white that can be photoshopped out later. Or, you can go for an interesting angle, composition or detail.

    Third, the shadow is too harsh and the metal too crappy-looking. Reason? Flash. Eww, flash. Horrible things that should be avoided wherever possible unless you really know what you're doing. How this happens is, once again, not enough light. Spotting a pattern here?

    Yes, light matters, especially with close-ups like this.

    If you don't have enough light, get some. There's very little you can do in low light levels... or is there? In photography you can trade time for light, so we need to keep that in mind, however we need to remember that slower pictures are also blurry as your hands wobble, and we don't have a fancy tripod just yet.

    So, what we need to do is cheat. Set up your camera with the flash turned off and on the best resolution possible. If you need to, you may need to turn macro mode on, but let's not do that just yet, as it's a distraction. Next, set the self-timer on the camera to ten seconds, put the camera on the surface close to the watch and make sure it looks ok in the viewfinder. Now, press the button to take the pic and stand well back. In ten seconds, it will take a picture on a slow setting due to the lack of light, but this is ok as it's solid on the desk and won't wobble.



    And there you have it, one picture to crop to a nice, simple picture of your watch. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's a thousand times better than the last one.

    In part two, we'll deal with ... um, more stuff like reflections and composition, but you have the basic secrets of how to take an acceptable picture with an average, cheap camera.

    ps. In case anyone is wondering, the camera I took the picture of the camera with is my regular tool, the amazing Panasonic DMC-FZ20. I used the cheap-ass camera because there's nothing I hate more in articles than the writer saying "it doesn't matter what you use, but I'm going to use something much better than you have and you'll never really know if it's me or my equipment."

    pps. In the Irony section, I noticed afterwards that the watch glass had a smudge on it, but because I wanted to show you the actual pic taken with the camera pictured, I decided not to take it again. Mea Culpa.

  • Mahtze72
    replied
    After look at the pics from my phone...time to pull out the DSLR...getting serious!

    Leave a comment:


  • garota69gostosa
    replied
    Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20170520_083405.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	1.58 MB
ID:	5420020
    Hi friends!
    after a long time,sathurday with sub TT
    on the wrist.
    ciao,
    g69g
    Attached Files

    Leave a comment:


  • victord66
    replied
    Great shot of the sub. How old is it? Looks almost brand new.

    Leave a comment:


  • jsungraphy
    replied
    Originally posted by domsdaddy123, post: 3320023, member: 110035



    I love this thread and wish more people would read it! I would just like to add a few things.

    1) im no pro. Im nowhere as skilled as OP. Im just a guy who love looking at watches.

    2) you dont need a real camera. Every eatch pix ive ever taken is with a cell phone and ive had good phones and nit so good phones.

    3) wipe off the lens of the camera phone!

    4) wipe off the watch with a dry soft cloth!

    5) light! Light! Light! You need great light! You need to experiment with all kinds of light! No flash! Use every lamp in your house and see how the pics look. Hold the watch right up to the light. Try diffused light, try direct light. Try clear bulbs..Use direct sunlight!

    6) Hold the camera phone super steady and use the auto focus! Take as many shots as you need to get that really clear perfect shot!

    7) experiment and play around with your camera settings! Macro means super close up, try it!

    8) hold the camera steady! And use the autofocus!

    9) hold the camera steady and use the autofocus!

    10) see 8 and 9!

    11) have fun!

    Great info... The camera in smartphones nowadays is actually better than some point & shoot. In the past, I always had to grab my camera, but now I just carry a decent one wherever I go.

    We are just living in the future. Look at that bokeh... Great shot

    Leave a comment:


  • victord66
    replied
    Check out this pic I took of my latest acquisition. Taken with my iPhone 7 but instead of getting up close, I held it back about 10 inches and then zoomed in. If you hold the phone very steady you can get a great macro shot. And if the light is just right, you can even see a bit of the etched crown at the six. If you zoom in on the image part of it is visible. These new Day-Date Presidents from Marvelous Replicas have corrected the etching to be more like the genuine - not visible with the naked eye, but visible under magnification with the right lighting. Actually I had to hunt for an hour to see it. Great rep and service from them. http://imgur.com/pfca95L

    Leave a comment:


  • domsdaddy123
    replied



    I love this thread and wish more people would read it! I would just like to add a few things.

    1) im no pro. Im nowhere as skilled as OP. Im just a guy who love looking at watches.

    2) you dont need a real camera. Every eatch pix ive ever taken is with a cell phone and ive had good phones and nit so good phones.

    3) wipe off the lens of the camera phone!

    4) wipe off the watch with a dry soft cloth!

    5) light! Light! Light! You need great light! You need to experiment with all kinds of light! No flash! Use every lamp in your house and see how the pics look. Hold the watch right up to the light. Try diffused light, try direct light. Try clear bulbs..Use direct sunlight!

    6) Hold the camera phone super steady and use the auto focus! Take as many shots as you need to get that really clear perfect shot!

    7) experiment and play around with your camera settings! Macro means super close up, try it!

    8) hold the camera steady! And use the autofocus!

    9) hold the camera steady and use the autofocus!

    10) see 8 and 9!

    11) have fun!

    Leave a comment:


  • zaius0930
    replied
    Great tips! Thanx!

    Leave a comment:


  • MCLgeek
    replied
    nice info

    Leave a comment:


  • bppog
    replied
    Very helpful many thanks for taking the time

    Leave a comment:


  • 369mafia
    replied
    thank you

    Leave a comment:


  • I<3rolex
    replied
    looks great!

    Leave a comment:


  • klinkman
    replied
    great tutorial, thanks: macro mode... self timer, couldn't be easier.

    Leave a comment:


  • braith7
    replied
    Originally posted by elconquistador, post: 1834675
    Why are you posting to every thread? Even to part 1 and 2 of this one?
    Yeah, 194 posts in the last three days (to be more Im sure) after years of no posts? Whats the deal? Trying to meet a dealer's Paypal quota?

    Leave a comment:


  • elconquistador
    replied
    Why are you posting to every thread? Even to part 1 and 2 of this one?

    Leave a comment:

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