Trying to improve my watch photo skills

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Amor Vincit Omnia
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Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

I've been aware that since I started my watch craze I've been taking "OK" photos on my phone (actually a very good 12mpx camera - Nokia N8). However, I've been very impressed with the standard of photography from quite a few forum members, so I decided to stop being lazy and dig out a camera. Please let me know, honestly, what you think of these pics of a few favourites, especially where some of you experts think I can improve.
Equipment: light tent with lamps and camera stand (£30 from Maplins); my Canon Ixus 70 (7.1mpx), using a mix of macro and manual telephoto settings, and different WB settings.

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Steve
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by footycrazy »

Honestly,

N8 is crap for close ups. (i have the very same) :(

Your camera pics (and im no expert) too many reflections of the camera and tripod. But mine are no better, in fact far worse :lol:
The seamaster has come up a treat :thumbup: and the C8 looks as if it has no crystal :thumbup:

To be perfectly honest Steve, i prefered the pictures you take when your out and about, they were good pictures and with some lovely views and interesting back drops.

Sorry as absolutely no help at all :lol:
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by village »

Firstly...let's talk through your thoughts about choosing an old sock for a background prop 8) :lol:

I'm no expert-basically i take quite a few shots and then delete the crap ones. I work the percentages :lol:
I do have a light tent but i'm such a lazy bugger that i can't be bothered to set it up..i tend to wait for some decent daylight and then go outside.Mr Downer uses his light tent a bit i think so he might help out there...i would say though that best results are with a tripod so you can play with longer exposures (i think). I have found that i get better results that way. I just use my standard Nikon D40 with the standard lens and shuffle the watch about a bit till i get the result i want.
Most of the ones i stick on here are the result of grabbing 10 spare minutes when the kids &/or Missus aren't demanding my attention. I have tended to find one spot that always gives me results i am happy with although i do move about a bit.

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Any time of the year i have found is better (for me) outside rather than inside..unless it is by a really well lit big window

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This one was in the light tent...it's a bugger to photo 'cause its so shiny. I think you need to get a contrasting background and play with the lighting a bit.
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Just to be awkward..this one was inside but by a window...i wanted a moody effect and just turned it around a bit till i got what i want.
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by downer »

I agree. It's a lot of trial and error.

For indoors pictures (which are basically pictures to show the watch and not a lot else), I always try to avoid reflections in the crystal, and where possible, reflections in the case (very difficult with polished cases).

I am still (and will always be) learning to use the camera, but here's a few bits and pieces I've picked up so far...

Often, you can lose the reflections by simply adjusting the angle of the watch or camera to just slightly off-centre.

Indoors, I always use a tripod, and I always set the camera to aperture-priority, which allows me to control the depth of field, without worrying too much about the shutter speed. If the watch is not wound, it is even easier, as you can get away with very long exposure times.

In addition, I always use a self-timer with 2 second shutter delay. This means I can press the shutter and step out of the way - with two benefits - 1. You don't see my ugly mug reflecting in the camera and 2. There is no risk of camera-shake - which otherwise can still happen with slow shutter speed on a tripod.

In most cases, there is no substitute for strong, indirect light - as natural as possible.

This is gonna sound really daft........ but just look at what you can see before you take the picture. If you really look, you will see the reflections, the dust and fingerprints, the fact that the hands are obscuring the nice feature of the watch, or the fact that you have used an old sock as a background...

I am fortunate in that I have a space where I can leave the light tent and the tripod all set up. Otherwise, I don't think I could always be bothered with all that.

I do agree though - the most enjoyable pictures are often the more natural ones with interesting backgrounds. However, I am crap at those, so I stick to the more controllable environment of the light tent. :)
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Thank you, gents, those responses were exactly what I hoped for. As an educator, I am aware that we often miss our mistakes unless they are pointed out!
The "OLD SOCK" for instance! :lol: I am so used to those grey watch-box pillows that I've ceased to notice them! Get a watch-stand, then.
I didn't see the fingermarks (C5 case! :thumbdown: ) until Richard pointed them out. Similar thing with the reflections.
I think I do prefer the outdoor shots, but wanted to try my hand at "reference" pictures.
I'll keep experimenting, and won't post any more of them until I can see a real improvement. This was just a first attempt.
Many thanks, chaps! :clap: :clap:
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by ianblyth »

Still learning but here are my thoughts.

Reflections are a pain. :( You can see those in your shots of the C70 and Omega SM. However in Village's last shot of the Glycine he gets away with it as the watch is old and looks like it is in some dusty old place and so the reflection looks like the light from a window which gives the picture atmosphere. The exception that [roves the rule. As Downer says I look at the picture as a whole when taking the picture and not just the subject. So you see backgrounds and reflections with a bit of practice. Hold a watch near a window and look at it through the camera and move it around to see reflections and the angle that gets rid of them. With a bit of practice it is easy to do.

A light tent helps but you need to practice at that. I keep trying by moving the lights around. Natural light and sunlight are brilliant to work with. The tripod and delayed shutter are good tips. Especially with lume shots. Also have a cheap UV light of LED torch to fire up the lume before taking the picture.

I always run them through a viewer and delete everything that is not perfect. Hard sometimes but you have to be ruthless to get good pictures. That is how the professionals did it when they used film. Expensive but with digital cameras it is just your time. It is better to have a few good pictures rather that lots of OK ones. I also use a couple of programs for doing work on the photos. Think of it as the old process of darkroom manipulation. I use Picture Manager that comes with Microsoft Office for cropping. Also good for red eye removal. But if I need to change the colours as the white balance is out I use Microsoft Digital Suite which is no longer available. It is also good for removing specks of dust that would otherwise ruin a good photo. I have picked up a copy of PhotoShop Elements to try but have not installed it yet. This gets high praise as it is cheaper than the full version but has most of the features needed. Plus there are lots of tutorials for it.

The picture of the C5 on its side is the standout.
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It is crisp and clear with the right light.

My Panasonic (I bought as it had lots of manual settings but the Auto setting is so good I rarely use them) developed a fault so it had to be sent off. So I bought a quick camera off eBay. Got a nice refurbished Canon for their eBay shop. The good thing about it is focus to 1 cm so it is great for macro close up shots.

The hardest to photo are those with polished surfaces as they act like mirrors.

As for background I generally prefer plain ones with white being the best as it shows you have the white balance right. But it is fun to try different backgrounds. Stuff around the house with textures is good.

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And like any skill it is about practice, practice and practice.
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by Leo David »

Steve, I take the worst pictures of any forum member so I am very impressed with the results you have achieved. Richard and Ian always post excellent pictures and their very clear explanations as to how one achieves them has inspired me to get my old Casio Exilim out, find the instruction manual and see what I can do with it.

Lovely accutron Village 8)
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by mikepj »

Leo David wrote:Lovely accutron Village 8)
Yeah, I'm liking that too
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Another superb post - thank you Ian! :thumbup: I've tried to use background props before, but I think they've been too big and have overshadowed the watch.
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by Loddonite »

downer wrote:... but just look at what you can see before you take the picture. If you really look, you will see the reflections, the dust and fingerprints, the fact that the hands are obscuring the nice feature of the watch, or the fact that you have used an old sock as a background...
Forgive me, for I am guilty...

I think that the last pic of the C5 avoids all the pitfalls - but to move to the next level you have to start with that most basic of photographic techniques; composition. When you get that sorted could you let me know how?

Another way to get nice photos is to go Macro; it avoids the need to compose, but dust is your enemy, focus your friend. I quite like this one of mine...
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... despite the dust.

Onward and upward!
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Re: Trying to improve my watch photo skills

Post by ianblyth »

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Anais Nin