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Tips on Photographing a Watch
I was looking around and came across a site with some good info on taking pictures of watches. I called the company and Jennifer gave me permission to post the info here.
Watch Photography in a Nutshell:
Simple steps for photographing jewelry watches
As you may know by now, watches are very difficult to photograph because they reflects in many cases up to 99% of the light they receive. They are very shiny, highly polished and above all this they may contain diamonds that make the job even harder.
In many cases, photographing a piece a jewelry watch is like taking a picture of a mirror â€“ you will see all kind of items being reflected into the piece â€“ the lights, the camera, yourself, the table etc. Also if you try to use your new digital camera to do the job, two major things may happen. If you use a flash, you will either wash out the item (over illuminated) or it will be under illuminated with lots of dark areas and uneven lighting from one side to the other.
The solution to watch photography is the use of an enclosed lighting system. The reasons are many. The enclosed system wraps even and balanced light around the entire product youâ€™re photographing. The advantages include an even distribution of light, consistent natural lighting, elimination of glare, and illumination of hard to reach spots.
Tips for photographing watches:
1. Perform a custom white balance according with the light you are using
2. Be sure you have set your camera to manual mode
3. If you are going to photograph rings or bands, set your maximum aperture to the highest f/stop in order to get the maximum depth of field.
4. Turn off the flash on your camera, and if you can, connect the camera to the wall using a power adapter. This will ensure that you not run out of batteries at the middle of the shooting session.
The Basics -Key elements in watch photography
Fine jewelry watches are hard products to photograph because of the nature of it's components. The metals, precious stones, diamonds and other elements that most fine watches are made up of, have reflective qualities that can easily show reflections, shadows and hard spots in photographs if the right tools are not used
Therefore, understanding the nature of jewelry watches and obtaining the right tools for photographing them is essential for producing high quality watch photographs. In our opinion, here are the six most important elements in watch photography:
1. White Balance: Setting up your camera's custom white balance
2. Depth of Field & Focus : To get a sharp and clear image
3. Continuously natural daylight lighting: To evenly reproduce the colors
4. Diffused lighting: To eliminate shadows and hard spots
5. Shutter Speed/Exposure time: Understanding the correct time exposure
6. Stable camera mounting: Using a tripod or other form of camera's mounting
1. White Balance
A key element of successful product photography is white balance. You need to be able to program the white balance setting on your camera. Although many cameras will come with pre-program options or presets, you need at least one custom white balance option. This means that the camera can "read" and self-adjust itself to be able to take pictures under many light conditions. This feature is very important.
If your camera cannot perform this custom adjustment, itâ€™s very likely that youâ€™ll end up with badly colored product pictures, especially if you are trying to take pictures of products against a white background. Youâ€™ll likely end up with all kinds of color variations: yellow, blue, magenta, green etc.
Do not misunderstand the white balance feature to mean that the background is going to be always white. White balance means that the camera needs to adjust itself to the ambience light you are using, to give you accurate and true colors of the items being photograph.
2. Depth of Field & Focus
Setting the Depth-of-field in your camera is an important element in photographing watches. The first thing we need to do is to take advantage of the maximum depth-of-field that any camera has to offer. The camera should be set to manual mode so that the smallest aperture (biggest "F" stop number) setting can be selected. This will allow us to focus the entire watch, rather than only parts of it.
The second thing we need to do is to focus the lens to get an image as clear as possible. Most digital cameras have an auto-focus option which can be used, please select this.
3. Continuous Natural Daylight Lighting
Watches are very difficult to photograph because their shiny highly polished surface reflects, in many cases, up to 99% of the light it receives. If you use flash photography, youâ€™ll usually end up with glares and hot spots. The key is to use continuous natural light which has the ability to evenly and accurately reproduce all the spectacular colors found in the different elements of watches. Therefore, for photographing watches we will be using fluorescent daylight light.
Remember: all of our photography lighting systems contain continuous fluorescent lighting in at least the bottom, right and left sides of the box. Other lighting systems, also contain light on the back, top and doors. Other features include LED lighting, rotating platforms, halogen lighting and more.
4. Diffused Lighting
When illuminating jewelry watches, you have to make sure never to expose it to light directly, as direct light will be reflected on the watches, and will create hot spots and shadows. What you need to do is expose your watches through diffused lighting, which is light that has passed through some sort of light diffuser.
The diffuser should evenly spread the light, and eliminate all hot-spots, shadows and reflections. Remember, that all of our photography lighting systems already include natural daylight that is exposed through the boxesâ€™ acrylic walls that act as light diffusers. To view examples of photos taken with and without diffused light - Click here
5. Shutter Speed/Exposure Time
Cameras need to control the amount of light so that an image is not too bright (over exposed) or too dark (under exposed). Similar to our eyes, light enters through the lens and strikes the inside of the camera. Digital camera uses a charged coupling device (CCD) to capture the light of an image. Think of a CCD as 'film' in a conventional camera. Therefore, term exposure generally refers to a combination of aperture and shutter speed control to obtain the correct amount of light. To view examples of over and under exposed photos - Click here
6. Stable Camera Mounting
When photographing jewelry watches, we recommend you to mount your camera to a stable surface (either a Tripod or our lighting systems' "L" bracket) in order to get the sharpest photographs possible. If you hold the camera with your hands, it is very likely that you will slightly move the camera while photographing (even if you don't notice - because we as humans can't perfectly hold it still) , and your photos will come out blurry.
Positioning your watches - using various watch stands
There are two major accessories you can use to hold watches while photographing, deciding which one to use depends on the type of photograph you want, or simply your preference. Watch accessories will help you position your watches in various positions and angles in order to get a photograph from the perspective you desire.
Positioning your watches correctly is essential for getting a professional photograph. When shooting photographs, you have to remember that you want to get the best shot possible of your watches, as it is your photographs the ones that your customers will look at and judge, rather than actual physical watch you sell. Thus, taking photos from the correct angles and perspectives is the key to successful shots.
To photograph a watch with its natural look (as when it is being worn in someone's hand), we recommend you to use a translucent vertical watch stand. This watch stand will be almost invisible in your photographs, and will give you the freedom to shoot photos from many angles.
There are two ways to photograph a watch from many angles. One is to have a standard (non moving) watch stand and the other one is to have a watch stand within a tilting kit.
The standard watch stand will not tilt, or rotate easily and effectively, and would force you to manually change the position of your camera every time you want to get a different angle. In the other hand, the watch stand within the tilting kit will allow you to have your camera in a stable position, while allowing you to easily rotate, and tilt your watch (rather than your camera); and thus allowing you to take photos of various angles of the watch.
Shooting watch photographs without shadows and reflections
When photographing watches, there are certain shadows and reflections that might be necessary to create a three-dimensional look, or that you may simply want as a personal preference. Yet, there are other reflections and shadows that are unnecessary and that you want to avoid in order to have a photograph that presents your watches in the best way possible.
The first thing you need understand about reflections and shadows is how they are produced and why they appear or exist. Though it may seem obvious, shadows are created when an object is exposed to direct lighting (which can come from light in a room, the sun, or through the use of a regular lamp); while reflections are created in any object that is composed of high-polish reflective materials such as metals, plastics or glass.
What you need to do, is to avoid this direct light that creates shadows, and avoid those surroundings that create reflections in your watches. Please read the following steps on how to avoid shadows and reflections in your watches.
Steps for photographing watches without unnecessary shadows and reflections:
* Step 1: Get a photography lighting system with wraparound and diffused natural daylight. Learn why this is important and view various photography lighting systems.
* Step 2: Place your jewelry item inside the enclosed photography lighting system. At this point, you are making sure that the surroundings of your jewelry are nothing but natural daylight and white backgrounds.
* Step 3: Adjust your camera settings (Learn How) and begin photographing. The correct camera settings will allow you to take photographs with the correct exposure, focus, colors and qualities of your jewelry.
How to avoid or create reflections on watches
As previously mentioned above, reflections are simply caused due to shiny and high-polish surfaces of metal, glass or plastic. As for jewelry watches, most of them tend to have highly reflective surfaces. When photographing a watch, you must remember that all of the surroundings of your photography location will reflect on the watch; therefore, photographing it correctly (by avoiding reflections) may be a hard challenge in the absence of the necessary tools. Learn more about the basics of watch photography.
In order to efficiently and correctly photograph jewelry watches you'll need to use a product photography lighting system, that will provide you with fluorescent natural daylight, wrap-around lighting technology, a shadow-free & glare-free environment and completely illuminated white surroundings for perfect white backgrounds in your photographs.
Once you are using an enclosed product photography lighting studio, and place a watch inside (while the systems is turned on), you will notice that the white walls will reflect on the watch. Yet, if you leave the front of the photo studio or box opened, you'll notice that there will be reflections on the watch as well. To illustrate what we are talking about, we have provided you with a visual explanation of how the openings of a photography studio/lighting system will affect the outcome of your photograph.
MAIN TIP FOR AVOIDING REFLECTIONS: Simply cover as much of the openings of the photography lighting systems as possible. Remember that you can't cover the opening for the camera, but you can minimize the opening as much as possible.
Giving Sparkles to your watches using white natural daylight LEDs
Watches presented in jewelry stores do not sparkle as intense as compared to being displayed in the sun. While the sparkle produced by illuminating jewelry with metal-halide, halogen, and florescent lighting are good, it could be better.
New advances in technology have created a unique opportunity for the jewelry business. A scientific breakthrough in light emitting diodes (LED) has produced lighting that matches the full spectrum of the sun. As a result, retailers can now display their jewelry with maximum radiant potential.
Proper LED light illumination:
When illuminating your watches with LED light it is important to only use the right amount of light, not too much and not too little. Most LED natural daylight products will not allow you to control the intensity of the light with a dimmable switch, but in this example we have used the Mini-Lite 350-2, that does contain a dimmer switch and allows you to control the light..
Steps for proper illumination:
* Step 1: Turn off the fluorescent light on your lighting system box - View boxes
* Step 2: Turn on the LED light, and direct it towards your watch. Once you have the light box turned off, you will be able to see only how much LED light you will be using.
* Step 3: Now turn on the fluorescent lights on your lighting system box.
* Step 4: Take a photograph of your item. Check the photo to see if you like it.
* Step 5: If needed, adjust the intensity of the LEDs to a proper level. The correct amount of intensity, is the one that begins to show sparkles and brings out your watch to life, but it's no
Artistic watch photography by using black and white acrylics
Have you ever seen and wondered how those fancy watch photos on magazine ads are photographed? - Well, here's one artistic effect that you can easily achieve.
A popular watch photography effect, is the use of a product's reflection on the surface that it is being photographed. This is a technique regularly used for photographing a very special and unique item, as it has as a purpose to make the product stand out and look "twice" as nice (the reflection).
Step-by-Step Tutorials for creating artistic photographs:
Steps for photographing in a reflective white surface:
* Step 1: Turn on the fluorescent lighting on your lighting system box
* Step 2: Adjust your camera's white balance to the white fluorescent light.
* Step 3: Place the white glossy acrylic inside of the box.
* Step 4: Take photographs, and enjoy the look of the photos!
Steps for photographing in a reflective black surface:
* Step 1: Turn on the fluorescent lighting on your lighting system box
* Step 2: Adjust your camera's white balance to the white fluorescent light.
* Step 3: Place the black glossy acrylic inside of the box.
* Step 4: Add a black velvet or black plastic at the back of the box. This is done in order to get a completely black reflection on the black acrylic. Otherwise, the acrylic would reflect the white walls of the box, and would end up looking gray.
* Step 5: Place your jewelry near the edge of the acrylic and the black velvet.
* Step 6: Take photographs, and enjoy the look of the photos!
Do you have Blurry Pictures? If so read on ....
Blurry images are generally due to one or all of the following three causes. The subject was not in focus, the camera was moving at the time of the exposure, the image was captured at too low a resolution.
Out of focus images are by far the biggest problem with most of the images we see on the internet, we strongly urge you to learn to focus your camera. It will probably require you to dig out and spend some time with your camera's user manual. But learning to focus your camera is going to be time well spent. Understanding how your camera's auto focus works and knowing when to use your camera's macro focus setting are absolutely essential to taking good product shots. Correct focus is the single most important factor for a good product shot.
A blurry image due to camera motion is also a very common problem. Using a sturdy tripod along with the camera's self timer or remote will eliminate motion blur from images in most cases . [ In the case of very close-up photography motion blur can be caused by the subject itself moving. That motion can be reduced by making sure the subject is on a solid surface.]
A less common cause of blurry images is shooting the image at too low a resolution. Many people assume that since an image is going to end up on a web page as a low resolution image, it's OK to take a low resolution image to start with. Not true. Even if you will use a small 320 x 200 size image on a web page your should still shoot the image at two mega pixels or more. This doesn't mean you need to be shooting with an expensive camera with a resolution of four, five or even more mega pixels, it just means that you should shoot at high resolution resolution whenever you do capture an image. [Camera memory is now very inexpensive, so if you are worried about filling up your camera's memory card, purchase another memory card with more capacity.]
The reason why it's necessary to shoot an image at a higher resolution than you will eventually use is that a lot of the detail of an image is lot as the image is cropped, edited, resized and saved. Most shots need to be cropped, but the process of cropping an image reduces the image size considerably. Most shots also need at least a little adjustment, any adjustments you make will cause additional loss of detail. When an image is resized still more detail is lost. And finally, simply saving a JPG format image will cause yet another loss of detail. This means that the original image you captured has lost a lot of detail by the time you eventually place it on a web page. That doesn't mean that you should avoid cropping, resizing and adjusting your image, since each of those steps can greatly improve an image. It does mean that you want to start out with a high resolution image so that the final image still has plenty of detail even after any editing you do. Excellent images can be obtained from inexpensive two mega pixel cameras, but it's important to have a camera set to a high resolution mode image when you are taking the picture.
Do you just take a picture? Why not take a few moments to think about the background you would want in the shot. Try not to use a busy background or lots of props. These tend to take away from the picture itself. Try to stay with the simple look.
Construction paper, scrapbooking paper and other simple non-creased paper works well especially with a budget. You can find some really cool backgrounds when looking through magazines. Give that a try, you would be surprised what you can find. Of course you can also use some fabric, metals, glass, etc. Let your imagination run wild. Try layering items too!
When using paper, do not bend or crease it (unless that is the look you want), curve it us behind the item you are photographing.
Did you know that a gray color background will use the least number of kbs? I read this somewhere.
Many monitors are set up with a screen resolution of 1100 x 800 pixels. It is therefore no point at all taking a photo in Tiff format at 8888 x 8888 pixels if all you are going to do is display it on the web. A pixel width of between 600 and 800 is large enough for most watch pictures. If you can set your camera up automatically try to so so with a maximum size of about 1200 x 800.
If you do not have a light tent I heard that using an upturned white plastic waste bin, pillow cases or tracing paper helps to diffuse light. If you want diffused light make sure the light source is not directed on the object. Have it bounce odd a white wall instead.
Why not try playing with light. Take a picture in the dark and use a halogen desk lamp but bounced the light off the wall for ambient light. Use a MAG light as a spotlight.
Have you noticed that if you take a picture head on you will see a reflection in the crystal? Try getting a black pices of paper or foam and cut a hole in it the same diameter as the lens of the camera. Place the lens through the hole which now hides you and the camera.
Lume Picture Shots
The best way to get a lume shot is to do it manually. Set up the watch and camera in the light. Manually focus as most auto focus will not work in the dark when you turn the lights out. Set the aperture as wide as you camera will allow and then set the shutter to 10 seconds. Now charge the lume without moving the camera or watch, then turn off all the lights and press the shutter release. Have a look at the results and lengthen or shorten the shutter time as required if needed and try again.