- Chapter 1 – What Tools and Equipment do you need?
- Chapter 2 – Mounting a Basic Outdoor Shoot
- Chapter 3 – The Importance of Light Box
- Chapter 4 – Taking Photos Using your Light Box
- Chapter 5 – POST PHOTO EDITING: The Basics
- Chapter 6 – Frequently Encountered Problems [You are here]
- Chapter 7 – Key Points
In the previous chapters, we have discussed thoroughly how to properly use a light box, how to set up your Mini set, and how to use your camera to take good camera pictures. As of now, it is expected that you already have the sufficient amount of experience in taking watch pictures. Basic post photo editing lessons are also relayed to transform your raw photos to great images. In this chapter, we will discuss some of the most common problems encountered by watch photographers. If you have been practicing from time to time, you surely have encountered some problems. When you encounter these problems and you are not knowledgeable what to do, they can eat up your time and can add more work. To save up some time, common watch photography problems will be discussed and their corresponding suggested solutions.
Problem # 1: “I need more Light”
Light is every photographer’s best friend. There are times that even if you have a light box and a primary source of light, you need to lighten a certain part of the watch. It is usual for photographers to need more light especially on the face of the dial. There are also times that the bracelet of the watch is not justifiably lightened. In this matter, all you have to do is to use a “reflector card”. It is very simple to create your own reflector card. You can use a white piece of paper and fold it over. Make your reflector card small because the smaller it is, the more it can target smaller parts. For example, in this picture you can see that the lighting is not even in every part of the watch. This is not unusual in taking watch pictures.
The lower portion is lighter as compared to the upper portion. You can simply use your reflector card and face it on the darker portion as seen on the camera. The light of the reflector card will bounce to the darker portion giving it a boost of brightness to even the color of the entire watch. This proves that in watch photography, a piece of white paper can make a huge difference. Always bring a white piece of paper with you when shooting.
Problem # 2: Hotspots
If too much light is being reflected in a specific portion of the watch, it is called a hotspot. If not enough light is a problem, too much light is a greater worry. You must avoid hotspots because it doesn’t appear good in the photograph. If there are hotspots, not only your time will be wasted but also your takes that have the potential.
Hotspots can occur in any lighting condition, whether natural or artificial. As you can see in the photo below, hot spot is captured in the upper left side of the dial. The light is not even reflected in the entirety of the watch’s face.
It can be very frustrating because the rest of the picture is captured nicely. Now additional work is needed, whether you will take another shot or you will spend more time in editing. For more authentic results, it is recommended to retake the photo. All you have to do is reposition the watch. Consider another angle of the watch or move it farther from your lighting equipment to avoid capturing hotspots. You can also use a white piece of paper to even out the lighting that reflects on the watch to remove the glare that causes the hotspot. To save time, you should test shoot first before actually photo shooting so that you will know which angles will most likely develop hotspots.
Problem #3: Removing unwanted specs
This is a very common problem in post photo editing. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons why you need to edit your photo. It is inevitable that there are unwanted objects that will be captured by your camera. Using GIMP, it is very easy to remove objects that you want to eliminate in the photograph. You can simply eliminate traces of dust or even the watch stand that you are using with GIMP. With GIMP’s paintbrush tool, you can paint over objects that you do not want to be seen in the photo. For example, for a more professional look you do not want to include the watch stand. You can paint it with the same color as the background of the photo. Once you are done brushing over the unwanted object, the next step is to change the foreground color. This step is necessary to achieve an even background. Paint brushing the object will sometimes leave uneven marks making the photo untidy. In the “Change Foreground Color” choose the “eyedropper” tool. The purpose of your “eyedropper” tool is to match the color of the majority of the background to make it appear as if nothing was eliminated. This will even out the entirety of the background for a cleaner and polished look.
Problem # 4: Eliminating Crystal Glare
Due to the natural shiny nature of watches, it is common to encounter crystal glare problems. Sapphire crystal watches are very challenging to shoot. The reflective characteristic of the face of the dial can obscure the details of the watch. Dealing with crystal glare is quite similar in dealing with hotspot. You can reposition the watch until you will find the angle that will not produce any glare when captured by the camera. You can also adjust your reflector and use trial and error method in photographing. In worst case scenarios where you cannot eliminate crystal glare despite of significant effort in repositioning the watch or adjusting the reflector, you can use GIMP to optimize the photo.
Use the “Free Select Tool” and draw a circle around the dial or around the area where crystal glare is spotted. Once you are done encircling the dial, click the “Select” option in the menu bar then choose “Feather”. The purpose of “Feather” function is to make the adjustment unnoticeable. Sometimes, when you edit the photo the audience can recognize that there is an adjustment done which is unattractive. It is preferable to set the pixels at 15%.
After such, we can now actually edit the photo to remove the glare. In the menu bar, select “Colors” then click on the “Brightness-Contrast”. You can try out different levels of brightness and contrast until you find the levels that eliminate the glare. Personally, I set the brightness level at -13 and the contrast level at +29. Although this level is not applicable in all circumstances. Take time to experiment with different level combinations of the “Brightness-Contrast” function to achieve the desired outcome of your photograph.
I hope this chapter is of great help in overcoming some of the most common problems in watch photography. As you grow in watch photography, more problems will stand your way. But again, experience is your best teacher. Always practice to develop your skills in watch photography.