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Creating photographs of your watch collection used to be an expensive project. The many styles of watches available meant spending a considerable amount of money to get a photo of each watch, or shooting only a few pieces in the collection in an effort to save money.

This lesson demonstrates some basic, effective techniques for lighting and photographing your watches.

(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Setting up on a small table
  • Positioning the watch and the camera
  • Using 2 light sources to show the details in your watch

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Starlite Basic Digital Kit
  • Manfrotto Tripod, Digipod 724B


Setting Up

We used a small shooting table made of PVC tubing for this shot. A piece of white foam-board was cut and taped to table frame. A sheet of white paper was draped from the top crossbar to the front of the foam-board in a sloping arc. This is our shooting surface (Figure 1).


Figure 1

The watch is positioned on the shooting table using a jeweler's watch display holder. Positioning the watch at an oblique angle helps to bring out the dimension and detail of the watch. We placed a small plastic cap under the watch display holder to lift the watch face to a more revealing angle (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 3

For this lesson, we want to shoot in the vertical or "portrait" mode (Figure 3).

Place the tripod in position with camera attached so that the camera points down on the watch at an angle of about 45 degrees.

We rotated our camera to shoot from the normal horizontal or "landscape" mode to shoot in the vertical or "portrait" mode. This allows us to get closer and fill more of the frame with the watch on the display form (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 5

The Olympus C-5060z digital camera should be set as follows:

We set the aperture to f/8 and the shutter speed to 1/200 of a second. Your exposure will vary depending on the distance of the subject to the light source. Position the Starlite on the left side of the watch (Figure 5).

Figure 6 shows an exposure made with the one light set-up.

Figure 6

Figure 7

Notice the shadows and dark areas on the right side of the watch. The detail of the watch can be brought out by using a second light to illuminate the watch's shadow side.

Position the second Starlite to light the other side of the watch. This light will brighten the shadows and show more details in the watch. The light-to-subject distance of the second light should be longer than that of the first light. This will help to illuminate this side of the watch while retaining some shadows.

Figure 7 shows the two-light setup. The camera has been removed from this shot to show the set-up of lights in relation to the watch.

Our second light is positioned higher and a little farther from the watch than the first light. (Figure 8)

Figure 8


Make a few test exposures to see the results. The angle and the distance of the lights can be altered to find the placement that gives the best results for your watch.

Figure 9 shows the difference between using one light source and two light sources. Notice how the second light brings out the detail in the watch face and stem.


Figure 9


Once your lights are set up properly, you can photograph all the watches in your collection. You may have to move the light stands a little until you get just the look you want for each watch.

Below (Figure 10) are photos we shot using the same lighting set-up.


Figure 10


Feel free to use some creativity in your photo session.

Watches are made in many styles and for many lifestyles. Take advantage of the different looks by using various props in your photo session to accentuate the qualities of watch.

For instance, the Rolex Submariner used in this lesson could be placed on nautical line. A ladies evening watch could be placed on black evening gloves.

Use your imagination. You'll come up with some great ideas.


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Starlite Basic Digital Kit
  • Manfrotto Tripod, Digipod 724B

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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