Watch!

So. You want to shoot a wristwatch:

Watch at full size: it’s gorgeous.

But not all shots—especially iPhone shots like this one—start out that way. This one is no exception. It started differently:

As you see, I did a few things, and all watch (and most product) photos are like that.

  • I changed the geometry. To avoid reflections I had to shoot at an angle. I had to use the “Transform” pane with manual adjustments to fix that.
  • I changed exposure settings (blacks especially).
  • I removed noise.
  • I used the brush adjustment tool to increase contrast on the face.

And lastly, I removed any imperfections:

And that’s how it is done. So when you see a perfect watch photo and wonder why you can’t do it this way, rest assured that the pros don’t, either.

 

Who says?

…that you can’t get blurry backgrounds with an iPhone? And I don’t mean fake backgrounds, like with a newer iphone with two lenses, either. Here:

Just…

  • Get close!
  • Have plenty of light
  • Get close!

That’s all. Simple, really. Get close and your background is comparatively far, so it gets blurred.

 

Post work needed?

For most photography, I recommend keeping post work to a minimum. Quick crop, perhaps a small exposure adjustment: done. For some types of photography, like press photography, adjustments of any other type are forbidden.

But for some, they’re necessary. Even an iPhone product shot like this, of my Glycine watch, needed some TLC:

That’s one of my watches. Click on it to see the full version. And notice how perfect it looks. No dust at all, no smears or scratches, great contrast, and so on. All watches always look hyper-perfect in all ads.

And that’s because they’re hyper-edited. Things like focus stacking, and expensive editing.

In mine, above, I removed every speck of dust using the healing tool in Lightroom. Then I increased local clarity and decreased exposure on the watch face. I added a tad of sharpening and then noise reduction. And although small, the effects of these edits are important.

The good news: most of these edits are easily doable in Lightroom. For a commercial advert, you need Photoshop, but for everything else, Lightroom is fine.

 

Why manual?

Especially when shooting with flash, your camera (though not necessarily your flash) needs to be in manual mode. I’ll show you why.

This is Aurele Monfils in Timmins today, in auto mode:

And here is Aurele in manual mode:

In manual mode, I made a few adjustments. Namely:

  • Shorter shutter speed
  • Higher ISO
  • Flash TTL minus one stop (FEC, Flash Exposure Compensation).

After these, as you can see the dashboard is no longer unnatural looking, and you can actually see what little late afternoon sky blue there was.

 

Subscriptions are not the way

Apple, Adobe, but also makers of smaller apps like 1Password and many others are trying to go to a model where you pay monthly instead of a “buy a license once” model. Well, this “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model is not the way to go, and I’ll give you seven reasons why not.

First, and foremost: it is financially disadvantageous to the user. Under the SaaS model, you will pay much more than if you bought individual licenses, even if you pay for updates when needed. That $10-$20 a month for the rest of your natural life really adds up when you do the math.

Second: under the SaaS model you become a hostage to the software company. You basically have no choice but to keep paying or else. You pay even for months where you are not using the app at all (yes, that happens!)

Third: the companies no longer need to innovate. When you have captive users (see above point) who pay you on an ongoing basis anyway, why bother to write great software updates?

Fourth: licensing becomes complicated. See the article I wrote two days ago about Adobe Lightroom: with SaaS for all your apps, it becomes even more ominous. Shudder the thought.

Fifth: the software company thinks they are the app. In reality, they are one of maybe 25 apps you will have on your laptop or tablet. So now we’re talking about 25 times $20 per month – that’s enough to lease another car. Which you’ll need to do anyway, in order to get to your second job so you can pay said licensing fees.

Sixth: many people want to simply “own” what they buy, instead of “rent”. This is true in apps just like it is in music. It’s an emotional things and I completely understand.

Seventh: the licensing assumes a good Internet connection, and a stable location. That’s not always given. Travel can stop Internet connectivity cold. And recently, Netflix refused to reconnect me because, they said, “you live in Jamaica”. Huh? And when they make a mistake like that, you, the client, end up clenching your fists while listening to voice response systems that tell you to “listen closely as our options have changed”, and waiting forever due to “unusually high call volumes”.

Seeing trends can be disheartening. I see the societal trend to populism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and fascism. I see the trend to less autonomous car travel. And I see the trend to more SaaS. But like the others, this latter trend can be stopped too, if we all just say “no”.

 


Reminder: I teach privately or in small groups. And for all my students, there’s now a 30% discount for any orders (for training or anything else) paid by Dec 31, 2018. To benefit from this, all you need to do is to use discount code Student2018 on http://learning.photography. Happy festive season!