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& special advanced Photoshop effects


Focus and diffuse lighting
Proper exposure
Daylight color LEDs for use with diamonds

Use a band shaper to keep the watch band in shape
Creating a soft reflection
Photoshop tricks for special web placement
Special example watch image for homepage use
Watch photography tools

Taking good quality pictures of watches can be tricky.  The battle to eliminate or control reflections can seem endless, and glare can be a real problem. However, there are some simple techniques which even amateur photographers can use to obtain excellent results with minimal effort.  The following examples show the basic setup that should allow anyone to achieve results they can be proud of.

These images were all taken using a Canon S2 IS digital camera.  The basic setup we used included an EZcube to soften the shadows and eliminate glare, while providing a clean and clutter free background.  We used a TableTop Studio ShortEZ Light Set as the light source, equipped with true color daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs as the main light source.  We also used acrylic risers to provide reflections of several pieces for an added professional touch. (More details on the equipment can be found at the end of this page).

The keys to good watch photography are sharpness, lighting, exposure, and in the case of diamond accents, trying to create some sparkle.  For photographing small items like watches you will need a camera with good macro capabilities. A macro mode on your camera will allow you to sharply focus on a small item from a short distance. It is worth getting out your camera's manual  to find out how to put the camera in "macro focus" mode.  The normal focus mode of digital cameras will not allow you to focus well with your camera positioned close to an object such as a watch.  So unfortunately, for close-up watch photography,  you need a camera with good macro focus capability.

Another key to a sharp image is a tripod.  It is absolutely essential to use a tripod or similar camera support when shooting jewelry. A sturdy tripod is better than a flimsy one, but any tripod is many times better than no tripod. Use a tripod.

Another key to good watch photography is the lighting.  Normally diffuse (soft) lighting works best for watches. You have probably already discovered that an on-camera flash does not lead to good watch photos.   Rather than flash, we like to use continuous lighting for product photography. Using continuous lights makes it easier to visualize what the final image will be like. We prefer daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs for lighting . These bulbs provide nice, natural-colored light and they produce very little heat so they can be left on for long photo sessions without over heating the photographer. Even fluorescent light bulbs will need to be diffused and for that we use an EZcube light tent as the diffuser.

Proper exposure is also key to good jewelry photography.  (For more information on adjusting the exposure for watch images take a look at this page.)

After you get a good picture of your watch we'll show you some advanced Photoshop tricks for creating some amazing effects in post production. These tricks are not necessary for basic shots but can be fun to try for your home page or special spots on your website. Please note that you absolutely must start with a great shot to end with a great shot. If your original image has glare, is out of focus, or lit poorly, no Photoshop tricks will make it look fantastic.


Creating a subtle reflection known as the "Tiffany effect"

Note: This image was "cropped" but not altered in any other way. Shot with a Canon S2 IS.

One way to create a soft reflection is to place your item on a gloss white or clear acrylic riser.

  1. The basic two light ShortEZ setup works well for many watches. However a third sparkler light is needed for properly lighting diamond accents.

  2. This image shows the full setup with two ShortEZ and the third sparkler light, great for illuminating the watch face, along with creating the "sparkle effect" for diamond accents.


Note:  TableTop Studio's Diamond Dazzler LED bulb was used to lightup the watch face diamonds ...
This image was "cropped" but not altered in any other way. Shot with a Canon S2 IS.

TableTop Studio's exclusive Diamond Dazzler bulb unleashes the fire of your diamonds! 18 LED's

  1. Daylight colored LED bulb made to bring out a diamonds fire; or add brilliance to any faceted gemstone.

  2. The LED bulb is made to fit nicely into the Sparkler lights 5" reflector setup.


Note:  TableTop Studio's Diamond Dazzler LED bulb was used to lightup the watch face diamonds ...
This image was "cropped" but not altered in any other way. Shot with a Canon S2 IS.

Acrylic comes in many finishes & colors. Above we show a silver frosted metalic finish on an acrylic platform that creates a very elegant reflection.

  1. The band shaper shown left, helps the watch band hold it's shape for the photo. It slips inside of the band, and will not show in the photo.

  2. A small brush is very handy for last minute lint removal.

  3. Below we show some mirror finished acrylic that's highly reflective vs. frosted finish with softer reflections. It's a personal choice which look appeals to you most.

Advanced Photoshop tricks for creating a unique image

After you have mastered the above watch photography techniques you may want to create a special, unique image for your home page or other special web placement. The following techniques are way too time intensive, and not necessary for your main product  images such as shown above. However sometimes you may want to have some fun, and spend more time on a single image to be used for special placement on your website.

Keep in mind that customers while shopping on your website, can spot a touched up photo. So for the most part your customers will be happiest viewing clear, sharp, unaltered images of your products.  Too many tricks can backfire; use special effects sparingly and for appropriate web placement only.


Stripping out the image background completely using Photoshop

To prepare the watch Photoshop file for adding special effects, we first need to completely strip the watch out from the background.

  1. We used the magic wand with a tolerance of 32 to select the background.

  2. After selecting the background, choose from the select menu "inverse" to switch the selection from the background to the watch.

  3. Create a new layer via copy of just the watch.

  4. Create a new blank layer from the new layer icon.

2. Inverse selection selects the watch

3. Create a new layer via copy

4. Create a new blank layer


Working with Photoshop layers

Photoshop layers are a very powerful tool for adding special effects to an image.

  1. You can fill in the new empty layer with black using the paint bucket tool.

  2. Then click on the watch layer and  Edit/Transform/Rotate to rotate the watch layer as shown.

  3. Edit/Transform/Scale to scale the watch to fit the page again.

  4. Use the Eraser tool to erase the back part of the watch band for a more professional finished look..

2. Rotate the watch

3. Scale the watch layer

4. Erase the back band


Adding a colored drop shadow


The Photoshop Layer Style menu has many wonderful tools worth getting to know. Keep in mind that your results will all depend on the quality of the image you begin with. Start with a good, crisp, clean image for the best results.

  1. Select the watch layer and then Layer/Layer Style/Drop Shadow tool to call up the drop shadow controls.

  2. Set the layer style properties to match the example menu shown below.

  3. The result will be a nice golden drop shadow that looks more like a golden glow. A very dramatic final image.



Watch Photography Tools

"Sparkler" light shown with LED diamond dazzler bulb

EZcube® light tent
For soft, diffused lighting, softer shadows, and reflection control.

Tabletopstudio ShortEZ light set

  • 10" Flood lights with stand mounts
  • Adjustable tabletop size light stands
  • "Daylight color" 5000k CFL bulbs

    Sparkler light

  • 5" Flood light with stand mount
  • Adjustable 6' light stand
  • 15 Watt "daylight color" CFL bulb

    Diamond dazzler LED bulb

  • 18 "daylight color" LEDS
  • Custom made for Tabletopstudio
  • Unleashes a diamonds fire

    White, Black & Silver Acrylic

  • Creates soft, professional reflections
  • 9" x 9" x 3" size

    Small brush for lint removal
    Makes last minute lint removal a piece of cake while helping to avoid leaving fingerprints.

    Watch band shaper
    A flexible insert that slips inside the watch band to help keep the watch bands shape.

    * Photoshop/Photoshop Elements
    * These items are sold separately

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