I have found that there are few things more frustrating then taking GREAT pictures of watches. Years ago I would have told you I did not care about this. But now it has become somewhat of an obsession – and an expensive one at that – both financially and mentally. I have regularly taken 250+ pictures of a watch to end up using about 10 of them. The slightest blur or reflection can send an image quickly to the trash bin. It can be a maddening and emotional nightmare at times.
More and more we read on the forum about members purchasing a wide variety of different equipment to try to help them take better pictures of their watches. This seems to really become especially important when new watches are purchased and “Just Arrived” threads posted. We all have been there and we all WANT to take stunning pictures of our prized timepieces. But it is not that simple and takes a tremendous amount of patience, practice, and education. For me the entire experience of graduating to a DSLR camera has been similar to going back to college. The learning curve has been that steep at times.
In my experience this seems to be the progression for most people.
HOW WE TAKE THE PICTURES:
- Cell Phone pictures. Cell phones have progressed to such a level now that many phones have better features then some point and shoot cameras. In addition they have packed in so many “auto” focus and anti shake features that some images taken with these devices rival those of far more expensive cameras. But of course there are still limitations with lighting, lens options, max resolution settings, and image processing options (raw, jpeg, etc)
Point and Shoot Digital Cameras. This is the most popular image taking tool we see being used. Mainly because these cameras have come SO FAR DOWN in price almost anyone can afford them. On any day there are multiple online deals for 10-16MP cameras for under $100. And it is amazing how many features these point and shoot cameras pack into tiny spaces. Most of these have multiple auto settings for different uses and even some zoom or wide angle features. While again there are some limitations like lighting, available lens options, and the ability to make adjustments to the image settings – these still take AMAZING pictures. For most people this is all they ever will need and many of them come with included images editing software.
- DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras. These used to be FAR out of most people’s budgets and were used exclusively by professional photographers. But as with almost all other electronics as the technology has become more readily available the prices have all but plummeted. Now very good DSLR cameras can be purchased in the $500 range and if you really look around for deals even less then that. As recently as this past Christmas 2011 entry level DSLR cameras like the Nikon D3100 and Canon Rebel T series were for sale for prices between $300-600, which included the body and a lens (typically 18-55 lens). Of course moving up to this level is a jump financially but also a massive increase of picture taking options as well.
What I found out personally (and am still finding out daily) is that the learning curve can be vast when making this jump to this level of equipment. For years leading up to the move to a DSLR camera everything was simply “auto”. The camera or phone did all the work and that was it. Now there are literally endless setting variations and unlimited addition equipment options (multiple lens, lighting, bags, tripods, memory cards, etc etc etc – it never ends). LUCKILY the DSLR cameras also have an “auto” setting, but you just know you could be getting more from your images so you are motivated to learn how to tweak the settings to the fullest capacity possible.
I never could have imagined spending as much time as I have reading reviews about different macro lens, light boxes like the example shown above, tripods, lighting, camera bags, and on and on and on. Websites like YouTube are filled with thousands and thousands of HOURS of videos about every single piece of equipment you can imagine. I have found myself lost for hours watching videos about camera equipment I not only don’t need but will probably never buy. But once you are committed to taking great pictures you seem to want to see what else is available and how you can get better and better. It is an incredible phenomenon that I never could have anticipated becoming this obsessed with.
I love reading about people who get creative and make their own photo solutions like J-Rod who built his own light box for photography in his home. You can see pictures and read more about his home made photo light box by clicking HERE
Photoshop, Photoshop … Adobe Photoshop! Sure there are other programs available for image manipulation and editing, but Photoshop is the king. Learning to use Photoshop is like another visit to college all to itself. People who use Photoshop full time and daily for their careers admit to never really using all of the available features and needing to learn more ongoing. It is a massive and powerful program, but also one that can take your images from pretty good to really good and more importantly – help fix some of the mistakes!
The web has also made learning about taking great pictures a lot easier with an endless supply of online tutorials and help sites for just about every type of photography. Some of the online photo gurus have become internet celebrities with their daily blogging, videos, and insanely popular websites. One of my personal favorites is Fro Knows Photo – a photographer who makes me laugh while also teaching me a lot of new information each day. His larger then life personality (and hair) has built a following over almost 70,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 13 million views of his videos.
Finally, what I have realized from this journey of trying to take better pictures, is that you can never give up. You can not get frustrated and you must keep trying to figure out what works for you to take the best pictures you can. I plan to keep working on my pictures and posting them on Watch Freeks.
Question for our readers: What type of equipment are you using to take your watch pictures and have you found any special techniques or tweaks that have helped you take amazing pictures?