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Watch photography with a smart phone - advice?

  1. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 14, 2019

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    I like to take photos of my watches, and I want to get better at it. However, I do not own a standalone camera, and don't want to own one either. I have a pretty good camera on my iPhone X, which I can grab out of my pocket immediately when the light or background is just right—try doing that with a camera that's buried in your backpack somewhere.

    Given this (arguably significant) constraint: how can I make the best possible pictures of my watches, using only my iPhone? What mistakes have I been making so far (some examples from my IG below)? How could I improve? All pointers very welcome. Thanks!

    Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 23.20.47.png Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 23.18.33.png Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 23.18.20.png Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 23.17.50.png
     
    Edited Nov 14, 2019
    kip595 likes this.
  2. Deafboy

    Deafboy His Holiness Puer Surdus Nov 14, 2019

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    From a technical standpoint the pictures are good (sharpness, exposure, lighting, etc.). The artistic aspect is a very personal therefore no "mistake" can be done. My 2-cents. Can't say I'm thrilled by the yellow cast in the first picture, nor the green cast in the last.
     
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  3. steveb73

    steveb73 Nov 14, 2019

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    Take the photos in RAW format and edit them in an app. Shooting in RAW gives you much better control of the finished image and allows you to tweak everything.
     
  4. JimInOz

    JimInOz "Helpful Hints from Heloise" of bracelet cleaning. Nov 14, 2019

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    Stop taking photos of your shoes.

    It's the WIS equivalent to duck face bimbos taking bathroom mirror selfies.
     
  5. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 14, 2019

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    Thanks, real helpful! The casting is because of the filter I used—what throws you off?
     
  6. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 14, 2019

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    Thanks a bunch! Shooting RAW photos turns out to be remarkably complicated on my iPhone Xs—I didn't know until I read this and this article:

    "as part of the computational approach Apple takes with its camera software, the company seems to be prioritizing higher-speed image captures that are then blended with other images to produce a final photo.

    To achieve those higher speeds, the camera increases the ISO, which adds noise to the individual images. However, the software applies noise reduction passes to offset the noise. For our raw discussion, that turns out to be less desirable, because [...] single raw images produced by the camera sensor are noisier and a little over-exposed. (Halide will include a feature that compensates for this effect in an upcoming software update.)

    So if you’re shooting raw images with an iPhone Xs or iPhone Xs Max, you may need to perform a little extra post-processing."

    I'll check out if Halide already corrects this!
     
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  7. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 14, 2019

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    What you don't like my shoes? I thought this was a sneaker forum ;)
    duck.jpeg
     
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  8. wagudc

    wagudc Nov 14, 2019

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    I like the shoes in wrist shots. I always considered it intentional. Kind of like the out of focus dog in the background.
     
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  9. kip595

    kip595 Nov 14, 2019

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    Without taking the trouble for RAW, lighting becomes (even more) hugely important. Current smartphones can take excellent photos and even video. The degree is such that at least a few ultra-low budget indie films have used the tech for film making, in part or whole. In still shots it's simpler, but check your light sources, do multiple shots of various angles, and always vet/edit in high res. Even slight angle changes can completely change a look as well as the clarity, so I often take ten or twenty shots to get one I'm satisfied with.

    Just my advice, if you want to avoid a standalone camera setup. Hope it helps! :)
     
    janice&fred likes this.
  10. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 15, 2019

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    That's exactly why I've been doing it! It provides context and depth in a wrist shot—otherwise my wrist is kinda lost in the abyss below. There's substantive context too, it that it contributes to the composition. Pairing a dressy watch with sneakers deliberately, for instance, or flip flops and socks to mess with people. Glad this practice is not universally reviled...
     
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  11. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 15, 2019

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    Awesome, thanks! You're absolutely right—bad lighting ruins everything. Daylight is a huge plus I've come to find out: artificial light just kind of ruins everything when taking wrist shots. Taking many pictures with slightly different angles is a great idea, I'm going to start doing that right away. Great piece of advice!
     
  12. TimeODanaos

    TimeODanaos Nov 15, 2019

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    Edited Nov 15, 2019
  13. DaveK

    DaveK Nov 15, 2019

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    For art photography, just continue to do what makes you happy. Though I’d prefer out of focus dogs over shoes in the background ;)

    For collector and sale photography, my $.02 is those filters keep the viewer from seeing the true condition of the watch, especially the colour of the lume, the dial, the case etc
     
  14. wagudc

    wagudc Nov 15, 2019

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    Agreed. Also, the fact that some people revile the practice makes me like it more!
     
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  15. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 16, 2019

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    You have no idea how long it took me to get this shot right. What I ended up doing is taking a photo from relatively far out, so that I could see the screen well enough AND prevented seeing my phone reflected on the plexi. Then I cropped the image to the present canvas size, and tweaked the angle a little.
     
  16. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 16, 2019

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    You're right. When selling a watch I would never use filters—that's borderline false advertising. For quasi-artistic wrist shots, I don't mind as much. Moreover, it's not as if the look of a watch is universally stable anyway—the amount of (sun)light can completely change the appearance of a watch, for instance. I've been using filters to show color shades on my watches that I know are there, but not under the lighting conditions under which I took the wrist shot. Particularly the "brilliance" filter on iOS is great for simulating daylight conditions.
     
  17. TimeODanaos

    TimeODanaos Nov 16, 2019

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    Hoho :D
    It was worth it though - nice shot! :thumbsup:
     
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  18. Alpha

    Alpha Kilt Owner, Beagle Parent, Omega Collector Nov 16, 2019

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    Use only an iPhone these days and i.m.h.o. I think the only way to a decent image it to look closely at what you are taking, reflections, shadows etc.

    Taken ten minutes ago in artificial light, not award winning but acceptable ?
    CA119EFB-6C4A-4C67-86BA-93A0D0BD81DF_1_201_a.jpeg
     
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  19. jaspers

    jaspers Nov 16, 2019

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    Agreed, not bad at all. It's insane how good cameras on smartphones have gotten over the years. It's not that long ago that you couldn't really take any pictures inside except with flash light.

    Now try this: select the photo in iOS' photo app, tap edit, and crank the "brilliance" filter all the way up. YUGE difference: all the dark spots come to life now. I love that filter to death.
     
  20. janice&fred

    janice&fred Dec 14, 2019

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    a quick question...with an iPhone (iphone7) what kind of artificial lighting can I try to set up easily in our home? I don't know anything about photography but will like our watch pics to be clearer without so much glare and shadows. thanks!