behind the scenes

How did they do this? Very often I wonder (and love to find out) how a particular shot was done, especially in the field of commercial and advertisement photography. While for artistic images of cars – to take one example – alone the light setup in these specialized studios can cost several hundred thousand Euros, in other cases it’s a few essential ingredients that make the picture stand out.

I would like to share some “behind the scenes” insight concerning a commercial shooting for a watch designer with you today.

The star is a luxurious ladies wristwatch. Elegant, with a clean and glamorous design. So the decision was taken to make the setup also clean and simple. As a working platform for the first series of shots a small sized table of medium height was used. This particular one had an interesting structure of the wood, adding to the overall look of the scene. A few pieces of rock where used to keep the watch in place and to bring some more structure into the image.

A uniform matte black backdrop was used in order to avoid distraction from the main subject and to make the separation between watch and surrounding easier. Talking about light, one 60×60 softbox, equipped with a 250 Ws flash head with wireless trigger was positioned right on top of the setup. The most simple way of keeping the softbox in place is a medium size boom stick, fixed with a multi-head to the top part the lamp stand. With one hand movement the height above the subject and therefore the amount and intensity of light can be easily adjusted. Even if the weight of a light setup like this usually does not cause any problems, I recommend using some counter weight to make the installation more stable. Talking about the set, this was pretty much it.

For shots like this, a normal 50mm or macro lens up to 100mm usually is a good choice. In terms of exposure, the main attention was on a very well defined depth of focus, which resulted in most of the shots being taken at around f=8 to f=10. The shutter speed was kept constant at t=1/125 sec.

A micro-friction controlled ball head and a sturdy tripod allow a smooth adjustment of the best camera position. In many cases some bracketed series of images (EV -1, 0, +1 e.g. ) of one setup were taken in order to have more flexibility in the post-production.

For one shot, where only the shiny silver watch should be visible with everything around to disappear in total black, the table was exchanged with a model with a black colored glass plate. Underexposed by one to two f-stops the surface appeared really black, while a slight overexposure made the surface nicely reflecting for a shot, where the watch was visually just floating in mid-air. Here, just a thin black wire helped to keep the watch hanging motionless, supported by one wire each to the left and right.

Enough words ….

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