Inside a studio photoshoot of a luxury $25,000 watch
Today I'm [INAUDIBLE].
I'm going to show how I took this photo of Hublot.
This is a mechanical Swiss made watch and it is of course extremely luxurious, costing around 18000 pounds.
This is a big salute to BitCoin.
You can see there's a big cog in the middle with the BitCoin logo.
This watch can only be bought using BitCoin.
It's very special and I am very much looking forward to showing you inside the studio of how I took this shot.
So here we are in studio and we've got the watch already set up Here, as you can see what I've done is I've created a very sophisticated rig by literally pegging the top of the watch strap on this microphone stand and casually laying the bottom of the strap against the other.
Now I didn't want this watch just laying flat on a table.
It didn't seem very interesting.
So my hope was to Have the watch basically hanging in the air and do something interesting on this background.
However, my first big problem of the day is that none of my actual studio strobes decided to work.
I don't know what's happened.
I think the batteries are all dead.
Hublot weren't really keen on leaving it with me several days while my batteries recharge.
So Instead, I've had to go with continuous LED light.
You can see already I've got these two panels set up.
This one up here is acting as my key light and this one is filling in some of the shadows around here.
I don't love how it looks, it would certainly look a lot more better if I was using my [INAUDIBLE].
But it's not too bad either.
There's gonna be a lot more work and post.
Largely because these two lights are actually very different colors.
This one is quite a natural white light, but this one comes out a lot more purple.
So I'm gonna have to balance that out in Photoshop later, which we'll come to.
Now, before we turn the lights off, I'm gonna give you a quick overview of what it is that I'm going to be shooting.
So we can see that we've got the watch hanging here, and I'm using the Canon 100 mil macro lens.
Which really gets us up close on the watch face itself, which is great because this is a mechanical watch.
It's got hands, it's got cogs, it's got all that cool detail which goes into the watch.
You really get that 3D depth.
So I wanna make sure that that is the focus of this shot.
And because there are so many cool little components inside here, it's important to make sure that every little bit is in focus, so I'm gonna be using a technique called focus stacking where you start by taking shots where the focus is on the furthest part of the watch and you take multiple points changing the focus point as it comes towards the camera.
Then in post, you piece all of the shots together and the whole thing is nice and sharp.
Now, the difficulty in doing that though is that you can't change your lighting throughout, cuz if you piece your shot together, the lighting's gonna change, everything's gonna look very, very weird.
So I need to make sure that everything is set up exactly how I want the shot to look before I start taking these photos.
So, I'm going for this two light stutter for this shot.
I've got this one a pair acting as our key light and this one here just filling in the shadows on the bottom of the watch.
Now, the key line is angled away To intentionally create some shadows on all of the little tiny cogs and other pieces inside the watch, cuz those shadows that create depth that actually suggests that these little pieces are layered over the top of the each other.
And that is what looks really really cool in the final show.
So I zoomed in again now and you can just see the importance of those shadows, it means that the actual back of the watch right inside is darker and the light is just really nicely capturing the arms of the watch and on the teeth of the cog, so you really get a sense of depth there.
So I'm just trying to take a couple of test shots to see how the lights are balanced and if we look at this first image we can zoom in This keylight on the left is definitely a bit too hot, you can see it is sort of blowing up highlights on the top left corner of the watch there.
The problem is that the light on the left is a good color.
So you can see on the top of the strap that blue looks nice and natural but its turning to purple when the the light from these lights Starts coming into play, so I'm gonna have to actually change that manually in post.
So in doing my test shots, I didn't like how purple this light was, the fill light.
It was giving a very odd color cast on the watch.
And this isn't a perfect solution, but I'm adding this greeny-blue gel to it, which is just helping bring that purple tone A little bit more under control.
It's making it go too far the other way.
It's now looking a little bit too blue, but I think that's gonna give me at least a more balanced point to work from in Photoshop.
Now, the other thing I'm doing Because I'm going to add this layer of diffusion material.
Not to diffuse the light, but simply just to bring it, even at it's lowest power, those shadows were a little bit too bright for me, so I want to bring it down a little bit.
So I'm just going to add this layer of diffusion just to dim it a little.
Okay, so we've got a gel and some diffusion material on the front of our shadow's fill light.
Let's take another test shot, see how that looks.
Okay, I think we're getting to a good point now.
The light is looking a lot better.
The two lights are balanced, the color balance between the two isn't as bad anymore.
The watch is clean, and I like the composition.
So I think we're ready to start shooting the focus stack.
You can see the plane of focus move up and down this watch and the strap.
I also move it around, and it's those tiny adjustments that we need to do.
So this could well be 20, 30, 40 different shots to get the whole watch fully in focus, which is why it's so important to make sure that the watch doesn't move, and the lights don't change at all.
Once we begin, that's the shot that we're getting.
Now Christian, what I forgot to say is that I'm using the timer on a two-second delay.
Normally, I would use a remote release to do this, but I don't have one with me right now.
And this is a good alternative.
It means that you can Press the shutter down, and give the camera just enough time to stop wobbling, to stop that motion from your hand, and then it takes the shot.
So you still get the same result of using a remote release.
You get nice pin-sharp images, but without using the cable.
So I just move the focus further up that strap, focusing on the stitching.
And after a point, you'll find that you have got everything in focus.
Now I should be able to just flick through the images we've got, and the watch should stay fully In place each time.
It'll move in and out slightly cuz of the focus.
That's how it works.
But the watch is positioned in the picture shouldn't move at all.
And as you can see the lighting doesn't change, the color temperatures don't change.
Everything is exactly as we need it to be.
So stop being an idea shoe, I don't like using LED light panels like this I might prefer using all my studio strobes to get exactly the shot I want.
But just like in the back of the camera, I'm not too unhappy with what I've got but I think it's gonna still tak a lot of work in Photoshop to really make this a cracker of an image.
So let's head in over there now and see what we can get Okay, so now we've got the images here in Lightroom and it's this set here, which are the ones that we're mainly going to be focusing on.
This is ones where I put that gel on the side to try and do a little bit of color correction.
Now, I've brought these in and I've looked through and I have done a little bit of color correction in Lightroom just to bring them back to what I want.
As you can see, I've controlled.
How overly vibrant and strong that blue was coming from that [INAUDIBLE] control some of the tones.
And I just brought things just to a nice point, I've applied that across all of the images in this set that we're using.
Now as far as the focus stack goes, as you can see the watch face here is very out of focus, but up here on the strap it isn't.
And as we cycle our way through You can see the focus shifts and different parts of the watch pop into sharp focus as we move around.
Of course, what we need to do is actually piece these together.
Now I did try this already in Photoshop and Photoshop's auto [UNKNOWN] tool didn't really do a good job.
It wasn't very neat and it would have taken a lot of time to go in and manually change that focus.
Instead, what I'm gonna use Is a piece of software called Helicon Focus which a lot of still life photographers that I follow, they use this and think it does a much better job.
First of all, let's export these files.
I'm just going to export them to pictures and I'm going to put them in focus stack.
I'm not gonna rename, I'm not gonna do anything.
File format though, I'm gonna have them as, I'm just gonna put those as DMGs, cuz that's pretty much what I need.
[INAUDIBLE] I'll go Export, I'll just wait for that to happen.
Okay, so now we're over in Helicon Focus, and down here, we can see this button for open images as a new stack.
So I'll click those, and we'll go to focus stack, and here are our images.
So I'm gonna select all of those, hit Enter, and in we come.
I haven't used the software a lot, if I have used it at all.
So at the moment, I'm just gonna leave everything as it is, as standard.
And what you can see what it comes out with by default.
You see, as it's doing that, it's creating this map preview of what it's gonna look like.
And it rebuilds that image back up.
Just gonna save this then on my desktop as watch.
I'm saving it as a DNG.
I'm gonna hit Save.
Okay, so I'll save the image and [UNKNOWN] focus, and As you can see in here, it hasn't applied any of the edits that I did in Lightroom.
You can see it's got very, very vibrant blue, and there's this cyan tone here.
And there's a lot of purple in there, which is what I spent the time getting rid of here.
But actually what I found is that if I go and look, that's just The DNG, and when I open that DNG back in Photoshop because the DNG isn't saving any of the edit information, when you open it in Photoshop that one, this one it's now read those edits from light room and it's applied them The great thing is is that [UNKNOWN] focus has done a very, very good job of doing that focus [UNKNOWN] In fact, this is completely flawless.
There aren't any of the blemishes that I found before.
So for example, if we go into, I'll just move this across so I can look at the light of the original Photoshop version You can see all around here, there's this area.
There's a big splotchy mess over here, this hasn't lined up properly.
I can remove this, I can't really do anything with that, but it'll have a better look.
But again, on here, none of that is there.
It's a very, very good piece of software for that sort of thing.
So I'm just gonna full-screen this.
So I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna click Open Image.
A couple of things I'm gonna do first.
I do want to crop this, and I wanna do a little rotation just to bring the composition in line of what I'm after, but I'm gonna start by doing some clean-up.
If we zoom right in, we can see that even though I cleaned the watch face, there are these dots of Dust and grit and whatnot, all over, and that is just gonna spoil the polished look that we're going for.
So mostly, by pressing J and we go to the Spot Healing Brush tool, I'm mostly gonna get right in on these details, and I'm gonna just Select, oops, not that.
I'm gonna select a small brush size.
And with that you can just dot over.
Now, this is very time consuming.
Of course, if you know a quicker way, then please let me know.
But we'll speed up this process, so you don't have to sit and watch it like I do.
Okay, so I've done as much clean up on the body of the watch.
If we have a look before and after, you can see it was actually remarkably dusty, considering I had cleaned this watch.
Before I put it into position, it just goes to show that all those tiny specs that are in the air will appear in the product, and particularly cuz I wanted to get quite a contrasty light, I wanted this angle to give the shadow and the depth on the watch face itself that has the The side effects of really picking up any dust.
So, I've done some more clean up of the whole watch.
And if we zoom in a bit, we turn off that layer on and off, we can see how much does the [INAUDIBLE] and how much of a difference that has made.
Also [INAUDIBLE] bit of a [INAUDIBLE] down there.
And I've given that a little bit of a clean up.
It's not perfect, but I think it's pretty good.
I don't wanna spend too much time doing the clean up for this.
If you were sheeting this commercially for a client, if it was for Hublot themselves, then sure, you'd wanna go in and make sure this was absolutely spot on and every single tiny little pixel Was absolutely perfect, but I don't really have the time or indeed the patience to do that at this point, so I'm happy to keep it just as it is.
Couple more things I wanna do, and I'm gonna start by.
I'm gonna copy this background, the camera raw filter.
And I'm gonna bring the camera raw filter dialog box again.
And we're just try bringing that saturation right down, pretty much to nothing.
I might bring those shadows, actually, I'm not really gonna move anything else at this point.
I'm gonna click OK, and you might think, well, no, that just turned the whole image black and white, and you'd be absolutely right.
But the reason is is that I wanna do Is I wanna create [INAUDIBLE].
The moment that has just blacked out, that layer, meaning that it's not visible at all.
As I said before, the colour toning on the side, this blue shouldn't be there.
Color tone has come entirely from the LED light panel that I was using on the right hand side just to fill in these shadows.
So that's a shame that that looks like that.
So what I'm going to do is by using this layer, we've de-saturated it.
And I can get the brush tool, select a larger brush size.
Maybe something around this size is going to be nice and soft.
And I'm gonna turn my flow down, a nice low flow, something around 18%.
And when I brush with white, you can see over here, I'm brushing with white, it basically brushes in that layer that we've created.
But I only where we're brushing, so it's not over the whole thing, as you can see as I'm brushing on the crown here On the side of the watch is bringing in that layer below, and that layer below was of course, taking out a lot of that blue.
So by brushing this in, we're correcting all that blue color cast that we're We've got on the side.
It's very easy to do this with this one because all I really had to do was desaturate.
There's no other color we're trying to protect.
This was supposed to be a very steel gray.
There's not really supposed any color there at all.
So all I can do here is literally just paint out where I see that blue.
Color tone like this, right along this side.
On this top anywhere where that blue light has come in and given us an extra bit of blue toning.
Now I don't wanna do that to the strap, cuz of course the strap was blue, so I'm gonna be very careful in how far.
I take this.
If I want to be really careful I could create, using the pen tool I could create a path to follow to make sure that I don't go out, and accidentally paint over into this blue like that, we don't want that.
But I don't think I need to because there is Enough of a line there for me to follow, that I can get, I think nice and close up without cutting into the strap.
Okay, let's zoom out, and [INAUDIBLE] we can turn that layer on and off.
It has made a big difference to the overall look.
I think the watch looks a little more dramatic.
It stands out, it makes the actual blue area stand out as being even more blue because it's not just this blue light coming in from all sides.
Now you've got this nice steely gray outer, so this inner line of blue here looks even more dramatic I think.
But I do wanna do a little bit more just to bring this blue BitCoin dial out.
So what I'm gonna do, I'm really happy with how that looks.
I'm gonna merge that down into this layer.
I'm gonna copy that layer.
I'm gonna go back into camera roll filter.
I'm gonna zoom in on the B. And first what we've gonna do is we're gonna increase saturation, we're gonna try and make that blue pop out even more.
I'm gonna leave the whites, and I'll leave the contrast.
Already I think that's standing out quite a bit more.
I'm gonna add some de-haze a little bit, cuz again that helps with the contrast.
If you go too high, then you can see things start to get weird and if you go low, it's gets very gray.
So I'm gonna bring that just about +10 give or take.
I'm gonna leave the contrast where it is.
In fact I'm gonna just, yeah gonna double click on that, bring it back to not.
Cuz if I start to add too much contrast, then it also starts to look a little bit noisy.
But what I'm doing, this may look like I'm doing a lot to this image and I'm gonna make it look very weird overall and too contrasty, and too bright around here.
But I'm gonna do the same as I did before, I'm gonna say OK to that, and then I'm gonna add a black layer mask and I'm gonna get back my brush tool, I'm gonna paint with white and [INAUDIBLE] gonna paint back in that layer on top of just where I want it to be on this BitCoin cog as it were.
Bringing back in those changes that we just made on there, increasing the saturation of that blue cuz that is a nice blue cog.
But it hasn't come out quite as blue as I'd like in the image, so I'm not adding in color that isn't there.
I'm literally bringing back.
What should have been there to begin with, but I'm not going over and do anything else, and likely there isn't any color in this area around the clocks around at a grey or black, or silver so, I don't need to worry too much about going over on this layer.
Just a [UNKNOWN] I bring that in
I'm actually gonna paint that same layer back into place on the arms of the watch, cuz they again were the same blue, and the angles of the lights, and I think using the LED light panels, we have lost a little of that vibrancy.
So I brought those back in a little bit as well.
I'm just gonna make sure that every bit of this bitcoin cog is covered.
So if we zoom out just a little, we turn that layer on and off.
It's not a massive difference, but it really helps that bitcoin cog really pop out.
Okay, I merge that down.
I'm gonna duplicate that layer again, and I'm gonna go back into Camera Raw Filter one more time.
Now, on this one, I wanna add clarity to the whole image, which would be nice.
But not too much, I wanna add it largely just to watch face, just certain parts of the watch face.
I'm gonna add about 30.
Now that looks far too much.
And if we press OK, so again, I'm gonna apply this mask Filled with black by option clicking on the New Layer Mask icon, and I'm gonna paint with white only on the areas that I want that extra clarity to pop in, and that's mostly on these cogs.
I really want them to be really nice and crisp and sharp.
I want them to really pop out of the Of the watch face.
And finally little more dressed up, the crown.
Just help that, chisel that a little bit more which I think looks nice.
Okay, now if we look at the face and we turn that on and off.
It's not a huge difference but particularly if we look at these, the teeth up here, turn that on and off.
It just helps bring them out of the background a bit and Overall, I think just makes it pop.
Okay, next thing I'm going to do.
I'm going to create a new layer and I'm going to go edit fill.
And I want to fill with 50% gray.
Going down here, and I can change that to overlay.
[UNKNOWN] And now if I paint on this overlay layer in black or white, that will let me dodge or burn the layer or darken or brighten certain areas of the layer.
Now there is a Course the dodge and burn tool in Photoshop already, but it doesn't do a great job all the time of doing it.
It sometimes burns the color a little bit too much, I think you get better control by using this grey overlay layer.
I'm gonna go in.
Now with the dodge and burn layer, what I wanna do is I just want to enhance some of the shados and I wanna bring out some of the highlights.
So I'm gonna start by painting with black, bring up b for my brush tool, and I want a low opacity for this.
Very low, something around 8%.
And I just wanna start brushing in around here some of this shadow.
And that's very subtle.
If you turn it on and off, you can see it's just a tiny amount.
I'm gonna do the same on this arm here.
And look around here particularly on [INAUDIBLE].
I just wanna bring out [INAUDIBLE].
That's just a little bit more, [INAUDIBLE] on and off, it's just a very small amount, I might bring that [INAUDIBLE] up just.
Touch, okay and just brush in.
Where I want a little bit more of that shadow.
Okay, and then to lighten layers, we basically do the opposite in painting with white.
So pressing X to swap my colors, and now I've got white as my main brush.
We can then brush on this white to brighten certain areas, which I wanna do there.
I wanna bring it across here.
And there's no right or wrong way to do this as such.
A lot of it is very much artistic desire [UNKNOWN] preference but a good rule is to follow where the highlights and the shadows already are and just enhance them in the areas that you want them enhanced, not obviously just globally adjusting all of your contrast, but just giving them a little boost to help carve them out of the background.
A little bit in a way that I think should look really cool.
Again, if you just turn it on and off, we look at the crown here.
That just makes that look a lot more 3D, a lot more chunky, and I like that a lot.
Okay, so zoom out just a bit.
And we'll turn that dodge and burn layer on and off.
Again, it's not a massive change, but it really just helps make some of those details pop.
Pay particular attention to these numbers around the side, turn those on and off, they really Stand out, and again, on this crown, I love the way that dodge and burn layer just helps sculpt that out a little bit more.
It really emphasizes this highlight on the crown, which I think looks great.
And again, I think on this rim on the inside of the watch where the numbers are, again, I just think
There's much better impression that is round and the curves.
So here's the final image, again I'm really pleased with how this has come out.
Particularly cuz I wasn't very happy about choosing using, not only LED light panels but two different ones which had different color tones.
So there has been a lot of work in getting rid of that blue cast and making sure that everything fits.
And everything looks like it really should do.
I was very keen to avoid any extra colors coming in and coloring the finishing result to an extent that it didn't look like the original watch anymore.
So it has taken some work in painting out that blue and bringing up the right tones.
But I'm really pleased with what the [UNKNOWN] looks like.
The watch is amazing, those cogs really stand out.
[UNKNOWN] This for the client itself, I think they'd be pretty happy with something like this.
Do let us know your thoughts on the watch, of course, and the shoot, anything you would do differently, anything that you think I have done very, very wrong indeed.
And, of course, if there's anything that you would like to see me shoot, any products you would like to suggest Do make sure to let me know in the comments below.
And of course, do hit that like button and subscribe to see [UNKNOWN]