In honor of Inktober, Isaac Alvarez of UNPLUG Production made his own ink-related project. But rather than making an ink drawing, he focused on commercial watch photography. He used only a simple two-light setup and some super-cheap items, most of which we all have lying around the house. Despite the low-budget setup, the results are professional-looking, so let’s dive in and see how he did it.
For this video, Isaac made some ink in water photos to composite with photos of watches. The result is pretty neat in this combination, but I’m sure it would work for other product photos, too.
For this low budget ink in water setup, you will need:
- A plastic funnel
- Some plastic bottles
- Acrylic paint
- Some gaff tape
- A plastic faunarium
- Poster boards (2x black for photographing watches, 2x white for photographing ink)
- An assistant : )
Place your white poster boards to form a backdrop, put the faunarium on top of it and fill it with water. Then, set up the lights. Isaac used a two-light setup (see photo below), but of course, feel free to experiment.
Then, add two pieces of gaff tape on top of the faunarium and jam the funnel between them. You will use it to “guide” the paint into the water. If you want to pour two colors simultaneously, use two funnels.
Remember those plastic bottles I mentioned? Fill them with some water (about 1/3 of the bottle) and dissolve the acrylic paint. Remember, you want to use a single color in each bottle since the goal is to mix them when you pour them into the water.
This is where you need an assistant. He or she should pour two different colors into the funnel at the same time while you are taking photos. If you prefer being a one-man-band, you can try with a remote shutter, but I think I’ll still ask for a friend to help me. It’s easier, but also more fun.
Shooting the ink
Now for the shooting part. Place your camera onto a tripod and use a longer lens. For example, Isaac uses a 100mm f/2.8 on his Canon 5D Mk IV. Turn the lights on, have the assistant ready, and shoot away. If you’re shooting solo, put the camera onto a tripod of course, and pour the paint into the funnels as you trigger the camera with a remote.
Shooting the watches
There are two ways of shooting the watches: the easy way and the harder way. The easy way involves a single light setup and a photo of the watch you’ll use in your final shot composited with the ink photo. The longer way requires you to take multiple photos of the watch with different light, composite them in Photoshop, and only then merge them with the ink shot. Make sure to watch the video, where Isaac will show you both approaches. You can also check out this tutorial from workphlo to see how the multi-light setup is done.
When shooting watches (or the product of your choice), use the black poster boards as your backdrop. It will make it easier to cut out the subject and make a composite with the ink photos.
The final composite
This shoot ends in Photoshop, where you’ll put two photos together: the one of the watch, and the paint in water. It’s up to you which images you’ll bring together, all depends on the final look you want to achieve. Make sure to watch the video for a quick tutorial on how to bring the photos together. And check out some of the photos Isaac ended up with:
[Ink Watch Photography | UNPLUG Production]