How To Shoot a Perfect Watch using only an iPad

Nov 26, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

How To Shoot a Perfect Watch using only an iPad

Nov 26, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

Join the Discussion

Share on:

final-3-lead-card

Last week, I wrote an article about shooting a watch using only one light, and I promised to write a Part 2 of this series on how to shoot a watch using more Photoshop work. So, I was in my studio preparing to do the 2nd part of the article and I brought my iPad for pegs and music. I was getting ready to shoot but something crazy hit me, what if I shot the watch using only my iPad (like I did a year ago for other products), could be something, right?

So, here is a step by step and behind the scenes tutorial on how to photograph a watch using your iPad. So instead of 2 Parts of my How to shoot a watch, it will be a 3 Parts Series.

YouTube video

NOTE: for this tutorial I did not remove the battery, but normally when shooting watches you want the time to be 10:10 (also when you’re driving :) ).

What you will need:

  • A Camera (as always)
  • A Tripod
  • A Shutter release cable – or a shutter release iPhone app like ioShutter or Triggertrapp.
  • iPad, Smart Phone

A Step-by-step of the actual shoot:

1. Find a dark space where you can shoot without any ambient light whatsoever. Since you’ll be shooting a long exposure any ambient light will contaminate the scene and damage the photo.

2. Setup a background for your subject. Here are some ideas that you can play with

lightpaint watch 6
I was using a leather jacket for my background.
lightpaint watch 5
A rolled up piece of carbon fiber sticker
lightpaint watch 2
Rocks I found in the garden

3. Place your camera on a tripod and compose your shot.

4. Pre-focus on your subject. After focusing switch your camera to manual focus. The actual shoot is done in complete darkness so it will be hard for the camera to focus.

5. I was shooting with a Nikon D3 and a Nikon 60mm 2.8 Macro Lens. Shooting in bulb mode would be optimal because you can control the shutter speed of your camera. And since the only light in the scene is coming from light painting the duration of the shot only depends on how fast you light paint. I was shooting at around 15-25 seconds and playing around f3.5-f5.6 depending on the depth of field I wanted.

6. How to Expose: The Longer you light paint the more exposed the subject will be. The faster you move the less exposed it will be. You can also play around with the ISO and brightness of your iPad (or iPhone or Nexus or Windows phone or …) screen.

I was playing around with different gradient effects on the screen and different colors which I made in photoshop.
I was playing around with different gradient effects on the screen and different colors which I made in Photoshop.

7. Turn the room lights off click the shutter. Light Paint on the parts that you want lit. To get the nice look on the glass make sure you light paint opposite to the camera. Since you are using a relatively large light source, you can get some really nice results. The trick is to make sure you don’t have any “hot spots”. Swipe as if you are trying to shoot the iPhone through the reflection on the glass of the watch.

8. Check your shot and repeat the process if you need less or more exposure in some parts. Light Painting is really a trial and error technique so don’t worry.

lightpaint watch
9. You can also play around with different colored screens, or using a flash light.

Final Shots

All shots are 90-95% straight off the camera. I used Lightroom to bring back some contrast using levels. And a little bit of Photoshop to clean the dust using spot healing and the clone tool.

Final 1
Playing it safe only using normal white light from the iPad.
final 2
Using my DIY Wood planks as the base.

The fact that you can control the color of the iPhone’s screen means that you can have some fun with it.

final 4
Light painting using a different colored photo from the iPad.
final 3
Using three different colors each for a different part of the scene.

So, there you have it. Shooting a watch like the pros with zero budget.

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 responses to “How To Shoot a Perfect Watch using only an iPad”

  1. Richard Jackson Avatar
    Richard Jackson

    Great stuff, thanks for the info.

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      cheers

  2. Cedric Avatar
    Cedric

    I wish I could shoot with a D3 with zero budget :-D Great result with a very original technique !

  3. Guest Avatar
    Guest

    Awesome! If I may ask, is there some sort of “lighting app” you downloaded on your ipad? Thanks in advanced. :)

  4. Devon Avatar
    Devon

    The title of this article is deceiving. You make it sound like you’re going to teach everyone how to take great shots on their iPhone, but you need a regular camera and you don’t even really mention an iPhone because you’re talking about iPad. Scam click bait title.

  5. Aric Avatar
    Aric

    I gave it a go and got results I am happy with. One comment I get though is that without a shadow in the following image it appears as though the camera is floating. I suppose one could add a shadow in post, or remove the background, but I’d like having the wood. What method would you recommend to approach mitigating this issue?

  6. Rojith Stanly Avatar
    Rojith Stanly

    Hi Laya,
    Great article. Thank you very much.
    I have a crop sensor. Canon 60D. What would the optimal focallength lens to pair with for watch product shots?
    Thanks