How to photograph a Watch in a dark environment with a Point & Shoot camera and an iPhone4  1 Comments


Following on the earlier post about photographing the Dufour Simplicity with the use of two iPhones (*using the free TORCHLIGHT app). At the dinner gathering of Los Angeles TimeZone collectors, I tried out this method as a variation of the idea. This time round, I used just one iPhone (again with the Torchlight app) and a restaurant napkin. The image above is the product of the method. The napkin functions as a means to cut out ambient light (and provide a nice graduated background) and also provide reflective properties to bounce light from a single source.

Peter Chong (Lange Moderator) was with me captured the following steps while I attempted this capture.

STEP 1 - Set the white restaurant cloth napkin on the table with the watch and camera on it. Point one corner of the napkin towards you so it looks like a diamond shape to you.  Set the camera in Macro Mode. Adjust and move the camera as close as possible so that the watch takes up at least 3/4 of the frame. Most consumer point and shoot camera macros operate from the wideangle end of the zoom. Set the camera to Aperture Priority and set it to the widest available. This results in only the dial being in focus. Turn on the self timer (so that you will not shake the camera when you press the shutter button). Position the iPhone above the camera and the watch as shown below.

STEP 2 - Start with folding the left and right corners onto the back of the iPhone as shown below. Then the top corner. Leave the bottom corner to the last. Fold the bottom corner only after completing all the adjustments as you are viewing the watch through the LCD panel.

STEP 3 - Once you have completely adjusted and satisfied with the set up, fire the shutter and keep very still as you wait for the self timer to trigger.

Hopefully with practice, anyone with a point and shoot and a iPhone camera is able to photograph with some sharpness and detail in a dark environment. Happy shooting!

- HT

(*Addendum - The lightbox effect from the iPhone 4 works because the source is the whole LCD panel emitting pure white light. The screen quality is superior to the previous iPhones and probably has a discernibly improved quality of light. When such light is directed at subjects smaller than the screen itself, the light 'wraps' around the subject thus providing a softer light. Avoid using the LED light that is next to the camera lens on the iPhone 4. This can be very bright but will not serve its purpose as a diffused light source. It is also possible to use the same method of shooting using the iPad. Being a larger light source, the watch would be bathed in light from nearly all directions when held close to the iPad.

Also, the use of the white restaurant napkin is intended to cut out the ambient light. In this case, it was a low lit dining room with candles and low watt incandescent bulbs. These sources of light are yellowish - red. The white napkin was able to block these sufficiently while it helped reflect back a lot of the light from the iPhone onto the watch)



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Watching Horology


  • This is a personal blog of Harry SK Tan on all things pertaining to Horology - from watch collecting, horolography, news and developments from all over the world particularly Singapore.
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Horolography - noun, the art of photographing timepieces

Horolographer - Harry SK Tan

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