"It's all about the light!" - Improvised photo studio at the mall
All the pictures below have been taken with the 13 MP camera of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The watch pictures below have not been corrected except for resizing.
 

The watch hunt

I had bought two new watches on July 1st 2013 during our trip to the USA to send our daughter to summer college at the Syracuse University. On July 1st 2013 we rented a car and drove from Syracuse to the Waterloo Premium Outlets. After about an hour we reached the outlets on this rainy day.
Shortcut to all the pictures on my collection site: see the Bulova Precisionist Claremont 96B129 pictures here. And follow this link to the Citizen Eco-Drive Chrono AT2095-07E pictures. Both links will open new windows.


 


Waterloo Premium Outlets panorama taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4

I immediately began scanning the outlets for watch shops. At first horizontally and then vertically:

 


Playing with the Samsung Galaxy S4 vertical panorama

Seriously, I was taking the opportunity to check out my Samsung Galaxy S4's capability of vertical panoramas. After a short while I found two jeweler shops: Kay's and Zales. And after comparing the offers from both shops, I decided for these two from Kay's with a 40% discount. On asking for an additional discount - I was buying two watches after all - the shop agreed to another USD 20 off. That brought the bill for two watches to USD 400. MSRP for each of the two watches was USD 350.


The new pair: A Citizen Eco-Drive Chrono AT2095-07E and a Bulova Precisionist Claremont 96B129


I had my eye on the Precisionist for a long time. The watch is special because the second hand sweeps. And I always wanted a black chronograph. Thus this Citizen was perfect

 

The "photo studio"

On July 4th 2013 we visited the Destiny USA shopping mall (Carousel Center before) near Syracuse, NY. My wife loves Popeye's biscuits. A memory from her Master's at the Boston University. While sitting at the food court of the mall, I suddenly realized that this setting provided great conditions for watch photography. The food court had overhead day light and white tables. And most importantly, no artificial indoor light. Mixed light will always result in "confusing" the white balance of the camera. Having only one light source, overhead diffused day light, made this a great improv photo studio. And the white tables helped with reflections from the crystal and would also throw back some indirect light.
In my office at home I use daylight desktop lamps. And I have to close the door to the living room. Incandescent (regular light bulb) or neon light from the living room pouring into my studio will mess with the white balance of the camera. Any mix of light will result in funny colored pictures.


To start a picture with both watches on the wrists


Using my polo shirt to wipe the watches clean - a must when using high res cameras.
The red head is the result of a great sunny day at the Niagara Falls plus full concentration photographing


Not a staged facial expression. I tried very hard to take the best photos possible. I am always tense when taking pictures


After seeing the results of the first couple of pictures, I was a bit more relaxed. And my head was less red too


And at the end of the photo session, I was calm and really enjoying my surprise photo studio setup

The resulting pictures

Here are some samples of the pictures taken this afternoon at the Destiny USA shopping mall on the 4th of July 2013. The pictures below are the raw pictures without any post processing except for resizing.


This watch has a curved Sapphire crystal which normally causes reflections. I was surprised how easy it was to photograph this watch in this "studio"


The light helped the camera to create great close-ups


The Citizen was really easy to photograph. A black case and a flat crystal are always easier because there are no reflections


Even the texture of the Citizen dial was captured perfectly

The pictures on my collection site

Please see the Bulova Precisionist Claremont 96B129 pictures here. And follow this link to the Citizen Eco-Drive Chrono AT2095-07E pictures. Both links will open new windows.

Lesson learned?

I was really surprised how well these pictures turned out. No light tents, special lights nor reflector cards. Just the right light! What did I learn from this experience? "It's all about the light!" If you got the light right, taking pictures will be a lot more successful and enjoyable.

Reto Castellazzi, Bangkok, July 10th, 2013