"Poor Man's" Self-Made Photo Helpers
Thanks to Ūrkny from TimeZone.com for the hints (Sep 2001)


I had been posting on the Public Forum since June 2001 and was quite active there until January 2002. In the mean time www.PMWF.com had been founded and required more and more of my time. But old friends are never forgotten, please follow this link to see who has helped me. Not to become a master photographer, but to make better watch pictures. I see myself not as an artist, I simply like to document watches. I do not have the patience to play with props, lights and other stage helpers. I want the shot to be done, resized, published, ASAP ;-)
It was September 2001 and I clearly remembered how excited I was to learn about digital photography. At the time I was 'plagued' with a small Digital Elf or IXUS 100, a 2.1 Megapixel camera without macro function. The cigarette box sized camera is great for outdoors, but not really very suited for macro/watch photography.
During that time of continuing frustration about seeing stunning watch photos on TZ and producing 69 ugly pictures out of 70 shots, I had posted a question about reflector cards. And I also clearly remember, that I was about to leave the house to go shopping for materials for reflector cards. Something was telling me I should check the forum again for additional shopping hints. And there they were, from the famous rkny ... just posted in the North American evening... I quickly printed out the post and left for the department store. Thanks rkny! And thanks all you patient people that had helped me to take better watch pictures.

Materials and Instructions:

1) card board, 4 pieces, A4 or Letter, depending where you live, you will find one or the other easily. Buy card board that is matt  or glossy white and silver on the other side. A good stationary shop or department will carry those cards. Then you are basically already done. If you live in a developing country like me, then please read on

2) white card board available only: buy silver paper, double sticking tape and tape the silver paper on side of the matt white card board (see below)

3) In any case, create one V-card connecting 2 white/silver card boards with a good fabric based electro insulation tape so you can flex the V-shape to a "silver-inside V" (like in picture) or to a "white-inside V". Depending on the light, silver might reflect too much light or might even throw back the reflected light from the watch's bezel and so on. Also crystal glare might be too strong if you put the V-shape to close to the object. Avoid reflector cards to be visible in the shot. Follow the link to my first shot with reflector cards on that September day. I was so excited about the new level of lighting and quality of the picture, I had simply forgotten to move the cards out of the picture. Whether to use the SILVER or WHITE side depends on many factors. I suggest you take a shot using either color and then check it on the PC and then decide whether to use SILVER or WHITE for the series.

4) Positioning the helpers during photography: place the V-card behind the object opposite to the main light source. Use additional reflectors to throw additional light to the watch dial. Or use the cards to block reflections of the windows/outside (during daylight photography). Experiment! You will need many shots if you are clumsy like me. Some people only need days to develop into watch photographers. My progress is easily recognizable on my private collection site. I was a very slow starter. I had neglected photography during the first 40 years of my life and only started to really become excited about it after it was about photographing watches. I have to add that the arrival of the Coolpix 995E in late September 2001, I often photographed without cards. The Coolpix with its unbelievable macro capabilities allows you to go close in many cases and by simply turning the object, you will be able to avoid glare etc. Trial and error and practice.

5) Additional tricks to scare off "thieves" of your watch pictures. Either use a digital watermark and add it in a separate layer onto your digital images. Use a print-out (enlarged) with your watermark as a background. Put your hands or an easily identifiable item of your household into the pictures. Keep using the same item or background and your friends will recognize your pictures when stolen and notify you.

A&F watch maker's pad (light green), 2 A4 sized white/silver card boards, 1 silver/white V-card, 1 watermark print out, 1 paper V made of normal laser printer paper (80 grams per square meter) to block window reflections, 1 zip lock bag to keep that dust away from your watches!

Reto Castellazzi, Bangkok, April 14th 2005