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I use a cone made out of translum to take watch photos. This creates a reflection on the crystal/face of the watch. Is there a way to avoid this? I need these head on shots to look like the rolex photo I have attached. Tag Heuer and Hamilton watches are my photos. Rolex photo is the goal. Any help is much appreciated. Post production abilities are novice. Equipment used: 2 strobe lights on either side. 1 strobe light for background. A translum cone. Camera: iso 100, 1/125, f13

Cone I use

can see reflection of cone

this photo is the goal

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is probably entirely irrelevant, but I've noticed in these kinds of sales-type photos that watches seem to almost always be set to 10:10. The Tag Heuer is set to something else. Of course not a photographic consideration - just mentioning it. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Aug 24, 2023 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did some product type stuff yonks ago and was always told, ten to two. Always. CLients always pick up on that stuff. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24, 2023 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ This might be useful: youtu.be/JP3ykBzk_RU?si=aYMSjeipa9pGkqLE and maybe this too youtu.be/JbwYYUZYVGk?si=BvRzFL1qYlL6new5 - that said, cone? No idea where that came from but the studio setups i've seen for those shots would not be cones, would actually be a fairly complicated setup in a studio, with multiple flags, reflectors, strobes, etc and oodles of post processing. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24, 2023 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @osullic - it is absolutely a consideration. Clients want everything perfect, including where those hands are. How the flag flies, how the rotors turn, etc, everything gets picked at with a fine tooth comb. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24, 2023 at 17:11

2 Answers 2

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The Rolex photo was not taken with a cone. You can see that because of the gradients of the reflections which show some rectangular zones.

But leaving that apart, you can put some pillar below the watch so it is higher, so less part of the cone's reflection shows. You can even try using it backward.

enter image description here

You could also make some DIY cones of different heights and angles and size openings.

They do not need to be conical. As I said, the Rolex photo does not look like a conical diffuser at all. You can make some cylindrical or rectangular.

If for some reason adding a pillar does not work, you could try masking the inconvenient zone using a black cone inside the translucent cone. Try velvet paper.

enter image description here


But some photos can place specific source lights (you have more control putting reflective foamboard, than translucent materials), carefully placed. Sometimes even the crystal cover is removed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great idea with the velvet paper, I will give that a try. Without the cone, the dial is a bit dark. The cone does seem to brighten up the dial (for example the markers and half of the hands pop on the Tag). Whatever they use, it diffuses the light throughout the rolex, even on the dial. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mike
    Aug 24, 2023 at 6:47
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When you light a reflective subject I find it better to think entirely in terms of creating the environment the object will reflect, rather than in terms of "lighting." And when you think in terms of reflections, it becomes obvious that what is happening is that the watch crystal is reflecting the dark opening of the cone (and the camera/lens in it); with the rest reflecting the lighter walls of the cone.

No matter what you do there will be a dark spot (reflected lens/camera) showing in a reflective subject like this. You can make it easier to edit out by making it smaller (increasing the camera distance). To do that with a cone you would need to make the cone much taller.

Your other option is to make the opening of the cone (dark circular reflection) exactly the same size/shape of the crystal. This has the benefit of masking the direct reflection of the light walls on the watch crystal, making the face/hands easier to see. But doing this is pretty finicky. You need to ensure the opening is uniformly dark and circular; might need to mask any open areas not filled by the lens. And you need to adjust it's relative size by adjusting the distance of the opening.

Another option is to not do a directly overhead shot. This image was also taken with a cone and two lights. But you can still see the reflection of the opening/lens on the bezel at the 5 o'clock position. To remove that reflection would require editing, and probably compositing a second image taken with different angles.

enter image description here

As Rafael noted, the reference Rolex image was not taken with a cone. The key to that image is large light sources; 2 softboxes, multiple reflectors (or small white room), the camera placed a good distance away so that it created a very small reflection (easier to edit out)... and possibly a polarizer (to eliminate reflections on glass) or a circular black flag for the crystal. Plus editing...

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