I'm interested in watch photography but it's not something I've done before and wanted some pointers before I started.

This is the sort of thing I'm talking about:

Watch reflected in water with stones

It's one of several images from this article.

I guess the first question is - is that watch actually IN water or is it a photoshop job?! I'm guessing it's in the water, so how do I set this up?

I have a light box thing and have shot a few macro product style shots in it with varying degrees of success. Would I be best with a light on either side and one above? Should I be using a macro lens and getting in close, or staying as far back as I can with a telephoto? Would a CPF help? I was going to fill a pan with water to set the watch in, how do I make sure I get the best possible reflection? I mean, what should I have in the pan (it's glass so do I line it with black, white, shiny etc?) The more I look at these shots, the more questions I have!!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I seem to recall a discussion of watch shoots a year or so ago. Several people mentioned removing the crystal to reduce unwanted reflections. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is hard to say if such images are real. It might not even be just photoshopped, but the example image can just as well be a ray-traced, entirely computer-generated image without having had any real objects like a watch or the stones in front of a camera lens. \$\endgroup\$
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CarlWitthoft I seem to remember it too. I looked but couldn't find it, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


I shoot a lot of product photographs and can assure you that producing such an image with intermediate photoshop skills is not particularly difficult. About the only thing that may have been actually photographed was the rocks, although I'm not even so sure about that. The watch itself looks like an industry-standard, decent quality render and the sky likely pulled from some bank of stock sky images. There are imaging services that will take a real product and will scan, photograph, and reassemble a product in virtual 3D allowing a customer nearly infinite compositional options for their product. In fact, this is how it's possible to take a diamond ring image and put it on a billboard three stories tall. They don't just expand a 20Mb file!

"Wrapping" the watch around the rock is trivial, as is building the reflection in the (fake) water.

In fact, the reflection is clearly fake....and a poor job at that: note that the reflected sections to the right of the face clearly mirror an incorrect angle. Also note that for a chrome finish, none of the adjacent rocks are reflected in the band. It's also worth noting how the water covering the watch face is not clear, but black....like used motor oil. Does water really behave like that? But that's what you want; actual and real reflections of foreground matter would distract from the point of the image: highlighting the watch....and only the watch.

Generally, building such images in photoshop is preferred as each and every element and layer can be precisely controlled to maximize the impact of the product itself. Composition can be easily rearranged, exposures and saturation adjusted, and shadows precisely created.


I'm pretty sure that the result is a combination of at least two photo editing tools. First, look at water and clouds in the pics. Seem a bit unreal? Usually this effect can be achieved by using HDR photo editors, something like https://aurorahdr.com I think this composition was shot without a watch and then simply edited. Afterwards they just added a pic of wristwatch. As it was previously mentioned, it can be a picture, not a real object. All in all, it seems the image has more to do with painting than with photography.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it automatically follows that what you can't understand about this image is automatically down to editing or the tool you've linked to. This could easily be done other ways in a studio setting. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 19:50

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