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The $5 Watch Shot

The cheapest watch I could find, that was my mission! I decided I wanted to create a magazine advertising image using a really cheap watch, my goal was to replace the luxurious and expensive aspect of the image  with a unknown brand but still maintaining that feel of expense and luxury in the final shot, also to focus on the photography and the importance and impact it has on advertising. I don't have access to top high end brand items but I want my portfolio to look high end so focusing on the creative side of the image rather than the product is my aim going forward so I can create a much more professional looking portfolio.  The purpose of this post is to show you folk my approach to lighting and creating this image in the hope it will benefit others, you can watch the full behind the scenes video below.

 I always sketch out my ideas its a great way to visualise the final shot and keeps me focused on creating that vision. You can see from my first couple of sketches the concept/idea changed in the final image but for the better, I thought it would have more impact by creating the waterfall and splashes.

        With the sketch I have a great start, sourcing the materials was straight forward, a hand full of plum slate from the garden ( Don't buy it if you don't have to!)

To form the shape I had in mind in the sketch I used a hot glue gun and glued the slate into place.

Once I have the slate in a form I am happy with I need to clamp it to a light stand to have it floating mid air,  I use clear acrylic rods to do this  which are hot glued to the underside of the slate.

The next step is to glue the watch to the stones but before I do I need to make the strap rigid so it holds its shape and also making it easier to fix to the slate.

Simply cutting a thin strip of plastic, taping it together so it pulls the watch strap tight allows me to keep the form, now I can use  blu tack to fix the watch to the slate.

With the watch in place I can start shooting, now with most product photography using a scrim is a must as it allows for a better gradient of light which just can't  be replicated with a soft box and they are super easy to make, see below.

Tracing paper on a roll 20m x 1m enough to last a while! I will link to all the gear at the end.

 Overflow pipe and 90 bends for the frame.  No need to glue, gaffer tape will hold it all in place.

Cut it to your required size, fit the 90 bends then tape the tracing paper to the frame and that's it! 

With the scrim  in place I can now start positioning my Citi 600 strobe above the scrim and moving it until I am happy with the position of the light and specifically the way the light is falling on the watch.

I now need a light source from below and the easiest way is to use a piece of silver mirrored card, and simply positioning that under the watch, will bounce that light back and fill in the shadows. I won't get this in one take, working in such a small space is difficult to work around to many light stands, so taking a few frames and combining them in photoshop is going to be how I create this image using just two lights.

Happy with all of the images for the watch I now want to add a little interest to the stones, to do this I will use a pika 200 and the optical snoot and using a scatter gobo this will add dappled light to the slate.

Next I want to add a defined ball of light on the background again I will use the optical snoot and the spot gobo to achieve this, The snoot makes this very easy to achieve that sharp circle of light.

The only element to add to this image now is the water, there is definitely a technique to creating those lovely sheets of water which the light bounces  off! I got lucky and 25 shots in I nailed a great shot of the water falling behind the watch.

I am running solo here so my wireless trigger is my best friend at this point, well that and some good timing! I now need to create the water splash through the stones and the process is the same, this will also take a few frames which will be combined in post.

I made sure I had buckets in place to catch the falling water but water gets everywhere so be sure to cover everything!

So now I have all of the frames I need I can now combine them all in photoshop 

This is the image all combined.

 Now I run it through Topaz Labs add some contrast, saturation, sharpening, and a little blue tone to the water for the final image.  F16 1/125 iso 100

So that was the whole process of how I created this image, loved creating it and this post along with the video, really hope you get something from this post, I am going to head back into the studio now and tidy up my mess! Until next time folks!


Acrylic rods.

Tracing Paper

Plastic tube.

90 bends.

600 Strobe.

200 Strobe.

c stand.



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