Not all that long ago David Hobby blogged about doing pro-bono work as a way to practice skills on subjects you might not otherwise get access to, and to help out your local community. I had the chance to shoot some menu items for a new restaurant across the street from me, and all I took in exchange was eating the food they wanted pictures of.

And that turned into this shoot, for Techno X Watches (site not fully up and running yet). Gorgeous diamond encrusted watches, and lots of them. If i hadn't done the shoot at the restaurant, he never would have found me, and a free job has turned into an ongoing opportunity.

Business practices aside, heres the full spread and how I did it after the jump.

I think I may have mentioned that I usually forget to take a setup picture when I do something cool. This time was unfortunately not an exception. A pair of sawhorses were supporting a sheet of glass that I had intended to use to make reflections, but ended up causing double images to appear, a big no-no.

A sheet of metal from my basement with a black paint job on one side saved the day. While it was dirty and scratched to hell, photoshop cleaned it up very nicely. Two white foamcores on either side provided some fill light from the small softbox directly above the watches. The light was being supported by a background stand, convenient, but just one way to do it. I would have preferred to be using my boom arm that was being borrowed.

The sawhorses and metal sheet were removed for the shot above, it was just the softbox and two cards on the sides. The position of the watches was the most important factor in composing this shot. We needed to show as much of the face as possible, on three watches facing different directions. And angling them wrong would cause the entire face to blow out because of the reflection.

This shot was done on the black reflective surface, with the cards and softbox remaining the same. Getting the right angle of the camera was the only hard part, while trying to make a compelling reflection that did more than just fall off.

In fact, the photography itself wasn't the hard part. The lighting setup remained somewhat static, usually only changing to fit in the swords vertically, or to bring in a second light for a little fill occasionally. The hard part, again, was the editing. For all the product photography I've done, theres been a certain amount of dust to deal with. And despite our best efforts, these guys were coated in it, even immediately after being wiped with a clean jewelry cloth.

Editing at 300% means you're covering an annoyingly tiny area, and each speck of dust has to be individually removed. Next time, I'm bringing canned air. The other challenge was a slight blue color cast on the inside of the faces, from the light going through the crystal and reflecting around off the interior of the watch. A brush set to saturation and on black removes all the color, but on diamonds and silver, you can't even tell. It makes the diamonds pop and look crisp and colorless like they should.

All of these pictures are (hopefully) going to be used in some promotional material for Techno X, so here's hoping that this is a tutorial for my first international campaign.

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