Nickel photos

Keith R...

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Now considering that I just use a cheap standard digital camera with zoom, I have always had trouble taking nickel shots.
I think I'm getting closer by using a Plastic container with a square a bit bigger than my fist cut out near bottom on one side,
with the plastic bottom intact and a blue cloth bottom liner. I place the watch, or movement inside the jug through my fist whole
with an adjustable lamp pointed at the jug, (the fist size whole I stapled a cloth above, to drop like a curtain after placing the
watch in for a photo).

The top big round screw on lid atop the 18" tall jug has a big square cut in it, so my camera lens can poke through with the
rest of the screw on lid bracing and holding camera flat, (I can zoom, etc). Then once focused, I snap the photo and view the
screen. If I need to adjust lighting for serial numbers, I move the adjustable lamp. Thought I'd share my "cheap approach to
nickel shots". Keith

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topspin

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I have not yet mastered photographing my watches. The following are the things that I have determined so far -

It seems to go better in the daylight.
It varies as to whether it goes better with flash, without flash, or in "the camera decides whether to flash" mode, therefore it makes sense to try all 3.
It seems to focus better if there's a background texture.
Sometimes it focuses better if the camera is sufficiently far away that the zoom can be pushed past half way. Some slightly different program seems to activate at the half way point.

Although most ebay sellers have taken great photos from every angle, a significant minority don't appear to have even tried... the watch is just a blur. It is quite exciting unwrapping my £20 blur when it arrives... see what Santa (well, actually the postman) has brought me today...
 
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Keith R...

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topspin, there are points you hit on, (at least with my camera that are spot on). Focus better with back ground if there's background texture and
focuses better if camera is sufficiently far away that the zoom can be pushed past half way (my camera it's the auto focal point that zooms it to
good focus).

As for the flash thing, it screws me up more than helps, so I duct taped my flash so no flash shows itself at photo. I overcome the need for a flash
with the jug and an adjustable lamp. Day time, I can use angle and day light (with your back ground) to get plates, serial numbers and the like.
But I must admit, my day light shots must be timed for sun light through my picture window (since natural light works best this way, no flash).

Maybe more tips will pour in like yours, so digital photos will become a natural thing for watch collectors. Thanks for the help. Keith
 

gmorse

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Hi Keith,

Our brains do a lot of compensation for how the actual colour of objects, which is governed to a great extent by the colour of the light hitting them, is perceived by us. Natural daylight is rather blue, whereas most artificial light is warmer, tending towards yellow, and we interpret colours in both environments without really being aware of the differences, unless one or the other is at an extreme. However, cameras don't have this "compensation", and record what's there.

Most cameras' " auto" settings are balanced for natural daylight and hence produce yellowish pictures under artificial light, which is why your daylight shots look best. If your camera has the facility to set the "white balance", (often hidden away in a menu), which is the colour the camera regards as being white, you can get it to produce more realistic results in different artificial lighting. Using one of the simpler photo editors like Picasa can let you adjust the colour balance to some extent after the picture is taken.

Flash doesn't usually help with watches because of the presence of polished parts producing flare and very bright highlights, so Keith's rig using diffused light is the way to go, and it's the basis for all the light tents. Again, many cameras allow you to switch off the flash.

Regards,

Graham
 

Keith R...

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Thanks Graham, good response. Our good camera for the farm and life is a high dollar Cannon with all the bells and whistles. So, the wife had
received a Kodak share digital long ago with an AFX3 digital zoom and I kept it when I bought her the Cannon. However, there is no disable in
the menu screen for the flash, (tried that first). Since it was just dedicated to my watches I pushed the easy button and whipped out the duct tape.
I have a pretty good photo editor I purchased.

Of course, I'm no whiz bang at digital anythings, just rounding 60...............so maybe there's an old camera book that will zero me in on the
watch camera to disable the flash and remove the classic duct tape. Thanks again, Keith

Hole............not Whole. SPELL CHECK
 
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Keith R...

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^Those Britt's are on to something. Same jug, same adjustable lamp, but Gold & Gilt works good with process also. My cats donated this empty Deli-Cat food jug for Horology. Keith

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captainscarlet

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I'm no photographer, so I'm always keen to learn new tricks for any watch photo's I take. Currently I use an ancient Sony cybershot, digital camera. All my photo's are done outside preferably on a cloudy day using the macro (Usually a button with a small flower logo on it) function. As long as I keep steady, I can get some pretty acceptable photos:)
 

Keith R...

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Thanks for the feedback, I actually had a Sony cybershot digital camera long ago. They were great for zooming in and shooting watch movements.
Not sure whatever happened to it. This method I've described eliminates the need to spend money on those "light tents". What started me on this method was the inability to get nickel shots (which I could on days as you describe for gilt movements, always had trouble with nickel).
Thus the Jug was born, for diffusing light. Keith
 
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Firegriff

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There are a lot of cameras that used to be high dollar cameras 5 years ago really cheep on the Major online auction site I got a a very nice Nikon D40 for under $75 works just fine.
 

Keith R...

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Now this is what I was looking for, feedback. Now there are two older cameras on this thread that work "for watches", (captainscarlet & Firegriff).
Thanks for the feedback guys. Keith
 

Firegriff

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For lighting I use the ring LED light that came with my inspection microscope it is adjustable for brightness and gives a good color to the shot and fits the standard lens.
 

Keith R...

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Thanks Firegriff, I'll check out a ring LED light since I have a standard lens (but with zoom extension). Here is only one photo I just took using
topspin's advice for distance (18") for auto focus and his dark background, Graham's light diffusion principles and his photo software editor for
lighting/color adjustment. I will be adding a second light for cross lighting with one visit to Wally world. Test photo is an old 930 Rockford LS. Keith

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captainscarlet

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Keith, here are a few of my cloudy day macro shots. No zoom, or flash, and around 150kb each. I'm sure a proper photographer would pick many faults, but they do for me. Point and shoot:)
DSC02403.JPG DSC02913.JPG DSC02937.JPG DSC02977.JPG
 

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pmwas

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I'm no master, but Usually dependent on the light and angle, I either get more detailed damaskeening, or more detailed movement markings with the damaskeening pattern less exposed. Something seen also in the pictures above. Getting boty the markings and the damaskeening right takes more skill and perhaps equippment.
 

Keith R...

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Thanks pmwas & captainscarlet, Shots like captainscarlet shows are angle and low light dependent, (cloudy day) which I could do in the
past but had to hand hold the movement. Second photo is the best. But pmwas is on the money, my jug photos are overcoming my
lack of equipment. The camera I use I am compensating for lighting and place small folded pieces of paper to angle the movement.
The jug I use helps me get rid of camera shake and manage lighting. I have a model 6 Rockford coming back home after several
years now in nickel, so hope to capture some good nickel shots both in the jug and trying captainscarlet's cloudy day method.
See which one gives me the best results. I am also getting a second adjustable lamp to light up the jug on the opposing side.
Thanks for the feedback guys. Keith
 

Keith R...

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Now, here are my model 6 Rockford photos, I can almost get the overcast look shown by captainscarlet. However, I'll give a last photo where I've
shot a different angle (pmwas) and picked up damaskeening traits of the watch but serial numbers are not that legible. I'll get there. Tips welcome.
Keith

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Keith R...

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Last demonstration of photo light diffusion, process as follows:

1. One 18" tall, 6" wide, 11" long semi-white plastic jug.
2. Two Wally world adjustable lamps with round bases cross aimed at jug.
3. Cut a square whole near bottom for hand opening to place watch through.
4. Cut a square hole in the top round screw on lid for your camera lens to poke through.
5. Allow your camera to rest atop the lid with lens poking through.
6. Turn on lamps, and adjust for the naked eye to read dials, or engravings thus the camera is ready.
7. Position camera atop screw on lid with lens poking through, focus and shoot.

Here is the photo using this process. I'm posting so that if anyone wants to try this light diffusion process
for photos, a second lamp does the trick. Keith

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