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How to photograph watches and jewelry

I have just recently learned how to photograph watches and I would like to share that with you. The problem with photographing any shiny reflective item is that you are basically photographing a mirror. Exposure is easily off and you are seeing yourself, the camera or other nearby items in the picture. Shiny metal parts are as problematic as a polished watch crystal. Everything seems to reflect no matter how you hold the watch.

To produce good pictures of a very shiny reflective watch you will need very evenly distributed diffused light and you need to hide yourself, other objects and the camera.

Professional photographers use for this a white chamber that is evenly illuminated with artificial light. Those chambers start at about 1000$.

home made chamber for photographing watches

I found a much simpler solution that works extremely well: Use an old 1-gal canister made out of matt white polyethylene. These canisters are widely used for windshield washer fluid, anti-freeze, sometimes cheap vegetable oil, ... Clean such a canister and cut a small opening in the side as shown above. It should be just wide enough for your hand to reach through. On the bottom you place a piece of white cardboard.

Take the canister-photo-chamber outside on a sunny day, avoid direct sunlight and you can start shooting the best watch and jewelry photos. It is useful to have a macro lens on the camera.

A photo of a Molnija pocket watch taken in our home made light chamber

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