Sunday, October 10, 2010

Watch Photography: Poor Man's Edwin H. Heusinkveld Technique/Set-Up

One of my favorite watch photographers in TimeZone is Edwin H. Heusinkveld. For me, he takes some of the best and cleanest dial shots and he uses an ingenious system of flashes, sheets of paper and trash bins.

Here is an example of one of his shots and below is the set up that he used to take the shot. You can read more about his set-up here. I've borrowed some pictures directly from that


I've been wanting to try this technique but I don't have the macro lens, the external flash (more so the four flashes he used in his set up!), a trash bin like that, and especially I'm quite far from having those really nice watches. I do have my built in flash, my 17-55mm lens and lots of paper though.

So with his set up in mind, and the materials I have, I tried to replicate his style. This is is the result with my Steinhart Nav B-Uhr II and my Seiko BFS.
Seiko SNKF05K1 BFS

Not bad but not really the look I wanted. With my single light set up, I definitely still had shadows in some areas of the watch, noticeable at the top part which is basically the surface that wasn't directly hit by light. and some highlights at the bottom part of the image. I'm happy though that the bond paper did a good job of diffusing the light, as I cant see too many harsh areas considering the built in flashes are known for direct frontal lighting that usually cause burnt highlights, especially on reflective surfaces. Another difference is my depth of field is too much, nothing like the bokeh and background blurring achieved in Edwin's images. This could be attributed to his Macro lens, which at 100mm can definitely create creamier bokeh than my 17-55mm lens. Another thing is that since my watches lay flat on the surface, I did not get the separation that was needed to really blur the  rest of the bracelet/strap as well. A watch stand would have been nice to create some depth between the dial, strap, and the background. I also noticed that this technique is unforgiving to scratches and smudges on watches. Next time, I need to do a better job of cleaning my watch.

I'm not sure if he applied some post crop vignette to  his images. I think he did because the top and the bottom parts of the images seem to have a black gradient going on but I cannot really say for sure because the corners are just all shadows. I definitely post processed mine to pull the black levels so that the background becomes completely black. Here are the unprocessed image of the shot above.
Seiko SNKF05K1 BFS

Here is the set up that I used for this exercise.
IMG_0312 IMG_0314 

Here are some more images using the same technique.
Seiko SNKF05K1 BFS   Steinhart Nav. B-Uhr II 44mm Automatic
Seiko SNKF05K1 BFS Steinhart Nav. B-Uhr II 44mm Automatic

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