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Watch Photo and Retouch/Enhancement

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  #1  
Old 12-17-2005, 07:59 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Lightbulb Watch Photo and Retouch/Enhancement

Hi Folks. I ran into a photographer who had to photograph this watch I'm posting for his client. He is not experienced with jewelry work and asked me to "do something with it." He and the client apparently weren't thrilled with the result, so I decided to take a crack at it. The original photo out of the Canon 20D was very dark and noisy, so I applied levels because it was so dark. It was also in a green cigar type gift box. That's all I did on the original. Now the retouch. I was a bit overwelhmed where to start, so I started cleaning up nicks and scratches. The watch had a green color cast, so I balanced the color then applied desaturate because it is a silver band. Next, I made selections, each with individual layers on each band segment and experimented with applying gradients until I could get some sense of the lighting and 3D effect. I tweaked the edges also. Added a bit of noise for texture. I applied smart blur to various parts to even out the metal and reflections. Next, I worked on the face. There were shadows, so I tried to lighten areas and applied shadow and embossing to bring out the numbers and hands. The org hands were set to 11:45, so I had to clone out and cut and paste and used a layer mask. I blurred the black parts on the center. Pro watch photos usually are set about 9-10 past 10 o'clock which is necessary to show the brand and any other lettering on the piece. Applied a bit of unsharp mask at the end. Whew, I don't know where else to take it, but any advice is welcome. Go for it if you want. Watch retouching takes a bit of time, so any way to speed the process up will help. After doing it though, now I want to do more watch work. I had a blast, but a lot of trial and error. I used PS 7.0 on the Mac and a Wacom tablet. regards steveb
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  #2  
Old 12-17-2005, 10:29 PM
Xaran Xaran is offline
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You've done an excellent job Steve - my only question would be the colour of the watch face - in the original it looks a different colour to the case. There is also a lot of graininess in the shadow on the face. Assuming the photo is required for insurance purposes it needs to be accurate.

Christine
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2005, 12:40 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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hi steve,

a couple items here. you didnt mention what the photo is going to be used for. that might make a difference in how you finish the piece. if it's for a photo ad or something along those lines then i'd reduce the background to a blur. that case just doesnt work right in the photo. i'd say take it out completely but that would leave you with a partial band and that wouldnt be good. so, blur it down.

another thing i noticed on the band was that the original seems to have a brushed metal finish, while your retouch seems to have a polished finish. if this is being done for a commercial ad this would be a mis-representation.

and even though you've got a good contrast going on, there's something a bit flat about the lighting... not a lot of punch there. but again, this would depend on the use of the photo. if it's for advertising then i would try to punch it up a bit somehow. jewelry is one of the few places where you can blow out the whites and actually have it look ok, but i'm not quite sure that's what it needs. but it does seem a bit lackluster if being used for advertising. maybe it's the case that's pulling it down...not quite sure and having a hard time putting my finger on what it is i'm seeing or not seeing that i feel is a bit off here, at least for advertising.

overall, it's a good job. you did a good job on removing the green and sharpening and contrast and showing the watch, but it's also lacking that something that makes it showing OFF the watch as opposed to just showing it.

Craig
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Old 12-18-2005, 05:04 AM
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Just had a little play with the image
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  #5  
Old 12-18-2005, 02:38 PM
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Watch Ret cont

Hi Craig, Christine. Thanks for taking the time to critique the watch retouch. You have made some good points to check out. The org watch photo was very poor, mainly that the photographer didn't shoot with a light tent and from the look of the watch face and the reddish color cast, I would assume that there was a white balance problem. The exposure was underexposed at least by one or two stops. He has never shot jewelry before, so he is trying to learn. He is a good people photographer and product worker. The org watch is way too grainy to print in a high end ad. This retouch was kind of a "blind" one, without seeing the product. The retouch was an experiment and I definitely took some liberties. Not sure what the client wanted to do with the shots. As a reference, I looked at some real high quality jewelry and watch mags to guide me along. Of course, I imagine those watches are shot with a 4x5 digital or chrome, because the resolution and lighting are primo. I see some retouching has been done on some of them, but they are getting most of the quality from the camera and the experience of the photographer. I like the forum here for critique and since we are anonymous, there is no bias because we really don't know each other personally. The criticism here is constructive and directions for improvment. One thing I wasn't sure about, was how to maintain the metal texture on the band using a gradient, other than noise. Any ideas there? I'll post an update when ready. regards steveb
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Old 12-18-2005, 03:11 PM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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I dont see the brushed metal being as much of a problem as other parts.
The client is happy and thats the main thing but from an advertising point of view the watch you're presenting is not the watch I would recieve if I were to buy it.
I acknoledge your reasons for moving the hands, i dont have a problem with that but I do have a problem with the fact that you changed the hands, rather than moving the existing hands, you replaced them with hands that arent even similar to the real thing.
The other thing is the face of the watch, if I were to see your picture and buy the watch for my boyfriend, I would be calling up the shop to complain that they'd sent the wrong one, if I'd recieved a pink watch.

As I said, I dont see the brushed metal being a problem because everyone does it - it would be better if they didnt but thats life I suppose.
All that aside the watch looks much better than the ones on the cartier website.
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Old 12-18-2005, 10:41 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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steve,

the metal texture can be maintainted by simply making selections of the greenish areas and desaturating them. all the texture remains and none of the green.

i gave this one a bit of a shot also. i'm not real keen on the uneven shadows and tried to reduce them a bit, but any more in the manner in which i was doing it would have compromised the rest of the image too much. i'm thinking 'reshoot' or a some fairly meticulous hand work on that part. then again, if you like the shadows on the face like then, then ok.

i also made a selection of the face and desaturated it.

i did a little sharpening here and there with the sharpen brush. just small things like the numerals and name and so on.

i didnt try to remove the reflection at the top of the watch either. that was just laziness and not preference

i also tried some experiments with luminosity frequencies but it didnt really work well and discarded that.

i also did nothing to the background. again, laziness not preference.

since this isnt for a high-end ad, then what you posted was pretty good. in looking at it again in light of the critiques of others, i have to agree with the removing of the one hand set and replacing it with another. not a good idea. i also noticed in looking at this again today that the old second hand is still there to some degree.

so, if it's not for a high-end ad, i take it this is just for practice or something??

Craig
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  #8  
Old 12-19-2005, 01:23 AM
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Watch Cont

I have seen some watch shots that were original and the retouching took some definite liberties, either by changing band color, tweaking the faces and a few other things. I emailed the photographer the retouch and he liked most of what I did. The face still needed some work. Of all the books available on retouching, I'm not aware of any reference to jewelry/watch enhancement. This seems to be a closely guarded secret, almost like a magician revealing how he pulls off an illusion. There is no question that this is something that you pretty much are on your own, but at least here, it gave me more possibilities to try out. High end jewelry and watches have to make an impressive impact, especially in print. You have something small like a ring that is printed on a full page and it really has to pop. I'm still in the dark how these guys are pulling it off, but it is out there. I'll keep plugging away at it and learn as I go. regards steve
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  #9  
Old 12-19-2005, 07:30 AM
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steve,

yes, i dont recall running into any tuts or processes that were specificaly aimed at jewelry. so, i've found working on the ones you posted interesting. i'm going to have to quit throwing out all that junk mail from retail stores and actually start looking at their ads. not to buy, of course, but to garner some secrets

also, since i'm not an 'expert' on this subject by a long shot, i'm actually curious on some feedback from you when i, or someone else, posts a picture example of one of your posts...when we do a rendition of something of yours. when you say nothing about our pieces i take it to mean, 'ok, thank you, but no thank you'. now, that's my fault for doing so and not necessarily what you mean, but i'm curious, for example, of what you thought of my renditions of your rings and now this watch. in my book, it's ok to critique the critiquer and i'd actually like your comments on my examples of your pictures. i think this sort of tit for tat helps all of us learn here.

so, if you care to keep the dialog open, i'm here.

Craig
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  #10  
Old 12-19-2005, 11:11 AM
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The Watch Cont

Hey Craig. Since I am one of the few retouchers who posts my jewelry work on this board, I am glad you and everyone else interested makes a contribution. Your advice about desaturating the watch band to keep texture was very helpful. The watch you did was good. My only comment is that the face was overexposed and detail was lost. I have noticed that the high end watch photos actually put the most importance on the face and hands which should be 10 past 10 o'clock. It's ok to put things in that make improvement, even though the original has problems such as reflections, shadows, etc. I applied embossing to punch the numbers a bit. My approach to jewelry is to make the real look the best it can be, even if I take liberties. I'm not being paid as a jewelry retoucher, so I am in the learning stage. I'm guilty of spending time looking at catalog ads of fine watches and jewelry and never paid much attention to them until I started on my quest. If you can get a copy of Harper's Bazaar, Nov 2005 issue, they have a lot of great jewelry ads and a pullout booklet. Check that out if you want. There are many great retouchers who do people, but the jewelry club is almost nil. I will keep posting my work and you keep offering your help and comments and vice versa. Looks like you want to become a member of the fraternity like I do. I know I don't comment on other people's work like I probably should, however I always learn and apply ideas and I hope others can learn from me. When I post future work, I'll try to be more explicit on what I'm looking for to make the piece better. Get ready, I just shot a bunch of jewelry and products this week, so I'll get something up when ready. BTW, this whole site has been my college course to learn to become more skilled in the art. Let's keep it going. regards, steveb
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