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Discussion Starter #1
The photos and videos for my collection site and the My Collection thread are made on a budget and several people have asked me to post some information about that.
My 'photo studio' basically consists of a set of LED work lamps, a cheap light box, a motorized watch stand and a camera on a tripod. Details are down below and links can be found in a blog post on my collection site (I wasn't sure if I'm allowed to post those here).



Light box
3 x IKEA TERTIAL work lamp USD 15
3 x IKEA LED bulb 1000lm 13W 2700K USD 7
Light box from eBay USD 13

The lamps are mounted to the wall and can be freely positioned around the light box. As reflections are always a problem when photographing watches, the lights and the camera are positioned so that the reflections are minimal at 0 and +-45 degrees.
The light box is foldable to about 22cm in diameter and in the upper position the lamps serve as the workbench lighting.

Watch stand
WeMos D1 Mini (ESP6288) USD 3.15
5V Stepper Motor 28BYJ-48 USD 1.83
5V 3A step down voltage regulator USD 1.14
2S LiPo battery USD 8
Watch holder USD 0.50 with custom made adapter
Can to house the stepper motor
Custom made Android app


The watch stand is controlled over WiFi with an Android app. It can turn continuously clock or counter clock wise, rotate relatively in 5 degree steps or it can be positioned at 8 predefined absolute positions. Two positioning sequences can be programmed so the stand could for example turn clock wise 45 degrees then counter clock wise 90 degrees and then positioned absolutely at 0 degrees.
The stand is something I just put together to make life easier and it is not a finished product nor for sale - at least not in its current version. With about USD 15 it's cheap and not that hard to build.

Camera gear
SONY Alpha (16-50mm lens)
Manfrotto BeFree tripod with ball head

Camera settings
Camera in manual mode (M)
Aperture: 18
Focal length: 50mm
White balance: 2700K

Settings photos:
Shutter: 1/4
ISO: 400

Settings videos:
Shutter: 1/60
ISO: 4000

Editing
The freely available image editor GIMP could be used to resize the photos, adjust the color, the brightness and the contrast. The photos of Time Art Piece are usually edited with Photoshop.
The videos are edited in the freely available editor DaVinci Resolve which is a great tool.

The results





 

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Pretty cool work! I'd try to find some kind of black disc to replace the can (or find a black plastic lid to cover the can?)
I've discovered that taking great watch pictures is challenging!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@user384h you're welcome, thanks for commenting. The LED bulbs are 2700K and setting the white balance to 2700K gives about the same result as an incandescent setting. But I'm no expert, that's just what I'm using.

@riff raff thanks! I thought about a black cover as well but then found it looks ok with the can exposed. You could maybe call it industrial design and then there is the recognition factor as well - I'm not a professional photographer so I've got nothing to lose. And then black is delicate concerning the dust. But I'll give it a try and see if it would be a visual improvement.

@Sherpat I've paid USD 1 at the grocery store for the can including the pineapples. So don't buy it from a watch supplier as they charge you at least USD 37.80. I could send you the pineapples but I'm afraid this won't be of any help for you.

@imbamember you're welcome thanks for commenting!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Polarizing Filter Test

I did some testing with a polarizing filter and these is my findings:
- I had to either increase the ISO setting or decrease shutter speed.
- There is a limit for decreasing shutter speed for videos and a high ISO setting introduces noise.
- The LC panel darkens at certain angles when using a polarizing filter.
- There is a light rainbow effect visible on the plastic stand with the polarizing filter.
- There seems to be not much that couldn't be corrected in post-processing if no polarizing filter is used.

In my case using a polarizing filter doesn't seem to make sense but I'm no reference at all concerning photography.

Polarizing filter no post-processing:


Polarizing filter with post-processing:


No filter no post-processing:


No filter with post-processing:
 

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Great BTS info, thanks for sharing!

Regarding polarizing filters: the reason you have to use a slower shutter speed or larger ISO is because of the slight tinting of the glass. Polarizing filters can make a huge difference if you're dealing with strong reflections (I've used them when shooting cars to get rid of window and body panel reflections). But to get them to work right, you have to rotate the filter until it's in the exactly correct position. It's best to experiment a bit with rotating it, until you're satisfied.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@MrAaro thank you for the input! When photographing LC displays you'd have to adjust the filter so that the display stays visible which doesn't necessarily mean that the reflections are reduced. When taking videos of rotating LC displays the display blacks out at certain angles with the filter on.
I wish I had more knowledge, time and patience for photography as I admire professionally taken watch photos.
 
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