Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Watches!!!

So tired, and sleepless. I barely spent 3 hours in bed before coming to work but I didn't sleep at all in those. Frequent awakening, and I can swear I've heard voices in or near my head, I just don't know. I heard a child. I'm pretty sure it is not something normal at a time like 4:00 a.m. or even earlier than that. Now at work, I can't even have a nap even though I'm extremely exhausted. Something is messing with my mind and not putting it on ease. I'm trying to revive myself a bit with some classical music. These overtures do really have a blood-bumping effect at times!

I was, and still, so upset about this damn watch which is not to be fixed at all. After getting it back from the shop by Monday at 10:30 a.m., the next morning, Tuesday at 6:45 a.m., the dial fell down in my hand again, simply like that, in less than one day! I got so upset which made me go to the nearest shop and buy me 2 watches from some money I got from my sister as a gift.
My aim was really for one watch, which costed around 40KD, but I liked another one, which was cheap. I liked it simply because of its simplicity! It has a luster indeed. I've decided to take the two then, and keep one (the cheap) for regular use, and the expensive one for going out at nights only.

Back home, I reckoned that this might be a good opportunity to try out some "product photogaphy" with myself. But I have to admit things were done in a haste specially that I was planning to go to bed earlier (which didn't happen), and with problems in plug points to help me settle the lights around my home-made softbox. I made a real fuss! Anyway, it went along, and I shall explain things below.

Version one. RAW processing.

Well first of all, what I like about this watch is the convex lens and the simple design that makes everything clear like a crystal. Before catching this one, I already had made several trials with my telephoto and then my normal lens and so on until I got into a reasonable distance with my camera. Many settings for the light was fixed around the softbox (mainly 3 desk lamps with tornado-like energy saving bulbs, cool daylight). Finally, the settings that I thought was appropriate the most is this one here in Version one. Two lamps on the sides and the larger third one was sit on the edge of the softbox directly hitting the face of the watch. In the beginning there was a reflection of the bulb on the watch face, and hence I decided to use the camera's built-in flash to increase the luminance and overcome the reflection of the lamp. One thing here was missing though. The luster of the outside frame. In fact my desire for this luster or sparkle was the #1 reason to choose a small aperture (f22), but because I didn't pay much attention for the reflection and concentrating mainly on the watch face, I've completely forgot about it.

After this trial (and some others), I've decided to go as well for an HDR version in the same position. My idea was to reduce the light reflection a bit from the face if possible to make it more reasonable, or in other words, controlling the light and luminnance more if I can. Alas, my Photoshop and Photomatix gave me hard time with some weird erratic shapes showing on the display that made my mission uneasy at all and I had to resort to other methods, but finally, the tone-mapping was done in an uneasy way in Photomatix.

Version two. HDR tone-mapping.

I had a go with my fisheye lens as well but it was not that good at all specially for use wit a softbox. Mainly because of spacial problems in the place and I would need to get closer than what I used to be with my 18-55mm lens. However, I don't consider it a big deal since my first aim originally for buying a fisheye lens is to achieve suitable panoramas. Well, with a full-frame camera it would be awesome and I can get a panorama done in simply a flick of a finger!
Now I've finished with this watch, it's time for the real baby. This time, I didn't waste time and I went directly with HDR shooting (and probably I will consider single RAW files processing). This time, it was HDR shooting on 3 phrases. This is mainly because in such a close distance, it was hard to catch the full depth of the scene, and I planned to go on with focus stacking. With my problems in Photomatix now and these erratic shapes blocking my view, I created 3 HDR files in OpenEXR format in a batch process altogether.
After checking each EXR file, I've stacked them together but the blend option didn't work and simply gave an error (not a RAMs error this time but something in the software itself!). For this reason I had to go on and save each file as a PSD in 32bit format in hope that the stack blending would work, and it did indeed!

Second watch (final).

I faced some problems in the beginning with some weird noise showing up when blended together, and also manual tone-mapping was not a good option and I didn't want to resort back to photomatix again because its useless with the current problem. Also, I realized that the bluish hue caused by the lights generally and specifically by the WB settings (fluorescent) was not a good choice for this time of watch which has a golden hue in it. It's better to show the golden bands as more golden I presume, isn't it?
Finally, to overcome all, I've planned my own tone-mapping myself with adjustment layers and adjusting the exposure in specific areas, the sort of like dodging and burning in regular workflows. Then I added an adjustment layer to change the general hue into something "goldish" looking and more reflexive I believe to the real colors of the watch. However, after the final image was saved, I've added just tiny bit of cooling effect, just because I was afraid of "color bleeds" within the golden range. Color bleeds are when you have a specific color going so saturated and would look abnormal in an image. This cooling effect also helped with clearing the glass of the watch little bit instead of the heavy yellow hue that it had already.
I don't think I will be able to submit these images to any stock sites even if I removed the brand names anyway. As far as I know, the shape and the design of such products are also registered. Well, it was a good trial I believe and I might give it a try again tonight and this time I'll try my best to pay more attention to details.

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