Watch Photography – A Balancing Act – Art Or Authentic Representation?

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend on one of the watch forums. I’ve had a similar debate on a not so civilised forum where most of the participants couldn’t tell the difference between a DSLR and their GrandMa’s mobile phone, so the debate was a tad pointless. Today’s discussion, however, was with a guy who knows his way round a camera, particularly when it comes to watch photography, so he has my complete respect. I posted an image on the forum, as I do from time to time, and he respectfully chimed in to say that if the white balance was corrected the image, in his eyes, would be perfect.

Now this raises an interesting issue. Obviously, if we’re photographing a watch in order to sell it to someone we should be taking photographs that as accurately as possible portray the watch in question and it’s condition. No argument there. However, if we’re producing images that are “artistic” then we’re doing something quite different. Here we’re artists, painting a picture with our camera, the subject matter of which is a watch but we’re free to portray it in any which way we choose. If we want a splash of red reflection then in it goes. If a warm white balance better suits the ambience of the image we’re trying to create, then so be it, in the same way that in the days of film we chose the film which best suited what we had in our heads. Today, we develop the film in Photoshop and other such programs but the thought process is still the same.

Then we have the problem of monitors. Unfortunately, there is no standard that dictates how manufacturers should calibrate their monitors so the result is if we’re not using the identical monitor then we’re not seeing the same image that the photographer meant us to. This may always be the case so it’s simply something we’re going to have to live with and it’s unfortunately the bane of showing images on the internet.

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet

For me, at the end of the day, if you’re producing artistic images, whether those images are of watches or lesser spotted Chinese Naked Dogs, you are the artist, so do what you want with them. It’s actually not possible for the white balance to be “wrong” in an artist image, or the colours too strong, the rendition too fine.. blah, blah, blah.. An artistic image is exactly that and you can take it or leave it. And you’ll do exactly that, depending on whether your eyes and brain agree with the photographer and editor or not.

That said, if you’re talking to people with great knowledge it’s always worth listening. The forum member in question played with the WB of one of my images and I personally didn’t like the result. However, as I stared at his edit I realised that a WB correction or adjustment to the bracelet alone would actually improve the images and lo and behold, when I implemented that edit, it did. So, despite my stance on artistic imagery, I still learnt something and the said forum member probably tweaked my way of editing images for the better. For the better? Well, at least in my eyes and on my monitor… So, the two images above are the ones we talked about. The second image in this article is the first image I posted. The first image in this article is the tweaked one, where the bracelet is WB adjusted to be a tad more accurate. Which do you prefer?

On a side note, I once published an image of a rather nice Rolex Datejust resting on a freshly produced dog turd.
Literally thousands of people viewed that image. Many loved it whilst others loathed it. Some reported using it as a screensaver, others posted about their inability to eat their lunch after viewing it. For me, art is just that: art. It’s where the rules are dropped and imagination is allowed to take over.

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – 30 Seconds – Industrial Series

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – Industrial Series

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – Industrial Series

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – Industrial Series

EDC Gear CNC Aluminum Survival Kit Waterproof Storage Capsule – AKA UK Coin Wallet

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This is an interesting bit of kit and not expensive, either. The Solid Design Slim Wallet is great for carrying cards and notes but it doesn’t help with coins…

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This little tube comes out of China and is sold as a “survival capsule” complete with a rather daft set of matches, sewing kit and some ear-buds. The kit inside is more novelty than survival and is the kind of stuff you’d find in a Christmas cracker but…

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…the tube itself is good quality, anodised aluminium, it’s fully water-proof (via a rubber O ring seal) and it just happens to be the perfect size to accommodate £1 coins and 20 pence pieces and any coins of the same size or smaller. 10ps and 50s won’t fit but nowadays I tend to use coins for one of two things: parking meters and supermarket trolleys and for those the most useful coins are £1s and 20s.

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Most days I carry a black 5.11 Tactical Rush MOAB 6 shoulder bag with all my essential EDC stuff in it. This little tube takes up no space at all and saves me scratching round in the bottom or the bag (or my pockets) for loose coins. These are available with various branding but the cheapest way to buy one (or two… I have another that accommodates my tooth-picks) is to buy direct from China. This eBay seller stocks them and although the shipping is about three to four weeks, it’s free and gets here eventually. At £4.57 ($8 US) shipped it’s hard to beat and I’ve seen branded versions of the exact same capsule selling for £20-£45 and upwards. A 5 star bit of kit in my book!

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet + ICOM HM177 GPS Mic

DAMASKO DC66 ON OEM BRACELET + ICOM HM177 GPS MIC

OK, that’s the last in the Damasko DC66 on OEM bracelet series. Hopefully now there are a few half decent images of that watch and bracelet combo for future researchers to peruse. It’s a fun watch to photograph though not entirely easy with it’s blue tinted AR coating and even the iced steel can produce reflective challenges when using lighting.

DAMASKO DC66 ON OEM BRACELET WITH BOKER PLUS 440C

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – Smokin’ Hot! – LIGHT VERSION

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet – Smokin’ Hot!

Damasko DC66 On OEM Bracelet

Dave Lumb RAIDER Pike Rod With ALPS Reel Seat

Enzo PK70 Carbon Fibre Scandi Grind UK Legal Folder

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The law-makers in the UK have a lot to answer for. The problem is that those who make our laws are generally far removed from that which they’re legislating and as a result some seriously bizarre laws exist in this land, not least the kind of knife which is now legal to carry in the UK. A knife that possesses a blade that locks is far safer for the user as it prevents the blade closing on his/her fingers. If a blade is to be used for puncturing the skin of a human in a stabbing motion, the lack of a locking blade will not help the person being stabbed, especially when it’s as well put together as the Enzo PK70.

Enzo PK70 Carbon Fibre Scandi Grind UK Legal Folder

The PK70 is beautifully made, as are most Scandinavian produced knives. At £90 retail ($140 US) it’s at the high end of mass produced knives but in this case with good reason. The carbon fibre blanks (veneer over wood) are a work of art and the blade (available in flat or scandi grinds) is precision made and literally razor sharp straight out of the box.

Enzo PK70 Carbon Fibre Scandi Grind UK Legal Folder

As you open the knife you can feel the quality of the mechanism which is stiff without being difficult and has two stages to it when closing to help prevent the blade being closed on the user’s fingers. I’ve used mine now for a few weeks and have not once felt unsafe whilst using this knife and the lack of a locking mechanism pretty much goes unnoticed. The clip on the rear of the knife is removable but when on it’s very functional and sturdy. I leave mine in place and occasionally it will sit firmly on my belt. It’s doesn’t ship with a case but there is an OEM one available from Heinnie at £8.95. I wasn’t personally too keen on the look of that case so I purchased this Boker Leather Pouch which is a perfect fit and looks “right” to me. The PK70 is available in a few different incarnations with wooden blanks. If you’re looking for “best” UK legal folder and don’t want to go the custom route, this is probably where your search should end. This particular model, with the carbon handle and scandi grind, is not the easiest to find at this very moment, though. When I bought mine it was the only one in the UK in stock that I could find and the Finnish factory was empty of stock, too. I guess I’m not alone in liking this one. The only gripe I’ve heard of is the way the back end of the blade protrudes outside of the blanks when closed. To me it makes little or no difference as I don’t carry the knife in a pocket. For those of you who do you might want to go for a case to maintain the longevity of your trousers! Conclusion: just get one.

Solid Design SLIM WALLET Bog Oak Mod

SOLID DESIGN SLIM WALLET BOG OAK MOD

After a few days use my one little gripe with the SLIM wallet was not having a front plate. I’m not keen on the idea of having my credit card details on show beneath the elastic band so I decided to create a front plate myself from wood. I ordered in a small piece of Bog Oak veneer, about 2.5mm thick. (After sanding it’s about 1.7mm thick now) Amazingly, this piece of wood had been dated to 3300 BC! The piece I chose was virtually black and looked fantastic when it arrived. I cut out the shape, sanded it for what felt like a very long time but I wanted to get the plate to a silky smooth finish. Finally I oiled it and was just blown away at how nice it looked. The image above does it no justice at all. It has a warm tinge of brown in an otherwise jet black grain. The grain doesn’t even show in the picture but in real life it does and the surface is a satin/matte finish. That piece of Bog Oak cost me all of £5.80 ($9) and I could get two more plates of it. (and no, I won’t make any more and sell them before someone asks :-)). So, if you’re half handy and own a small saw and some sandpaper, order yourself the veneer of your choice and upgrade your SLIM wallet to a whole new level!

EOD Robotics Pocket Grappling Hook

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Well, everyone needs a grappling hook, right? OK, maybe not but I do have a legitimate reason (excuse) for purchasing this one. I’m a member of a local fishing club and we maintain a five hundred yard stretch of a small river. I’ve spent some time recently clearing overhanging branches from one stretch and that should finally allow spinners to be cast a reasonable distance and retrieved with ease. I have one problem left: there are some small logs and branches in the water itself which I can’t quite get to. Queue the grappling hook…

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I looked at a few alternatives but it was the EOD Robotics one that was the right size and strength needed for the job. I wanted something which could easily slot into my EDC bag but not something so small it was unlikely to snag the kind of branches that needed removing and at 5.5 inches long this one seemed to fit the bill nicely. EOD does produce two smaller version, the Micro and Pico but they’re fairly diddy.
As you can see above, the spikes live inside the main tube and simply fall into your hand as you open the top. Made from top grade aluminium it’s very nicely finished and good quality. To assemble the hook you simply remove the three spikes, screw them into the three threaded holes near the base of the tube and re-attach the top. Takes all of a minute and you’re done. Each spike thread is topped with a small rubber O-ring, so the spikes very effectively seal the tube against water.

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My second usage for this will be for retrieving spinning lures that have snagged in the river bottom. I’ve read of fishermen using grappling hooks to de-snag lures before and I’m hoping this one will save me a few bob. If it works it won’t take many rescued lures for it to fairly quickly pay for itself.

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The only down side to these hooks is that no-one in the UK or Europe appears to sell them. I found one UK site who used to but they appear to have discontinued the line. County Comm in the US, who distribute these, have still not dragged themselves out of the dark ages and flatly refuse to address their envelopes to anywhere outside the lower 48, which in this day and age is rather abysmal but there you have it. They will post an item to USGOBuy who in turn will ship the item on to you but you’ll need to sign up for an account and pay them for their added service. I ended up paying through the nose for one off eBay US, simply because it avoided the hassle. Heinnie do carry a couple of smaller incarnations of this hook but for me they were too small.
Finally, the text engraved on the side of the tube infers that you shouldn’t use this hook for hauling yourself over walls and the like. That text undoubtedly covers the backsides of those who produce and sell this product but there are reports that it’s been tested with the weight of a 270 lb man and more than lived up to the job. I’m not sure I’ll try swinging over the river with it but might let my son have a go… Well recommended if you can find one to buy!