The Clock Workshop

An antique clock in a walnut case
Dog sillouette on a logo in green and blue

I was asked by The Clock Workshop in Abbotsbury, Dorset to photograph twenty of the clocks they have on sale. The images were to be used for all online and print promotion. My initial thoughts were to shoot them in my studio as it is the most controlled environment and a lot easier to control the ambient lighting.

But after discussing this with Simon the owner however we decided it would be best this time to shoot them at his workshop as transportation of that many clocks could take a lot of time and we didn’t want to move the clocks more than necessary.

There were a wide variety of shapes and sizes ranging from mantel clocks through wall clocks to large long case (grandfather clocks) which were seven feet high. As the client was in Abbotsbury it was a short journey for me to go down to recce the workshop. I always do some kind of recce if possible as you never know what obstacles could be in the way such as steep stairs no power supplies etc. But the main reason was I needed to check we had enough space to shoot and that we could black off the ambient light and have enough room for my studio lighting.

The other reason for the recce was to see the kind of materials and finishes that the clocks were made from. This would help me decide on the type and quality of lighting that I would need.

We wanted to make the clocks look as beautiful as possible and to show off the quality of the craftsmanship and the attention to detail that goes into them. I always like to see the products before I shoot them if at all possible.

From this recce I worked out that there were some very different materials involved. From dark teak casings to special glass domed skeleton clocks !!

So one of my main aims was to make sure that the lighting I brought with me would be appropriate for both extremes.

I knew I needed large light sources with soft reflectors so that I could get really nice highlights around the glass dome and at the same time have long enough reflectors to create beautiful highlights along the long-case clocks.

I knew from the recce that by blacking off the windows in the workshop with fabric that I could make a nice studio space from the workshop.


My approach to any product photography which is being used to sell the products is to make the product look great, show it in its best light and choose the best angles.

The client wanted the pictures to be ‘cut-out’ onto white so that the images would look clean and also to fit in with existing imagery.

So I knew I would need a high key background light, so I used the big Lastolite 6 by 7 foot Hi Lite this would be lit with two Elinchrom BRX 500 Flash heads.

For the foreground light I used a 100 ELC Elinchrom Flash head with a Quadra light diffuser, this was to give me a large soft diffused light.

I then had a combination of large and small Lastolite reflectors which I used to create different types of highlights around the clocks. So if it was a glass domed clock I would need to ‘cover’ the dome with soft diffused light and make sure that the reflections were pleasing to the eye and no background reflections came into play.

I decided to shoot tethered straight to a Mac laptop. This way the client could see what the images were and he could approve them as we shot.

I shot with my Canon 5Dmk4 and used a variety of focal length lenses from 50mm to 100 mm Macro Canon.

To create the final ‘cut-outs’ we created clipping paths in photoshop. These are paths (or vector lines) that can be used in many graphics programs for designers to use on different backgrounds and in various templates without having to re-mask the images.

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