I wanted a pair of X-ray specs when I was a kid. Wanted them badly! There they were advertised in the back of comics, promising so much. I don't know about you but I never got them. I guess the sense of mystery remained with me and translated into an idea for some watch pictures. I'd finally get my X-ray specs...after a fashion!
To produce these x-ray images I needed two pics of the same watch, one with the caseback on, and one with it off showing the movement. Pocket watches seemed to fit the bill as they are nice and big, but almost any watch with a removable back could be used.
At left is the first image with the caseback removed. The reason for shooting the movement first is that the watch needs to be secured in place so that it doesn't move between shots. I find that it is easier to replace a caseback without moving a watch than it is to remove it. The watch has been stuck to the background paper using Blu-tack putty. Additionally, I have secured the art paper used for the background so that it too cannot move.
For the second image I have replaced the caseback. There's nothing special about either shot as far as lighting goes. The watch was lit with a single overhead diffused fluorescent lamp. The camera was securely mounted on a tripod and I ensured that it was not moved between shots.
Now we come to the reason for making sure neither the watch nor camera move between shots. The movement and caseback images can now be layered over each other in perfect registration. The x-ray effect is simply achieved by varying the opacity of the caseback image to allow the movement to show through. The aim is to ensure that only enough of the caseback image remains to make it appear to be virtually transparent. Below is the result. I also worked on the background and added some texture to it with the Photoshop 'Sketch' filter.
Below are a couple more x-ray images produced using this method. The first watch has a personalised caseback engraving of the owners initials. The second has a fancy pattern embossed on the caseback.
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Copyright 2005 Paul Delury