Murphy, you bastard!

Hello guys

Here I am, once again, with my latest digital adventure.

The next issue of the magazine will be about “Exploring” and no brand fits better the theme than Rolex. So, we gathered the most iconic models and started to discuss ideas for the editorial.

At some point, during these brainstorming sessions, someone came up with the idea of shooting inside a cave.

Water, rocks, vegetation, a mountain like setting… it all seemed fine and so we went for it.

Let me tell you guys it all went wrong, so very wrong. Murphy’s law.

20 minutes after arriving to the mountain I fell on my back, busted my left wrist, broke my 50mm lens and the camera mirror and that was a bye bye to my beloved 5D.

All I had left for the entire session was my backup 5D body the 100mm macro lens and the little Ricoh GRD3… and we were still outside the cave!

Things were starting with the wrong foot but no one was expecting what would come next. Our guide toke us through an “easy path” to the desired spots inside the cave. Let me share some pictures of the “easy path”.

comp 1

It was almost impossible to shoot the watches inside the cave. There was no flat surface to place the tripod and there was no way to keep the watches clean for the shots. We were all dirty and soaking wet.

And on top of it all, the light. The light was non existent. All the light you see on the above shots comes from our helmets. From time to time the cave connected to the sea forming these internal lagoons, letting in both water and light.

Comp 3

Our watch keeper, the amazing Mister Pereira!

Our guide.

Our guide at the first lagoon. I only managed to get this shot. It was taken at f/5.6 or f/4, 1 second exposure, 400 ISO. The tripod was kind of moving as the waves came in and out.

At the second lagoon and while taking a picture a wave came into the cave and the water level rose up to my waist. My iPhone drowned, my trousers got wet, my backpack with all my personal documents and bank cards got wet. I ended up shooting in my underware.

Here is a golden opportunity to see yours truly showing his sexy legs!

comp 2

I was feeling so depressed. Not about the broken camera or lens or the bloody phone, but because I knew the results would not come out as expected. Going there was a mistake, a huge mistake, it was time and energy consuming and it was definitely not a good spot for shooting Rolex watches.

The second lagoon was inside a small but deep beautiful inner chamber. A gap between the rocks, 100 feet above our heads, was letting the light in as single and perfect ray of sunlight.

I looked through the viewfinder and immediately felt distressed. The 100mm macro was NOT the lens to capture the scene. I had no space to move back and the exposure was so long that someone wearing a watch would come out blurred.

Milgauss - geral

The view from the 100mm.

The little Ricoh GRD3 saving the scene.

The little Ricoh GRD3 saving the scene.

I was tired, wet, hurt, we all were, and I panicked to the point of not being able to move. Truly. Pure irrational fear. I sat down and told our guide: please just take me the fuck out of here!


The cave was beautiful but NOT the right place to get the pictures we wanted.
When we finally came out, we were so tired we could not think straight and we had zero pictures of the watches. In the remaining 2 hours of daylight we tried, at least, to save the day by taking some fast pictures of the main thing, the Rolex watches.

When I arrived home and downloaded the pictures I immediately sent an email to the editor of the magazine, my dear friend Cesarina, and told her: It’s a no go. These pictures don’t have the quality required for the magazine.

The editorial choice was to use them anyway.


Here are some of the pictures taken that day.
I had my hopes set so high for this session. I really wanted to do a great work and the team had some pretty good ideas but the visit to the cave was too energy (and time) consuming…. for nothing.

Explorer 1 - 03

The Rolex Explorer I. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

Explorer 1 - 05

Cover shot, Rolex Explorer I. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

The cover shot is all real, except for the bezel of the watch (the round part on the outside of the dial).

The real Explorer watch had a silicone protection and, being on location, we didn’t want to take it out to prevent scratching the watch case. I shot the bezel separately and Photoshoped it on top of the main picture. Take a look.

Capa ET 51 - 01

Explorer II - Dupla - 02

The Rolex Explorer II © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

Explorer II

Milgauss - Dupla

The gorgeous Rolex Milgauss. Absolutely love this watch. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

Out guide wearing the Submariner. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

Out guide wearing the Submariner.
© Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

The Rolex Submariner. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

The Rolex Submariner.
© Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

The Rolex Sea Dweller. © Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio

The Rolex Sea Dweller.
© Paulo Pires/Espiral do Tempo Studio


To finish this long post I want to say 2 things:
1 – The whole session didn’t come out as expected. I’m not happy with the results (at all!!). Too bad we couldn’t keep the watches for one more day.

Here is the cover.


2 – The Canon 5D is an amazing camera. It’s old, the AF is bad, the back screen is bad, no auto ISO and eventually it will die in my hands. However guys… it’s an amazing camera, very “film like” to operate, the viewfinder is good enough and the files are great. It’s a photographic camera all the way. I own two bodies and two 50mm f/1.8!

Please forgive me for the rough English.

1 comment
  1. Great post. We tend to forget that being a (professional) photographer is not always about glamour and glitter, gorgeous locations and beautiful models. Yet your photographs mostly came out well and I like the front cover image very much. Not a bad job at all and I think you can be proud of yourself and your team.

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