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Shoot your bike – Part 2

Posted on August 9, 2010 by Andrew in Other. 12 comments

Last time (Part 1) we looked at what not to do when photographing your motorbike and covered off the five most common mistakes made by those more used to wielding a blowtorch than a camera.

Now the flip side of the washer; examples of photos that really do work. We’ve purposely chosen shots that haven’t been taken by pros as there’s no point in drooling over snaps that have been made with gear worth more than the bike being photographed. These shots are all do-able by your good selves with a little time, patience and practice. So what are you waiting for? Get shooting.

1. Great Backgrounds.


Some of the best bike shots are the ones that seem effortless and natural – as if the photographer wasn’t really trying but somehow managed to capture a great image. This is one of those. See the way the red of the tank is contrasted against the green of the soft-focus forest? That’s Genius, that is.

Photo by Robert Shober

2. Great Lighting.


Bet you thought I was going to ramble on about flash photography and light meters, didn’t you? Well here’s a shot taken with nothing but natural light. And at night, tooboot. The lesson here is to experiment. Try interesting light sources. Try interesting locations. Try anything that adds character and creates an original, well-lit image.

Photo by Fotografia

3. Unexpected angles. 


The human brain is very good at filtering information. One of its tricks is to make us blind to repetition; it helps us see dinner running through the undergrowth instead of focusing on the undergrowth itself. So if you go and shoot your bike from the same old front 3/4 angle that every other Joe does and then expect people to go gaga over it, then mother nature has some bad news for you…

Photo by Wrenchmonkees

4.  Focus on the details. 


You spent weeks researching the exact size, shape, colour, construction, material and finish of that hand-stitched leather seat. It deserves more than “black blob” status in the photo. Share the love.

Photo by Wrenchmonkees

5. Try Black and White.


Once you lose the colour, you begin to take a lot more notice of the other elements that go to make up a good photo. Take the saturation away and you’ll soon sort out the difference between a colourful photo and a good photo. Besides, retro bikes are meant to look cool in black and white. It’s the law in some countries.

Photo by Figuromo

  • Alex Fostvedt

    Shallow depth of field! Separate your bike from the background, the eye naturally focuses on in focus objects. Backlight your bike. Which means place your camera in front of the light source with your bike between, and expose your camera for the shadow of the bike. Use angles between the camera and light source to kick of some highlights of the bike.

  • Pamberjack

    Nice one, Alex. I didn’t mention it in the article because of space, but a few large pieces of white cardboard can also do wonders for filling in shadows and making the bike glow a little more. You see this sort of thing all the time at photo shoots – an assistant that’s out of view of the camera holding up a large white or silver surface to bounce light into a shot, filling shadows and making the light more even…

  • MikeMachine

    That rear shot of the Wrenchmonkee bike is pure sex.

  • t

    love these posts – but i’m addicted to the site in general. i could read about shooting bikes better and look at your examples all day. experimenting a bit myself (…keep ’em coming.

  • Pamberjack

    T – you got it goin’ on! Keep it up.

  • MikeMachine

    T- nice shots mate

  • Pamberjack

    T – get in touch with us. Maybe we could feature some of yr work? It's great stuff.

  • hacer fotos de motocicletas es todo un arte
    y de verdad sus mejores exponentes salen
    en este blog para mi es imperdible
    un abrazo y keep the good work

  • kuroiraida

    I’m sorry, but how can you achieve shallow DOF if all you got is a pocket camera?
    Is there any tips you can give? Because I prefer pocket to DSLR when I do touring. Thanks.

    • jackinthehat

      You might be able to use your macro setting depending in your camera.

    • Yep – it all depends on the camera. Try standing way back and zooming in with the tele, if you have one. Otherwise consult the camera’s manual.

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