There is no story without a good photo. A single photograph is what separates myth from legend. It’s the identifying marker that tells the world about the work you’ve invested into your bike and without it, the spec list is just hearsay that fades before anyone outside of your garage circle gets to see it. It doesn’t take a thousand dollar camera or professional photographer to score quality pictures of your ride. Coming out with a wallpaper-worthy shot is a matter of taking advantage of natural light, framing the bike right and making the most out of what you have. If you want the world to praise your ride in all its aftermarket, mechanical glory read on to find out the best way to shoot it so it looks like SSB “Show” material.
First the camera basics; start with the Auto settings on your point-and-shoot or SLR. Modern cameras come out of the box ready to take crisp pics without your intervention. For those brave enough to go with manual setting on an SLR here are some tips. Adjusting the aperture or F-Stop can allow you to either separate or blend the bike into the background. For example, shooting at a low aperture of two to four will separate the bike from a blurred background while a higher aperture of 16 will sharpen both the bike and the background. If you’re shooting the bike at night, it’s better to use a low aperture. On the same note, if you adjust the ISO or sensitivity of the camera’s image sensor, you can cut out noise or graininess by shooting as close to the “100” setting as possible. Lastly, adjusting your shutter speed will control how fast the lens snaps shut. A slow speed will allow moving parts to get blurry while a fast speed will stop motion.
Find a clean location that highlights your bike and get low. Often bikes are shot too high with no care to what’s in the background. Pull in tight and shoot the profile of the bike both vertically and horizontally for a range of choices afterwards. Play with the angles, and get to snapping!
5 Tips for Solid Pictures
[1.] Shoot with the sun at your back: Never shoot directly into the sunlight as the harsh light will blanket the bike in shadow.
[2.] Sit down: Shoot low and aim up or get close with a wide-angle lens to give the bike a colossal appearance. Sitting down also helps steady the lens.
[3.] Use a tripod: Shaky hands will ruin a picture, especially at night. When in doubt, set up a tripod, frame up your bike and start snapping. Don’t forget the flash when dark.
[4.] Clean background: To make the bike really stand out, shoot in front of a clean background like a grassy field, a closed garage door, a brick wall or long stretch of road. Cluttered backdrops will turn focus away from the bike and to what’s going on behind it.
[5.] Take Advantage of Magic Hour: Magic hour is the half hour before and after the sun sets. It’s the time when warm colors naturally saturate the backdrop without the need for Photoshop editing.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts for shooting your bike. You don’t need to be a pro to come out with a nice folder of photos of your bike.
Take a lot of pictures.
The more photos you have, the more likely you’ll capture the perfect shot.
Shoot the front three-quarters of the bike from the right-hand side (kickstand away from you) to add depth to the image.
Get close to capture detail
but look out for your reflection in chrome covers, shiny black plastics and of course the mirrors—a long lens helps avoid this.
Shoot the bike with the wheel cocked
to the side. It throws everything off balance and ruins the bike’s profile.
Shoot with a low-res cell phone. There is nothing worse than a pixelated pic blown up to fit the screen. A good rule of thumb is to shoot a picture that is at least 1MB in size.