How To Photograph A Motorcycle

I’d just turned 14 when I got that magical 1st go on a motorbike. And instantly I knew they’d be a massive part of my life forever. Strangely I’m not even slightly interested in motorbikes per-se and have no idea what the latest model is or upgrading or who makes what, I just love being on one. Rain, sun, cold, wind - doesn’t matter. It’s all part of experiencing the world as part of it when travelling, instead of being sealed off and separated from it like a by-stander. It’s time to take some photos and share some tips and ideas about photographing motorcycles.

It doesn’t really matter what camera you have, the trick is to make it stand out from the surroundings, be in great light in a great composition. In the video I’m using my trusty Fuji XT2 with my favourite 18-55mm lens which came with the camera. Nothing fancy, no off camera flashes or techy ‘professional’ gear. Where you position the bike the light and composition are more important. Get these right and you can get great motorcycle photos with your phone. Having a camera with settings you can control will give you a creative edge though. Provided you know how to use it of course…

Motorcycle Photography Tips

1: Be Careful With Backgrounds 

You don’t want the bike to be lost against it or competing with it for the viewers attention. You want your bike to be the star of the show, not become lost amidst surrounding clutter. It’s easy to overlook this because we concentrate on how awesome the bike is and forget to look at the surroundings before photographing the motorcycle. In these images the bike’s lost.


Find and angle (or place, which we’ll come to in a minute) less cluttered where the bike stands out as the subject of the photo, rather than merely a part of it.


2: Camera Angle

You can often change the background just by moving yourself around the bike and shooting from a slightly different place. Compare the shot of my Thunderbird in front of the trees with the one below. I didn’t move the bike. I moved and shot the photo from a different angle.


Shooting from petrol tank level looks nice and natural and low angles make the motorcycle look powerful and dominant. Low camera angles can also help you tidy up a slightly messy background too.

3: Use The Environment

Get out and ride around for a while looking for suitable environments without clutter, but with some graphic features like the side of this industrial unit and the smoko area’s shelter and chairs. Yes, I know the bike’s kinda small in this photo. It’s called Negative Space and I think it works to have a colourful, shiny bike placed amongst grey workday surroundings. The motorcycle stands out and has an impact even though it’s occupying a small area of the image.


4: Camera Equipment

As you saw in the video, you don’t need much kit and can travel light with a small camera and lens in a day pack, go for a long ride, stop and shoot whenever you find a likely location. I recommend wide angles and mid range focal lengths so your standard ‘Kit Lens’ will be perfect.

Longer lenses work well too if you have one. By standing further away from the bike and zooming the lens you get a narrower field of view, and shallower depth of field, both of which help concentrate attention on your motorcycle. I’ll make another video about photographing motorcycles with a long lens later in the year...

If you’d like me to help you brush up on your camera skills, checkout my online photography courses and try a free sample. Complete The Masterclass in Photography and you’ll know everything you need to master your camera, have a great understanding on using light and composition. 
And the more advanced 7 Building Blocks of Photography will give you the thought process used by pro photographers to seamlessly connect the creative and technical aspects of photography for any image…

Be well till next time… 

mike signature clear

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3 Landscape Tips

vietnam-txt-streamLandscape photography is one of those areas where patience, thinking it through and taking your time pays dividends.  We have all seen a scene we want to capture but sadly we’re in a hurry, so we leap out the car and just grab a shot without giving it too much thought.

This may or may not result in a great shot. But have you thought to ask yourself if there’s more to be had from a location than the obvious? You have to build upon an initial idea. Explore possibilities.

I was in Vietnam driving through the mountains when we came upon this amazing view of rice terraces. We stopped so the film crew could shoot some aerial shots with their drone so Simon and I took the opportunity to look around and shoot this video.

As we drove up the hill I’d noticed one of the little paths that wind their way through the paddies so we went for a walk to see what it would yield.

Almost straight away we came upon some greenery we could use as foreground, which can frame a scene and give it more depth. In some cases just finding a bit of foreground can make or break an image.

But don’t forget to look around you. It’s all to easy to miss a beautiful detail of the landscape that’s right next to you because you’re absorbed by what’s in front.

You have to concentrate and really look at a scene. In the first shot of the last scenario there’s a stick poking up on the left. I didn’t really notice it to begin with. It wasn’t until I checked the shot in the LCD it became apparent.

So how do we remove it? Well obviously there’s Photoshop but I’m lazy. A few steps to the side will change the geometry of the image. It makes things align differently so you can lose unwanted clutter from the composition.

So besides making sure the light is appropriate for the scene, here are 3 landscape photography tips to consider.

  1. Take time – think of other possibilities for the location
  2. Find some foreground. It could make a world of difference
  3. Look to the side as well as in front. You might have missed something

These things are not functions of your camera. They are functions of you thinking like a photographer.


3 Landscape Tips

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