Why tak­ing a great pic­ture of your bike is oh-so im­por­tant

Cre­ate a beau­ti­ful mem­ory of your loved one us­ing your phone’s cam­era


In a world awash with tech, record­ing our life in the form of a pho­to­graph is now com­mon place. Gone are the days where ev­ery pic­ture costs 50p to process at Boots so you had to be care­ful with your 36 ex­po­sures; dig­i­tal photography and smart phone cam­eras mean we can all blaze away un­til our hearts are con­tent. How­ever, while the abil­ity to take pic­tures has im­proved, most rid­ers’ abil­ity to cre­ate a de­cent im­age hasn’t. Luck­ily MCN’s staff pho­tog­ra­pher Joe Dick is on hand to show you how take that per­fect pic­ture of your bike to cre­ate a last­ing mem­ory (or just a cool screen saver). These are his tips…

The set up

A good pic­ture starts with a good lo­ca­tion, so con­sider what you are try­ing to por­tray: the bike on its own or beau­ti­ful scenery with your bike in it. Background clut­ter is your en­emy so avoid ar­eas with lots of tele­graph poles, over­head wires, road signs etc. You need a bit of space to park the bike (on a good sur­face) and en­sure you can get back from the bike in safety. If you want the background to be a fea­ture (a wall of graf­fiti for ex­am­ple) park the bike slightly away from the background to give sep­a­ra­tion and en­sure it doesn’t blend in. If space is tight, po­si­tion the bike at an an­gle to cre­ate some room.

Get ready

With the bike in po­si­tion, con­sider where the light is. You want to avoid shad­ows on the bike and also use the nat­u­ral light to your ad­van­tage by let­ting it il­lu­mi­nate the bike. This may in­volve turn­ing the bike around, so don’t be afraid to use an in­ter­est­ing an­gle such as the rear three-quar­ter as straight side-on pic­tures can be dull. Gen­er­ally, bikes look bet­ter from their non-side­stand side (the ex­haust show­ing) by lean­ing slightly away from the cam­era, re­veal­ing more of their fea­tures. Give the tyres a clean if they are coated in mud (un­less its an ad­ven­ture bike and that’s a fea­ture) and also clean your phone’s cam­era’s lens as glare from lights or the sun, or an over­all soft look, is usu­ally caused from fin­ger­prints on the lens. If there’s rub­bish on the floor in the way of the pic­ture, bin it be­cause no­body wants junk de­tract­ing from the re­sult.

‘Don’t just stick the bike in the mid­dle of the im­age’ ‘A good pic­ture starts with a good lo­ca­tion’

Tak­ing the shot

The great thing about dig­i­tal is that you can in­stantly see what the pic­ture looks like. Don’t just stick the bike in the mid­dle of the im­age, move it to one side to cre­ate a bit of in­ter­est. And al­ways look at the background – is there a tree in the way, tele­graph pole etc? Move around and also vary the cam­era’s height, most peo­ple just take the pic­ture at the height they hold the phone, so kneel or even lie down to cre­ate a dif­fer­ent an­gle as a foot or two to the side can make all the dif­fer­ence. If you have an ugly road sign you can of­ten hide it be­hind the bike by tak­ing the pic­ture from low down. Take a breath and hold it in as that will help you steady the cam­era for that prime pic­ture. And don’t be shy, take plenty of pic­tures and then pick your favourite and delete the weaker shots.

Get the most from your phone’s cam­era

Most peo­ple as­sume a phone’s cam­era zooms - it doesn’t. When you pinch zoom on the screen it crops the im­age (un­less your phone has more than one lens), so if you need to get in closer, use your feet! Al­ways re­mem­ber to tell your phone where to focus (usu­ally you tap the screen) and use its func­tions. A lot of phones have HDR (High Dy­namic Range) mode, which is a clever func­tion that helps add more de­tail into the im­age, stitch­ing sev­eral ex­po­sures to­gether so you have more de­tail in dark and light ar­eas of your pic­ture. You can also al­ter the ex­po­sure (gen­er­ally a slider will pop up next to the focus square), which al­lows you to tweak the bright­ness.


Just tak­ing the pic­ture isn’t the end of the road as most phones al­low you to edit the pic­ture and there are also apps such as Light­room that al­low you to vary the bright­ness, sat­u­ra­tion, colours, sharp­ness, shad­ows, high­lights etc of the pic­ture as well as add pre-set fil­ters (In­sta­gram­mers love these…). Spend a bit of time on post­pro­duc­tion us­ing these fea­tures (there are loads of YouTube guides).

Tak­ing it a step fur­ther

Once you have mas­tered your phone’s cam­era, you can take your photography skills a step fur­ther by us­ing a com­pact cam­era or even a DSLR that has the abil­ity to man­u­ally ad­just the shut­ter speed or the aper­ture or even both at once in fully man­ual mode, al­low­ing you to play with the depth of field and ex­po­sure, not to men­tion op­ti­cal zoom. But that’s a whole new ball game, for now just have fun tak­ing great pics on your smart­phone.


Free­lance writer and frus­trated snap­per

Kneel­ing and us­ing a zoom can change the per­spec­tive No­body wants mucky tyres Ex­per­i­ment with the phone’s con­trols Dust on the lens will spoil the shot

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