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.
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