Looking for advice on outdoor motorcycle show "snapshot" photography.

superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera.....Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
edited January 4, 2013 in Technique
I've been attending various motorcycle related events going on, well, decades now. I've always had a camera along and have taken many thousands of what would generally (and generously) be defined as "snapshots" over the years. I use a lot of these on a motorcycle blog that I run as a hobby. Anyway, with my recent equipment upgrades (Nikon D5100, decent lenses etc.) and a renewed focus (pun intended) on the quality of my shots I went looking through some old albums recently with an eye towards improving things in the future.

Here is a link to a fairly typical gallery of nine mostly taken with an Olympus P&S. Now that I'm paying attention to the craft, a few things jump out to me immediately. For example, I'd love to go back in time slap myself in the head and turn my darn flash ON!! Ughh.. And I wish I'd been more patient with the people who mingled around the bikes and in the background. Just dumb on my part. anyway, even though opportunities at these public and often cramped events are limited as to position and lighting, I still feel like I'm smart enough to know what I don't know and that I've probably missed a few other obvious things.

So any advice from people who have been down this path on how to create at least a more consistent, more appealing image would be GREATLY appreciated by me and certainly many of my readers. Spring is on it's way and so is Daytona and Riding into history and Barber vintage days.

Thanks Much.
Accidents and Inspiration
One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..

Comments

  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited December 20, 2012
    You've already figured out using the flash. A circular polarizer can help with reflections on shiny stuff. And a focus on detail shots can get around the problem of minglers. The other way to deal with minglers is to use them to tell the story of a gathering of people and motorcycles -- the focus is not purely on the bikes now.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 21, 2012
    Thanks. mercphoto. That's an interesting thought. Instead of looking at the foot traffic as an impediment I should try to think of ways to work it into the image... hmmm... food for thought.
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited December 23, 2012
    Steve, I looked at your shots in your gallery you linked, and you have lots of very nice shots of motorcycles.

    One thing that really caught my eye, is that almost all of the images were shot from a standing eye level perspective. I think you really need to try to get some ground level shots as well, and this is actually much easier to do with a P&S with an articulating LCD finder than with most DSLRs.

    A DSLR cries out to grab some images very closely with a wide angle lens, so there is more variety in your view points of your images.

    I spent some time with my son visiting Two Wheels through Time in Maggie Valley, and Barber Motorsports in Birmingham Alabama, shooting lots of motorcycles, and I think getting low, and getting close with wide angle lenses can help.

    One trick for people wandering through your shot, if you can use a tripod, is a very long shutter speed with a 8 or 10 ND filter, and shooting several shots so that the moving parts of the image average out and disappear. But you need good tripod for this. Polarizing filters can help too, as can softboxes for your light.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • basfltbasflt Major grins Registered Users Posts: 1,882 Major grins
    edited December 23, 2012
    pathfinder wrote: »

    One thing that really caught my eye, is that almost all of the images were shot from a standing eye level perspective. I think you really need to try to get some ground level shots as well,

    i agree

    one rule = try to get at eye-level with your subject
    for motorcycles , the headlight is the "eye's "
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 23, 2012
    @ pathfinder you make some excellent points. There are a few occasions where I got low for a few shots and it made a nice difference. I'm shooting a D5100 now with an articulating finder so I'm in good shape in hat regard. I'm really intreagued by the idea of a 10 stop filter. I actually just ordered a Hoya X400 as a Christmas gift to myself but it didn't occur o me that it could help in this instance. And a tripod does offer something of a psychological tool. It's been my experience that people will often back off bit when you appear to be taking a "serious" photograph with a tripod and extra lighting.

    Great ideas folks! Thanks Much!
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited December 23, 2012
    Be sure and post some shots with your new ways of shooting, and let your readers see the results too, please!

    Glad you found the suggestions posted here of some consideration.

    Happy Holidays.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 25, 2012
    Thanks again Pathfinder. I will do that. I've been giving it a lot of thought and I'm anxious to get going. There's some really excellent motorcycle/automotive shows in the North Florida area all around March including the Amelia Island Automotive Concourse and the Mount Dora Classic Wooden Boat Show on the water. We also have a lot going on in St Augustine including the hatchry of the Ibis' at the Alligator farm. This is going to be a fun and busy spring!
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited December 25, 2012
    I have shot at the Alligator Farm in St Augustine and always enjoyed it.

    From Florida it is not that far to Birmingham Alabama, and a trip to Barber Motorsports
    is quite worthwhile to anyone with an interest in motorcycles. It is an AMA Superbike track with over 2000 motorcycles on display in its museum.

    Anyone who lives on the east coat and who loves American motorcycles really owes it to themselves to see "Wheels through Time". This is a great motorcycle museum, and the ONLY one I know of, where the owner will walk up to you and say "You want to hear it run?" and then fire it up, or "Would you like to see it do a burn out run in here?" The museum is called "Wheels through Time - The Museum that Runs" and Dale, the owner means exactly that!

    A few of my images from 5 years ago are here, many of them shot with a G9 as I was on a Honda ST1300 - http://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/Wheels-through-Time-and-Barber/3678583_VcMW6W#!i=429222408&k=LwBzQjt
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 27, 2012
    Thanks Pathfinder. As it turns out, vintage motorcycles are my first love. I'm especially into classic two strokes. I go to Deals Gap with a few hundred like minded lunatics almost every year. Sadly most of those old albums are orphaned now from the "VillagePhotos" host which closed down :( but I have my Two Stroke Biker Blog with a lot of the older material.

    I visited Barbers a few years ago to pick up a motorcycle I'd bought from a friend in Alabama. The place is a marvel! I should have spent the night but I was in a hurry. I plan on attending Vintage days hopefully this year. Here's a link to a few snapshots I grabbed when I was there. It was a very frustrating lighting situation for a point and shoot. Easy on the eyes but a real test on the camera. These were the only keepers from the visit.

    God I cant wait to get back with a decent camera. You can see most of my older stuff HERE on Picassa. I update all my newer stuff (along with what people send me) directly on my blog now.

    I'll have some "hopefully" much better quality material on it's way in the next few months! Come on Spring!
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited December 28, 2012
    I have watched Dale ride his bikes in Wheels through Time, but have never seen anyone fill their Excelsior's gas tank with a funnel while smoking a lit cigar - that I have never previously seen!! Great Video!

    You have some great shots from Barber's.

    I saw some of your pictures of H1s and H2s. I had a friend who would let me ride his H1 from time to time. My first large bike was a metallic green Kawasaki 900 like you captured at Barber too.

    If you use a P&S that will work with ETTL or ITTL flash, some fill flash, or even off camera fill can help some.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 29, 2012
    pathfinder wrote: »
    I have watched Dale ride his bikes in Wheels through Time, but have never seen anyone fill their Excelsior's gas tank with a funnel while smoking a lit cigar - that I have never previously seen!! Great Video!

    You have some great shots from Barber's.

    I saw some of your pictures of H1s and H2s. I had a friend who would let me ride his H1 from time to time. My first large bike was a metallic green Kawasaki 900 like you captured at Barber too.

    If you use a P&S that will work with ETTL or ITTL flash, some fill flash, or even off camera fill can help some.

    Thanks again! That big 900 is an awesome ride. Great aftermarket for them today now too. From here on out I'll have the Nikon 5100 with me. Heck I usually keep it in the car when i go to work "just in case'. I'm going to pick up an SB400 (or maybe sb600) flash unit after I recover from the financial shock of Christmas shopping. I'm also hunting for a faster prime like the 35mm DX AF-S. I'll be looking for a quality P&S to keep in the car and such eventually too. Something Like and S110 Canon or G12. Just need a few paychecks to catch up first.
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited December 30, 2012
    I like my G12, but one can find Panasonic GF1 bodies or better real reasonable now, and with the advent of good, fast primes for m4/3s bodies, they are small, compact, systems that are quite interesting.


    G12s will get cheaper within the next few months also, I suspect, as will the Lumix GH2, and maybe the Oly OM5.

    I sold the 900 Kawasaki after a few years, and eventually ended up with a BMW R1200 GS and it will probably stay with me for some time. It still have a old DR650 I ride from time to time as well. Great thumper.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited December 31, 2012
    Nice rides. My 2002 DR650 is my lone "modern" ride. I did Motard it though. :D
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • speedracer04speedracer04 Major grins Registered Users Posts: 159 Major grins
    edited January 2, 2013
    I shoot a lot of car events that are like the bike event you posted, they are slightly different but close enough that maybe this will be helpful. Besides the advice that other people have said here are my thoughts.

    I almost always find that my favorite shots are from the cars arriving or leaving the event, with bikes this maybe different because the riders would then become a big part of the photo. A few of the events I have shot have pretty cool driveways that lead to the field/lot, it separates you from most the other people taking photos and gives a different look for your viewers.

    Along with the comment above goes showing up early or staying a little late, that way a portion of the cars/bikes clear out and you can get better shots of whatever is there since they are not packed in so tight.

    It may not seem useful but I really like having a long lens (not for every photos but to mix in) , it takes patients but it only takes a gap a little bigger then the vehicle to get a clear photo even while people are walking by. In my opinion cars and bikes look more natural with a longer lens, plus it helps to separate it from the background.

    I hope that's somewhat helpful.
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited January 2, 2013
    Thanks Speedracer. Great advice. I already thought about arriving early for a few of the structured and sponsored shows. Typically what happens is that the bikes of offloaded from a trailer or truck at a drop-off area (in a narrow window of time) and walked to their spot but there is usually some time spent in a staging area before anyone gets directed around. Folks are typically in a good mood and it's not too crowded yet so teasing an open frame out of them should be doable. the long lens is interesting. I've only done it a few times and It does change the look for the better. Those will have to be earlier in the day though because they get crowded in a hurry.

    Thanks again! By the way really nice portfolio!
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited January 2, 2013
    I agree, speedracer has some very nice shots of cars, and some of London also!
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • speedracer04speedracer04 Major grins Registered Users Posts: 159 Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    Thank you both for the kind words, I was only in London for a few days but hope to visit again sometime soon as one of my friends moved near by.

    Your photos have inspired to look into what motorcycle events are near by, there are some very cool bikes and honestly I have never really given them a chance.
  • superduckzsuperduckz I got a Nikon camera..... Registered Users Posts: 377 Major grins
    edited January 4, 2013
    Speed I would love to see what you come up with! You've more than proven your abilities with the four wheeled subjects and anything I could glean from your work on motorcycles and/or advice you may have would be goldmine for me and I'm sure many others! PLEASE keep us posted!

    Steve
    Accidents and Inspiration
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what my "style" is..
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