A while ago I wrote about planning a magic hour photoshoot, read it here. In continuation of my motorcycle frenzy I wanted to conduct a magic hour shoot with my bike. Preparations started thoroughly – I went location scouting and took some test images. There is a futuristic looking building in Hanover, the International Neuroscience Institute. The architecture resembles the shape of a human brain, paying homage to the nature of the science conducted in the building. The test images from the location scouting trip came out fine, and I decided to conduct a “real” photo session. The sky on that particular evening was clear, so I could expect a truly magic magic hour. To say it up front – the shoot produced two images which I am willing to present here, so from that point it was a success. Here is the first image, shot before the building. The tower in the background is the „Telemax“ in Hanover, a TV broadcasting tower. The image was taken with a 14-24mm lens at 24mm and f/8. I made an 8 s exposure and fired a handheld flash two or three times. Due to the wide-angled shot the tower in the back […]
How could I shoot a motorbike from another motorbike ? Bike to bike photography has intrigued me for a while, but I could not get my head around how to shoot from a moving bike. One idea was to sit backwards on a bike while another person is driving. Sounds scary. Or one could sit in the back of an estate car with the trunk open, shooting backwards out of the open back… sounds complicated. After some time of deep thinking I found a solution which is practical and, well, somewhat safe (at least not illegal to the best of my knowledge). I mounted my DSLR on the back of my bike, supported by a beanbag. I secured both with elastic straps, normally used to secure luggage. A wireless remote trigger unit ensured, that I could trigger the camera. The sending unit was simply attached to the left handgrip by using duct tape. Here is how that looked. I set the camera to full autofocus (so that the camera decides where to focus), Auto-ISO, 1/400s and f16 (it was a sunny day). Burst mode („Ch – Continuous High“ on a Nikon). My friend Dominik was instructed to ride a few […]
In 2015 I extensively blogged about motorcycles and posted some GoPro videos. Working with video is a pretty new sensation for me, one has to get used to the fact that the time invested into one video could also produce some dozen images. The “output” in terms of posted material, is less. Making a good video requires planning, a lot of patience and a lot of time in post processing, but I am repeating myself. In the first videos with my GoPro I experimented with different camera positions on a motorcycle. I quickly learned that vibrations cause the video to be very unsteady, and that is where I learned about gimbals. A gimbal is an electronic steadycam. The camera is mounted on a device that has two or three motor-driven axes. A sensor in the gimbal detects the movement of the camera and steers the motor to a counter-reaction. So if the camera is tilted forward, the motor rotates the camera backwards the exact amount. As both movements happen at the same time the camera stays absolutely steady. The following video by HeliPal is the one which kicked off my gimbal adventure. Besides from eliminating shaking and rotation, the horizon […]
In preparation for my 2016 photo projects I conducted a location scouting trip. The goal was to get some test images to see if a decent perspective and framing can be achieved. The location in question was half an hour away from where I live. In the Hanover region there are numerous potash mines, some still in operation, some shut down. The mining activities resulted in huge mining waste heaps, which form impressive landmarks in the usually totally flat north German landscape. One of those potash heaps caught my attention on previous drivebys: It is absolutely white. Having a white mountain standing in plain and otherwise mountain-free environment is an impressive sight, which would make a great photo backdrop. I started scouting the location on Google earth. That gave me an idea which roads I could take and where promising photo locations could be. I also took into account the cardinal direction of each position. Having the potash heap in western direction for example would give you the opportunity to photograph a blue sky during magic hour. On a cloudy Sunday I geared up and drove off. Since rain was supposed to fall later that day, I did not expect […]
For a motorcyclist winter time means mothballing your bike and doing some mechanical work. Since there was no major maintenance work to do on my bike I decided to upgrade it with some extras and individualize it. I’ll leave the photography topic of this blog for a second if you allow. I made both cosmetic as well as technical changes. The technical change is the installation of an Akrapovic exhaust system. That gives the bike 3 extra horsepower, some more Nm torque and a weight reduction of a little more than 3 kg. Here is a video documenting the process: The rest of the changes are all measures to alter the appearance of the bike. I bought a carbon fibre fender for the rear wheel, golden brake and clutch levers, had the seat refurbished by a saddler, exchanged the license plate holder and replaced the turning indicators with LED ones. Also I installed yellow rim tape, here is a video illustrating the process: Now back to this blog’s main topic – photography. After installing the last part I set off for a combined test ride and photo session. I packed my D750 with the 70-200 f2.8 VR lens and a […]
My motorbike photography mania continues. Last week I showed a BMW R 1200 GS, today a Suzuki GSX-R 750 is our model (in fact, both bikes were shot during the same session). The bike belongs to a colleague from work. From day one when I first saw the GSX-R in that particular color scheme a voice was screaming in my head „Photograph.That.Bike. Exclamation Mark, bold italic underlined flashing red“. I don’t know what it is, but I am totally into that black/yellow combination. It just looks a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Enough drooling. I asked my colleague if he wanted to have cool images of his bike and showed him photos from past shots. He immediately agreed. On the following Saturday he came to my home and, following the BMW, his bike was being photographed under my carport. Here is the setup: Two Quantuum R600+ studio flashes dangling from the carport ceiling, triggered with Yongnuo radio triggers. A black backdrop was installed behind the bike. Tip: Take care that the cloth forms a straight line on the floor, otherwise the border between floor and background has to be repaired in post. What you don’t see in the image: Andreas, the dude with the BMW, […]
My photographic year has been dominated by motorbike shoots and I intend to keep it that way. Because it’s big fun and the results are very satisfying. In my last studio session I photographed my Yamaha and my friend’s Moto Morini (the faithful reader of this blog will recognize the bikes by now). I wanted to repeat the studio session and asked two other bikers if they were willing to get decent shots of their rides. And guess what – they were willing to do so. So, on the following week-end, I set up the studio setting in our carport again. I strapped the Quantuum studio flashes to the wooden framework of the carport. As you can see in the first image, the right softbox hangs a little lower due to the tilted roof of the carport. I pondered hanging the left softbox at the same height, but as you can see in the third image, the BMW is a tall fellow, so theleft softbox must hang a little higher. Actually I found this setup quite appealing, because the overlap of the two softboxes minimizes the gap between the two light fields. When I started taking pictures of the BMW […]
This is part 2 of the „Bikes in autumn foliage“ series. Last week I featured a bike during daytime, this week’s post shows another bike at night. This is my Yamaha FZ6 Fazer, on which I posted multiple times this year (e.g. Link1, Link2, Link3). As in the previous post the images were taken with a Nikon D750 and the 70-200 f2.8 VR lens. Post-processing in Lightroom involved only white balance correction, a tad saturation and a little vignetting here and there. Pro tip: Turn off Auto White Balance (I did for the shoot, and by the way, it is mostly a good idea to use a fixed white balance during a shoot) ! You have absolutely no change in the light color in such a situation, only the street lamps illuminate the scene. With a fixed white balance in camera everything is right on the first take (or requires one click to one image and copy-paste the development settings to all other images). Do it, you’ll save heaps of time.
I have photographed motorbikes excessively this year (Link1, Link2, Link3). All these shootings took place in the bike’s natural habitat: roads, streets and in one case an open field. These shootings are fairly easy concerning the logistical part – just take the bike somewhere at the right time of the day, bring a camera, maybe a tripod and flashguns, and off you go. But I wanted to knock it up a notch and go into a studio environment. Last year I conducted several photo sessions with sports cars in the studio… ok, _model_ sports cars (Ferrari FF, Lamborghini Aventador) and I particularly like the shots with light straight from above, illuminating the silhouette and some details on the cars. I had to use model sports cars because a.) I don’t own a Ferrari and b.) neither do I own a lighting rig large enough to illuminate the whole car (like this one). But I own two 80×120 cm softboxes with studio flashes – and that is big enough for a decent bike shoot. Setup I cleared the carport in front of your house of the trash can, bicycle and our car, sweeped the floor and started installing my equipment. I […]
The motorbike season is over, the leaves are falling and so are the temperatures. At the moment it is cold and dry, which might give me one last bike trip this year. But once a little rain will fall, the rustling foliage will turn into road soap and terminate the biking season for sure. But that day has not come yet and so I could make some nice autum themed bike images. Once again I kidnapped my friend’s Moto Morini Granpasso 1200 for the shoot. The bike has been featured in previous posts (Link 1, Link 2). The images were made with the Nikon D750 and the 70-200 f2.8 VR lens. Post-processing in Lightroom involved lights adjustment, white balance correction, a tad of vignetting and the removal of unwanted objects (mainly lamp and fence posts). Oh yes, and I included one little easter egg in one of the images. Can you find it ?
On the island Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea, just off the German coast, lies a post-WW2 submarine of the German navy. It has been converted into a museum and after posting about a WW2 submarine I thought it would make nice mini-series. The shooting conditions were similar to the WW2 submarine in Laboe. Not much light, mixed light at the entrances, very narrow passageways, many tourists squeezing through the metal behemoth. I shot with the 14-24 mm and pretty much the same techniques apply as described in last week’s post: If you want to take a wider shot you will have to wait for a moment when nobody is in the frame, or you can focus on shooting the details. Be patient. To get a people-free shot of the bridge I had to wait roughly five minutes as many children visited the submarine („I wanna be the captain now !“). Read some of the remarks below the images for additional information.
In Laboe, a German city at the Baltic Sea, you can visit a WW2 submarine which has been turned into a museum. Needless to say I wanted to see and photograph it. The submarine is a Type VII C boat, which entered service in September 1943. The german Reich built 693 units of those submarines. Most of them were sunk in WW2, taking the crew with them into a horrible death. Tens of thousand young men died and lie at the bottom of the oceans since then. As a monument against war, but also as a testament for german engineering, the submarine has been turned into a museum. You enter the aft section and work your way forward to the torpedo tubes. Needless to say there is not much space and if you imagine 44-52 people in there the space shrinks even more. The submarine has a very slim contour as you can see in the third image (photograph taken before the bow). As the space is very limited inside, a wide-angle lens is the weapon of choice. Let’s head inside, shall we ? I chose the Nikon D750 with the 14-24mm f2.8 lens (wide angle, wide aperture). Of course […]
Aaaaaaaaand another bike video (Nienstedt pass here – taken in six individual runs to get more angles of the same route – and the Kyffhäuser Pass – edited to a metal version of the Monkey Island theme song). To be honest – I know that the videos are not revolutionizing the way footage on a motorbike is taken. The reason I am flooding you with my videos is purely egoistic – I want to practice video editing. The music of today’s video is from NanowaR – an italian metal parody band. NanowaR make fun of all those flat metal clichés like the brainless vocabulary (steel, sword, glory, power, king and so forth). The track is called „Tricycles of Steel“, which fits into the scheme of a motorcycle (yes, a motorbike has two wheels, a tricycle three, I know). When editing footage to a music track the first step is to load the music onto a separate audio track and lock it. This way you can’t move it accidentally, destroying the timing of the cuts you painstakingly managed to build. I then loaded all the raw footage into separate video tracks and started shuttling through them („shuttling“ meand to grab the […]
Sometimes things do not go as planned and one has to jump on an opportunity which comes along. August 29th was a „super moon“ – the moon was as close to earth as it gets on its elliptical path, hence a very large moon should be visible. I took the opportunity, packed my Nikon D800 with the Tamron 150-600 telephoto lens and headed out on a motorbike. It was a coincidence that I took my friends Moto Morini Granpasso. He went on vacation and before his departure he said to me: „If you want to take the MoMo“ -that’s how we call the bike between us- „out for a ride, feel free.“ So I started my journey into the evening, heading for a point where I could watch the moon rise over the horizon. The sun was setting and as I roamed the Hanover countryside a scene struck my eyes. To my right a vast open field stretched, freshly harvested and plowed. Two huge overland powerlines stretched towards the horizon and between the masts the sun was descending towards a glorious, golden finale of the day. I saw the bike on that field before my inner eye that moment. I […]
Yet another motorcycle video today. During my trip to watch the Perseid meteor swarm I also took some footage of me and my buddy going up and down the Kyffhäuser pass. The Kyffhäuser is a huge monument in the middle of Thuringa (Germany), a few hours from Hanover. There is also a former race track by the same name (now a public road) with 36 curves winding up the hill. We attached the GoPro to our bikes subsequently and raced along. And by that I mean that my buddy grinded down his footpeg while leaning into the curves while I slowly approached every corner (As of today I have only clocked 3.600 km on a bike in total. Yes, I’m a noob). Therefore the footage from my buddy is much faster than the footage from my bike. I pondered speeding up my clips but opted against it. A German saying goes „Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen“ (direct translation: „No master has fallen out of the sky yet“ => „No one is born a master“). I would like to append this saying by the phrase „But many wannabe masters have fallen off their bike“. Hence no sped up […]
In the recent weeks I blogged about motorcycle photography (part 1, part 2) and how to position a GoPro camera on a motorcycle. In today’s post I will show you a video I made on the Nienstedt pass, which is a popular track among cyclists in the Hanover region. In this video I am driving the pass down and up again, filmed in six different camera angles. Since I own only one GoPro, I had to drive the track six times to obtain all the footage. Cutting the video was strennous. It is far more complex than editing photos since the images are moving (D’UH…), also I am not experienced in video editing and lack even the most basic knowledge about an efficient video editing workflow. Here is how I managed the task. Let’s start from the end. What you see below is the final cut of the video. I created six video channels and named them after the respective camera position. Then I chose one audio track to be the master audio and ditched all other audio channels. This ensures consistency in the final video. In the next step I aligned the videos in such a way, that they […]
The attentive reader of my blog will have noticed that I got a motorcycle recently. I made several photo sessions with motorcycles (part 1, part 2), and the transition from photo to video was just a question of time. And since I am that geeky kind of gear-loving photographer, I got myself a GoPro Hero4 silver. I won’t go into detail on the camera itself, this has been done on other websites by the thousand. One might think that the options for placing a camera on a motorcycle are few, but far from that. In the video I am going to show you now I have positioned the camera in nine different ways, and there are many more ways to do so. For the impatient viewer here is a list of camera positions in the video: handlebar, facing forward (filming the dashboard and the road ahead) handlebar, facing backwards (filming the rider) crash bar (=wheel level) (right side filming forward) crash bar (left side filming forward and backwards) chest harness facing forward helmet, facing forward helmet, facing backwards chassis (right below seat level), facing forward chassis, facing backwards. Some notes and thoughts. The Tarion clamp shown in the video at […]
This is part 2 of the big motorbike photography series. If you haven’t read part 1, click here. Last week I showed Japanese motorbikes, this week belongs to the Italians. The following images depict a Moto Morini Granpasso 1200 and a Ducati 748 S Biposto. In contrast to the motorcycles in the last post the italian bikes were shot in an environment with no street lamps, so I had to make everything with flashes. First, let’s go through the three key elements for this shoot. Location. The Moto Morini Granpasso is a travel enduro with 1200 ccm. That means it is built for rough terrain and going cross country. Therefore I chose not to photograph it on a paved road but on a small dirt track next to a field of wheat in the countryside. The dirt track attributes to the character of the bike, the open field provides a nice backdrop with little distraction. Lighting. The shooting took place after sunset, with some residual light gleaming over the horizon. This provided a nice atmosphere, but also meant that the shooting had to take place late in the evening (way beyond 10 pm). The foreground was lightpainted with handheld flashes, […]