We get it, you love bikes, and showing it off is a part of the experience. Your riding skills may be on point, and you may have one of the most beautiful bikes in the world, but if you can’t take photos of it properly, then what’s the point?
So we’re here to help. Here are a few tips on how to help you achieve Instagram-worthy photos. Don’t worry, you don’t need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with you, your phone cam can do.
It goes without saying, but you need a well-lit place to start your photography session. However, “well-lit” doesn’t mean bright. Too much sunlight can overwhelm your camera’s sensor and produce hot spots in the image.
If you’re out under the sweltering heat of the sun, try and find a nice place with shade. The reduced glare and exposure will allow your camera to catch every detail without over-exposing other parts of the bike. If your bike is more of a classic cafe racer with a lot of chrome, be wary of direct sunlight. Sportbikes may have it easier, however, white-colored motorcycles may overexpose in direct sunlight and all all-black colorway may reflect other things in your surroundings, so plan your locations accordingly.
However, if you don’t have an option, then you might need to make some adjustments to the camera. Tone down your exposure by either tapping and dragging down on most phone cameras or by changing the exposure settings on your camera.
Have you ever seen a photo of a motorcycle that isn’t framed properly? Perhaps the bikes sit too low in the image, or perhaps part of the bike is cut off? Some people may forget to include the side mirrors of their motorcycle and take a photo that is a little too close. In the case of tall bikes like those in the sport-touring or adventure-touring class, be sure to give the bike some ample room on the top and the bottom of the frame to avoid the photo looking too cramped. Longer bikes like cruisers may require you to step further away to get the entire bike into a proper frame. In all cases, try and take your photos at varying angles, and don’t be afraid to spam that shutter button for multiple options.
If you want to be safe, you can frame your bike in the middle. While there are tons of creative angles you can employ, just remember this: frame everything that you want to take, and crop out everything else. In short, try and keep other background distractions out of the photo like people, other bikes, and other obstructions in the way.
Before you whip out your camera, it’ll be best to scope out what angles work with your eyes first. That’s why you see a lot of photographers make the stereotypical square with their fingers before they start whipping out their actual cameras.
Aside from framing, you have to make sure that your subject is posing the right way. That being said, don’t be afraid to move your bike around to get the perfect backdrop and its pretty side. You know your bike well, so it’ll be up to you what angle works best for it. However, there are a few poses that work for almost all motorcycles.
Start with the bars. Point them straight or towards the side stand. These two poses are rather standard while a bike is parked. One may also say that having your bars pointed forward conveys eagerness and the want to ride more, while turned bars may give off an impression that the rider is at rest.
Also, where your bike is parked is just as important. It goes without saying, but don’t risk your safety when taking a photo. The safest bet is to take a photo of your motorcycle while it is parked at your favorite hang-out spot. If you can find an empty lot or a clear area where you can position your bike freely, then do so. Just be ready to move it if someone needs the space.
As for what positions and shots, quarter shots of the bike are pretty easy to do, and so are side profile shots. Bear in mind, however, that there are some angles that don’t work with all motorcycles while on its side stand like head-on or square with the rear. Though, that doesn’t mean that you can take a gorgeous photo either way. Plus, if you have a buddy with the same bike, why not ask him to join in on the fun?
Try and get close
Bikes are filled with so many cuts and creases that it would be a sin not to get up close and photograph the details designed into the bodywork. Try and point your camera at the parts that have a lot of visual interest like badges, headlights, taillights, and other parts that won’t take a hard guess to identify. In these shots, be sure to focus properly. If your phone has a macro mode, try and activate it if you’re getting really personal with your motorcycle. Also, if your camera has a telephoto lens, then you can also use that.
Get the right shape?
This may rock your world, but most lenses distort the image toward the center especially in the case of phone cameras where the primary sensor is housed behind a wide-angle lens. Other cameras come with an ultra-wide, but for motorcycles and other subjects that look better without lens distortion, then you might want to use the telephoto sensor to make its shape more true to life.
Ask someone to take your photo for you
You can spend all of your time taking photos of your bike without a rider, but the photo will look ten times better with you on board! If you have a riding buddy with you, instruct him on how to take a photo while you’re rolling. It can be a photo of you just casually rolling down the road, parked, or even in a turn. Make sure to be safe, however. Execute u-turns and other maneuvers in safe places or places that you’re confident to ride in. Otherwise, pose next to the bike or on it while you’re parked. That never hurt anyone, right?
Editing is key
Not every photo that you take out of your expensive phone or DSLR will be picture perfect right out of the box. Adobe Lightroom or other photo editing software is the key to getting your photos as polished as possible. There are different editing styles that you can employ, and it’ll be a matter of researching what kind of edits will be best for you. The point of editing is to bring out the best of the photo while hiding the uglier parts in it like washed-out sections or portions that are too dark.
Everyone has their own style of editing. While some like to overblow and oversaturate their photos with colors, typically a photo that doesn’t look like it is edited should appeal to many more individuals. Just download the Lightroom app on your phone or computer. After you’re satisfied with the edits, you can then directly post them on your Instagram account with the hashtag: #NoFilter.
Again, everything is subjective and everyone has their own style of editing, plus what looks good to you may not look good for everyone. Just be sure to arm yourself with the knowledge to use Lightroom or other editing apps to the fullest, and your photos shall look more polished and ready for the ‘Gram.