Photographing Motorcycles on Transportation Thursday

One of the best ways to clean up a busy background at a car or motorcycle show is to use Adobe Photoshop’s Radial Blur command with the Zoom option checked. By applying blur to a duplicate layer you can first reduce the opacity of the “blur” layer to allow some of the image that’s below to show through and then use the Eraser tool with various levels of opacity set for its brush to selectively clear holes of various density in the blur layer so parts of the original show through more directly. Sounds complex until you try it; practice makes perfect. All images in today’s post are © 2011 Joe Farace All rights Reserved

Tickets to many drag race facilities include a pit pass allowing you to get close to the drivers and their cars. Make a friend and maybe you can get invited to the races as a member of the pit crew, which I was on this day, giving me closer access to the track. This position let me fill the frame with this drag bike doing a burnout. Because motorcycle racers don’t want to get their front tires wet by driving though the water pit, their riders walk the bike around the pit and back into it before doing a burnout. Knowing what a competitor will do before he or she does it helps you get the picture you want instead of being caught unawares.

When photographing motorcycles indoors you have the additional challenge of dealing with color balance issues. I typically start in Auto White Balance (AWB.) If that doesn’t look good on the LCD screen; I whip out my Kodak Grey Card—the flip side is white!—and do a custom white balance. With a minimum working distance of less than four inches, the Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/4.0 lets you work close to the subject. I was just inches away from this custom motorcycle at a Harley Davidson dealer when photographing it using an Olympus E-Volt 300 at ISO 400 at one-half second at f/20 in Aperture Priority (Av) mode with the camera mounted on a Manfrotto tripod. 

Author: Joe Farace

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