How To Take Better Motorcycle Photos (The Details, Part 2)

This is part two in a series about how to take better motorcycles photos. Read part one here.

The details of motorcycles are important, and knowing how to photograph them nicely can be a game-changer. This blog offers some ideas and tips about how to get some great shots. Feel free to check out the video below. Use the comments section to ask any questions & I will try my best to get to them asap. 

For these images, I  wanted to get something that showed the bike at rest. As a photographer who loves to print, I wanted to make some images that would look amazing printed on the wall, so my approach is to find something more homely and less promotional and more personal.

A big thank you to Andrew for letting us photograph his 2016 Ducati Panigale (raced in the Trioptions Cup with British Superbike).

Ducati Panigale Photo Model

Get Close

Don’t feel like you always need to photograph the whole bike in one frame. Getting in close and personal can showcase the bike in interesting ways. We love that the bike has come ‘right from the track’  with the same tires on.

  1. Get as close as you can.
  2. Find interesting lines and shapes
  3. Abstract lines are great.

Ducati rear tire Panigale photograph

Add Light

Being a photographer is all about controlling light. Sometimes the natural light is not enough, so we have to add our own. There are a few main ways to think about this.

Ambient Only: This is also known as natural light – it just means using the light available to the photographer. This normally means the sun, but is not limited to street lamps or other man-made constant light sources (such as garage lights).

Constant Light: Like ambient lighting in the way that the light is not a flash of light, but normally infers the photographer has added extra light. A good example of this would be a photographer adding light bulbs into a garage to give a brighter image or enhance the look of the lighting.

Strobe Lighting: This is normally a high-intensity light that the photographer can use to create different effects. Think of this as normal studio “flash” photography.

Mixed Lighting: Or additive lighting as I know it. This is where different lighting sources are used together. This is what we did for the video, some of the light is coming from the sun and some of the light is flash.

  1. Under-expose the image (use exposure compensation or manual settings)
  2. Add light using a Speedlight or flash
  3. Use a tripod if you are going to edit multiple images together after

Pro tip – use the Lighten Blend Mode in Photoshop for best results.

Ducati photography Panigale

Find a Good Background

We didn’t want these images to look like “press shots,” which demanded a slightly less polished location. Something away from the racetrack gives this image a different take on the “race bike” look.

Finding the right background can start to build the story around the image.

  1. Simple uncluttered areas let the bike dominant the image
  2. Clean foregrounds & backgrounds
  3. Find colors that compliment the bike

Ducati Panigale photography model

Make a Montage

Using a series of close up images can look amazing. Depending on the images you pick, you can tell a story with them or keep some elements a mystery.  Could you tell which bike was photographed from the montage below – the clues are there if you know where to look for them.

  1. Most editing programs will make them
  2. They tell a story
  3. Prints like this make amazing presents

Ducati montage Panigale photos
Montages are great ways to show off the details.

Black and White

I am and always have been in love with black and white photography (check out my Punk Rock Portraits Series), There is something of a classic, simple nature about a good B&W image that something color overcomplicates.  How well does this look against the brick background?

  1. Great contrast
  2. Look great on walls
  3. Simple = Good

Ducati wall art

The Rule of Thirds

If you are a keen photographer, you might have heard of the Rule of thirds, if not, make sure you watch the video at the top of the page.

The Rule of Thirds is a good concept that, if followed, helps us plan & create images that have good composition. Have a think about the way people will look at your photo, then try and keep the image as simple as possible while putting your key elements into one of the four anchor points, the video above should explain if you are stuck.

  1. Gives images a good structure
  2. Building blocks to interesting images
  3. Look up Mike Browne – He has a great video all about this

motorcycle rule of thirds photography
This image shows the lower left anchor point in use.

Bouns Tip – What are the images for

Have a think about how your images are going to be used or displayed, this can change your approach. These images look amazing printed on mugs, the red of the inner mug screams Ducati, leaving the close-up details to look awesome.

  1. Think about your framing
  2. Try making your own mugs
  3. They will make amazing gifts

Ducati coffee cups

Did you miss Part one? No worries – click here.

Triumph Triger 1200
How To Take Better Motorcycle Photos (Biker’s Perspective, Part I)

Image Gallery

Ducati Panigale suspension Ducati Panigale Rear Sprocket black and white Ducati photos Ducati racing Panigale Ducati tires Panigale Ducati front disc brakes front tire of Ducati Panigale from racing Ducati Panigale with Relax on dash for racing Ducati Panigale Chain up close 2016 Ducati Panigale Photographed

To find out more about me (Dave Kai-Piper) my website is: https://www.davekaipiper.com/