The Motorcycle Shoot...

Motorcycles have always been a passion of mine… so much so that when I was 19 I may or may not have lied to my parents about getting one.  When they found out, to say that they were less than pleased is a severe understatement.  So when an opportunity came up to shoot 35 unique and customized motorcycles for Ryders Alley United, I was, needless to say, very excited.  Since my studio is at the top of a narrow five-story walk-up, getting the bikes up here wasn’t really a possibility.  So if the bikes can’t come to the studio, we have to bring the studio to the bikes.  Knowing that the studio was going to have to be brought to the garage, I took it upon myself to have a little “test-shoot,” which, if you have the time to do, is essential.  Realizing that we needed a few pieces of equipment and working out some lighting issues a week before the scheduled shoot day allowed us to be 100% prepared, and there were no surprises.  This is the test-shot below.   


It took a little while but since a good studio is a mobile studio, we were able to pack everything up and fit it into a pickup truck (almost everything).  Having been to the location before I arrived on shoot day, the lighting already sketched out and pre-shoot done, all we had to do was set up and bring in the models… oh those talented models!!  From a Ducati Desmosedici to a pure one-off Honda-ish “frankenbike” (#3), these things were beautiful. Here’s a couple from the day.

Kawasaki ZX-6R
Ducati Hypermotard 1100 Evo Sp
Ducati 848

KTM 990 Super Duke
Ducati 999s

Ducati Desmosedici

As far as the equipment I used… here’s a list of the gear.  As always I used my trusty Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II with my 24-70mm F/2.8 lens. During the test shoot we realized the lights were going to be a lot closer than we had thought so using less powerful strobes was a must.  Shooting with more powerful strobes at that distance would have washed the bikes out completely; sometimes less really is more.  So I ended up using two White Lightning X800 strobes set on top of the bikes shooting through two Photoflex strip banks to keep the light tight. The White Lightning X1600 provided fill light at a greater distance with just a simple 7” reflector.  Lights were mounted on Matthews C-stands and the Lightgear USA stands held up a Savage Ultrawhite Seamless.  When broken down these all fit into just a few Pelican cases and backpacks, although the seamless can be a bit unruly when squeezing into a backpack. 

In addition to the shoot itself we also produced a little BTS video for you guys so you can see a little bit of what it takes to make something like this happen. 

If you had any questions about the shoot that I couldn't answer on here please feel free to email me... and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  

- JD

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