McGuinness Mugen Electric motorcycle test

The Stunning Mugen Electric motorcycle built for TT 2012

The Stunning Mugen Electric motorcycle built for TT 2012 – screen res simply doesn’t do this shot justice

During a recent private test at Cadwell Park with TT legend John McGuinness, the brief dictated that I produced a number of static images of the stunning Mugen Shinden electric motorcycle that was built for the 2012 Electric TT. While shooting the ‘standard’ statics, I noticed that the strong back light was highlighting the lines of the bike. I could visualise in my mind the final image I wanted to end up with and although this would be very difficult for the sensor in the Canon EOS 1D Mk4, I knew it would provide an image that could be made to work with a little help from Photoshop.

As a photographer who learned my trade on transparency film, I still like to get things right in camera, however, there is no point in going backwards, and the modern tools are there to be used! This is the original image from which the above shot was produced -as you can see, it is flat and as an image on its own, is neither very aesthetically pleasing or very detailed – basically, as an image it is very un-inspiting. however, with a few simple tweaks to contrast and a little dodging and burning, the resulting image is much more pleasing and would look great as a printed image on a wall.

The Stunning Mugen Electric motorcycle built for TT 2012

The original un-edited image

When shooting static bikes, I try to either include the background and make it a part of the image (if it is interesting of course, and relevant to the subject), or keep it as clean and un-obtrusive as possible. With the image below, there was a strong, late afternoon sunlight on the white motorcycle and no light falling on the already dark trees in the background, leaving a very clean image. Even with this great range of contrast, there was still a little detail in the trees, so once again, a little burning of these areas gives this shot a really clean, almost studio feel. I used the trusty old profoto with zoom reflector to the right of the shot, just to put a little detail in the front left of the fairing and another to throw a little fill into the black rear wheel area in order to pull it out of the background.

The stunning Mugen Shinden that took John McGuinness to runner up spot behind Michael Rutter in the 2012 Electric TT

The attention to detail on the Mugen Shinden is astonishing and to quote John McGuinness, it is like a Grand Prix bike with an electric motor!

Detail of the ‘Armadillo’ rear mud guard

Harley-Davidson – Art of Custom

Harley Davidson Softail Slim photogaphed in the Wynwood Art district of Miami

Art of Custom Harley-Davidson tank

Currently in Miami shooting a whole range of Harley-Davidsons for some high class ‘Lifestyle’ media, GQ, Esquire, Playboy and many others. Working with a couple of great colleagues, French photographer Lionel Beylot and Italian Stefano Gadda. We shot some of the CVO models as well as the latest Softail ‘Slim’ and Sportster 72 in the Art district of Wynwood, and anyone that is fortunate enough to visit Miami really has to see this area of the city to appreciate the phenomenal skills of these ‘wall artists’, and anyone with a camera could literally spend days or even weeks searching out and capturing this City art, which is constantly being re-coloured. After a presentation at the studio of Gibson guitars, tanks designed by some of the leading edge artists of modern time were on display. Artists such as David “LEBO” LeBatard, Northern Irish Character Artist Terry Bradley, Polly Taylor, Chamizo, Tom Fuller and Frank Savage. These guys have completely different styles but all are great artists.

The images here are reasonably straightforward in terms of lighting simply using the trusty Profoto B2’s with a variety of light-shaping tools such as snoots, softboxes and barn-doors to direct a little additional light into the dark zones. For me, the shots stand out due to the location – it is absolutely spectacular!

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy photographed in the Wynwood Art district

There are so many great images coming out of this shoot so please keep an eye out for them in your favorite lifestyle mags over the coming months. I may even put a limited number on our web shop as prints – watch this space

Harley-Davidson Softail Slim in Black shot in the Wynwood Art district of Miami

And to end, anyone with an interest in either Art or Harleys should take a look at the Harley-Davidson web site during the next couple of weeks as they are launching an exciting, free to enter competition that will see the winner flying out to the US to be presented with their amazing prize!

Harley Davidson Launch Sportster ’72’ and Softail ‘Slim’ in Marbella

Sportster 72 (l) and Softail Slim

Sportster 72 (l) and Softail Slim

Harley Davidson launched their new Sportster ’72’ and Softail ‘Slim’ to journalists from the European specialist motorcycling press in Marbella Spain this week. Only four days after announcing details of these two new models, journalists were enjoying the sunshine of southern Spain while most of Northern Europe was suffering bad weather and snow.

Sportster 72

Harley Davidson Sportster 72

We found a beach-side restaurant that was closed down for the winter season and positioned the ’72’ on the tile floor under the balcony. A meter reading was taken to ensure correct exposure for the sunset (Yes, we still use light meter to ensure correct exposure – even when shooting digital). Two Profoto B2’s were used with one behind the bike putting light into the rear fender and the small highlight on the tank (you can see the position of the light by the shadow on the floor). The second was positioned slightly right of camera and set at low power providing just enough light to put some detail in the engine. Canon EOS1D Mk4 with 24-70 f2.8 lens.

Harley Davidson Sportster '72'

Here the bike was re-positioned so we have a rear 3/4 angle, and the only adjustment was to take the light slightly further right of camera position.

Harley Davidson Sportster '72'

For this final image, the bike was again re-positioned to enable the shot to include the setting sun.The first light was positioned left of camera (again, as you can see from the shadow. The second light was positioned right of camera to throw some light into the fence and roof.

Harley Davidson Softail 'Slim'

This apparently  straight-forward image has a great deal more going on than initially meets the eye. The bike was being back-lit by extremely strong, harsh mid-day sun making exposure very tricky. To compensate, the ‘fill’ was probided by the trusty Profoto B2 set at almost full power. In order to maintain detail in the distant hills, a 0.9 grad grey Lee filter was used. Canon EOS1DMk4 with 70-200f2.8 lens

British readers can read the views of the UK journalists in Fast Bikes, Superbike, MCN, Bike, Sunday Times, Visor Down and can see the latest film footage on the soon to be launched Bike Channel.

Hasselblad test shoot

Hasselblad test with Fiona York

Its not just the excitement of motorcycles for me! During a recent invitation to test out the new Hasselblad H4D-31 I had the opportunity to shoot Fiona York. We used a fairly straightforward lighting setup with a Profoto beauty dish in front of the model, slightly left of camera and a wafer directly opposite to push a little soft light onto the rear of the shot.

As I don’t usually shoot with medium format, the whole experience was a little alien at first but after a few shots the camera operation became relatively easy with the ‘follow focus’ capability working extremely efficiently.

As I said, I seldom shoot with medium format but having seen the stunning results and remarkable detail (See image below, however screen res really cannot do this justice!), the H4D-31 is certainly on my list and I am sure that it will bring the extra edge I am looking for both in the studio and for statics on location. I would certainly advise anyone thinking of taking a foray into the medium format that they should certainly take a look at this excellent value product!

Hasselblad test with Fiona York

Kawasaki ZZR1400 European Press Intro Nardo

An aerial image of the incredible 12km Nardo Ring proving ground

Well, here we are in Nardo – glorious sunshine and although I would like to say 25 degrees, it is actually a chilly 5 degrees – must say its an improvement from ‘The Island’ in so far as at least it is sunny!!! This place is so secure its unreal…even stickers saying No Foto are placed on every mobile phone that enters the place!! We are here to launch the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to the cream of European specialist motorcycle press. Initial testing went well and we have all the statics, details and action images for the journalists together with some great footage from the video team.

Kawasaki's awesome 2012 ZZR1400

Kawasaki's awesome 2012 ZZR1400

The circuit certainly allowed the ZZR1400 to stretch its long long legs and with top speeds of 299kph (186mph) (limited by the manufacturer) seen on the 12km circular banked track, it certainly took the journalists to the limit. Having tried the phenomenal acceleration on the ‘drag strip’, and the handling on the specific handling circuit all areas of the bike were thoroughly tested by some of the top UK journalists – check out the following UK mags for their full reports: MCN, Fast Bikes, Visor DownBIKE, MSL and Ash on Bikes for their full reports.

MCN's Adam Child takes the ZZR1400 through its paces on Nardo's handling track

From a photographic perspective – even when you are used to shooting high speed motorcycle racing, most of the images from a circuit are taken at the slower parts of the track and the technique  required to capture a single motorcycle at such phenomenal speeds as we have experienced this week, has to be absolutely perfect. Using a shutter speed of 1/125th on a race circuit will often result in a substantial amount of background blur, and a similar effect here could be obtained using shutter speeds as high as 1/640th, although as the journalists were limited to a single lap during their test, I took the ‘safe’ option and shot at 1/1000 second or higher. When you consider everything that a camera system has to do when following such high speed action, the technology is incredible, and thanks to Canon for providing me with such a system!

MCN's Adam Child at 299kph on the Nardo ring

MCN's Adam Child at 299kph on the Nardo ring

Take a look at the Kawasaki ZZR1400 web site to see some of the images I shot earlier in the year for their brochures, promotional and advertising material… The shots working with the plane were absolutely awesome to do and talk about an adrenalin rush!!! Using the trusty Canon EOS 1DMk4 and a variety of lenses ranging from the 16-35 f2.8 for the tracking shots (and no, you don’t need to understand much about photography to realise just how close both the plane and the bike needed to be to fill the fame) right through to the 600mm f4 and just about everything in between! I must say, it would have been interesting to test the new Canon 1DX on this shoot and Canon have promised me the opportunity to try one in anger as soon as they have one available, so I will let you know how I get on with it….first impressions are very positive and the technology they have built in to improve the system certainly seem to meet my needs. I certainly believe the benefits of the 1Dx will outweigh the additional weight. As they say – time will tell….watch this space!

I will drop in another blog with more details about the 2012 ZZR1400 brochure shoot when I have a little more time, but let me tell you, there were certainly some some interesting challenges to overcome!

Mint Vincent HRD Black Shadow

The owner of this immaculate and extremely rare Vincent Montlhery Black Shadow took out a privately commissioned shoot giving me the chance to go back to basics. Having lovingly restored the machine to its original (if not better than original) condition he felt the time was right to record his achievements.

For me, It was a real challenge as he initially only wanted a simple record of the machine, however, I managed to persuade him that after all the hours of minute attention to detail he had put into the re-build, that it deserved more than a simple record.

To remain in keeping with the traditional motorcycle we shot using some of the most advanced equipment currently available with the Canon EOS1Ds MkIII, mainly using the  70-200 EF L and 100mmf2.8 macro lenses and Profoto studio flash

We kept the lighting very simple with the main light being provided by a large (6ft x 4 ft) softbox from directly over the bike. (When shooting such valuable and irreplaceable items as this, please, please, please make sure you have a sturdy lighting rig that is fully supported in order to avoid a potentially (extremely) expensive, not to say embarrassing catastrophe!). Small fill lights and reflectors were suitably positioned to pick up smaller detail where required, and these were placed in various positions depending on each particular angle and requirement.

I hope you agree with me, that this is a magnificent example of a restoration of an extremely rare collector’s piece.


Kawasaki ZZR1400

Hi and welcome to my new blog.

During the coming months I will be giving you an insight into the highly competitive and very intense world of motorcycle photography. I have also asked the team at Double Red to make a selection of some of their favourite images from the archive so that I can provide you with information relating to the circumstances and technical details leading to the shots.

As much of my work is confidential, it may be a while before embargoes allow me to post information, but I will try to keep things as current as I am able.

Commercial Motorcycling Photography can be dangerous and I only work with professionals. Many of the shots you will see have been subject to a huge amount of planning, risk assessment and practice. Many require hire of circuits or closure of public roads, liaison with local authorities and police and full safety and medical crews in attendance.  All the riders and the rest of the team involved are professional and although some of the shots can be made at less risk than others, as they say on TV…….Do not try this at home!