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.
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 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!