Perhaps the only pastime I’ve loved longer than photography is bicycling; A passion of mine which started the day I learned to ride on two wheels. Almost immediately, my goal was to not only go faster, but higher. I still have the photograph of the very moment these two worlds – photography and bicycling – collided. It’s a blurry, overexposed image I took with a disposable camera (remember those?) back in the late 90’s. The image depicts my best friend catching some serious air in my driveway. Okay, in reality, he was about 2 inches off the ground, as evidenced by the photo, but from my third-grade point-of-view, I could’ve sworn he was clipping the clouds. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to photograph bicycles and those who ride them.
In this article one of our writers at PedalSteady shares some of their best-kept tips for bike photography, so that you can become a master bike photographer yourself!
Shooting Bike Photography
Now for the fun part. Taking a good bike photograph is all about timing. Continuous mode/camera burst is your friend. Most pictures I shoot of cyclists end up in the trash. This all comes down to timing. For example, in this photo, one half second earlier or later, and you missed it.
The timing of capturing the moment the rider’s arms are fully extended is of the utmost importance.
Framing is another important aspect in creating a visually appealing bike photograph. Take this photo:
What’s perfect about this photo is that you can see the road ahead of the rider. Your eye naturally wants to follow the path of motion, which, in this case, is where the rider is headed.
However, it can be just as appealing to see where the rider has come from, as seen here:
No, you can’t see the road ahead, but you can see, and more importantly, feel, the winding hike that the rider has overcome.
Is it possible to take an interesting photo without seeing the road ahead or the road behind the rider? Of course! The road is irrelevant in this next bike photograph. This photograph isn’t about the path, though. It’s about the competition between the group of riders. The photo perfectly illustrates the heat of competition.
It’s an intense photo because you can almost hear the panting and you can certainly see the sweat glistening.
One final example of an optimal bike photograph shows something quite different. 80 percent of this photo is cloudy skies. But it works, doesn’t it? Why though? Well, one thing is the contrast of the rider over the white sky.
The eye immediately goes to the cyclist, which is exactly what you want.
Always keep in mind what your goal is when choosing bike photography. Ask yourself the following questions, as I do: What makes this scene interesting? Where do I want the attention to be focused? What feeling/emotion am I trying to evoke?