The Harley Shoot…

I had the location picked out for this shoot before I had a subject. Nearly all of the open space where I live is either fenced off or has a few “No Trespassing” signs. We do have a lot of open space for recreation, but not so much for parking a Harley for a photo shoot. So when I came across a spot that had a nice level spot to shoot and an uncluttered background I knew that I wanted to do a shoot there. I’ve shot a bunch of two wheeled subjects in the past, but had yet to shoot any street motorcycles. This shoot was supposed to take place a month or so ago but the weather was against us for a couple of weekends. New Years day ended up being a perfect day to shoot and a good start to 2011.

For the first two shots below I used my trusty Boling light kit. The strobes were fired remotely using the Pocketwizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 units. This was my first try at using the new units from PocketWizard. Sometimes it can be tricky when adding new hardware to your shoots…it’s just a change from what you are used to.  In this case the new Pocketwizard units performed as my Plus IIs have in the past….easy connection to the Boling light kit and no misfires. The new units offer many new features that the Plus II units don’t have and I’m most excited about the option to sync above my current limit of 1/250th. More on higher sync speeds down the road when I do some action shots in the next few weeks.

Set up:
Camera Canon 7D
1/250th at f/14
Lens: Tokina 12-24 f/4
Strobes: Boling 2×300 watt 1/2 Power – One camera left, one camera right

As always, click the images for a larger view.

Beyond shooting some posed images I wanted to break out the Magic Arm again and do a few remote “action” shots too. Back in September I blogged about “Letting go” of the camera where I covered using the Magic Arm and Pocketwizards for remote shots…if you missed it here is a link to that post
As long as Mat was o.k with me clamping my camera to his very detailed bike I was o.k with him riding with my 7D attached to it. I found another location where we could do some remote shots with the freedom to move around and try a few different angles. I’ve used the Magic Arm on BMX bikes, skateboards and mountain bikes in the past, this would be the first motorized vehicle to take it for a spin.
In this set up I used my Pocketwizard Plus II units as I do not currently own a remote trigger cable for the newer PW units. Since we were shooting just past mid day it made it a bit more difficult to get shutter speeds slow enough for getting any motion blur. Step one was to set the camera to f/22 and see what kind of shutter speed that left me with. In this case I was able to shoot around 1/40th of a second.
We tried two different mounts on the bike, and the lower mount had the camera about 4 inches off the ground…at this point you gotta trust your rider and allow them to do their part. We did a number of runs and took a lot of photos….my goal in these types of set ups is to get one quality photo from each angle. Shooting at shutter speeds this slow while your camera is mounted on a moving object can be a bit of a challenge, but the effort is usually worth it.

I’ve included a set up shot below. If you’re a shooter reading this, I’m hoping this gives you some ideas to go out and try for yourself.

Set Up:
Canon 7D
Tokina 12-24 f/4
1/40th @ f/22
Manfrotto Magic Arm
Pocketwizard Plus II unit x 2
Remote trigger cable

3 Comments:
Keith Pytlinski’s Harley Shoot | PocketWizard Blog | Radio Triggers for Photographers says:

[...] of our favorite shooters, Keith Pytlinski, is still in the game, and still getting innovative photographic results. His Southern California-based M5photography continues to bring exciting sports photography to [...]

Keith, I purchased a magic arm and super clamp for this very purpose. I’ll be riding in Utah and Colorado at the beginning of June, and I wanted a method of taking photos. On a trip to the East Coast I used a Canon S3IS but it’s near impossible using it with your right hand when your hand needs to be on the throttle, not to mention a safety issue. I wanted to put my XSi on the bike and use a remote cable shutter release to take shots of me and the group of riders I’ll be with as we roll along. I found the magic arm/super clamp idea somewhere, and just came across your site using the same method. I’m planning on using safety cables to make sure if the camera falls off for some reason, it doesn’t hit the pavement.

Based on your experience, would you trust the magic arm and super clamp to hold up to 70mph riding? Although it’s not necessary, that would be idea to avoid as much slow downs during the trip as possible. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just have to ride slow for a couple minutes to get shots that we want in various segments of the trip.

I received the mount in the mail and am going to test it beginning with my road bike…baby steps. But I was just curious about your thoughts on fast speeds + somewhat unstable environment (motorcycle shaking, etc). Thanks for the write up!

M5photography says:

Hi Lance,
I haven’t tested the magic arm at those kinds of speeds…I think its a fantastic investment to have and you’ve already got some good ideas for using it. I say try out your ideas..you’ll have the safety cable going. Please share your shots when you get them.
Thanks for the comment.

Keith

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