Photographing a Very Unusual Brough Superior

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Photographing a Very Unusual Brough Superior

I’d like to throw a few names into the pot: George Brough, Eric Patterson, Alastair Gibson, Mike Russell de Clifford, Mark Upham.

I could continue, add more; I probably should.

Energica Andrew ButlerI (we) had been forewarned that there wouldn’t be as much space to shoot bikes as there was last year when we shot the MV F4 at Moto Corsa. Last year I had a plan, this year the plan was shoot the Energica outside while the weather holds then get inside and see what happens.

So the first bit pretty much went to plan. I can’t tell you how windy it was and windy weather means changing light but the wind was so quick the waits weren’t long.

“Will it blow over?” I asked*
“No, it won’t,” answered Ed “It’s heavy.”

Yep, it’s heavy but by all accounts quick off the line. The last time I commanded an electric vehicle it was a Wales & Edwards milk float, it wasn’t quick off the line.

* Don’t laugh, I once watched my own Moto Guzzi blow over in (proper) Yorkshire wind. This meant a call to Moto Corsa – Moto Mecca for parts.

Photographing the Brough Superior

The first time I saw Alastair Gibson I was shooting at Salon Privé for Mac Motorcycles, I caught him stood behind the Zagato Lambo here. Subsequently, I saw his Carbon Art sculptures at a gallery in Padstow so I don’t feel too guilty in seeing more than a hint of Amazon river dolphin in his design work on this Brough. Anyway it courts attention.

This Brough Superior has history at Bonneville and yes, in an ideal world I would be shooting it on the salt flats, probably doing jazz-hands at the camera-hostile environment. But given the changing Wiltshire winter’s weather and the need for Moto Corsa to run their business I initially tried to set up a side profile inside shot. However it really wasn’t happening so the large man with the camera indeed reached jazz-hands point rather quickly.

Motorbike PhotographerThe biggest problem was that we were basically shooting a Brough equipped with three shop security mirrors, you know, those things that capture EVERYTHING! On top of that the roof lights were very bright. Finally we were in close proximity of over £550k’s worth of bikes (and that’s only the two closest ones). This raises the stress level somewhat.

Black cloth, white cloth, very useful cloth. Cheap clips, unbelievably useful too.

Most useful of all though was Karin who said, “I’m just going to put this out there, would it be possible to shoot the bike from the opposite angle?” and you know it was, thanks Karin.

Karin shot the setup on her iPhone (below), You can just see the Nikon poking out behind the white cloth. The bike was ultimately lit by two Bowens Geminis, one above with a strip softbox and one behind with a grid and barn doors. Two Nikon SB910s finished up the setup one lighting the rear wheel and one throwing light off the white sheet. In the end the Geminis were cranked up to full to bully the ambient light a bit.

As I drove home I reflected on how I could have done this better, two more stands, a pole, a bag of clips and as many sandbags as I could muster.

We live, we learn, we get annoyed with ourselves.

Edmond J. King, another name, thanks Ed for your help.
(Sounds like he has a cool mum too)

Karin’s iPhone Shots of the Setup

By | 2017-07-06T15:42:40+00:00 January 15th, 2017|Bowens, Motorbike photography|0 Comments

About the Author:

Andrew Butler is a professional photographer and designer based in the South West of England. He has had a long career photographing for clients as diverse as Arts Council England and Motor Cycle News.