It’s that time of the year again, I’m shooting the bike calendars. Richard has some very nice bikes, some of them are working machines – which we both agree we like. Others, such as this 1935 Sunbeam are also very nicely restored.

My task on this day was to get in and out pretty quickly, I had a PR shoot in the afternoon so I needed to get the studio constructed, the final image and then get the car packed ASAP.

I will admit to sometimes feeling a little embarrassed by the amount of equipment that I bring to a shoot such as this, but when one is immersed in such a high value garage as this, one wouldn’t want flimsy light stands falling over. Two excellent pieces of equipment are my old bike salopettes which are both warm and have padded knees, you will spend a lot of time on your knees shooting bikes. In addition I have a black yoga mat which cost about a fiver from a charity shop, basically chunky foam rubber in vinyl. This makes a great ground level work area for the Mac and lenses, I work on the assumption that if the items are close to the floor they aren’t going to fall far!

My working practice on these jobs is reasonably consistent. I have a mental-visual idea of the final image before I start, I pre-visualised the red background with this machine. The paper gets set up, the bike is positioned with no studio lights and a tripod mounted tethered test shot is taken. The final image needs to be square format. If the bike needs moving I do jazz-hands, breathe deeply and move it.

Then the lights are built up one at a time, frequently I will set the background lights first, one at a time. I use a radio remote on the camera and a solid tripod meaning that I can constantly monitor the progress without touching the Nikon. When all of the lights are set the image is checked closely for focus and shake. If I’ve got good internet connection the images will be automatically backed up to Dropbox as I shoot which is always a nice reassurance.

Once the final light is set the shot is taken and everything gets packed away, deep breaths whilst I move the bike from the paper. In this instance the process took two and a half hours from in to out.

My approach is very much get it right in the camera, there may be a little computer ‘post’ work but as you can see from the live images here it’s really minimal.