A while ago a friend, a fellow photographer described me as ‘Andrew – The Motorbike Photographer.’ At the time, though understandable this bugged me a little, I pointed out that by some order I photograph more people in a year than motorbikes.

Anyway, since 2015 or so I have photographed motorbikes principally for calendars though also for national magazines both in the UK and abroad. I ride a bike, now fairly old like me, and in the past I owned a motorcycle despatch company; so I know a fair amount about them. Strangely recently I’ve realised that I can recognise the silhouette of a huge number of bikes. Over on Twitter Stuart runs the Oily Smudges Silhouette Competition each Monday and I do reasonably well, this appeals to the psychologist in me.

This shoot from last year is fairly typical of what we (Karin and I) have managed through the years. Emerging from Lockdown I needed a cover bike and sourced a vehicle from SP Motorcycles and suitable location, Kutchenhaus their neighbour in March Barton. This gave me the opportunity of a reasonably low-impact shoot not needing to transport bikes. October in Devon is rarely bright so lighting is a must unless the weather gods are in a great mood, although I have battery packs for the strobe lights the offer of a socket helps. Unless it is about to rain I try to shoot tethered to the Mac, the image can then be previewed live which can save a lot of stress later.

The process is always to set the camera up, shoot the bike without lights and then light the scene. The front cover shot is always square 1/1 ratio though the internal page image are landscape format. Once set up the lights are introduced one at a time. The biggest problem with shiny reflective thing is that they do indeed reflect things which is why the sheet is to the side of the bike. As ever I use very powerful lights, 1000 and 1500ws heads meaning I can run at base ISO (a low 64). On this shoot even without the strobes there was a faint image but nothing to worry about, in effect all of the light is from the three lights that can be seen. Unusually for me the light modifiers were all quite small. The front of the bike was lit with a relatively small octabox whereas the side and background were lit with hard light sources both with CTO orange gels to bring warmth to the October scene.

The odd thing about this is that I am left to my own devices, I know what the client needs so there are only two files that get submitted, the front on square shot and a slightly more oblique one.

It did rain a little, as the last item was packed away and the bike was back in it’s showroom.