Well, actually it was Avonmouth, we did the shoot in Avonmouth but most people won’t know where that is.
Some time ago I was commissioned to undertake a photography project for Devitt Insurance and as such was already aware of the Devitt RC Express Racing ZX10R but I had assumed the bikes were elsewhere, everything is isn’t it? However, as part of my quest for ‘superbikes’ to photograph I made contact with Tom at Devitt who put me on to Becky and then Danny, a man from the north called up. “Yes I have the bikes, they’re in Yorkshire but I’m bringing them down (to Bristol) next week.”
Danny Horne who describes himself as “a proud Yorkshireman from Silsden, West Yorkshire” along with team co-owner Ben Constable made us immediately welcome. Given that they were in the middle of loading up the truck with several race bikes bound for Spain the following day it would have been easy not to be so but Danny describes the team’s willingness to help those around them as part of what makes them great.
I had already asked if they would mind bringing Roy Constable’s 2016 ZX10R along too, “no problem, we’ll pop it in a van.” I was really pleased to hear that this one is in the ‘stealth black’ finish, these satin paint jobs are a delight to photograph, it’s like having a tent of tracing paper between the lights and the bike. It’s just occurred to be how different this bike was to photograph compared to the very reflective Kawasaki H2 that I photographed earlier in the week.
So the scene was set, two closely related bikes, one dull but dry day and a two hour Saturday morning slot before I had to be off for the next bike.
Photographing Motorbikes With Different Lighting Setups
The 2016 was first, it was there and waiting. I had originally planned to set up a studio outside and do a black on black setup using the Bowens Gemini Pro strobes and the Travelpak but there was a very agreeable Volvo tractor unit ready to make a suitable backdrop. This all hung together given the team’s connections with Volvo Used Trucks. Fortunately whilst cold and overcast it didn’t look like it was about to rain; there was no real plan-b other than jazz-hands. Well, I had discussed a dark and moody shed with Danny but didn’t notice it. There was an offer to move the whole rig for the shoot but assuming there wasn’t too much traffic I had just about enough space by the main gate.
The Nikon D800e was triggered by a remote release and the Bowens strobes again were triggered by the Pulsar radio trigger. That trusty old Manfrotto boom-stand really felt in its element amongst these heavy toys but the wind blows hard and cold in Avonmouth so the softbox needed a little restraint. The shot itself was simple enough and has been well received. What may seem odd to some is that the lights were used to turn a daylight scene into night.
I had planned to use the trailer as the backdrop for the race-bike shot and fortunately the weather was playing the game, sort of. Sun, no sun, sun, a bit of sun, too much sun, cloud. I have a desire to do a full lit shot of a rig and trailer but this was not time to bring film noir to the table, the bike needed to go on its holidays. I always feel a bit awkward instructing people to move a bike with ‘left a bit right a bit’ but in a short period of time we’d had the bike on and off the track stand plenty of times.
It’s great to see so much so much immediate social media interaction with these images, one has immediately become the team’s Facebook avatar and from my perspective that’s what the shots are about.
For now though, I can’t help wondering what it’s like on the journey and when they are all down in Spain. There was an old Ducati Multistrada sat waiting to be loaded with the other bikes. “What’s that for?” I asked. “Oh that’s for the truck driver.” replied Danny “We take it down and then he goes off riding while we test the bikes.”
What’s not to like?
Thanks to Danny, Ben and Roy at RC Express, Tom and Becky at Devitt and as ever Karin for her support and documentation.