Skegness is so bracing! Especially for a dawn-to-dusk shoot!

Skegness, the Vegas of the North. Or East, to be more precise. So when Bike magazine wanted to show three very different custom bikes in a Vegas-style background, then it was an early start off to Skeggy. Instead of three riders to do three-bike action shots, we had just one who delivered the bikes in a van so they’d be all clean and sparkly. So they had to be pushed around for statics, then ridden and photographed in a variety of ways. Ending up with a three-bike static in front of the ferris wheel for the opening double page spread. Slow shutter speed for blurry wheel and to keep the blue in the sky, and four Elinchrom Ranger Quadras to light the bikes as sympathetically as possible. And the reward? A nice bag of chips.

The trick with the shot of the ferris wheel was to get the exact time of night right, so there is still some colour in the sky rather than it going inky black. And a suitable low ISO for quality, and slow shutter speed to get the whoosh in the wheel, is a key part of the shot.

The biggest issue was getting the bikes into place, in plenty of time as the light levels fell. And then lighting the bikes with Elinchrom Ranger Quadras individually, so that the light on them wasn’t too harsh or obvious. Almost as if it were from other lights from the fairground.

Four Quadras were used, fitted with the standard (i.e. not wide) reflector and moved to light up each bike individually. Set the right aperture to get the right depth of field, then adjust the power of the light individually until the exposure is right.

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Of course, editorial shoots like this also mean loads of other shots during the day – from action in the sunshine to statics, detail shots and even night time riding with super high ISOs.

The first shot was the Harley in front of the white building – Mo’s diner, early on during the day. You can tell it’s early due to the light. The bike was lit with a couple of Ranger Quadras to lift the shadows. And there’s even a Quadra aimed at the building to reduce the contrast there. Got to be subtle sometimes.

A bright day means lots of contrast. Something us Brits are not used to sometimes!
A bright day means lots of contrast. Something us Brits are not used to sometimes!

Second static involved pushing the yellow bike to the edge of the beach and trying to include the distance wind farm in some sort of “power” look up. Harsh lighting was a killer, as were loads of people enjoying the late autumn sunshine. A super low angle and a super wide lens gave a useful composition for the designer to work with, with lots of sky to drop text into the final layout. A Quadra reduced contrast on the shadow side of the bike.

Loads of room for text. designers love this
Loads of room for text. designers love this

Static No3 was of the mean Ducati in front of the Pleasure Beach buildings. Again, a low angle, and using the sun as a side light while filling in the shadows with a couple of Rangers was called for. Damn this bright British days!

And still the sun shines!
And still the sun shines!

Then onto some shots without any extra light! A little bit of panning, a few natural light details and then wait for darkness. Crank up the ISO and pan with the bike as it speeds past the amusements. And home  by 1am. A typical 19-hour working day!