Since everyone seems to have a digital camera these days, let's
assume that's what you are using. Since I worked in a camera shop
for some of my formative years, it's tempting to write a long series
of guidelines - however, I've tried to limit myself to the basics
Focus - The bicycle to be photographed is basically "air"
- that is your fancy camera's autofocus will look for something
to fix on - probably whatever is behind your bicycle. You can usually
lock in the focus by aiming at the ground in from of the bicycle,
then moving up to compose the shot.
Lighting - Use natural lighting. Outside sunlight is best.
Morning and evening sun is better still. Don't bother going outside
at lunchtime to take the picture, because the highlights will be
fried and the shadows will look like the darkest depths of Mordor.
Overcast days often can supply very nice, even lighting. Keep the
sun behind you, unless you know what the phrase "fill flash"
Lighting Addendum - White bicycle frames can be very tough
to get right - if you shoot them against a too dark background,
your camera can be fooled. It tries to split the difference, which
washes out your bicycle and lightens up the shadows. If you then
make a scan of that, it gets out of control in a big hurry. If you
see "graininess" in the shadows, that's the camera/scanner
trying to lighten it up. Try to shoot it against a background where
the light is hitting both the bicycle and the background. Or, shoot
it in open shade where the light is even.
Shadow Addendum - If you shoot in strong shadows, you photo
will gain a lot of contrast. Since cameras and computer screens
don't deal with a range of light as well as your eye, contrasty
photos lose detail. This
example has very low contrast - it was a bright, overcast day.
example shows high contrast on a white bicycle - bright sun
too close to midday.
More Involved Examples - Ray
Dobbins has put together a good reference of home-built studio
photography techniques. His tips are quite good, and some of his
bicycles are quite mind-bogglingly beautiful. Check it out here.
Composition Tips - Stop before you snap the shutter. Look
at what you are about to commit to film...err...pixels. Look at
each corner of the frame - are there things that distract from the
bicycle? How big is the bicycle in the frame? If it takes up less
than a third, you probably are too far away. Look "through"
the bicycle - is there a bag of old fast-food splattered on the
sidewalk? Does the seattube seem to continue into a street sign?
Simple is better. Closer is better.
To Send Your Photo - Save or transfer the photo "for
the web". Most new cameras seem to have a decent way to scale
down a picture. What you send should be no wider than 800 pixels
(and no smaller than 350). You can "Open" the photo in
your web browser to get an idea - most will tell you the size when
you do this. For comparison, the photos on this page are (at left)
250 and (right) 150 pixels wide.
you changed it, your camera probably likes to save things much,
much larger than that. What you send really shouldn't be llarger
than 1 mb - more like 250 - 500k per photo. The photos should be
all this talk about conversions and transfering and sizes makes
your eyes glaze over, just send what you have - you're actually
better off sending me a bigger version. I have a number of photo
& image manipulation tools and can
probably deal with it just fine unless it is some odd "native"
format that your camera uses.
No more than 5 photos per post. If you send more, I may not
post #6 or higher. If you can do it with less - great! Mix 'em up
a little! People like to see component
details. Make sure you get a nice "overview"
shot. It's fun to see what your world is like - setting the
bicycle in your local interesting or unique locale is even better
a great example. As with vacation photos - leave 'em wanting
more. Don't just take a whole bunch at slightly different angles.
Vertical vs Horizontal. (Or - Portrait vs Landscape) Either
way is OK. I crop the photos so they are no more than 800 pixels
at the longest measurement. Note - I do select one of your photos
to be the "Random" shot which shows up in one of various
places. For formatting reasons, this is the horizontal shot,
so please make sure to include at least one horizontally composed
photo in the group.
The photo should be of the bicycle only. Pets (especially
rescue animals such as Tashi, at right) are always welcome in the
frame, but there should not be recognizable people included in the
shot. If you include human folks, I will intentionally blur them
or crop them out of the photo.
up to the top