Shooting Heavy Bikes with a DIY Strip Light


strip_light_bmw.jpgReader Peter Boden a great photographer in general and a Bike photographer in particular have a neat way to creatively light his subjects – among them a BMW K1200 RS. Without a doubt a subject that needs respectful handling. Not an easy subject to light – highly reflective curved surfaces, combined with black-matte-light-absorbing surfaces. Not an easy task. But wait, there is more. Since we are talking Heavy Bike here, just lighting will not make the cut. Once you have achieved acceptable lighting, you want to make sure you convey the right emotion.

strip_light_the_strip.jpgHow did Peter do it? By using a home made strip light and a huge reflector. (Kinda like a prolonged cardboard softbox) Peter gives some general instruction and proves that it is a no brainier to build. (Tons of brain to think about it initially, but once you have the idea – it’s a breeze:

Take a cardboard tube, about 3 feet long, 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I cut down a large tube that held long strips of wood molding. The one
used in my shot was 8 inches in diameter.

Cut a roughly 2 inch by 20 inch wide slot in the tube for the strip of
light. Line the inside of the tube with aluminum foil.

I covered the strip opening with several layers of white tissue paper
to diffuse the light a bit. This light strip can be used with all sorts of light sources, as long
as they fit inside somehow. For this particular shoot, I sandwiched the
tube between two Alien Bees studio lights. Strobes can also be used.

strip_light_setup.jpgFor a complete setup shot you can have a peek at the photo on the left. (While you’re at it check out Peter’s stream, it rocks!!).

One comment about choosing the light sources to fit inside the tube: If you are using a WATTs generous light source, keep in mind that they produce heat and you are dealing with flammable cardboard. Hint: heat + Paper = ???.

Related articles:
– Peter Boden – Site, Flickr stream, Baby
BMW K1200 RS
cardboard softbox