How I Took This Photograph Of A Cyclist Riding Into The Sun

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Ever since I saw this custom made motorbike of my friend Tapeta I knew I was going to take this shot. Today I am going to share how it was made.

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The hardest part was probably to find a location for shooting this. I needed a location which would look similar to some Arizona desert scenery: No trees on the sides of the road; no traffic lights; no houses. I was really looking for very clean shot. After few months I found the right spot, probably one kilometer long without any trees – just small bush and grass. A place where traffic is not very heavy. The plan was to take the show with my car riding along the motorcycle, in the opposing lane on the road.

The instructions for shooting were pretty simple: We are going to drive 70km/h, I will be driving next to you and you should be holding consistent speed and remaining in a constant position relative to my car. We probably repeated this about 6 times until I was happy with the results.

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As far as camera and kit, we were on full manual. I used a Sony A57 with Sony 11-18mm lens. But only because this was  the cheapest piece of equipment I owned at that day. If anything went wrong, damaging this gear would not be fun, but also not too expensive. Plus this kit was gaining points on being relatively light weight. As for camera settings, we shot this at f/9, ISO100, 11mm. For the sake of moving background shutter speed was 1/15sec. Good enough to have a nice background blur while keeping the foreground rider sharp.

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We did some test shots and rides to make sure that everything is working, and to coordinate. we were also looking for the best patch of road to take the shot in.

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The camera was mounted to the car window using a monster Quad-head Suction Cup, and a super clamp and I was operating it from within the car using a wireless remote trigger. The strobes were set up with one strobe positioned on the camera to act as an optical trigger and tree additional strobes were mounted on the car roof railing, and inside the car. All were controlled with the remote wireless trigger. All strobes were setup manually for 1/2 power so they would have a consistent recharge cycle.

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For the post processing I used adobe Lightroom and for the first simple conversation simply used a sepia filter. For the final Brown shot I edited in Photoshop and used an array of filters to give the photo a painting like feeling.

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I later printed it on 100% cotton canvas and it looks perfect!

I did want to cover another shot that we did on the same day. For the lead image on this post, we re-arranged the camera on a Manfrotto Magic Arm and pointed it backwards, this way we could control the angle of the camera without removing the suction mounts.

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About The Author

Peter Prazenka is a passionate photographer from Bratislava, Slovakia. You can follow his photography on his website.

  • echomrg

    the rig is impressive but when i saw the first picture i wondered why was he riding with such a crappy weather…
    for me the “riding into the sun” part isn’t working that well…

  • Tommysixtoes

    For me it’s the “cyclist” part that’s not working :)
    I’m pretty sure that’s a motorcycle.

    • izzino

      OK. Sorry for that. English is not my native language.

  • Tommysixtoes

    Sweet photo by the way! :)

  • JW

    I’m just wondering why the big effort with the mountings etc.
    If I had to do this shot I simply would use a driver and would shoot from a different place in the car. That brings much more flexibility – and also control over the final picture….
    But to be positive: the shots are great – especially the first one on this page!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://andrewmohebbi.com/ Andrew Mohebbi

    Totally intrigued and impressed by the setup, but the photos…were a little disappointing. I’ve seen incredible photos taken handheld by guys who are also riding motorcycles…call them crazy. I can’t recall his name, but there’s a guy who has taken quite a few very impressive photos both while riding a motorcycle and sitting on the back of one. He’s interviewed in the recent documentary, “Why We Ride”.