It’s always fun having the opportunity to create new images, especially when the subject is something new. It comes with its own unique challenges. Like this lovely Kawasaki motorbike that we took to a little carpark near the town of Kilsyth in Scotland overlooking the countryside and surrounding towns.
I then grabbed my trusty Sigma sdQ-H with 50-100 f1.8 Art lens. The fast aperture and long focal length gives a nice subject isolation and scene compression while the little Manfrotto Pixi lets us keep the camera low to the ground.
I wanted to create an image where the bike stood proudly against a darker out of focus background so I set the aperture to f1.8, shutter to 1/2000, iso100 which gave me this.
Just about perfect for what I wanted but now I needed to light the bike, Luckily the Cactus v6ii with XTTL firmware allows me to shoot in HSS/Powersync mode allowing me to overcome the cameras 1/180 sync limit, I used that along with the Pixapro ad600 inside a 120cm Softbox with the help of my lighting assistant Barry Grant.
As you can see lighting reflective curvy objects requires very large modifiers to catch all the angles and create nice gradient, something we didn’t have so instead I set the Sigma sdQ-H to interval timer every 3 seconds to help avoid camera movement while Barry walked around the bike with the light to emulate a much larger light source.
For this shot Barry had walked behind and in front of the bike as well as placing the light directly overhead and even close to the ground to get some light on hard to reach parts then I went ahead and blended them in post as this Gif demonstrates.
To blend the images in Photoshop you open them up as layers by going to “File, Scripts, Load files into stack” and set the Layer blend mode to “lighten” then use masks to draw in the parts you want to keep.
One of the benefits of doing it this way is that you can adjust the brightness of each shot afterwards to suit you needs and remove ones that don’t work… you could even go back and light the bike differently in post by using different frames.
I ended up using around 18 of the 40+ frames taken on the day, carefully blending them to create this final image.
About the Author
Paul Monaghan is a portrait photographer based just outside of Glasgow, Scotland. You follow his work on Instagram and Facebook.
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