How to Photograph Moving Bikes

How to Photograph Moving BikesI’ve recently been to a motorbike event and that’s where I faced a real photography challenge. It’s a good thing I took my time to prepare and packed all the gear I needed to make some really good shots of moving vehicles. Otherwise, I would have come home with nothing but a bunch of blurry pictures and a distinct feeling of disappointment.

Equipment is the key to success when it comes both to bike-riding and bike-photographing. I’ve been really amazed seeing so many incredibly skilled and daring people who ride their beautiful vehicles at breakneck speeds. What impressed me the most was the amount of courage it takes to do this as there is so very little that protects the rider’s body in case of an accident.

The only “real” protection that a motorcyclist has is the helmet. Doesn’t sound like much, right? I actually did some research into the subject and found out that motorcycle helmets today are works of art. They can really make a difference in case of a fall, and there is a great variety of them available. Just click here if you want to learn why a helmet can save a rider’s life and how many types of them exist.

I believe that motorcyclists definitely are awe-inspiring people and they deserve the best photographs. Making these shots is hard, but I did manage to succeed and today I’d like to share some tips with those of you who want to try photographing moving bikes.

  1. Get the right tools.
    To get good shots from a motorbike event you’ll need your favorite digital or film SLR camera. Digital compact cameras won’t do for this kind of photography as their shutter lag makes it impossible to take a good shot of a fast-moving object. You’ll need a camera that reacts the instant you press the shutter button. As you are unlikely to get a chance to stand really close to the track, you’ll have to take a 300mm (or even longer) telephoto lens as well as a tripod. The latter is necessary as you’ll have to wait for quite a bit to take your shots, so your hands are sure to grow heavy.
  2. Get into a good position.
    Find yourself a spot at some slow corner of the track. Bikes will be leaning beautifully here, so you will definitely get a few amazing shots.
  3. Set the focus.
    An autofocus feature becomes a hindrance when you are trying to photograph something as fast as a moving bike. So, switch to manual, set the focus on the best spot on the track and lock it. I suggest the apex of the bend as the perfect focus spot.
  4. Experiment with shutter speed.
    You’ll need to set a fast shutter speed when photographing motorbikes, but how fast is for you to decide. Experiment a bit starting with 1/500th of a second and find your perfect pace.
  5. Use burst mode.
    Motorbike racing photography is as much about luck as it is about skill, and burst mode will definitely up your chances capture the best picture.