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Thread: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

  1. #1
    billrick's Avatar
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    Default Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I've picked up a lot of great photography tips from the V-S crew over the years. Care to share ideas, great photos, or gear tips? What time of day do you ride to pick up great shadow photos? Which f-stop do you select for the best garage door photos? What camera do you shove in your back jersey pocket?

    One question I see a lot - what camera do folks recommend? I'm a huge freak for the old Canon S90. I know xjoex is also a fan of this one, or the successor S95. And I favor the sensor and battery life of the S90/95 to the more recent S100/110. You can still find the older versions on ebay or the Canon refurb store. (The S95 refurb is currently available for $223, as of today.)

    It is compact enough to toss in a jersey pocket but you can control aperture and shutter speed for photos like this one:



    Shooting into the sun gives a nice flare effect:

    My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
    the burning keeps me alive

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    compact cameras are good for riding. smartphones too.

    once i hauled a 4x5 field camera and a tripod up a 3500' climb, film holders too..

    seriously, what do ya wanna know?

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    robin3mj is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I held out against smartphones for a while, and carried a $90 Canon, which took good snaps. Then I broke down and got an iPhone when we switched providers (and ditched the work blackberry at the same time) and am not looking back.

    I think the right photo is all about composition. Rule of thirds, keeping things off center, etc. I like to use lots of sky when I can. Dunno if it's the strong winds around here but the clouds are always interesting/dramatic.

    A couple times a year I will take a slow roll around town with the good camera and snap some places I've seen that deserve a closer look. That's one of the nicest things about bikes and photography is the easy access they grant you to places, and the ability to look at a particular sight from various angles with ease.

    PS- also a nice thing about the iPhone is all the cheap/free editing and sharing apps. Crop, straighten and tune to your hearts delight without having to load to your desktop first. Some of my favorites are: Snapseed, Procamera (I take pics with this instead of the apple cam), PicFx, Lo-Mob, Instagram, CameraBag.
    my name is Matt

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    nspace is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    willygil should weigh in on this, his riding shots are always excellent and I would be curious if he has any tips.

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    billrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Quote Originally Posted by robin3mj View Post
    I think the right photo is all about composition. Rule of thirds, keeping things off center, etc. I like to use lots of sky when I can. Dunno if it's the strong winds around here but the clouds are always interesting/dramatic.
    Hey, glad you jumped in, I've always enjoyed your tumblr collection. You always have interesting compositions. I was sorry to see you move to Chicago since you always had a new perspective on the scenes here in DC.

    I keep rule of thirds in mind too, when shooting and editing. For cycling photos from the saddle, I shoot from the hip at widest angle (28mm on the Canon S90) and then crop for composition/ROT in editing software. Kind of cheating, but I haven't figured out how to use a viewfinder at speed without wiping out. I'm thinking of going to a wider angle lens for these kind of shots.

    Your airshow photos were some of my faves most recently. Curious, did you compose in the viewfinder or later in edit? I know how hard it is to capture something as dynamic as this, with such great composition:


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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Quote Originally Posted by nspace View Post
    willygil should weigh in on this, his riding shots are always excellent and I would be curious if he has any tips.
    Agreed. Also false_aesthetic, xjoex, and cody.wms.

    So many great photographers here.

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I think the Canon S110 (and the preceding models in that series) are perfect carry along cameras. High image quality, small size and slim shape. I say this having bought a Panasonic LX-3 as a carry along camera, and after repeatedly snagging the retracted lens on my jersey pocket, I gave up. It was only a matter of time before it ended up on the pavement in pieces.

    If you shoot digital, get Lightroom as an editing tool. Lightroom is like getting a pro work stand for repairing your bike. Everything is better. And it isn't overkill for digital photos like Photoshop is.

    Whatever camera you get, it should have the possibility of manual controls over exposure, at least by adjusting exposure compensation (the ability to add and subtract "light" from the camera's preset exposure meter system.) If everything is locked on automatic and preprogrammed settings, eventually you will get a situation where you cannot make the camera do what it needs to do in order to get the photo you want.

    Get a card reader for your computer. They are much faster for getting the images from your camera to the computer.

    Don't take naked photos of yourself or your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend/stranger and leave them on your SD card along with your travel/cycling photos and then get out your camera to show guests at your house photos of your vacation in Cleveland/Alp D'Huez by allowing them to scroll through the photos at their leisure. Not that this has ever happened to me. Just sayin'.

    Take a lot of photos. Practice makes things better.

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    robin3mj is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I try to compose on the screen/viewfinder (always have the grid guidelines activated if using a rear screen) and crop/level afterwards. I don't print too many of my photos so I can crop without regard for aspect ratio.

    Re: those airshow pics. I took a ton that day, so some of them were bound to come out nicely.

    Like j44ke says above, I use the Canon's -3 to +3 light adjuster to fine tune exposure. Beyond that I just leave it on Aperture Priority and keep the f as low as possible (a tip from my cousin, a semi-pro photog).
    Once loaded to the computer I use Aperture rather than Lightroom, since I was given it as a gift. Look for the free Presets online- maybe they're cheating, but they can allow you a consistent 'look' across a batch of photos, and you can fine tune individual ones as needed.
    I did try PhotoShop once and like J said, it's a daunting program, and slowed the hell out of my Mac, which probably needs replacing in a year or two.
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Yeah, Photoshop is really for media production now, or people who are working with film and need major flexibility to overcome some of the limitations involved in scanning film to digital. It has always been a real resource hog, and the latest iterations are even worse than that. Lightroom/Aperture each have a tool for selecting a group of photos and syncing settings so that all the blue skies are basically the same color. Very fast, reasonably light on resources, and have only as steep a learning curve as you want to take on.

    In terms of shooting bikes, get a bounce/fill flash to replace the built-in flash on your DSLR or point & shoot (if it has a flash shoe which many do not.) I have a Canon, so I use the Canon 270EX. Very small (fit in a pocket nearly) but works very well. Helps to illuminate the object in front of the background and give it some separation. Whatever you get, it needs to have a tiltable flash head, so that the flash can sit on your camera and shoot straight up or at an angle, bouncing light off a surface and onto the object. Flash with digital is brainless, because you shoot, check and then adjust settings and reshoot. Not like the old days of calculating, flash metering, etc. etc. So as long as the flash will work with your camera, you can get very good high powered flashes used that are not the latest and greatest, and you can still get them to work well. The below shot was done with fill flash using a 270EX.


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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Good stuff here.

    For post work, I use Aperture 3, and more importantly the Nik software suite. When I'm out shooting I find that I end up with lots of situations where there is too much range for the exposure to come out right, so I can just expose for the highlights and pull out the shadows in Vivenza (shooting RAW, too). An example here, though I may try to go back and warm it up another third or half stop. Everything looks brighter on my home comp. Probably need to calibrate it.


    Jones Point Lighthouse 45 by Cody Wms, on Flickr

    As far as hardware, on the bike I usually use my iPhone 4S, which is "good enough" many times, as long as you don't push it and put it in situations where it'll jack up the ISO or won't be able to handle the differential in light. Edit either as above or with Snapseed on the phone itself, another Nik product. Nik was just purchased by Google, so we'll see what happens with them.

    For real cameras, right now it is a Fuji X100, though it will likely be sold soon (hint hint Salonistas). Moving back to micro 4/3rds and the OMD that Billrick has. Before the Fuji it was the EPL-1 with the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, that camera is currently the bargain of all of photography, and before that a Nikon D90, mostly with the 50 1.8D, and before that a Nikon D40.

    I also have a Olympus XA2 for a pocket camera, but I don't really put much film through it. You can't beat the Canon S90/95/100/110/1million cameras. Another good source for them is KEH.com. A co-worker just bought one from them, and it looks great.

    Prospectively, if someone was asking me about a cycling camera, I'd say a new smartphone and know what it can do or the Canons. For a bag user, on the cheap end I'd say EPL-1 and 14mm panasonic for under $300. On the high end, the Fuji or the new m4/3rds stuff. The Sony 5N and 7 NEXes look good, but there aren't many lenses. Same problem with Fuji's new X mount stuff, not enough in the lens department.

    Personally, I need to spend some more time really learning my software in depth. I'm ok with it, but certainly not exploiting it for what it can really do. Oh, and use HDR sparingly. Very sparingly, please.

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    keep a camera around that goes full manual, use a spot meter or comparable in-camera functionality, and learn to use the zone system when exposing and make it instinctual

    use a fixed-lens, get close--FILL UP THAT FRAME!!!

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I haven't been into photography over the last few years nearly as much as when I was younger. This thread will likely change that. Just awesome. Great info so far and we're only 11 posts in.

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    print down atmo

    1988_45.jpg

    decarava

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    I love taking pics, I love riding... combining them is fun. Plus the VSalon has some great shooters so it makes you try harder.

    The Cannon S110/S95 etc are just amazing cameras. If it bright sunlight I leave it in Auto. Anything else I usually switch to program mode and bump the ISO up. If its winter and the colors aren't great I'll use the scene mode for foliage. It bumps the colors a bit. I ride with it all the time, often snapping while riding.

    But mostly I look for cool spots to shoot. I ride alone a lot so I carry a small tripod and if I see a cool shot I'll stop and take a pic with the self timer. I carry a little mini tripod (Giottos Compact Tripod with Ball head (QU305B-1004)). Or I'll check the spot and wait until I am on a group ride and wait to snap pics there.

    I find the best time is the magic hour (sunrise/sunset). Or baring that look for place where the sun is filtered through the trees or flowers.

    Although I checked out the Olympus OM-D yesterday. WOW! There is $200 rebate on the kit right now too. I will pick it up soon.

    -Joe

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    lukasz is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Cool thread!

    I bought a Samsung TL500/EX1 two years ago after walking into B&H set on a Panasonic LX5 or Canon S95 (for on the bike use). The body of the Samsung just feels so proper that I bought it even though it was by far the heaviest and largest. The flip screen is very practical too. I carried it up many Pyrenees climbs this summer (lots of instagram off my phone, too), but the thing is just too damn slow from button press to photo compared to a DSLR.

    I've become a fan of fixed focal length and am looking either for something smaller or faster now. I'd love a Fuji X100 but they're a bit pricy for my needs right now and even bigger than the Samsung. Also thinking about a Ricoh Digital IV or just a Canon S95 and be done with it (I have to play with it and see if it is faster than the Samsung, at least).

    Tourmalet looking west:


    What happens when I try to take pictures of cyclists:

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Quote Originally Posted by xjoex View Post
    Although I checked out the Olympus OM-D yesterday. WOW! There is $200 rebate on the kit right now too. I will pick it up soon.

    -Joe
    Thanks for mentioning this. That's a good rebate - $100 off the kit, and $100 off other lenses. So, you can get the body, 14-45, and 45-150 for $1200. Add the 14 ($160 on eBay) or 20 (maybe both) and you'll be set.

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    pigmode is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Great info. I have an S95 and an iPhone but am still making classic blunders like the one below, although in that shot the sun was blinding the iPhone screen. Would be nice to capture the effect of an 18% gradient.



    DH_Maunalani by pigmode, on Flickr


    IMG_0136 by pigmode, on Flickr

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    Curious George's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    Have a try of GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program for a free opensource photoshop alternative and search for RAWTHERAPEE as the same to lightrom.

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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    whoa, check out these shots from Olympus' upcoming body cap lens. Just search for "15/8" here. Much better than I thought.

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    lukasz is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Cycling Photography - Tips and Gear

    How do these small Olympus compare to the Sony NEX-C3 or 5? This format/size might be my next camera purchase after reading a bit about them. Hell with a pancake lens that will fit in a jersey pocket. I wish B&H were open today so I could go fiddle with things. Then again if it were open I'd be at work.

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