Bicycle photography using an iPhone

photo 1-6I don’t have a proper camera, I just use my iPhone for my blog photos. And I have no traning in photography, but in the interests of making this blog look better, I have taught myself a few things about photographing bikes, and I still don’t always get it right. However, a number of techniques can greatly improve photos taken with just the phone. The following photo was taken directly after the photo at the top of this post and in the same light …photo 2-6Using the touch screen to select the point of focus makes a large difference. The same technique was applied in the following two photos …photo-51photo-54While the difference in lighting is not as dramatic as the first example, a difference is still obvious. The reflective surface of the bell also allows for some interesting photographic opportunities, which I did not really take full advantage of in this instance, but there are many possibilities if you have nice shiny components.

Consideration of the backdrop for bike photos is also important, as a large part of the photo ends up being the background rather than the bike, so it pays to make the backgrounds interesting and varied. I always like the beach, gardens or flowers and old fences as backdrops, especially if the fence has graffiti on it or is architecturally interesting. If you can get a nice winding road in the background, leading to the bike, and your bike is nice and shiny and the photo is taken at dawn, you have really hit the jackpot, I have never managed to do this yet.

Positioning of components of the bike are also important in order to get a photo that will appeal to cyclists. The cranks should be either horizontal or in the 10 past the hour position. If the crank the closest to the camera is in the back position, the bike just looks odd and the photo lacks a dynamic quality, as if the bike is being pedalled backwards. It’s also good to get the pedals flat, though I could not make mine stay flat in the photos above. It’s also important to take photos from the drive side, there is more interest there. These are things I often forget to do, and there are many instances in this blog where you will see examples of bad photography. I am learning as I go along. Sometimes, however, a good photo will emerge from a batch where mistakes were made ….
photo-53I made sure the pedals were in the right position before taking this photo, along with quite a few others, before realising that the drive train was on the wrong side! But I love the light in the photo and the way the reflective tyres are glowing. Such effects can be even more dramatic in darker conditions with a flash.

The best light to take photos in, though, is natural light around dawn or dusk, or on overcast or rainy days. There is a short window of time, when the sun is just disappearing or appearing, when your subject will positively glow through the camera’s lens, while looking quite ordinary when viewed without the camera. That is the time to start snapping!

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9 Responses to Bicycle photography using an iPhone

  1. laurent says:

    Your pictures are good, don’t worry about them: this blog is very pleasant.
    Nevertheless, you’ve said “…it pays to make the backgrounds interesting and varied” and, in my opinion, it depends on the goal of the message.
    If you want to give technical information about a bicycle, I think you need to have a background as neutral as possible.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks for the compliment on the blog. Many of my earlier photos are not so good, I didn’t get focus right and I did not have as good a phone as I have now. Even with technical photos a background can be chosen to complement the subject, although sometimes just a plain black or white background is best. I like to see a context for photos however, it makes it all a bit more real.

  2. Good stuff. Here’s another tip, born of watching somebody use an iPhone like it’s a film camera. Force yourself to take lots of pictures of the same subject. Save your best shot and trash the rest. You’re not paying for film or processing so there’s no additional cost to the extra images–and you may find the perfect picture was the 10th one you took.

    • Vicki says:

      Great tip! Even looking back at these pics I can see many things that could have been improved if I had looked a bit more closely at the photos as I took them and made a few changes.

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