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lighting a motorcycle...

Newton Yost , Jul 13, 2005; 11:10 p.m.

I could use some expert advice on lighting a motorcycle (harley with lots of chrome) and any problems i should look out for.....i have a battery powered system (three strobes), if needed, and a some common light modifiers...the client wants an edgy industrial look...i have never shot a motorcycle before and i am a little concerned about type of lighting and reflections, etc...thanks in advance for the help...

Responses

Ellis Vener , Jul 13, 2005; 11:22 p.m.

The client wants an edgy industrial look

Can you describe that ? Has the client shown you samples of work that has that "edgy industrial look"? I ask because there are lots of ways that can be interpreted by you or by us.

Newton Yost , Jul 13, 2005; 11:51 p.m.

thanks Ellis....i did not get any examples of what he means by the "edgy industrial look" i guess what i am getting at is not so much the location or set but more like how i should light the bike....natural, mixed, studio stobes....the more i think about it, he probably means he does not want a typical soft sunset type of light but something a little more hard...

jim feldman , Jul 14, 2005; 01:17 a.m.

lot's 'o chrome + "hard" lighting = lots of hot spot reflections

Other than that I have no idea what your client is looking for, and you need to nail him down on what he wants, or you'll end up playing "fetch a rock"

Brooks Short - Tampa, Florida , Jul 14, 2005; 09:19 a.m.

Newton,

If you're going to actually light this bike you'll need huge scrims and/or reflector panels. Or you can shoot with bounce light in a room with white walls on the side behind the camera and a white ceiling.

If you go to a Harley dealership and snag one of their motorcycle brochures you'll see that they shoot their bikes outside on a heavily overcast day. They've done it that way for years and that's also how they shoot their line of clothing.

I would think the "edgy, industrial look" will come from the location rather than the lighting. There's really only one way to light these bikes to define their shapes and surfaces and that is diffused light either man-made with scrims/reflectors or natural overcast/shade light outside.

James Niles , May 21, 2007; 10:27 p.m.

"Edgy-industrial" is too vague; don't shoot this, if they don't show you a layout or precise picture of what they have in mind. Otherwise get all of your money up front, 'cause they'll never be happy. "Studio slick" even has lots of variations, which you can observe on different manufacturers' sites. The newest trend is environmental, like the Harley's. Even here you will want to use some fill light and reflectors,especially to help define the chrome. Studio idea, either a coved wall, super wide roll seamless, or big canvass (pretty simple) Key light, a large overhead softbox. Easy to just stretch wide diffusion, tracing paper, or silk above, but you would need c-stands and clamps. You'll need some assistants to help set reflectors and such to get the reflections you need in the chrome. Use 4' X 8' pieces of foam core, some which you might have to cut up or paste different colored paper on. You need to be on camera axis, thus the assistants; otherwise what you see is not what you'll get,and it will take a frustrating amount of time. Different sizes of plexiglass mirror could also let you place some careful specular highlights for shape and dimension. Some careful back lighting could also aid separation, depending on your seamless color. The environmentals are meant to look like cafe grab shots or backyard snap-shots. They are not, hence the perfect clothes, models, etc.

James Niles , May 21, 2007; 10:36 p.m.

Left out a couple of things. You shouldn't need more than three lights, probably only two in effect. Two to bolster key light and one for backlight. Reflectors should take care of everything else. Make sure tyres are spotless(maybe brand new)and consider spraying with Clear Coat, harmeless but will give bike some snap and contrast, unrelated to lighting. Bad and worn tyres are like shooting dirty kitchens.

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