View Full Version : Swing-Lens shot of Modern Motorcyclists

Pages : [1] 2

04-21-2008, 03:08 PM
Hi all,

Had some friends over for lunch at the Michigan Cafe in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn MI on Saturday afternoon.

Before leaving, I asked if they'd mind if I took their photo. Quickly explained how my Widelux FV worked, that we'd put the bikes in a 120 degree arc with the camera at the center, take the shot, and in the pic they'd all be nose-to-tail in a straight line.

Tried to arrange them from the most-sophisticated to the least, ie, the late model BMW first, then the Yamaha, then a slightly older Suzuki, then my 1992 BMW, and finally a little 50cc Honda, whose rider had come north from Windsor, Ontario aboard it. Looking at the result, it may have also been from heaviest to lightest.

The first pic, taken by my g/f Sharon Suhrie with a modern non-film point-n-shoot, shows us getting the bikes in position, ie, placing them in an arc:


Second shot shows the result, with the Widelux. I composed and set everything up, and my g/f Sharon actually pushed the button for this one, allowing me to share the spotlight with my friends:


In keeping with the spirit of the old-tyme group pano photogs, I wrote in the names of each rider below their bike, and wrote in the name of the event in the upper LH corner as well.


04-21-2008, 03:16 PM
Nice shot. Had you included a vintage Honda CB750, it would have been nicer.;)

Stephanie Brim
04-21-2008, 03:29 PM
My dad has an '83 Honda Goldwing. I was born that year. His previous was a Honda as well, an '82 something-or-other, I can't remember. He bought it brand new, IIRC, the year it was made, and I grew up getting rides on it every spring and summer. Adam and I are saving up for one. We have a while to go, though...we want to buy it around the time that our daughter is old enough to go on rides. :)

04-21-2008, 03:41 PM
Nice one. Pity there are all so new. Where are the real bikes. BSAs, Nortons, Triumphs, Velocettes, Matchless, AJS, Royal Enfield etc. The bolts and nuts were AF not metric. The tanks held gallons not litres. The speedos registered mph not kph. The engine beats could be counted. You can probably see a common thread here It's called Classic( nearly all British) Bikes. Come to think of it a lot of the above applies to U.S. bikes so I'll even allow the odd Indian and one with two names - Harley something I think.


04-21-2008, 04:13 PM
Thanks! We didn't have a CB-750 handy. But at least we did have one Honda....

In 1983, I was working in motorcycle shops in Arizona and just getting involved with photography. But funny thing is that your post about riding with your daughter - I wrote a book on the subject, titled "Wheels;" there are reviews at Amazon. My son, now nearly 14 y/o, rode a lot with me from about 5 y/o to about 12 y/o. First chapter was his first ride on the back of my Concours at age 5, picking him up from kindergarten, and the last chapter was when he learned to ride a dirbike at age 8 at Honda Rider Education Center in Troy, Ohio. He thinks he outgrew motorcycles, but I've got a hunch the virus is simply in remission in the boy.

Well, my BMW is a 1960s design, with pushrods and the cam in the block. Basic layout identical to the 1969 R75/5 BMW, but with hardened cylinders and electronic ignition and a single-sided swingarm.

I was actually going to title that pic "Devolution", as the bikes get simpler and lighter as you go from left to right, but figured it would kinda bother all my friends if I did that.

Colin Corneau
04-21-2008, 09:00 PM
Doug, this is a terrific shot and a great idea.

I have a Widelux F7 AND a Triumph Thunderbird...something as simple as arranging the bikes specifically gave a great result.

Happy shooting and happy riding too!

04-22-2008, 08:23 AM

It (arranging subjects in an arc) is a very old technique, from the days of rotating Cirkut panoramic cameras 100 years ago. Here in the States, every small town has pics 8"x36" of graduating classes, family reunions, etc... I dunno about other places in the world. But that's how they were done. More people? No problem - either rotate through more degrees of arc, add rows, make the arc bigger; or all 3.

But am glad you liked! It's the first time I tried that technique, and I'm thrilled with the way it worked out too.

04-22-2008, 05:19 PM

Here's a far better example than my small pic, to give you the idea. The bikes are not straight here, they're in a curved row:


04-22-2008, 05:24 PM
Man, that's wide. Shame about the rather uninspiring background - you could have had a great shot here with something other than a bunch of parked cars mottling up the frame.

04-22-2008, 06:02 PM
Walter, thanks.

Was the best we could do, as I don't think the museum would let us put the bikes on a walkway just for a photo. And I couldn't shoot when there's no cars, because my friends weren't arriving till 1:00 pm.

OTOH, I sorta like the entire HFM being in the background.

Colin Corneau
04-22-2008, 10:34 PM
Doug, as everyone's favorite blonde would say: "That's hot"

04-22-2008, 10:44 PM
Doug I want that camera. Well done!

04-22-2008, 10:54 PM
Nice work Doug!

jamie young
04-23-2008, 09:38 AM
Nice shot I like the way you wrote on it. Like you said, it's like the old cirkut shots. I've never been able to bring myself to write on the negs like they used to do though

04-23-2008, 01:00 PM
That's cool, Doug! I've never really gotten into panoramic photography myself but have a 318 degree contact print of 18 Ford Model A's, taken with a Cyclo-Pan 70 according to the label, that has been on my wall since the 1980's. I look forward to seeing more!

04-23-2008, 02:01 PM
Cool, only the parking lines really give away the curve.

04-23-2008, 03:20 PM
Thanks all, for the kind words. Glad you liked!

Glad too that my friend humored my request. Going to get a print of it this Friday for myself, I think.

Jamie, the similarities are intentional. Similar techniques, similar solutions, and similar impact when people see them. I've located a Cirkut BTW, picking it up this summer, but before I get up to speed on it I can hone the composition and group skills with my Widelux and Panoram, on family and friends. There's a couple family reunions I'm going to shoot with pano techniques. I have studio portrait experience, so I'm not afraid and I have a clue.... Have been making drawings and figuring out the best arc radius for X number of people.

Brian - thanks! My father's into Model T Fords, works on them in his auto repair shop for customers, and there's a big get-together for the 100th anniversary of the Model T Ford in Centerville, IN this summer. Hoping to have lots of subject matter there...

jamie young
04-24-2008, 09:17 AM
It's fun to set these shots up. One of my cirkuts came with a big ball of twine and a box of chalk for setting up group shots.Doug - I look forward to seeing more.
Here are two links for large group shot I did a few years ago.
First, a color version on my site of the shot

the next link takes you to the aerial shot showing the actual scene. I'm right in the middle
I used lots of rope to get an accurate circle, and was about 60 feet from the circle.

04-24-2008, 10:42 AM
Jamie, thanks for the tip on chalk and twine. You'll see more pano / swing-lens stuff from me, as I plod along up the learning curve.

The tractors shots...excellent! I like the one with people better, as the people give scale to the tractors. The aerial shot rocks, too. I was trying to figure out from the furrows just how many degrees of rotation. I was pretty sure it was quite a bit beyond 180, because I could see the furrows in the pano converging in the center of the shot, then straightening out on each side, and then finding convergence points again. I'm impressed that you thought enough about the layout to have the furrows converge in the middle.

jamie young
04-24-2008, 11:05 AM
It's about 320 to 330 degrees, and the furrows hit the middle by accident. I actually set the shot up so the sun would be directly behind the middle of the shot, in the narrow gap in the circle, to minimize flare and backlighting. Lighting tends to override the other stuff for me. I like the people shots too, but I was requested to do the other. In the end (after I started breaking down) they all got on the tractors and blew their whistles. It was quite a sound, and sight, which i regretted not being ready for. Oh well.