Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shooting on Saturday Aug. 26 -Maybe Sunday

First off, thanks to everyone who ordered photos last week. If you haven't already received them, they should arrive any time now.

I'll be on Skyline Boulevard, in the Windy Hill area about three miles south of Alice's Restaurant on Saturday. I plan to get there about 9:30 a.m. to take advantage of the lighting there. From there I'll probably move to Woodside Road just east of Skyline about about 11 a.m.

Why do I do all this shuffling around? Lighting. Some people have asked why I don't shoot at particular locations, such as the twisties on La Honda road. I'd love to, but the lighting is bad. Our clear blue Calif. skies are wonderful to look at, but they create serious contrast problems for photography. Slightly overcast or hazy days are a lot more forgiving for shooting fast-moving bikes.

Shooting in the shade in the Santa Cruz Mountains is like working at night. Contrast is the shadows is almost non-existent, leading to flat photos. One solution, flash photography, is out of the question for safety reasons. Many of the curvy areas are either in the dark or in areas where the sun and shade create a mottled effect that just doesn't look good in a photo. Bright sun isn't much better. Here you have too much contrast, which creates a lot of shadows on the bike and the biker's face. Here again, a powerful flash would fill the bill, but it's a no-no distraction as far as I'm concerned. I would only use flash for a set-up shot where the rider was expecting it. As you can tell, none of my shots are set up. It's much more exciting to take pictures of bikers and their skooters doing it naturally.

Light angle is also an issue. It's always better to have light coming from the side to illuminate the rider's face and bike details. That usually rules out shots in the middle of the day. But that's when most bikers are out riding in the mountains. So you pick your spots carefully and do what you can with the contrast issues, which usually means some post-shooting work on the computer.

Sunday is a toss up. I may be up on a poker run in Sonoma and Napa that day. If not, I'll post here tomorrow or Saturday night whether I'll make it up on the Skyline.

Hope to see out on your ride.

Robert Jones aka

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