Cycling has become both a popular sport and convenient mode of transportation.
Here are best tips for better bicycle images and cycling photography.
Biking and Photography Were Developed Together
Nicéphore Niépce, best known as one of the fathers of photography, is also a key figure of bicycles.
Niépce built an improved version of the Laufmaschine with an adjustable saddle. He called his build the Velocipede.
The cycling boom of the 1890s occurred alongside the beginnings of amateur photography.
The combined use of bicycles and cameras introduced a new dimension to photography.
Manufacturers began producing camera cases that fit on bicycle frames or handlebars.
Cycling photography magazines launched. And photographers found they were able to travel to subjects with far greater ease.
Today, cycling and photography have remained intertwined.
Portable photographic technology has even allowed riders to capture imagery mid-ride.
Choose Your Equipment Based on the Cycling Event
From streets to velodromes, cycling is a major mode of transport. That means that different photographic equipment is ideal for different cycling environments.
In the street, you can get close to the subject, whether it’s a cyclist or a bike on its own. A conventional zoom or prime lens is adequate in street situations.
For events like BMX races or velodrome trials, chances are you will be further away from the action. In this case, a telephoto lens is a good option.
And if you are using a telephoto lens, a monopod will take some of the weight of the lens off your back.
To capture an environmental shot of a rider, a wide-angle lens will come in handy.
While it can be expensive, a lens that can get down to apertures like f/2.8 is ideal for low-light conditions.
A fast lens gives you greater flexibility and less unwanted noise and blur.
This is especially useful during nighttime BMX trials or early morning circuits.
Flash can also be used both on and off camera to illuminate your cycling scene and freeze motion.
Although small, the memory card you slot into your camera can make a big difference.
When it comes to the speedy subject matter, a memory card that can read and write quickly is important.
Of course, with all that said, the best equipment is the stuff you have on you.
Camera settings, positioning, perspective… there are many photography techniques that can make up for a gap in your equipment.
For example, being close to passing cyclists can negate the need for a telephoto lens.
Shoot at different locations, try different perspectives, focus on different elements.
With a little extra legwork, you may discover that a more economical setup works just fine!
Use High Shutter Speeds to Freeze Cyclists in Motion
Once you have your equipment sorted, it’s time to consider camera settings.
When in motion, cyclists can be fast subjects – that means the correct shutter speed is important.
Working in Shutter Priority or Manual mode is ideal for cycling photography.
High shutter speeds freeze a cyclist in action.
A shutter speed exceeding 1/1000th of a second may well be necessary to capture a crisp image.
As I mentioned before, a fast lens is ideal, especially in low light.
This means you can ramp up your shutter speed without having to lean on your ISO too much.
Continuous or AF-C / AI Servo is the best focus mode for capturing moving subjects.
This mode will seek out focus as long as the shutter button is half or completely depressed.
Finally, make sure your camera is set to continuous shooting mode.
In continuous shooting mode, the camera continues to take photos in quick succession. This lasts for as long as you hold the shutter button down.
Continuous shooting mode lessens the chance of missing a shot mid-shutter button depressions.