WE WANT YOU!!
Or rather...we want your motorcycle...picture of it, that is. As you can see, we don't have photos of every Classic British Motorcycle. We need your help. If you have a nice Classic British Motorcycle, and you're willing to let us use in on this website, your bike could be pictured in its own section.
This page will explain HOW TO SUBMIT photos of your bike for consideration to be included in Classic-British-Motorcycles.com website. It will explain what types of photos we need & how to take them. We will show what to do & what not to do, when taking pictures & will give an example of what we call a "6-PICTURE SET", a basic set of 6 photos that show the entire bike. Lastly, it will provide you with an EMAIL LINK to submit them, when ready.
In the final analysis, the page is actually a valuable HOW TO guide to instruct anyone on how to properly photograph motorcycles for ads, eBay, Craigslist, as well as for our uses.
We really need correct, original bikes (correct color, pipes, seats, etc.), and the should be in very good show condition. The exceptions would be Rat Bikes, Military Motorcycles & Off-Road Bikes. But, we can also use Cafe Racers, Choppers, Bobbers, Race Bikes, Street Trackers, etc.
We especially need your bike if its one of those that we don't have any photos of yet. Like our listing for 1971 Triumph Bonneville. Our only full-sized photos are of a 1971 Triumph TR6 that was converted to twin carbs & so the color is wrong. We need a correct, authentic example with good photos to round out that listing.
Why go to the trouble? First off, because we need your help & that's the kind of person you are! But additionally, if chosen, your bike, your pride & joy, will grace the pages of this website, maybe for years, serving as the prime example of a motorcycle of that make, model & year. You'll be able to tell everyone that your motorcycle is THE standard for bikes like yours & you'll be able to give them a link to the page to prove it! Its like when you get your bike in a magazine, and you go down to the newstand & buy 20 copies. I know, I did it. But this will be even better because its live online.
You have the option of receiving credit for your photos or not. Some people are very private & don't want their name out there to the world. Others like the attention. You have probably seen the credits that appear on many of our photos that say "Photo courtesy of MidAmerica Auctions". This is the sort of credit you would receive. It might say "Photo courtesy of John Doe", or "John Doe, owner", let us know if you have a preference.
HOW TO GET PICTURES OF YOUR BIKE ON THIS SITE
1.) First, you have to decide if you're willing to allow your bike to be used on Classic-British-Motorcycles.com If so, you need to see if you have a good set of photos & if not, you need to take some really good pix of your bike.
2.) Second, you need to email us those photos along with some information about your bike, such as:
Make, Model & Year
Exact model designation (ie: T120R)
Any special history
What you've done to it
Anything else relevant or interesting
3.) Third, your Name, City & State, and if you want credit or not.
4.) Lastly, we need your written permission to publish pictures of your motorcycle on this website. Be sure to include some simple wording in your email to us such as "You have my permission to use these photos on your website." It's as simple as that.
5.) We will review all photos & select those that will be used. We will email you either way to let you know. If we use your photos, the email will include a link to the page where they appear.
How to Take Good Motorcycle Photos
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Hopefully you already have some good photos of your bike & if so, send those. Judge your photos by the same criteria as those we study here for how to take good new photos. No matter how perfect your Classic British Motorcycle may be, or how rare, or how badly we need it, if the photos are badly taken, we probably won't use them.
Below are several examples of badly-taken photos & some good ones. It is not our intention to insult or ridicule the ones who took them, or own the bikes. I'm sure they're all good people & they share our common love of Classic British Motorcycles, so they can't be all bad. They took the best pictures they could with what they had to work with at the time. If these are your photos or your bike, please do not take offense at any comments we may make about them. We study them purely for instructional purposes & hope to help educate the public on how the industry takes photos of motorcycles & how to do a better job themselves. Who knows? The attention drawn to your bike may help sell it (all these bikes were or are for sale through MidAmerica Auctions).
That having been said, here are some examples of badly-taken photos:
BAD CAMERA ANGLE.
Remember we want eye-popping photos of gorgeous bikes! I don't care how gorgeous this bike is...is this photo eye-popping? No. The camera angle is way too high, looking down on the bike. Shooting from too high is bad enough when shot from straight-on, but at this rear-angle also, it's a terrible shot & a textbook example of one of the most common mistakes people make in photographing their motorcycles.
Remember, we're looking for well-framed, well-lit, well-focused, well-composed shots, ideally straight-on from both sides, good engine shots, good detail & character shots. This one is none of those.
This guy obviously shot it standing up, which is never going to work if its leaning on a sidestand & your taking the leftside of the bike. Ideally, put it up on its centerstand so that it stands straight up on both sides. Even then, you need to squat down to put the camera lens at the same vertical height as the bike, with it shooting roughly horizontally, not at any great upward or downward angle.
POOR FRAMING / COMPOSITION - TOO MUCH BACKGROUND
Remember: Eye-popping photos of gorgeous bikes. This bike is so far away, who can say if it's eye-popping or not? What good is a photo of a Classic British Motorcycle if you can't enjoy the details?
The problem here is that the cameraperson was much too far away. Perhaps they were taken with the scenery & thought a nice background would somehow enhance the photo of their motorcycle. I'll leave it up to you: Do you think it worked? Is this photo better for all the background they included? If you're here to see eye-popping photos of gorgeous motorcycles, would you want to see pretty scenery or cool bikes? The way I see it, if you want to look at flowers & trees, go to a gardening site. If you want to look at motorcycles, then the photos must focus predominantly on the motorcycle itself. The funny thing is that this background isn't all that nice.
Frame your photos carefully. Fill the shot with motorcycle. Remember, we need full side shots, ideally with nothing cut off on either end. So, get just far enough away to get a shot of the bike straight-on from either side so that you don't cut anything off. Once you've gotten good full, straight-on shots of both sides, then you can get more creative on the other pix you take.
Background is still important & most definitely can enhance the photograph & make the bike look better. But not always. Sometimes the background clashes with the motorcycle, or is so bright or busy that it competes with it for the eye. Solid backgrounds are preferred, but brick walls & things like that can work, as can fairly solid natural backgrounds. In this case, be careful in framing the shot so that, even though you're very close to the bike, the background is framed in a way that enhances the photo best. Experiment, take lots of pictures (aren't digital cameras great?) & only send the good ones.
This is just a bad picture all around. The lighting is atrocious, the angle is way too high, the background is awful & the bike is downright ugly. I guess they can't help the way the bike looks (it's a 1962 Ariel Arrow 250cc two-stroke, in case you're interested). But there is no excuse for photos like this. This fellow was trying to sell this motorcycle. Was this photo presenting the bike well to potential buyers? And it's not doing any better for us. We ended up using it because we don't have any other photos of a '62 Ariel Arrow, & something is better than nothing. But we really want to do better. If you want your bike featured, even if we already have your year, make & model covered, take really good photos anyway. If they're better than what we have, we may bump the other photos & put yours on in their place.
The biggest problem with this photo is lighting. The camera was not properly set. It may have been a film picture that was scanned. Either way, any digital camera today should be able to do much better than this. Experiment. Try different settings. Try with the flash on, try with it off. Slightly different angles, or moving a light source can improve the shot dramatically. Without good light you lose all the detail. Too dark or too light, either one is unacceptable. Again, take lots of pictures, experiment, throw away the bad ones & send us the best.
This photo has a lot of problems. One of them is that the resolution was set so low on the camera that the original digital photo was only 37kB. That's tiny! It would have been a poor-quality photo even if it weren't for the lighting being too dark. But inside, in low light, the camera settings become even more critical. Photos like this are completely unusable.
Not only is the file size very small, but the physical size of the photo is also too small. It's just 400 pixels wide X 300 pixels tall. A full-size photo on this website is 600 pixels wide.
Ideally, photos that are 700 to 1200 pixels wide work great, because they sharpen up when shrunk down to 600. Photos always look worse when blown up, so we never make them larger. If they're smaller than full-width, we just run them at the size they are & make the best of it. But, we'd replace those photos in an instant if we had better ones available.
Don't take huge files either, because they take up too much memory & are hard to send. An ideal file size for our purposes would be 200kB to 1mB. Larger will work, but is unnecessary. Our finished photos cannot exceed 100kB on our website, so we shrink them all down to size anyway. But again, shrinking file size, like shrinking picture size, works well. Going the other way, not so much. Generally speaking, the bigger the file size (more kB) the sharper the image & the greater the detail. That's what we're after. Remember: Eye-popping photos of gorgeous bikes.
This image is badly pixelated. Take a close look at it. It's all made up of tiny squares. This occurs when the resolution is set very low on the camera. The file size was 102kB, which would normally be fine. So it must have been the setting on the camera. Again, take lots of pictures, experiment, check out the finished photos on your screen. Or better, bring your laptop & download the images from your camera to your laptop so that you can see them full size to make sure they're good. Whatever it takes, make sure your photos don't look like this.
This picture came to us only 320 pixels wide. That's pretty small. Again, a full-size, full-width image on Classic-British-Motorcycles.com is 600 pixels wide. The only thing we could use an image this small for would be our thumbnail listings, which are 300 pixels wide.
This small size of this photo was either because of a setting on the camera, or in the way the images were transferred from the camera to the computer, or how they were handled once they were in the computer. Pay attention to the physical size of the images you are saving on your computer. If they're suddenly getting small, figure out what you're doing wrong.
The ideal size for us would be 900-1500 pixels wide. Then this gives us room to crop them (we want to look at motorcycles, not background) & shrink them to size. Bigger photos also have greater detail, & when shrunk it's still there, just tighter & crisper. Shrinking larger photos down makes them look better.
THE "6-PICTURE SET"
I've taken lots & lots of photos of classic cars & motorcycles over the years. I was in the Classic Car Business for over 7 years & in that time probably photographed over 1,000 cars & bikes. I sold a lot of them on the internet, which requires excellent photos & accurate representation. I used to cover an entire car inside & out in just 6 photos. I do the same thing now with motorcycles.
It goes without saying, especially after our study of those bad photos above, that your photos should be well done. That means the bike should be upright, on its center stand if it has one. If not, put a block of wood under the side stand until the bike sits nearly vertical, being careful not to let it tip over. Make sure its well-lit, properly focused & framed, nicely composed, you should be close enough to cut out the background, but far enough back to get the entire bike & the angle should be right.
Consider the basic package to be a "6-PICTURE SET". This is the bare minimum that you could reasonably consider using if selling the bike on eBay or Craigslist (I know, they only allow 4 photos, but you could cherry-pick the best 4 out of 6). The 6 photos you MUST have to be considered for inclusion in our site, are as follows:
1.) FULL LEFT SIDE SHOT. Get the whole bike, nice & straight, not too far forward or back, not too high up. Kneel down if necessary to get a good horizontal camera angle.
2.) FULL RIGHT SIDE SHOT. Same as above, make it a good one. The right side (timing side) is usually the pretty side on most Brit Bikes. It's also easier to shoot because on the side stand, this is the high side. But, a centerstand is still preferred. They always look better standing straight up.
3.) LEFT SIDE ENGINE SHOT. Get the entire left side of the engine in one well-framed, well-lit shot with good detail. Don't cut out the bottom of the primary case, or the top of the head. Get it all in.
4.) RIGHT SIDE ENGINE SHOT. Same as above but the right side instead. It's better to have some extra stuff showing around the engine (tank, oil tank, etc.) than cut any part of the engine out of the shot.
5.) DETAIL SHOT. One very nice detail shot of something particularly interesting or significant about the bike is always desirable. For instance, on a 1959 Triumph Bonneville, a good detail shot might be the twin Amal Carbs with shared a single remote float bowl mounted to the frame. Sending a few good details shots never hurts, then we can pick our favorites. Think of Detail Shots as educational. What can you teach the world about this bike through this Detail Shot?
6.) CHARACTER SHOT. This can be photo that makes the bike look good. It could be a different angle, or a nicer background. It could be a high-angle close-up that takes in the tank, part of the engine & so forth, with the only rule being that it has to look good. If the photo looks great & makes the bike look good, then you've succeeded in taking a good Character Shot.
A sample 6-PICTURE SET is at the bottom of this page.
Following is a step-by-step tutorial on doing a good 6-PICTURE SET.
Here is an excellent example of an ideal FULL RIGHT SIDE SHOT. The bike is vertical, the lighting is good, the focus & camera settings are spot-on, the angle is just about perfect & it just came out gorgeous! Eye-popping! Just what we're looking for.
Notice how well its composed. The bike is perfectly centered in the shot, horizontally & vertically. No frame is wasted on background, the shot is just big enough to get every bit of the bike, tire-to-tire, ground-to-handlebars. The vertical position of the camera is perfect for this shot. The photographer probably kneeled down to get it. Don't shoot bikes standing upright, they'll always look down on the bike & that almost never looks good.
This one has an all-white background, excellent for making the bike stand out & the details to remain sharp. Solid colored backgrounds can be incredible. They can enhance the look of your bike, or ruin it, or compete with it, or clash with it. Color, contrast with the colors of your bike & brightness are very important in any background, but even more so in a solid background.
This is a studio photo & of course this is ideal. Many won't go to the expense or hassle of having their bike photographed by a professional photographer in a studio. But, as you can see, its worth it. If you love your motorcycle, wouldn't you like to have photos like this of it? Pix like this are worthy of framing. Seriously! I'd have it hanging in my garage in a second! And if your photos look this good, they'll likely be hanging in this website!
Another excellent FULL RIGHT SIDE SHOT, this is a good example of a dark background. Compare it to the same shot against a light background, above & see what you think. Sometimes the dark background works, usually if the bike is light or brightly colored. In this case, with such a dark color scheme on the bike, it was risky. Somehow it works, because this is a very handsome bike & a great looking shot. But undoubtedly, some detail & brightness was lost because the dark background soaked up so much light. Beware of dark backgrounds.
This FULL LEFT SIDE SHOT has it all. And it is indeed an eye-popping photo of a gorgeous bike! Great detail on the bike, well framed & lit. And it illustrates what can be done with a beautiful natural background. It compliments the bike, but doesn't compete with it. If there was too much detail in the background, like a farm or village, it might be distracting. But as it is, it works.
Remember, you can see right through most motorcycles, so be careful of what shows through. Compose your shots according to your eye, but also using good photographic practice. Notice how the break line between the grass & the treeline runs just along the top of the bike. It disappears behind the tank, but is visible above the seat. Nice balanced composition.
As far as framing goes, it's perfect. Just enough background, but not too much. The entire bike is shown, nothing more, nothing less. Now, this photo didn't come to us this way. It had much more background in it & we cropped it out to get it down to this. We included the original uncropped photo below for your edification.
This FULL LEFT SIDE SHOT shows how the image originally came to us. It really is a very nice shot, just as it is. A little far back for our purposes though.
OUR PHILOSOPHY on the subject is this: "If you want to look at flowers & trees, you should find a gardening site. We're here to look at motorcycles."
And so we take perfectly lovely photos like this one & crop out every bit of background that we can to get it down to just a little left over around the outer extremes of the bike. We prefer that the edge of the image never touch the motorcycle & so we leave a small margin of background if we can. In a photo like this one, that was easy. But really, why crop out such gorgeous background anyway? Because it allows us to make the image of the motorcycle itself larger. If the total width we have to work with is 600 pixels, we want to use 580 of them for the motorcycle. If the background takes up 100 pixels of width on either side of the bike, that means the motorcycle itself, the object of the entire exercise, can only be 400 pixels wide, instead of almost 600.
For your information, this image was originally 1210 pixels wide X 908 pixels tall & the file size was 279kB. So, for our purposes, it was just about ideal on both counts.
Above are two excellent examples of a LEFT SIDE ENGINE SHOT & a RIGHT SIDE ENGINE SHOT. They're just about ideal, I should know, I took them. This is really what we're after in a set of engine shots. Straight on, well-lit, properly focused, with the camera down at an even height with the engine (photographer kneeling). Forget about cool angles, that's fine for your CHARACTER SHOT, but not your engine shots. Hit it straight on. Get the whole engine, & then some. Like these, there's plenty of tank & frame showing all around it. This leaves us plenty of room to crop it down if we want, or leave it alone, if we want more detail on the entire bike & not just the engine.
Here is a good of example of an ENGINE SHOT not done so well. It's an an odd angle (looking down from the front), but most importantly it cuts off major chunks of the engine. And its not really a particularly good DETAIL SHOT or even a good CHARACTER SHOT, because it doesn't deliver on either of those things.
The bottom line should always be, 'does the shot look right?', 'does it present the bike accurately & show it well?'. But the first 4 photos in your basic 6-SHOT PACKAGE should always be straight-forward, cut & dry, straight-on shots as shown above. And it can't be emphasized enough the importance of getting the camera down to the level of the subject matter & this usually requires either kneeling on one knee or sitting Indian-style on the ground next to it (no offense to any Indians, Native Americans or people from India, its simply an expression in the common lexicon & I don't know a suitable replacement). The most common mistake people make in photographing their motorcycles is to do so standing erect, aiming down.
The nice thing about a 6-SHOT PACKAGE is that it not only simplifies & standardizes the process with the first 4 shots (both sides of the bike + both sides of the engine), it also forces one to choose carefully the last 2 shots, the DETAIL SHOT & the CHARACTER SHOT. Again, this isn't a good Engine, Detail or Character Shot & doesn't present the bike well.
Here are some examples of excellent DETAIL SHOTS. By definition, a Detail Shot would be a close-up of some unique or significant detail on the bike that would be interesting, informative or gorgeous. Remember, you've already covered the basics of the bike with your first 4 shots. Now its time to tell a little about the inside story of the bike.
This first shot not only shows the top of the headlight nacelle & all the gauges, but also the famous "paper dart" logo for the early Triumph Thunderbird. This shot really educated & informs.
This next one is an excellent DETAIL SHOT also. In one shot, they conveyed a lot of vital information. From this one photo, you can tell it's a pre-unit construction Triumph 500 with an alloy top end. It has a rigid frame. It has twin Amal carbs with remote float bowls mounted to the frame. It's been completely restored, probably just. That's a lot of detail. Hence the phrase DETAIL SHOT.
This next one is near & dear to my heart. It's the conical rear hub from the legendary Yellow Bike , my 1973 Triumph Bonneville custom cafe racer. This one is not so much informative as it is eye-popping. It's detail that is pleasing to the eye. And sometimes that's justification enough for including it.
The following are good CHARACTER SHOTS. These are shots that show the character of the bike, rather than just details. Again, you've gotten all the basics covered in the first 4 shots of the 6-SHOT SET, and shown the most important detail on your DETAIL SHOT. Now it's time to lighten up & have some fun. Shoot the bike from what you consider to be 'its best side', or some feature that is just nice to look at. Take it from an unusual angle.
This first CHARACTER SHOT is taken from an unusually low angle. And it has been placed against a gorgeous background.
The next CHARACTER SHOT is all about the beauty of the tank, the badge & the engine from in close at this angle. This is a beautiful background, almost too much so. It took guts to put this bike in competition with the background for the viewer's eye. But in this case, it works. The bike is gorgeous enough & shot close enough (very important) & the tank color is just dynamic against the natural green. Risky, but again, it works. But be careful. Do it wrong & it could make a lousy shot. It's a good character shot that stirs your emotions.
This last CHARACTER SHOT also stirs the emotions, but in a different way. I don't know about you, but there's something about seeing this 50s-era cafe racer leaning on the brick wall of some London alley somewhere that hits me like a scene from a movie. Kind of makes we want to light up a cigarette...and I don't even smoke!! That's the emotion you're after with your CHARACTER SHOT.
1.) LEFT SIDE SHOT:
This LEFT SIDE SHOT is framed well, the camera level might be just a little high. Perhaps I should have squatted more when taking this photo. Another problem is (& one that I always had with the Yellow Bike) that the crazy pure yellow PPG pigment is so bright that it messes with digital cameras. So, this set was less than ideal, for that reason. Otherwise however, they do show how to compose a proper 6-PICTURE SET.
2.) RIGHT SIDE SHOT:
This RIGHT SIDE SHOT is also well framed & the background is excellent. Pretty but not distracting & it compliments the bike well. Lighting could have been better. Again the bright yellow of the bike set off the digital camera's settings. Another problem with this one is that the resolution setting on the camera was set too low, at 78kB. It should have been around 250kB ideally. But overall, a good, effective shot.
3.) LEFT ENGINE SHOT:
This LEFT ENGINE SHOT shows great detail, is in sharp focus & is lighted well. Since you see less bright yellow paint, the camera was happier & took a better image. You can learn a lot from a shot like this: Sudco Mikunis, oil cooler, coils under the seat...infinite small details all contained in one photo. That's important in an ENGINE SHOT or a DETAIL SHOT, less so for a SIDE SHOT (overview) or CHARACTER SHOT (stir the emotions).
4. RIGHT ENGINE SHOT:
This RIGHT ENGINE SHOT is very well-framed & to me epitomizes just what an ENGINE SHOT should accomplish. First off, it's beautiful (nothing prettier than the timing-side of a Triumph twin). It takes in the entire engine & then some, giving you the details about what makes this bike go. It's very informative, with details in sharp focus. Think of the bike like a picture frame for the engine. The pipes, front frame rails, tank & side cover surrounds the engine on all four sides & you should show them...but just enough.
5.) DETAIL SHOT:
This is an excellent DETAIL SHOT. Why? Because it shows lots of detail. And it's not an obvious thing to shoot. Everyone shoots detail shots of engines & gauges. Shooting this rear wheel & conical hub on my Yellow Bike tells a real story. If the lowliest part of the bike received this kind of attention, the rest of it must be put together well also. Every picture tells a story. A good DETAIL SHOT should be pleasing to the eye, but then when studied closely should reveal details of a larger picture. Your DETAIL SHOT can be any aspect of your bike that deserves closer examination.
6.) CHARACTER SHOT:
This CHARACTER SHOT does what it's supposed to do. It stirs the emotions. It brings to mind thoughts of movement, speed, the wind in your face. This angle not only lends some drama to the bike, but also delivers lots of yummy details. Details are not a requirement of a good CHARACTER SHOT, but sometimes they work. Mainly, you want your CHARACTER SHOT to be the prettiest angle from which to view your bike. What is its best side, or best angle? Best feature? Prettiest part?
You now have a standard 6-PICTURE SET that you can use anytime you want to show someone your bike. Perfect for ads, or websites like this & also good to email to friends. No one is going to look at 30 pictures of your bike, like you will. But 6 really good shots? Its just enough, but not too much.
And it's just what we need here at Classic-British-Motorcycles.com. So, once you've completed it, send us your 6-PICTURE SET & don't forget to include your NAME, CITY, CONTACT INFO, & COMPLETE INFO ABOUT THE BIKE (Year, make, model, submodel, nickname, specs, history, what you've done with it, etc.). And most important, don't forget to include wording that states that we have YOUR PERMISSION TO PUT YOUR BIKE ON THIS WEBSITE.
Enjoy this time with your bike. Looking forward to seeing your bike very soon. Thank you, Andy
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