Yes, May is National Bike Month as well as National Photography Month, but it’s just as well because a bicycle is a photographer’s best friend. If you’re hunting for great shots, it’s just a fact that you cover so much more ground on a bike, be it dirt or concrete. Here are 10 tips for bike photography so that you can turn your cycling excursions into some of the most bountiful shoots of the year. Oh yeah — and please, please, please wear a helmet! Photography is so much more fun when you’re alive to enjoy it.
1. Use Cyclists for Scale
The feeling of being humbled by an endless canyon or sprawling mountain range doesn’t always translate on photo. Let a fellow cyclist get ahead of you to give people an idea of how big the world is relative to a rider.
2. Avoid Bull’s-Eye Photography
This is one of our favorite tips for bike photography. When you’re stopping and shooting, it can be tempting to simply center a subject in your viewfinder and let autofocus do its thing, but please don’t. Turn off autofocus and use the edges of your frame to avoid monotony. Composition is so much more interesting when your photos play with more than the dead center of your frame.
3. Invest in Quickdraw Gear
A camera clip for your backpack strap, a padded handlebar camera bag or a handleband can go a long way to making your outing far more enjoyable. The easier it is to pull out your camera and pack it back away, the more hassle-free it’ll be to stop and shoot.
4. Keep It Natural
Don’t ask riders to slow down for your photos. Slow cycling can create unnatural, heavy pedaling poses. Shoot at normal speed for a natural and flowing type of feel.
5. The Summit at Sunset
Like many things, photography often comes down to timing. If you know you’re going to reach some magnificent peak or breathtaking view, try and time your excursion so that the money shots correspond with the golden hours of sunrise or sunset.
6. Managing Blur
Aside from the obvious tip of using a fast shutter speed, remember that your camera should be going at the same speed as whatever you want to focus on, especially if it’s up close. Stay still for a blurred bike against a crisp background, or move with the bike to blur the background.
You’ll have a much better time capturing other cyclists if you’re all on the same page. Ask your friends about shooting, let them know if you want them to wait up or keep going in advance, and find a way to work your shooting in with the goals and flow of the group.
8. Experimenting With Mounts
If you don’t mind tracking down the gear, there’s great hands-free stuff out there for your helmet, chest, and handlebars that provide immersive photography directly from the saddle.
9. Shoot From the Front
Not all of your shots have to be of the back of your friend’s bike shorts. Peddle to the front of the pack and get some frontal cycling shots to mix it up.
Biking provides you with amazing mobility, but you’ll need to get out of the saddle to get creative. Don’t hesitate to leave your bike and move around. Climb a tree, lay in the grass, or scale a rock face. When you find a great spot, don’t hop back in the seat until you’ve exhausted all angles.
What are your favorite tips for bike photography? Have you been snapping shots on two wheels lately? Celebrate National Bike Month and share your work on PicsArt photo editor with the hashtag #BikeShots.