After photographing a bike outdoors, I rolled a 69 Chopper made by Darwin Motorcycles/Brass Ball Bobbers into the assembly room at their shop. I was shooting digital for a magazine story and set up my lights to get an “environmental” shot showing the bike with Dar and Bryan working in the background. Once I was done with shooting digital, I set up my Toyo VX-125 4×5 camera and shot this photo with Bryan Nikkel and Dar Holdsworth working on another bike in the background. The bike in the foreground is destined for a customer in Mexico City.
Feast your eyes on one of my favorite photos so far from my 4x5x365 series. I went down to Brass Ball Bobbers in Oklahoma City and took this shot of master motorcycle builder Bryan Nikkal on a motorcycle he recently completed building. He and owner Dar Holdsworth design and build the most beautiful, well built custom motorcycles for clients all across this world – this bike was headed to Mexico City. I have photographed a lot of bikes for Brass Ball Bobbers and wanted to get something on film. Bike builders like their bikes photographed from the rear quarter like this, but to carry depth of field and keep the bike in sharp focus I normally have to shoot around F11 or higher. For this shot on my Toyo VX-125 I instead swung the front standard so that the plane of focus followed the length of the bike. If you look closely at the photo you can see the narrow depth of field in the concrete below the bike. The kickstand is out of focus but both the front and rear wheel are in focus. That is something that can only be done with a tilt shift capability of a view camera or a tilt-shift lens.
This bike was sitting in an open bay of their shop so I grabbed Bryan and had him pose for this photo. I really liked the lighting and the casual look of this photo. I am trying to show more authenticity in my photos and I think this is a portrait that has authenticity written all over it. Just Bryan, a bike that he hand built, natural light, and a good old fashioned view camera shooting on a big slice of film.