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Biking at the speed of lite

Biking at the speed of lite

The assignment arrived on my Blackberry, and a smile widened across my face. While I’m not a die-hard biker, I do love being on my bike, and the opportunity to be on assignment AND on my bike sounded awesome.

I went out with columnist Hector Tobar for an article about the “Midnight Ridazz,” a group of avid bike riders who, while on a late night ride in June, had a driver plow into their group, injuring several. The group picks a new route every week, riding between 20-50 miles.

My plan was to mount several strobes to the bikes and fire them remotely, all while riding ahead of them and shooting backward from my bike. I gathered five Canon 580EX II strobes, five Pocket Wizard Plus II transceivers, five Bogen Manfrotto Super Clamps and four Paramount Buddy Brackets MHSF1 and for my fifth strobe, I taped the Pocket Wizard to the strobe. Canon 580 EX strobes

After several tests on my own bike, I removed the strobes and found five volunteers who allowed me to the mount the strobes on their handlebars. I committed to riding with them through an area of downtown and eventually over the 6th Street Bridge, where I knew there would be a shot looking back at the downtown skyline.

I shot at 800 ISO. With a 2-stop neutral density gel over the strobes, at 1/128th power in manual mode, I was getting an exposure around f 3.5. Because I was trying to use some of the ambient city light, I didn’t want to stop-down (increase) my aperture, and I also didn’t want to shoot above 1/25 of a second in shutter speed. I experimented with slower shutter speeds, but 1/25 did the best job of capturing enough background detail and kept from blowing-out their faces when riding under street lights.

In total, I only rode a couple miles but was able to shoot enough to get what I wanted by the time we crossed over the bridge. The hardest part of the assignment was pedaling fast enough to stay ahead of the bikes, all while twisting backwards to shoot. I openly admit my reliance on the Canon auto focus system!

Following the shoot, I then had the challenge of riding back to my car with five strobes mounted to my bike! It was a slow ride back, but knowing I had made some cool pictures kept the smile on my face as I worked to keep the bike in a straight line.

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