• Any tips for camera settings if using an SLR?

    • Depends on the situation. If you’re trying to blur the background, go for a wide aperture (low f-stop, shallow depth of field) and try zooming in if you’re using a zoom lens. Go for the widest aperture you can while keeping everything in focus. If you’re trying to get the bike plus an expansive background in focus, you’ll need a high f-stop (small aperture).

    • takethattakethat

      you dont need a slr if you are asking for tips lol. learn how to use your camera dude

      • I’m sorry but that’s a stupid comment. No matter how good one is at taking pictures (or doing anything) they can always learn more.

  • pedr09

    Apart from getting all the above stuff right, I find lighting to be the biggest challenge and it makes a huge difference if you get it right or wrong. Softer lighting always looks better to me and this means no direct sun ie. pre dawn, cloudy day or post sundown. Any other practical tips for choosing the best lighting situation?

    • Dusk and dawn are great. As you say: avoid harsh sunlight.

  • CC

    Big Props to Matt Wikstrom here, his shots are usually better than the manufactures… IMHO -;)

    • Agreed. He does amazing work. Stuff like this is straight-up ridiculous, despite the minor rule-breaches:

      • Kieran Degan

        Is it essential to remove pedals? ;)

        • Arfy

          ONLY on a new bike that hasn’t been ridden! (makes it look straight-out-of-the-shop new)

      • Steve G

        Valve stems aren’t lined up…

        • What’s worse is that the label on the crank is upside down! But when the light is right, I’m prepared to sacrifice a few of the rules. In this instance, I only had a few moments before the sun disappeared behind the clouds and I had to get around the whole bike.

          • Frank

            With the quarter-front viewpoint I think this crank position is best, with the crank arm on the other side in shade but visibly prolonging the chain stay lines.

  • Arfy

    What’s the consensus on bottle cages? Personally I think none is only OK if it’s a new bike review, but only one for any other bike shot. Two bottle cages just becomes cluttered, especially on small frames. Although sometimes the bottle cages add to the bike, like on the Sarto.

    • jules

      bidon cages are really just the liquid equivalent of panniers. would you photograph your bike fitted with panniers? I think the answer is clear on that.

      • Steve G

        … so take cages off for a photograph?

        • jules

          I’d be more concerned about sourcing Steve McQueen, myself.

    • Cages are fine, as long as you don’t include the bottles.

      • Jensy

        Only mortals need water

  • jules

    what’s the consensus on using models to complement your bike? ;)

    • Arfy

      The same rules as buying another bike – don’t tell your wife!

    • Peter

      I guess, for a men’s bike, Jane Fonda, for a women’s bike, Steve McQueen. No exceptions.

      • jules

        the 2nd one poses some practical issues

        • Peter

          No Exceptions!

        • Ha!

        • 42x16ss

          Not really, own a shovel and a torch? ;)

  • Gingerflash

    Nice article.

    The advice about cutting the steerer down isn’t ideal though. Lots of manufacturers recommend that the steerer go right through the stem and a small spacer be placed on top, to make sure you have maximum stem/steerer contact: “ENVE recommends that the steerer tube extend 1mm past the top of the stem, and that a 5mm spacer be placed on top to ensure proper compression from the top cap”.
    I found similar advice from Moots, Ritchey and Specialized.
    The steerer on the one pictured is excessive but a 5mm spacer usually looks fine. No spacer says, to me, that you cut it all the way down then realised you couldn’t get quite as low as you’d hoped and have had to raise the stem back-up again,

    Crank position – I’ve always favoured the cranks following the line of the seat-tube, with the driveside pedal being low, like the Neil Pryde above shot in Hong Kong.
    Tyres: – it’s quite annoying that a few companies have labels only on one side of the tyre. if they have a directional pattern, you have one label on the DS and one on the NDS so only one is visible in the pic. Also, how come loads of tyres have two labels, at 6 and 12 o’clock, while most wheels have three, at 12, 4 and 8 o’clock? what kind of madness is this???

  • velocite

    I’ve struggled with background, myself. Looking at the above examples I don’t find myself always agreeing with your expert commentary. I wonder why somebody left that Giant in front of all that tropical vegetation. And the yellow wall behind the Bianchi, I think the geometric cracks are an unfortunate distraction. I think the distressed looking walls behind the Sarto and the S-Works are terrific, so agree there, but I think that ‘dirty, tag covered wall’ behind the blue Giant works quite well. My $0.02 worth.

  • Dbmurray

    Rob Cobcroft at Velo Aficionado does some great photos. His CAAD4 custom gallery from last year is a favourite of mine

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    This article includes many nice tips that often make for a more-pleasing result, but the snotty “I’m a real cyclist and you aren’t” arrogance of the presentation is a turnoff. These are artistic considerations, and as such, tastes vary…. the only absolute is that there are no absolutes.

    And for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to suggest changing the ergonomic setup of the bike for a shallow Instagram snapshot, it’d be prudent (as a cycling-related web site) to remind the reader that riding in the wrong (for their body/style) position can lead to long-term injury, so if you really feel the need to make these ergonomic changes, take careful note of component placement and be sure to return them when done.

    • Hi Jeffrey, I had hoped it was clear from the piece that we were subtly mocking the whole “shallow Instagram shapshot” culture you speak of … while at the same time saying “… but if you are going to take photos of your bike to post online – and we certainly do here at CT – then here’s how to do it ‘right'”. We’d also like to think that people are smart enough to know that changing their bike position (and sawing off part of their bike, no less) simply for the sake of aesthetics, is a pretty silly idea. The final line of the piece was meant to make it clear that this whole thing is a little silly (while still being useful to those who will do it anyway).

  • pervertt

    Nothing on lighting? For me, no flash and no direct sunlight if the bike is propped up against a wall. A sharp bike shadow is always a distraction.

  • Durian Rider


    “Slam that stem or ride a stem that doesnt suit your proper position as long as it looks cool for instafame”?

    Prolly the worst bit of advice Ive read at CT other than ‘restrict your carbs’.

    • Hi Durian Rider, see my reply to Jeffrey Friedl elsewhere in this thread. Anybody that thinks it’s a good idea to change their position on the bike simply because it looks good needs more advice than just how to take good photos of their bike.

      • Durian Rider

        Good to hear MDN.

        Maybe a quick edit so the sarcasm is stronger so noob readers don’t miss it on the main article. Then nobody can get the wrong idea.

        I create thousands of hours of content on the net and I do my best so there is no confusion if Im talking about important stuff like health or bike set up.

        5 headed cobras discovered in Thailand is another story.

        I travel a lot in SE Asia and have ridden with thousands of local riders over the last decade and they take everything us westerners on the net say literally. Most of the aesthetic minded but ergonomic sacrificed bike set ups Ive seen I know were inspired by what was seen or read on the net and then their mates copy that.

        Although I have the flexibility to run super low stack height, I run a higher set up these days just so others see it as accepted. The end result is more comfort for the noobs which results in more miles done and with that comes more fitness n smiles.

        This is my TCR. The bar stem drop is minimal.

        • George

          Is that an angled seat? ;)

          • Greg

            wrong gearing setup for insta but most importantly photoshopped front disc on lightweights lol

  • Rodolfo Baselli

    About valve stems, I’d position them at 12 o’clock. You generally get rim and tyre labels standing right (because you matched them with the valve stem first).

  • snappydon

    Camera viewpoint- Photographed from no higher than the top tube to avoid the bike looking small and squat. And not much lower, unless you want to make the bike loom up tall. The black Pinny looks to be suffering from high camera viewpoint, but that could just be because it’s toppling toward the camera :)

    • James

      A telephoto lens helps by reducing parallax and distortion — notice how the Bianchi’s right handlebar obscures the left.


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