Last week I teased out a photo of a super special Parlee Z-1 dubbed #PrincePink on my Instagram feed. That photo is my favourite out of a larger set of images taken for a Blacksmith Cycle, Cycle Exif and Life Is A Beautiful Detail collaboration. This collaborative coverage is made up of three parts. The Blacksmith blog features a full article from the perspective of the owner/builder and Cycle Exif is covering the story of the build from a journalist perspective. Finally, I come into the mix to tell the story through of the photographs.
This no detail spared ridiculousness is the custom built personal ride of Mike Yakubowicz, shop owner of Blacksmith Cycle. He first told me about the upcoming build while I was at the shop to shoot Ali's Cherubim R2. So there I am trying to concentrate on photographing one dream bike while the picture of another is being painted in my ear. But what Mike was describing didn't make sense. Who paints their Parlee Z-1 metallic rose pink? Mike does. Why? Because when you're the one running the dream bike factory, you get to dream in any colour you want.
My mind was racing around the thought of pink Parlee. However I was going to shoot it, I knew it had to be perfect. Why? If you read this blog regularly or follow my instagram feed you've probably picked up that I do a lot with Blacksmith Cycle here in Toronto. The whole team at the shop are really good to me and this was Mike's own dream bike. It had to be done right. Honestly, I was kind of nervous. What was I going to do?
My first instincts were to pull this bike into the studio. It's safe and it's my comfort zone. In the studio environment I can completely control the conditions. I can sculpt the light anyway I want and ensure the greatest of detail. But what the studio affords in control, it loses in personality. The studio lacks the story telling depth and context added by a good location. Take for example the time we dragged two NCAA basketball themed Mosaic RS-2s onto a basketball court. The location made the story. So I knew it had to be location shot. But where?
The area around the Blacksmith shop has lots of interesting laneways, alleys, and parks. It's already provided good backdrops for a few photo sessions but truthfully the right one wasn't jumping out at me. This was a pink Parlee! But we were out of time. The day of the shoot had come. Mike and I rolled the bike through the laneways looking at graffiti backdrops. It just wasn't working for me. The shapes and colours would distract from the bike more than they would compliment. I knew I was being a pain the ass but I insisted we keep looking. For this project, I wasn't going to let it just be another BAAW (Bike Against A Wall). My eye was looking for something muted in colour but filled with texture and depth. Something semi-industrial to play in juxtaposition to the shinny perfection of a pink Parlee. It had to be right.
Then it happened. On the way back to the shop I spotted the matte grey steel garage of a neighbouring loft building. Luck would have it that the location was shaded from the harsh overhead sunlight but still filled with enough ambient light to shoot slightly stopped down and at a low ISO. This is my favourite combination for maximum resolution, low noise, and some isolation from the backdrop. This makes the subject pop.
Mike helped set and prep the bike in the borrowed location then ran off back to the shop (watching me take photos is not very exciting.) Hard to believe he trusted me with his dream bike but it's not like I could ever ride that behemoth and if I could I'd be too scared too. About 45 minutes later I rolled #PrincePink back into the shop happy with what I had seen through the lens. Later that evening I started texting out the teaser image before sending the full set to Mike and Cycle Exif the next day. I was happy with what I delivered for the collaboration.
That's more than enough babbling on the backstory so here's the good part. I'm going to share the exif data used for this set.
- Camera: Canon 5D MKIII
- Lens: Canon 24-70 F2.8L MK1
- Focal Length: ~45mm
- Aperture: 4.0
- ISO: 200
- Shutter: 1/125
- Mode: Manual (always manual)
- Lighting: Natural with 75cm Lastolite diffuser
That's it. Hope you enjoy this photographers perspective to the coverage of Mike's truly incredible Blacksmith #PrincePink Parlee Z-1. Check out Mike's perspective on the Blacksmith blog and Cycle Exif's coverage on their site. If you have any questions, message me directly or add to the comments below.