Photo Select – Quad – Tanner Gemperle

In this article I am going to be going much further in-depth with a few select photo’s, explaining what went into the particular shot, the detailed spec-info and even an overview of how exactly I went about editing the photo.

Tanner Gemperle – MMX Sunset

Camera – Canon 60D
Lens – Canon 18-135mm f/3.5 – 5.6 IS
Shutter Speed – 1/250th (Flash Sync Speed)
Aperture – f/6.3
ISO – 200
Focal Length – 39mm
Flash – Fired, on Camera

This photo to me is one of my all time favorites. Surprisingly, even with this result, this has been one of the (if not the) only times I’ve used my flash and this lens. I was always very skeptical using that lens in the field, its plastic, slow, and cheap. That being the case, is the only wide-angle lens I own, so when I need it, I used it, and it worked well. This photo was the first time I used my new flash as well; it’s not a wireless flash like I wanted, but it too was what I could afford. The big problem for me with the flash was that it didn’t high-speed sync, meaning the highest my shutter speed could go was 1/250th, which is scary-slow with this kind of action. After around 10 shots of this same jump, I got a few with absolutely no blur on the rider.

So how did this photo even come about? Well, a few of the NorCal riders (I believe it was Steven Daniels and his family) rented out the MMX track for the day so the quads could get some practice. My brother is also a NorCal quad rider, so I convinced him that he should go and get the practice, but in reality I was just itching to use my new flash.

At first, I didn’t even realize that we were going to be there until sunset. It was a Sunday and we had school the next day, and with the 3-hour drive back none of us wanted to get home around 11 pm. However as the day went on, I kept getting better and better shots.

I was there mostly to do a photo/video shoot with Tyler Horisk, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only person I shot!

On the side, I was there shooting video for a NorCal quad rider, Tyler Horisk, as well as some photo’s for him. Most of my day was spent talking with him, getting video clips, and a couple of photos here and there of him and a few other riders. Somehow, on our way back to the car, Tyler and I, as well as Tanner (in the photo) got to the top of this triple and decided to get some sweet side-by-side whip shots at sunset of the two of them. After a few good side-by-side photo’s, Tyler took a break and it was just me and Tanner. The sun was just at that perfect point, but at the time I was afraid that it’d be dark by the time a got a really good photo. I nearly gave up, at that point I thought I had some really cool shots, why shoot in the dark? I snapped this photo, a few others, and really didn’t notice the potential of this photo at the time.

I got home, late, around 11 pm, and quickly went to editing the sunset shots. Again though, this one made it through edit without really catching my attention. There were probably 3 or 4 other photos I liked more at the time. And it stayed that way for months. This photo was shot on September 25th, 2011. And just two weeks ago did I realize it’s full potential.

As it turns out, a fresh edit was all that this photo needed to go from an ordinary photo to my favorite of all time.

I was sitting at my computer screen, trying to find some older images to re-edit using Adobe’s new Lightroom 4 software, when I came back across these photos. I went through and realized that image really stuck out when I edited it. The separation of the rider and the background was so much more apparent than most of the others. Beyond that, the photo was tack sharp, with no blur on the rider at all. After working some magic I came up with this final image. I just stood back and looked at it for a few minutes. I just though, “Really? Nearly 7 months just sitting here, just waiting for a fresh edit!?”. I was astounded that it was so simple. I had the photo there the whole time, I just didn’t have the knowledge to recognize what it could become with some more work in post.

On the Left – Original File. On the Right – September 2011 Edit (Original Edit)

Original September 2011 Edit on the Left, and Fresh April 2012 Edit on the Right.

So what exactly went down in Lightroom 4 that made it so much better? Well, a combination of their new exposure sliders and some old-school Photoshop work. I cleaned up the background a bit in Photoshop, then pumped my shadows, boosted my orange, tamed the overexposed sky to bring out the clouds, and topped it off by crunching some of the blacks in the background to further showcase the separation of rider – background. One of the most obvious changes to the photo’s composition is the crop; changing the rider from center screen to top left. I did this so that the sun would be in the bottom right, and rider in the top right, and the dust more in the center to really balance out the composition.

So there you have it guys. My favorite quad photo ever, and the detailed story behind it!

-Dylan Cole

Like this article? Let me know! What would you like to see? What did I leave out? Let me know and I’ll change things up! Leave a comment below.


1 thought on “Photo Select – Quad – Tanner Gemperle

  1. Hey Mr. Cole-
    LOVE your work.. Wowza! I have just started shooting motocross and was actually out at 408mx yesterday shooting the Transworld. I got to meet Christina Nicole and chatted with her for a while. I am hooked. Your work is beautiful. Very intense, exciting and captures the energy of the moment. Thanks so much for sharing! I especially love all of the mx whips posted from yesterday’s event! Unfortunately, I am moving out of the area in the next month, so I am trying to learn as much as I can prior to leaving, so I can carry some skills with me to the new location. I would love to try and shoot Loretta Lynn’s, as I will only be about an hour away! Hope I have an opportunity to meet you prior to my leaving! You inspire me to be a better photographer!


    BTW, Love your wonderful blog too!!

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