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.


Photo Select – Quad – Robert Stewart

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

In this article I am going to be going over quad-photo’s only, but soon will do this same thing for the motocross world as well. I hope to make this a regular thing, as I take photo’s I’ll show you all my favorites and how the photo’s came to be.

So let’s get to the photo’s:

Robert Stewart at Glen Helen

Camera – Canon 60D
Lens – Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM
Shutter Speed – 1/1250th
Aperture – f/4.0
ISO – 100
Focal Length – 104mm

Let’s start off with some background. This is an image of Robert Stewart at the last round of the 2011 Yamaha QuadX Series at Glen Helen. The fist curve-ball about this image is that nobody knew that we were supposed to be on the REM track until the day of practice. Which really wasn’t too bad for me, because I like the track for photo’s, but it definitely shook up the riders (including my brother) so that was pretty interesting.

What was the reason for being on the REM track when they told us we would be on the main track? Well, the first annual Showa Ride Day was booked for the main track for Saturday, so they pushed the quads over for the weekend. Practice day was interesting for me to say the least. With riders like Darryn Durham, Blake Baggett, Cole Seely, Dillan Epstein and more just a walk away from the quads (which is what I’m there to shoot), I found it very difficult not to go over to the Showa Ride Day and get some shots of pro’s. If you read this article, or saw the photo’s on Vurbmoto’s Facebook, you know that I spent nearly 90% of the day over at the ride day. Which was actually the right decision, it was probably the one single event that got me the most exposure in my career; it also put me in touch with the whole Vurbmoto crew, which sometime down the road will be invaluable.

Finally, after spending the rest of Saturday at the hotel going through my ride day photos, Sunday came around. I was pumped all day from the shots I had gotten the day before of the dirt bikes, so at that point I was already happy with the weekend regardless of how the quad photo’s turned out.

Throughout the day, all 3 or 4 of the photographers that were there really took an interest in the turn just before the straight-away where this photo was taken. The turn was pretty rough and had a pretty large berm, really good for quad shots. That particular turn got pretty sketchy a few times with the photographers. Since the turn was so rough, a lot of riders got sketchy and went off the track at times, right where us photogs’ were leaning onto the track to get good images. I liked the turn as well, but trying to be different from the rest, I focused a lot on this rough straight just after the turn. Towards the end of the day, the straight had huge acceleration bumps half the way, then even gnarlier breaking bumps the other half.

I really tried to get some images of the bikes jumping all around and maybe getting a little sideways out of the turn, then bicycling a little in the bumps. In this particular photo, Robert got very sideways out of the turn and actually came back to the inside and went halfway off the track up the rut. About half of the way down the rut there was a big dip, I knew it was coming up, and I knew one of two things was going to happen. Either Robert would hit the jump, endo, and crash, or he would hit the dip causing a large explosion of dirt. As you can tell, the latter happened. As soon as I clicked the shutter I smiled. I knew what the photo was going to look like. And I just prayed that it was sharp. I quickly checked on the back of camera, and my smile grew; it was probably my sharpest photo of the day.

So there you have it. Lot’s of time, planning, and even some luck went into the shot. But how did I get it to look exactly like the one seen above? Heres a shake-down of the editing:

Original – Edit

So what exactly went down between the original and edit? Well mostly, a slight crop to tighten things up, and my usual high-contrast, bright shadow, deep blacks kind of editing job. Sharpened things up (even though like I said, it was damn sharp to begin with) and a tiny bit of brush editing to brighten key areas.

So there you have it. The full down and dirty detailed description (holy “D”!) of how this photo came into existence. Coming up next, one of my personal favorites, a shot that I feel I will be known for one day.

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.

-Dylan Cole