Top 10 Photos I've Shot For Motorcycle.com
Every picture tells a story
With my three year anniversary as a card-carrying MOron rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking over my time working at Motorcycle.com. As the staff photographer, I get to spend a little more time out of the office than my coworkers because I’m usually charged with shooting the bike tests – not just those that I’m writing. This translates into more saddle time for me – not a bad deal for someone who has chosen to devote the bulk of his adult life (if you can call it that) to motorcycling.
So, what follows is a selection of photos that carry some meaning for me. Some are my favorites because I’m proud that they came out of my camera. Others just bring back memories.
10. Odd Discoveries
We get to travel a lot more than most people, and one thing I think anyone who travels around these United States will agree with is: You never know what kind of weird thing you might discover just around the next corner. Take this gas pump sitting in a field that we stumbled onto during our 2014 Heavyweight Sport-Touring Shootout. We were following a route that I’d created online and then transferred to my GPS, and we rode into a valley to discover this gas pump surrounded by unsquashed vegetation that made us think that the pump hadn’t been used in years – despite being in good condition.
This provided some much needed levity after a long, particularly tough section of crumbling, broken pavement – so broken, in fact, that we discovered later that we bent the FJR1300ES’ front wheel – which had E-i-C Duke proclaim, with absolute certainty, a line that became an instant MO staff classic: “I’ve never been here before, but there’s got to be a better road than this to take us where we’re going.” (There were other roads, but most of them were completely dirt as we traversed this section of National Forest.)
9. Remote Locations
Whether we’re on pavement or in the dirt, working for Motorcycle.com takes us to some remote places. This photo from the Heavyweight Adventure-Touring Shootout may be attainable during a day ride from the MO Tower, but it was a really quick trip into another world. No computer or cell service, and all we had to do was ride and take some photos. This was the type of day that people assume we frequently have. Unfortunately, our shoots usually have time constraints that keep us focused on the job at hand rather than enjoying the scenery. Rides like this only happen every couple months (If we’re lucky), but when they do, they make all the drudgery of feeding the internet beast melt away for a while.
8. Adverse Conditions
While this looks like your typical, slightly overcast day at the track, what you can’t see is my battle for survival. As I was shooting Kevin riding the Ducati Super Leggera, I had a 102° fever and was pausing periodically to retch in the Chuckwalla Raceway infield. (I may not have puked that morning, but the evening before, as I drove out to the desert, I put on a couple huge technicolor shows for the people stuck in traffic on the Pasadena Freeway.)
Usually, the adverse conditions we have to deal with while riding motorcycles involve the elements, and only a healthy measure of resolve can get us through those times with a smile on our faces. That same level of focus had me uncurl myself from a fetal position on the front seat of my truck every time Kevin called me to say he was taking the Super Leggera back out on the track. I think of that day with more than a little pride whenever I stumble onto this photo.
7. Strange Requests
I’m pretty sure my coworkers thought I was nuts (and they are probably right) when I said our Baggers Brawl route would include a section of dirt roads. Or maybe they’ve come to expect it from me (See #10 a couple pages back). However, I’m not the only one that gets the occasional wild hair. Troy’s tour of LA’s best veggie burrito joints immediately comes to mind. In an effort to make our stories entertaining in addition to being informative, we do have to do some silly stuff on occasion. I consider that one of the perks of the job.
While this photo was exactly what I was looking for in California City, I did have to cheat a little. The top of the sign is actually about four feet higher in the air which destroyed how I wanted to compose the shot. So, I shot two frames: one of the bike and the sign and another with the same exposure and focus of the top of the sign. The rest is thanks to Photoshop which allowed me to shorten the sign.
6. Just Lucky
When we’re traveling for a shootout, we usually have no idea where we’re going to be shooting the photos. We usually set aside some time during the ride (Me: never enough time, Them: always too much time) for photography. In lots of instances, it involves spotting a good location while also enjoying the ride. On other occasions, we just stumble into a great spot for totally unrelated reasons. This photo comes from a stop that we made primarily for the video guys to shoot some cornering and drone footage. I took advantage of the spot to shoot as many angles as I could. This shot, though, is from about an eighth of a mile up the road from the photo stop. While the video guys were having the riders make tons of passes, I kept walking up the road shooting different angles until this shot just slapped me in the face. I got really, really lucky.
5. Documenting Travels
Manufacturers take us to lots of cool places to ride their motorcycles. Most of the trips, however, are tightly-controlled affairs with schedules to meet during the short time we are actually in the exotic location. Sometimes, I do get to break away from the pack and set off on my own. This trip to Devil’s Tower is just one of those times. After all, who of my age group hasn’t wanted to see the location of Close Encounters of the Third Kind?
4. Artistic License
No, most people won’t ride these two bikes in the LA River. If they do, they better be careful. Directly beyond the bikes lurks a step down into a three foot deep trench that is virtually invisible under the flowing water. Most of the time I’m trying to shoot beauty shots of the bikes on roadsides or in parking lots. Occasionally though, I get to just do something for the sake of doing it. This location, with all the reflections and lighting extremes, was a challenge that made it fun to shoot. In the end, however, this shot would’ve been impossible without Photoshop.
3. Herding Cats
This is not the shot I envisioned. I wanted the headlights to recede all the way off into the distance the furthest we could see down the road. However, as is often the case with group dynamics, the message that the back riders received was quite different from the one that started out our roadside game of telephone. Also, this was one of those times in which I lost the too much/too little time battle I mentioned in #6. I have grudgingly come to like this photo despite the flaws I see in it.
2. Pushing Limits
My twelve-year-old Canon 1D Mk IIN really doesn’t like low light. At least, not like the newer camera bodies (Some day…), but occasionally the situation requires stepping out of your comfort zone. The light level had faded below what my camera can gracefully handle without too much noise, and the headlights were giving my autofocus fits. Still, I knew the fire of the tree light would be a cool if I could just get my camera to capture it. In the end, I had several frames I was happy with. This one is my favorite because of the way the headlights play across the road.
1. The Machines And The People Who Love Them
My favorite photo that I’ve shot for Motorcycle.com over the past three years has it all, as far as I am concerned. The scenery is epic. The motorcycles were tons of fun. The people are what make it all come together, though. I’ve met more good people than I can count in my years on motorcycles. Motorcycles put us out in the world, forcing us to live in the moment and create our own experiences, not watch them on TV. When we return, we always have stories to tell – many of them are true. The others? Well, I’ve never believed in letting the truth derail a good story.
(Oh, and how I wish I’d asked Burns to take two steps forward. Then I’d love this shot even more.)
Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.
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