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On Photographing a Bicycle:  Getting the Angle Right on the Handlebars

October 2016

And now for an eye candy post…

I checked out a post on Bike War this morning and found these two choices:

First, let’s get one thing straight, those are both very expensive, well appointed bikes.  Guessing, the cost is north of $10,000 each.  The De Rosa would be the one I’d buy, it’s the high-end name, Italian-made steed.  I voted for the first one though, simply because it’s staged better.  The angle of the bars in the photo of the De Rosa is all wrong and knowing that De Rosa gets most of the angles right in their stock photos, that mistake surprised me.

This is a recent photo of my Venge:

Now, the perfect angle would be to get the drop at the back to line up perfectly with the one in the front so the rear drop would be hidden.  I took that photo with my phone and holding it in my hands.  The two pro shots above were taken with a much better camera, presumably on a tripod.  Here’s the trick – to get the angle right, so the bars line up, I have to half-squat so the camera is at the perfect level, within a half-inch up or down and I have to favor the right, towards the front of the bike.  This is the important, classic “this is my bike” photo.  The valve stems are at Six O’clock, the crank arms are in line with the chain stays (so the rear is hidden – another viable option is to hide the rear crank arm with the seat post, so the front arm is on a steeper downward angle), and the drive train (cassette, crank, chain) are facing out.  The final piece of the puzzle is that the rear gear doesn’t matter, but you’ve gotta have the chain on the big ring up front.

The rest of the photos, like the one below, we probably needn’t worry about staging so much:


Here’s another from DALMAC:

Now for the photo above, that’s where we stopped for lunch on day three.  We were 65 miles into the 100 and we weren’t about to waste time staging the bikes properly – we were too busy with how quickly we could fire a burger and a Coke down our gullet.

Here’s another that I took just because the sun hit it at a really cool angle:


In the end, you’ll have those who absolutely refuse to stage their bikes for the “this is my bike” shot because it is kind of a pain in the butt to remember everything.  Either that, or they’re antiestablishment about the whole thing.  I personally don’t care what anyone else does, but you look at my Venge (half the cost of those two examples at the top) and I don’t think this can be argued against; my properly staged bike looks better.
UPDATE:  This, from DeRosa, is more like it:


  1. MJ Ray says:

    Right. So when’s the eye candy coming? 😉

    And $10’000 and they can’t even get the top tube level? 😉

    • bgddyjim says:

      Of course! They would only make a cheaper bike with a level top tube. Anyone who’s ever ridden a properly set up compact frame can understand why they make ’em that way! That isn’t to say there are bitter haters out there who can’t change with the times…. Chuckle.

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