Understand why lighting is key in this example motorbike photoshoot

Like any professional photographer, I love shooting with top-quality kit. My beloved Hasselblad H6 camera, for example, costs north of $30,000!

Of course, many photographers around the world don’t want to spend that kind of money. The good news is: they don’t have to. In this video, I shoot a beautiful Harley Davidson motorcycle with my Hasselblad, and then again with my iPhone.

When I compare the two shots, you’ll be amazed how similar they look. How is that possible? One word: lighting.

In photography, lighting is as important as – if not MORE important than – camera choice. That's because without good lighting, no matter what camera you use,  you will never achieve a great result.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to photograph a custom Harley Davidson motorcycle in my studio. It was an absolute pleasure to light and photograph this gorgeous machine. It was also a perfect opportunity to conduct an iPhone-DSLR comparison and to demonstrate the paramount importance of lighting a shot correctly.

Shooting the bike

The first steps were to paint the background and set up the lighting using a range of lights and modifiers.
Setting up lighting for motorbike photoshoot

Once I'd captured the image I wanted with my Hasselblad, it was time to shoot the bike again – this time with my iPhone. For this photo, I used continuous modelling light, rather than the studio flash I had used with the DSLR.

Capturing a professional image of motorbike using iPhone with studio lighting setup

Comparing the shots

When we put the two images side by side, we can see that both cameras enabled me to produce extremely pleasing results. That's because I took the time to light the motorcycle perfectly.

Shot taken with Karl's iPhone

Motorbike photograph taken with Karl Taylor's iPhone

Shot taken with Karl's Hasselblad

Final motobike image taken with Karl's Hasselblad

That said, if we zoom in to examine the details up close, there's no question that the DSLR camera offers superior resolution. Just compare the level of detail on top (iPhone) to that below it (Hasselblad). This is what makes medium-format cameras like the Hasselblad H6D-100c so indispensable for professional photographers.

Zoomed in shot taken from the Hasselblad full frame camera

Zoomed in section from iPhone photo

Zoomed in shot taken from the iPhone

Zoomed in photo from iPhone result

Of course, extremely clear detail at such high levels of magnification is not essential for a successful image. The important thing is that, when viewed as a complete image, the iPhone shot works pretty much as well as the DSLR original. That's because both were lit as carefully and creatively as possible.

Lighting is the key to photography

This shoot proves that, if you can master and harness the power of light, you can capture breathtaking photos with even the most basic camera. Pricey equipment is nice. But knowledge is essential!

To see more shoots like this, check out our classes on Automotive Photography.

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