Lars’ classic 1938 BMW R51

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The first thing I did when I got my new Canon EOS 30D was schedule a photoshoot with Lars and his classic 1938 BMW R51 bike at the Golden Gate bridge.
Let me do some explaining first; I was eying a digital SLR camera for quite a while, partly out of gadget lust, but also because I was frustrated with the indoor and low-light capabilities of my point-and-shoot(s) – I mainly wanted to be able to get (a) decent shots of people indoors and (b) interesting mountainbike shots (such as Ayatola Hombre flying over the handlebars), often times in low-light conditions (e.g. Demo Forest). Of course, I was always aware of the fact that buying a (digital) SLR would mean opening up a whole can of worms – lenses, filters, adaptors, gear ad infinitum. Hence my survival instinct kept me from pulling the trigger all this time. But my finger was shaky – and Lars’ bike was the final drop that got me overboard (I know, my metaphors are getting weird, but please bear with me).
My coworker Lars bought his R51 bike from an old guy in Sweden, who had restored, nurtured and maintained this two-wheeled beauty for decades. He just was getting too old to ride it, and felt that it needed to be ridden – but only by someone who would prove worthy. Lars made a couple of prospective trips to Sweden – that bike is a rarity and the old guy was asking a very reasonable, almost embarrassingly small amount. He went through painstaking scrutiny and finally proved to be the worthy heir. He told himself that he’d prove the old guy that the bike was in good hands. And what better way to show him than send him a large framed picture of the bike in its full glory in front of one of the icons of the West, the Golden Gate bridge?
So that’s where I came in, months later, after the bike had finally been shipped in and Lars had done some additional restoring work of his own. I had been pretending at work to know a thing or two about pressing a shutter button and Lars knew about me ‘considering’ a new camera… I finally told myself I could also make very good use of it on my upcoming trip to Europe, so there went the final resistance.
Back to the photoshoot now – see the gallery here. There was a lot of fog the morning of the shoot, but we ended up having a lot of fun, and with some decent shots. I had bought two lenses, one 50mm f/1.4 (good for indoor portraits and low light stuff), and a 24mm f/2.8 for general purpose wide-angle stuff. Prime lenses, because my money was gone after getting the body and accessory paraphernalia, and I didn’t want to compromise on quality too much (ruling out cheap zooms). I ended up really loving the 50mm – it makes extremely sharp images. The 50mm(x1.6) focal distance is a little bit awkward at times but I try to use this lens as much as possible. But more on lens stuff later.

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