Sunday, January 10, 2016


It's been nearly four years since I posted photos from a visit to Milwaukee's Harley Davidson Museum.  So I returned this last week for another shoot.

Of course, Harley Davidson is all about motorcycles . . . beginning in 1909, and I did take a number of shots of bikes of various vintages.  However, shooting individual bikes presents challenges, particularly in the confines of the museum.  First, one can take shots either from the front or the rear, as in the following.

Really not great as there is a lot going on and it is nearly impossible to distinguish the subject bikes from their surroundings, although I did like the Police sign.

It helps a little, perhaps, to zoom in on elements, as in the shots below.

A little better as I could reduce the depth of field, in these cases to a wide open f/4.  Still, not great.  But I did like the following detail from the Rhinestone Motorcycle, something that Liberace might have ridden, had he actually ridden motorcycles.

Or one can shoot the bikes from the side, as in these two photos.

It helps when the background is relatively uncluttered, as in the first shot.  The  second has the benefit of being a version of the Captain America bike used in the Easy Rider movie by Peter Fonda, while the first is a 2008 bike used in the movie Captain America.  Ironically, I didn't realize that relationship until I was putting this post together.

Or one can look to details from the sides of bikes, such as spokes and wheels, as in the following images.

The museum has a terrific display of decorative gas tanks.  I first tried to capture the display looking from the side, as in the following.

Depth of field is a major issue in such shots.  In addition, the distant tanks simply get lost.  So I tried a frontal shot, although I simply couldn't capture the entire array, so I cut down the field of view to a reasonable level.

I think this gives a sense of the display without sacrificing available detail in each of the tanks.  Then I moved a bit closer and put the camera on an angle, a perspective that I thought worked pretty well.

A couple of miscellaneous shots, one of an award medals display and another of a bike backed by an array of most of the parts of an equivalent bike.

I particularly liked the medals display from a technical perspective--the medals are crisp and the black background is indeed black.

Here is a detail shot of the windshield and front fender of another motorcycle that was covered with hundreds of signatures fashioned in silver that I saw as an abstract.

But while the motorcycles are the individual stars of the museum, the physical facility also is a winner in its own way.  I think the building's general industrial design is spot on.  Trying to incorporate both the architecture and the bikes, however, is a real challenge.  Here is an attempt.

I thought it might work to sight down the railing, but there's just too much going on, I'm afraid.  The following is a bit better, as it at least has a defined subject--an exhibit that allows the visitor to "design his own bike."

As usually happens, a number of my shots are relatively abstract and not what the typical visitor would come away with, but I'm OK with that, I think.  Here are a few of those.

This last was an overhead shot.

My favorite of these shots was the following of the entryway to a walkway to an ancillary building that I converted to a black & white.

I didn't capture any good shots of the building's exterior, unfortunately, but I did get a couple of good shots of a great sculpture in the museum's courtyard.

If you find yourself in Milwaukee, I would very much recommend putting the museum on your itinerary.  And keep in mind that there is a discount on the admission price on Tuesdays.


1 comment:

  1. I am impressed with your pictures of motorcycles.