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Andy Romanoff : Beautiful Machines in the Springtime


It’s not just the galleries that have been closed these last years, it’s shows of every kind. My first love even before photography was motorcycles, but the last few years the motorcycle shows I often went to shoot have been shuttered as well. Now, finally, they are coming back to life. A few weeks ago I got to see what motorcycle builders have been doing while they waited for spring to return. I traveled up to Carmel CA to photograph The Quail, a motorcycle gathering/concours d’elegance. Here on a bright green lawn a few thousand motorcyclists showed up to wander among special motorcycles and see what the best customizers and restoration specialists had brought. This year, sprung from Covid cages they brought their best.

It’s not easy to shoot motorcycles in a crowd. Without the sheet metal of a car to block out the background it’s a constant dance between getting back far enough to let focal length and depth of field blur the background and the people who constantly walk between you and the bike, usually stopping right in front of the one you are shooting. Patience helps as does accepting the limitations and working with zooms. This year I wanted to shoot wide open with an 85mm F1.8 to make portraits of the bikes but once in the heat of the show I switched to a 24-70mm backing up as far as I could before zooming in to fill the frame, squatting deeply to look at the bike eye to eye, then shooting before someone stepped in between me and the object of my desire. It’s an old dance and one that kept me on my toes.

Motorcycles are only part of the story; the people who build and ride them are wonderful too, and the judges judging and the shapes that crowds of people take in the landscape. If I’m too old to ride any more then taking pictures of these things I love and desire comes pretty close.

Andy Romanoff


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The Quail – The Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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