When Columbia Bicycles was invited to The TALK on CBS as a featured product, they jumped on it and asked Storm Stanley to come along.  I mean, we had to really think hard about whether or not to go—just kidding, we were giddy children.  Over the week that we would be in LA, we would interface with the show’s production staff as a representative of Columbia, and we wanted to take the opportunity to get some different scenery for product photos and videos.  We got it.

We took two bikes out to two different locations – Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica Beach.  Griffith Observatory worked well for some product photos, but the beach paid off big time for both photos and video.  We arrived just before dusk, so we had the benefit of “golden hour” lighting, and we set up a little ways down the beach from the pier.  This gave us the sun setting over a beautiful beach in one background, the ocean in another, and the pier in yet another.  We could simply rotate around the bikes and achieve three different looks.  As the sun descended in the horizon, it revealed even more scenes—different textures being illuminated as others died out.  It was a magical experience.  Check out the results below!

Of course, when you’re traveling, trying to shoot solo and trying to do both photo and video and gear and logistics can get complicated.  There are a number of ways we could’ve gone with gear selection, but I chose to shoot video with the Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105 f4 lens in the DJI Ronin MX.  This setup would allow me to capture smooth, cinematic motion shots.  I normally would achieve this by “roll stepping”, but the loose sand forced me to change that approach up a bit (larger, slower steps).  For photos, rather than disassemble the Ronin or haul an extra camera around, I would take a knee, flip the camera to photo-mode (while still in the Ronin), and fire the shutter from there.

Both photos and video were challenging with the sand and constantly-changing lighting, and the photos were my biggest concern (since I was shooting them from the Ronin), but I think they worked out marvelously.  The exposure was just right to capture highlights without being blown out – yet retain good color and detail in shaded portions.  Colors are a bit muted to retain the brand’s classic vibe.  Photos were treated in Adobe Lightroom.  Video was edited with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

This scene is one of my personal favs from the beach shoot.  Everything clicks with this one.  The palm trees form a perspective line.  The sky is washed from the sunset, and the texture of the sand is really brought out with the shadows.

Lifeguard towers make great props!

The Santa Monica Pier at sunset is a sight to behold.  The neons come alive and transform the entire beach into an entirely different kind of wonderland, and finally seeing this scene is one of the payoffs of the multi-scene strategy that we set out to position with.

Griffith Observatory proved to be a more challenging location with more people and less great “scenes” to choose from – at least ones that we could fit a bike into.  This shot of the Women’s Huntington bicycle is a cool “adventure” shot.

And so is this Hollywood Sign shot of the Men’s 1952 Cruiser bicycle.  This shot was a rare opportunity to get a bike in front of the sign without any people in the frame, and you can’t see it, but just outside of the frame, there are hoards of people taking photos.

LA with Columbia was an incredible experience.  We can’t wait to go back!

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