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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Best motorcycle photo is often a close-up, if you're careful

1937 Rudge Ulster entered by Ike Miarachi, of Hollywood, Fla.
When it comes to vintage motorcycles, I find the appeal is often in the details: the clever solutions to common problems, a small part that becomes a bit of shiny jewelry, the pride evident in the display of the brand name.

So, at motorcycle shows, I very often tend to take close-up pictures of details I appreciate. Besides, sometimes bikes are displayed in such tight ranks that it's hard to get a nice over-all picture, even of an overall beautiful motorcycle.

Police lights light up an elderly Indian.
Taking close-up pictures was what I was doing at the Dania Beach Vintage Motorcycle Show in Florida last weekend when I almost got in trouble. No, I didn't accidentally swing my point-and-shoot camera against someone's precious polished gas tank.

What caused concern was that I was down on my knees photographing the words "Made In England" cast into the engine case of a 1948 HRD-Vincent Black Shadow. The owner quite reasonably asked if what I was doing was photographing the serial numbers.

1948 Vincent/HRD proudly displays its origin.
I don't know much about rare Vincents, but I know that there are issues involved with cloning expensive motorcycles and their paperwork. Embarrassed, I hastily explained what I was doing. In the picture published here I have carefully blotted out the numbers that were visible under "Made In England."

Once reassured, the owner kindly pointed out the details of the motorcycle, certainly one of the fastest of its day. The reversible rear wheel, for instance, provided an extra rear sprocket for duty pulling a sidecar. Imagine asking a thoroughbred like this to pull a cart!

1948 Vincent/HRD entered by George Bathory of Hollywood.
It was a different world, alright.


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