What's Cool In Road Cycling

Babe Shots 101: Taking The Best Photos

The PEZ Daily Distractions have taken on a life of their own – and our fine readers have taken up the noble cause of sharing the beauty of their local lovelies with Pez-Fans the world over. This is great – we’re getting more DD submissions than ever before – but unfortunately only a small percentage of them are really worthy – not through any fault of the subjects – no, the real problem lies with the skill of the photographer. Luckily we’re here to help, and better shots are only a few minutes away… !

A digital camera in the hands of a sweaty-palmed sock-hungry Herb Ritts wannabe can be a dangerous thing. So before you pull the trigger, set up the shot to make it count, and do yourself and all PEZ-Readers proud. Here’s how to take the best pics…

Whoooaa big shooter! Any large group of hotties can be downright intimidating. And like everything, there’s a right way, and a wrong way to ask beautiful women for their photo…

Server stats, readers emails, and actual comments confirm that men and women alike love to check in for a daily dose of a smiling cutie. Sure we’ve had the odd voice of disapproval over the months, but these are far (and I mean FAR) outweighed by the emails we get that simply say “I Love the Distractions!”

We admit, Chilean babes look hot in any light, but technically this pic has too much sunlight – see those harsh shadows across their faces? Solution – get in close, hope your high-school
Spanish doesn’t fail you, and use a flash to brighten the shadows.

Why Distractions?
As David St. Hubbins put it – “Why Not?”
But believe it or not, there’s actual thought behind our introduction of the first and only cycling podium girls and race babes gallery on the web…

If you go to a race, (or any event that requires leaving your house), you’re likely to see a few attractive people – athletic racers, and people in the crowd who catch your eye. Now, I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure that this basic human attraction is what makes the “world go around”. Anyone who’s a reader of these pages knows you need not check your sense of humor at the door, but in case you do we’re ready to rubber-chicken slap you upside the head with ours.

A nice full body shot here – but try to concentrate long enough
to get their feet in the frame.

For the few people out there who misinterpret the whole Distractions concept – I ask have you never looked at and appreciated an attractive person, for no other reason than because you like the way they look? Admit it – ‘cause you know you have – and you’re lying to yourself otherwise. And guess what – that makes you one of us – a (cue scary shriek) “someone who appreciates physical beauty” – aaaggghhh!!!!

Recently we started offering the very cool PEZ-Socks by DeFeet for Distracting submissions. Now, how a pair of socks could actually be better than the thrill and satisfaction of photographing a beautiful girl is almost beyond us – except we’re talking PEZ-socks here, but as more of you venture forth to capture the beautiful women of cycling for the good all PEZ-kind, we think it’s time to share some basic tips to using your camera most effectively.

Lesson here: a scenic background can make a hot babe even hotter. But once again the flash would have added some nice light to her face. Guys – remember – the real ‘money shot’ is one your girl is proud of too!

Any picture worth taking is worth taking well, so we’ve compiled a list of do’s, dont’s, and comments from some pro-photogs to speed you along to photographc excellence – and hopefully a pair of your very own PEZ socks!

If you intend to embarrass yourself by asking an outta-your-league uber-babe and complete stranger if you can take her picture, the least you can do is impress her by taking a good photo.

I remember this shot well – Tour03, Toulouse, baking hot. This girl was French, or Spanish or Basque, she didn’t understand a word I said, but my sincere approach, media pass and camera did the trick. If I’d been thinking clearly though, I would have positioned her in the shade and used my flash, or had her stand with her back to the sun and used my flash to eliminate the bright spot on her forehead. Note the 3/4 body shot.

The APPROACH – Getting Off On The Right Foot
A lot of readers are sending us spy-pics of ladies shot from afar. Usually, since these ladies don’t’ know they’re picture is being taken, are busy moving around, doing things that are just not conducive to a good pic. We’re all going to be better off – really – if you just get in there and ask for her permission. Here’s how…

Ed Smith took a ton of great shots from the Tour de Georgia, and batted 1000 on photo requests:
“The women associated with events are pretty polished and used to having their pictures taken so no problem. When approaching a “non-event” subject, I just asked if they wanted to be a distraction, explained the site and mentioned that cyclists like Hincapie and Lance regularly read PEZ and check out the distraction section. When just walking up to pretty girls, I prefer to approach a couple, usually the boyfriend or husband is pretty eager to show off his wife/girlfriend and I ask if they are familiar with your site and the guy usually says yeah and we just go from there.”

Whenever possible, ask permission! Don’t be afraid – you’ll know soon enough if she has a sense of humour. And if done right, you might just get her number!

Dave Aldersebaes began the “Roadside Dave” craze at the Tour de Georgia – and has had some experience with asking permission: “Ah, the ladies. Sometimes so beautiful you just want to clandestinely snap the pic and move on, but rest assured, drop a media nugget in their ear, and they’re usually game. Women love to be complimented on their beauty, especially when put in a sincere manner. Mention both and you should get any gal to smile pretty for the camera. ‘I’d like to send your picture into PezCycling News, they do a daily distraction of beautiful women in and around cycling, and I think you fit in just fine! May I take your picture?’

They’ll say, at the very least “What’s the picture for?”, giving you another opportunity to invoke the name of Pez, and to clarify your intentions.”

Of course we’re all on the honour system, so the PezCycling name must only be used for good – never for evil.

Note the neutral background – it lets your eye rest easy on the subjects. The last thing we want is to be distracted from your Distraction.

If the sun is out: flash or a reflector is a must. The brighter the outside light, the greater the need for fill flash, because you’ll need to eliminate the shadows cast across your subject’s face. If the sun is bright try to find a dark background, like vegetation, leafy trees, ivy. Use no flash if there is any moisture, it will look like small white streaks.

Good example of when flash could have been used to fill in the shadows caused by the bright sun, and soften her face. [Tech ed note: Not that this face could look any more cute than it does…]

If you’re serious and have the confidence to elicit a pose from your subject, try this: – Angle the shoulders about 45 degrees, tilt the head slightly toward the back shoulder, keep the chin level or slightly up, and relax the shoulders.

Ed Smith comments on the shot below:
“In this case her hands were crossed and resting on a fence, this gives the subject something to do with their hands, relaxes the shoulders and just works. I did not have a working flash and I was real close, a few feet away on a walkway and we were in overcast shade. The shot would have been better with more light bounced back, but she had a great smile and the light was pretty soft.”

This lady’s husband was a PEZ-Fan and encouraged her to pose. Now that’s some brotherly love.

Women from 3 years to 90 years old, will be more relaxed, comfortable and appreciative of efforts to make them look good and it will be evident in the final photo. A few thoughts that may be obvious but are worth mentioning.
– Avoid direct sunlight in the face it makes the subject squint.
– Avoid reflective surfaces in the background: windows, chrome, shinny painted surfaces, water.
– Watch for obstacles like signs, posts that would appear like and added appendage or a cluttered background.
– No sunglasses unless up on the head. If the subject is wearing eyeglasses I ask if I can adjust or change the angle of the glass to eliminate reflection and 98% of the time the person asks if it would be better without the glasses. I never directly ask anyone to remove their glasses.
– If the subject has a necklace on, I ask them to reposition the clasp behind the neck.

This is a great shot, on sooo many levels – beautiful lady, clean neutral background, interesting angle, and zoiks! – check out that dress! The only problem is finding poster size for the back of your bedroom door.

Your digicam is probably at least a 3 megapixel unit, so you can capture lots of resolution- which is good. Just don’t waste picture space on background junk that will be cropped out anyway – . So get in close – fill your frame with the subject – and make sure she’s in there from head to toe. We’ll decide how to crop the best photo.

Pay Attention to the BACKGROUND!
This is where looking at the bigger picture makes the smaller picture better. Look through the viewfinder at your subject and make sure they’re centered nicely. Then, look at what you can see going on around them – what’s in the background that might be distracting (– in a bad way!).

For instance: (see below)

Great example of stuff to watch our for – mini-me’s walking into your subject’s head, road signs stuck through her neck, chainlink fence, and too much shade on her face.

Make sure the background is neutral – that there are no weird or extraneous objects bumping into or emerging from your subject. Shooting your subject against a dark background can be good – it allows her to stand out in the frame.

Always shoot at least 3 pics of the subject – in case she blinks or something, and always use your flash for at least one of them.

The Group Shot: It’s often easier to ask for, and usually offers something for everyone. (Again – nice uncluttered background and flash on.)

How It All Started
The whole Daily Distraction legend could never have started without Alastair Hamilton – our man in Spain. The story goes that, back in July 2002, just 6 months old, the Pez readership was almost non-existent, and dwindling – in fact our viewership actually decreased during the Tour de France! Faced with no revenues and declining readership, I was about to pull the plug on the whole venture, when word came through that we had been granted credentials for the Vuelta.

Sure these ladies are sexy, athletic and friendly- but imagine how much better this pic would be without the helmets and glasses obscuring their outer beauty. Lesson here: Lose the lids and shades!

Being the first race creds we’d received, we were somewhat buoyed – (read: ecstatic) – as Alastair packed himself off to cover his adopted homeland’s national Tour. With only one man (whose Spanish vocabulary extends only far enough to order beers and get his face slapped) covering the race, we needed an angle that would be completely different from the other media hacks – . So, armed with his trusty digital camera and keen appreciation of the fairer sex, Al was more than happy to snap a few pics of the beautiful Spanish women at the race.

The gallery was posted, and in days our traffic zoomed back to life – setting a record that has continued to grow every month since. They say from “the tiny acorn grows the mighty oak”, and all wood-related jokes aside, our 2005 TDF stats saw over 200,000 different people login to PEZ, and now over 150,000 of you read us each month. To you we say thanks!

The classic “head & shoulders” shot. Whitney here was thrilled to appear on our pages.

When asked about his secrets with the Spanish ladies, Al says:
“Approach your intended subject and say “PHOTO” – this is understood in all languages. If they ask why, you say its for a famous web-site, this is usually enough, but I’ve found using an American accent and saying that you will be seen all over the world helps (don’t try this in Islamic countries).

Podium girls love to pose, that’s what they do and will do there best for you, but always be polite and respectful – but don’t “ask to get their norks out and no hamburger shots, but they love the camera.”

– What Al means to say is frame up a full body shot – head to toe – and make it happen in one click.

Maybe a lot of info to take in at one time, but follow these tips and you could be up to your neck in PEZ-socks! (figuratively of course). But seriously, this world will be a better place when we start taking more appreciative pictures of each other. There’s enough doom gloom out there already, but you’ll always find a refreshing escape right here at PEZCycling News, that hopefully reminds you what life’s really about.

Now smile for the camera…

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.