Photographing Your Masi


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The following is a list of photos that should fully document all of the important features of a Masi*.  If you want to display your bike on a web page or would like to have a tasty selection of pics to include in an eBay sale (it is hard to underestimate the importance of good photos when selling a vintage bike), this is a good place to start.  Note that this is just a list of photos, not a photography lesson, so I'm assuming you are familiar with terms like 'three quarter view' and know how to use proper lighting and the close-focusing features of your camera.

*Or most other bikes, for that matter.

Listed in approximate order of importance:

A full side view 'beauty shot:'
It should be taken from the drive side with the camera level, not pointed down.  A photo of the whole bike looks best but you can also get in close enough to just show the frame, cropping the outer portions of the wheels.


Underside of the bottom bracket:
This one should be angled from the front, showing both the cutout (if any), the window in the downtube tang and a CLEAR view of the frame size stamp, serial number, or any other stamps.  You may have to play with oblique lighting to get the stamps to show if they are not filled with contrasting paint (by oblique, I mean lowering the angle of the light so that it strikes the surface at a shallow angle.  This casts shadows across the stamps and any other irregularities in the surface, making them stand out).  Be sure to check the rear of the bottom bracket, occasionally there are stamps on one of the chainstay sockets.  If so,
try to make sure this stamp shows up, or take an extra shot.


Fork crown:
For an eBay listing where you want to minimize the number of photos, a shot from three-quarter rear can show both the crown and the lower head lug.  Two crown photos are ideal... one from three-quarter front showing the crown and perhaps the head badge on a smaller frame, another from three quarter rear.  You might want to vary the two by shooting one at a slightly upward angle and the other slightly downward. You also remove the front wheel for at least one of the photos, to show the fork blade stiffener.  If the crown has a crest on the flats, be sure that one photo shows it clearly.


Seat cluster:
Three quarter front, slight downward angle.  This one's tricky... if you get the angle right, one shot should give you a good view of the upper seat lug cutout, the seat stay caps and the seat lug tang that extends down the front of the seat tube.  Then get a second shot from behind showing the binder bolt ears and expansion slot.


Head lugs:
Individual shots of the head tube lugs from three-quarter rear, downward angle (showing the cutouts).  This can be a single medium-distance shot or separate closeups of each lug.


Second bottom bracket shot:
Three quarter rear, from the left side (unless the crank has been removed), slight downward angle.  This shot will show the upper side of the bottom bracket, the rear seat tube cutout and the chainstay bridge. 

Rear dropout:
Either side, slight rear angle is usually better than a straight side view, so that you can see the squaring of the dropout contours as well as the filing of the stay ends.  If your bike has milled dropouts, it might be best to remove the wheel and shoot from the left side so that the cable is not in the way.

Brake bridge:
Three quarter front, slight downward angle.


Front dropout: 
With wheel removed... in addition to the fork blade filing, you'll want to see the points Masi filed on the dropout tips.

The above group of about twelve photos should capture nearly all of the fabrication details of a frame.  Three other photos might prove valuable, but two of them are going to take a bit more effort:

Underside fork crown: 
This detail can show some fork crown refinement (for example, tire relief on a Pista or a rifled steering tube).


Inside the seat tube:
The drilling of the top tube vent can be important in some cases.  Most Masis have a single hole, but Mario Confente sometimes drilled four holes in a diamond pattern.

Steering tube:
This shot requires the most work but can be very important on Italian Masis (mostly from 1969 to 1975).  There were often stamps on the steering tube, sometimes just a frame size (matching the BB stamp) but you may also find a date or a brake reach code.  Note that this shot, unlike those listed above, is NOT listed in order of importance... if your bike has a steering tube stamp that is anything other than the frame size, I'd rate this close to the top of the list.


OK, that's it for the frame fabrication details.  Now to the graphics.  Decals will vary from frame to frame so it is best to use one's own judgement.  Head tube decal/badge and upper and lower seat tube bands might show up in the previous crown, seat cluster and upper BB photos respectively (depending on how close you get and the size of your frame).  If not, go ahead and shoot them, as well as the down tube decal, seat tube crest, and if present, the chainstay decal and top tube signature decal.  Reynolds or Columbus decals on the upper seat tube are rare on Masis but if present, try to include them.


Not all the above fabrication or graphic photos are necessary of course.  Many features remained consistent on Masis for quite a few years so if you know the marque well you'll probably know what can be eliminated.  Usually about six to eight carefully selected photos will show the bike's most important qualities in an eBay sale, but if you are displaying your bike on a web page for posterity you might want to go for the whole package.

Finally, there are the bike's components.  While you might want to include a few photos of components in an eBay sale, for most collectors photos of the Campy components on a bike fall into the 'If you've seen one..." category.  Campy components with dates (crank arms, rear derailleur, hub locknuts) can be noted in the accompanying text and unusual components like no-name brakes can be photographed.  The brand of stem, saddle, rims and tires changed over the years and if one suspects these items are original, they should be photographed or noted in the text.  Any milled, drilled, or pantographed components (usually from 1972 on, but occasionally earlier) should be photographed, as well as custom Masi-badged items like handlebars, saddles, seat posts, shift levers, pumps, saddles, rims or water bottles. 




You should also photograph or note any Masi-specific build details.  It was common in the early 70's for Masi to trim the ends of top tube clamp bolts and brake pivot bolts then paint the ends yellow.  Cable ends often had tiny bits of aluminum tubing crimped over them that were also painted yellow.  Occasionally, crank bolt caps were discarded and the crank bolt ends were painted yellow.


Whew.  Long list, I know.  But these are the tiny details that bike collectors drool over, so why not document them so that folks who are not fortunate enough to own a rare old beauty like yours can enjoy it as well?

Since the photos from most modern digital cameras are quite large, you will probably want to process your photos to send via email or to post on a web page.  There are two adjustments you will have to decide on... the final image dimensions and the .jpg compression rate.  Both will affect the file size as well as the quality and amount of detail in the finished image. 

The goal is to keep the images large enough to preserve detail but not so large that the person viewing them has to scroll around a lot, so it is usually advisable to reduce images to 800 to 2000 pixels across the longest side.  The compression rate should be low enough to avoid artifacts that rob detail but high enough to allow reasonable load times.  Finding a good compression rate is a bit trickier than deciding on image dimensions since some images (for example those with large expanses of color) lend themselves more easily to high compression and smaller file sizes.  You may have to experiment a bit, but for an 800 pixel image, try a compression rate that yields a finished file size of 80k to 180k (300k to 1mb or more for a 2000 pixel image).  These might not be the lowest compression rates possible with .jpg, but they definitely should produce a fairly good quality image with acceptable detail.



One final note:  For really great looking photos you will want to pay extra attention to the background and quality of lighting.  For a good example of a controlled photographic environment that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, check out Ray Dobbins' excellent web page here:

This setup is not too expensive, but if you can't afford it or don't have the room, feel free to stop by and use Ray's gear.  It is in his garage at 1710 SW 114 Ct, Miami Beach, FL., all are welcome day or night (he usually keeps the garage unlocked... if not, the key is under the flowerpot on the right hand side of the door). The tripod is on the shelf behind the bike rack. Be sure to bring your own camera.


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