This tiny Honda SS50 is called ‘Wild Horse’ for a reason

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Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
George Woodman doesn’t build many bikes, but his creations always raise a big smile around the EXIF offices. This is ‘Wild Horse,’ a heavily modified Honda SS50 that’s as fresh as a mouthful of popping candy.

It’s got plenty of zing too: the original 49 cc air-cooled single has been swapped out for a 190 cc engine, prepared by the pit bike tuner Stomp. Power is up to 22 frisky horses, which translates to a very lively ride on a machine with a wheelbase of just 46 inches (1.18m).

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
George Woodman’ is the motorcycling nom de plume of master woodworker Sébastien Valliergues. He’s based in Biarritz—home to the Wheels & Waves festival—and builds two or three bikes a year for fun.

It may be a sideline for Sébastien, but he has a lot of fans—including a few in high places. One of those is Bobby Haas, who bought Sébastien’s amazing 1929 FN ‘Smoking Black Fish’ to put on display in the Haas Moto Museum in Dallas.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
It’s Sébastien’s clever use of wood on his builds that sets them apart. It’s invariably subtle and well judged, but on this humble SS50 moped, the biggest change is to the powertrain.

The engine is from Zongshen, and it was a surprisingly easy fit. “Like the Dax or the Z Monkey, the SS50 can take several ‘horizontal’ dirt bike engines,” says Sébastien.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
This particular engine is built in the same factory as the Daytona Anima FLX, a legendary pit bike engine. Like late model SS50s, it’s hooked up to five-speed ‘box, but it’ll stay on the boil for much longer. The new exhaust is from the French company ID Vintage.

To keep the show on the road, Sébastien has done a complete suspension swap, installing new forks from the British minibike specialist YCF via custom yokes, and new gas shocks from Kepspeed.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
The elegant swing arm is from Kepspeed too. “It’s a brand that makes a lot of parts for mini Hondas,” Sébastien explains.

“This item was for a Honda Cub, so I had to make some adjustments to make it fit—and to add a disc brake at the rear.”

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
“Sadly, they’re aren’t many custom parts for the SS50, so I often need to adapt parts.”

He’s also modified the frame, and slightly shifted the position of the tank. The frame is now shorter, and the rear of the tank sits higher—for a flatter top line. Jérome Lopez of Colorside applied a black base coat of paint to the frame before finishing it in a glossy chrome top coat.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
The stunning wood seat base, which curves down into flat track style side panels, is crafted from beech wood.

New bars from ID Vintage accentuate the flat track style, and the wheels have gone up a size from 17 to 18 inches.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
Sébastien’s also installed a new disc brake at the front to keep the SS50 safe in modern traffic. The tires are Michelin’s lightweight M45 pattern, which can handle a little off-road work too.

The electrics have been completely overhauled, with a new electric start system, new switchgear on the bars, discreet blinkers, and a pair of compact halogen headlights set into a square beech wood front plate.

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman
‘Wild Horse’ looks like more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and it’s packing a ton of style too. “The ratio of power to weight is stupid—and that’s what makes it so fun to ride,” says Sébastien.

He’s planning to build another SS50 soon, this time purely for off-road use, and then a Honda S90 for his fiancée. Next on the list is a range of electric motorcycles for summer 2019.

Not bad for a sideline, is it?

George Woodman | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Rupert Tapper

Custom Honda SS50 moped by George Woodman

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Review: WhiteWall Acrylic Mini Prints (a Pretty Unique Way of Showcasing Your Work)

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If you’re a fan of the way Instagram displays your images, I think you’ll like how the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini process can make them manifest.

Long time readers of the Phoblographer will know about how much I value prints. With the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini I was given the opportunity to try something completely new. WhiteWall is an industry standard when it comes to printing photos. Great customer service and fantastic quality leads lots of photographers to trust them for higher end work. With the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints, photographers get the ability to create rectangles or squares–perfect for most photographers. They aren’t the largest prints by any means, but I decided to do something very Instagram-style with the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints.

The Process

Let me first explain what I wanted to do. This image, despite its rather plain appearance, is genuinely important to me. Growing up in Queens, NY, it’s a scene looking into Manhattan–which for me was a way that I felt for a paramount portion of my life. I wanted this image printed, but knew that a small print wouldn’t do it justice. So I spoke to WhiteWall about a pretty different idea, taking the image and splitting it up. They were fine with this as long as I did the splitting. And so I set about splitting this photo up into 9 sections to be put together carefully.

WhiteWall’s online interface is a bit dated if you’re trying to print a number of images like this. It’s much better when it comes to printing single images. I’m sure that’s what most photographers doing there are doing anyway. Within a week or so, the images were printed on the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini surfaces and sent over to me. They were carefully wrapped, boxed and even sealed. Opening each sealed package revealed each print along with the according hanging hardware set up on the back. As a photographer who has received lots of metal prints and prints on other surfaces besides paper, I genuinely appreciate having the hardware set up already.

This may sound trivial to you, but let me put it this way: I’ve got a large metal print that I’m ready to hang up but I haven’t yet because I’m searching for the right magnetic hardware to use for it. I want something simple to use that doesn’t require a lot of excessive drilling and balancing. You’d be shocked at how difficult this is. To hang the prints, I hired a gallery tech from MoMA PS.1 to do the hanging job. Excessive? Maybe. But I wanted this carefully set up and arranging 9 images in just the right way requires precision. The way that it is particularly hung will make someone feel like they’re looking through a window.

Image Quality

In the long term, the image quality has really held up. The WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints have punch to them, are durable, and look nice. Part of this is due to the reflective properties of them. I genuinely wish that they had a matte finish. Most of the photos in my apartment and office are canvas. The reason why is because when it comes to apartments in NYC, I think a canvas’ ability to absorb light and still render the image easily to the human eye is plenty superior to reflective surfaces. This is why I chose to put it further away from a window. In fact, you’d want to do the same, or position a light right above it.

Here is what the final set up looks like. As you can tell, it looks like a carefully put together puzzle.

Conclusions

I think the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints are fantastic. The service is great, the durability is great and the overall quality is exceptional. But I also seriously wish they offered a matte finish that doesn’t have reflections. If you’re printing small images and putting them in certain parts of your home or offering them to clients, then fine. But not giving photographers a surface that absorbs light doesn’t do justice to their images unless they have a whole lot of control over the lighting in their home. To make the most of the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini, you’d want to shine a light directly above it. Perhaps place them under a lamp on a couch end table or under LEDs you may have in your home. If you do this, you’re bound to make the most of the printing process.

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How to overcome your fear of failure and become a successful photography business

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Being a full-time professional photographer requires plenty of different skills and a lot of your time and devotion. A fear of failure and “playing it safe” is what prevents many people from starting or developing a successful photography business. In this video, Roberto Blake discusses this fear and gives you some techniques that can help you not just overcome your fear, but make the best out of failure even when it happens.

Roberto starts by mentioning something we’ve all been through: just imagine being infant and learning how to walk. When you were going through this, you failed hundreds of times. You may not remember it, but trust me, you did.  : ) But still, you didn’t even think of giving up and you eventually learned how to walk.

So, why does the adult you let the failure hit you so hard that you give up? Let’s be honest: failures happen from day one of our lives, and they always will. But what you need to do is build a mindset that will help you learn from your failures and overcome the unpleasant consequences they might have. Only then will you be able to grow into a successful photography business.

While we’re at success, Roberto lists three things that he believes are its foundation:

  • Building a mindset for success and creativity
  • Market yourself effectively
  • Making money (monetizing your skills)

If you want to be able to develop the three pillars above, you need to get rid of that fear of failure. Look at it as a tool rather than something that will bring you down. A failure can be a great opportunity to grow and to learn something new and to overcome obstacles in the future. Think about it as a “part of the price of power,” as Roberto puts it. Also, try to be realistic about it. Oftentimes the failure is not objectively that hard as it is when you look it through the prism of your emotions.

Now, if you have a family to support, things can be a bit different. And it’s often a big reason to be afraid of failure and taking the risk, because a lot more is at stake. If this is the case with you, as Roberto puts it, “attack the fear of failure with logic and reason.” Think it through and be critical and analytical. Think about the worst case scenario that could happen if you take the risk. If it’s something that’s manageable and just inconvenient, it’s worth the risk it if the reward is substantial.

Remember that failures in life are inevitable and they will happen. It’s okay to feel bad when they do, but don’t let them crush your dreams and make you give up completely. Just remember the baby you who is learning how to walk and doesn’t even think of giving up. Use the failure to your advantage and think of it as an opportunity to grow into a better, more successful self.

[OVERCOME YOUR FEAR OF FAILURE | Roberto Blake]

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