Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: sanuk on December 10, 2010, 09:48:03 pm

 
Title: photography and cycling
Post by: sanuk on December 10, 2010, 09:48:03 pm
Here's just an idle passing thought.  I've recently concluded that, for me, photography and cycling don't mix that well and I'm not sure exactly why that is.  I'm pretty serious about photography as a means of expression having worked semi-professionally at it for many years and logically you'd think being out on a bike would give a lot of photo opps.  However, I'm also pretty serious about getting where I want to go on the bike and focused on the ride as well as the passing scenery, but it seems I can't do two things at once - namely focus on riding my bike and focus on looking for interesting  photos at the same time.  Stopping for pictures every five minutes gets frustrating.  My last big ride on the West Coast produced some very unmemorable images apart from those I did while taking a day off from the bike.  Same would probably be true if I was driving a car, but when I do I usually have a specific destination in mind where I'm going to photograph and blank out what's inbetween - or get someone else to drive - whereas when cycling I'm just trying to be open to whatever I see en route.  The destination is what distracts me in that I'm looking for road signs, or at my map, listening to that mysterious knocking on the back wheel or just watching out for traffic or wondering if I'll get there before dark or before I collapse because I haven't found anything to eat along the way or haven't drunk enough liquids.  Too many mental/physical distractions.  So, I've concluded I either I focus on the ride or the images, not both. Seems I can't get into the serendipity of multi-tasking.  Latest trip I didn't take a camera at all, just a sketch pad and had a much more focused and enjoyable ride. Just no photos! 
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: whittierider on December 10, 2010, 10:45:22 pm
Ditto here.  Photography used to be a big hobby of mine, but when I'm on a bike, I'm on a mission.  I'm enjoying myself immensely and don't want to stop unless it's for an intended lunch stop or something like that.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Macbeth on December 11, 2010, 05:47:42 am
I carry a Canon Ixus in my handlebar bag. For a handheld it takes awesome pics, and having it accessible means I take a lot of photos while I am riding..... My girlfriend has a 7D which she brings along, but it mostly comes out at lunch/when we get where we're going for the day
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Westinghouse on December 12, 2010, 04:12:52 am
I have hundreds of photos from my last ST crossing east to west. Yes, it can be frustrating stopping and getting shots of this and that. You just have to find a happy median or go without the camera.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: shorecycler on December 12, 2010, 09:27:03 am
Although photography is not a hobby of mine, I will be bringing a camera with me when I leave this coming May to do the TA Trail. I found this sweet little thing that Kodak makes thats just like the flip camera's so it takes hd video as well as 5+ mp pictures and its nice and tiny. Just in case I see something I need to capture in time. If it will be used is yet to be seen but in my mind it has tons of uses.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Pat Lamb on December 12, 2010, 04:42:55 pm
Even if photography isn't the goal of your trip, it's sometimes a good idea to take a point and shoot camera along.  If you're climbing a long, steep slope, and you need to take a break, pull out the camera.  Everyone going by will assume you stopped to take a picture.  If you don't have one, passing motorists and cyclists will ask, "Are you all right?," sometimes so many times you can't catch your breath from answering, "Oh yes, I'm fine."

Not that I've ever done such a thing.  Especially on SAG'ed century rides.  No, I just power straight up to the top.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: cherieandbob on December 12, 2010, 10:06:21 pm
Not that I've ever done such a thing.  Especially on SAG'ed century rides.  No, I just power straight up to the top.
[/quote]

Yeah, me too, but sometimes the "scenery" is just so beautiful and I have to stop midway up the hill and shoot a photo   ;D



Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: indyfabz on December 13, 2010, 11:02:30 am
Here's just an idle passing thought.  I've recently concluded that, for me, photography and cycling don't mix that well and I'm not sure exactly why that is.  I'm pretty serious about photography as a means of expression having worked semi-professionally at it for many years and logically you'd think being out on a bike would give a lot of photo opps.  However, I'm also pretty serious about getting where I want to go on the bike and focused on the ride as well as the passing scenery, but it seems I can't do two things at once - namely focus on riding my bike and focus on looking for interesting  photos at the same time.  Stopping for pictures every five minutes gets frustrating.  My last big ride on the West Coast produced some very unmemorable images apart from those I did while taking a day off from the bike.


Wow. Eeerily similar experience.  When I crossed the country I was shooting semi-pro.  I was also more mission oriented when riding.  I toted two cameras, including a medium format with power winder and three lenses.  Shot some 80 rolls of film between 120 and 35mm.  I was disappointed with most of it.  Some of that was due to the fact that I did mostly "street work" and not scenery.  But I always felt torn between riding and stopping to shoot.  Much of the work seems to reflect a person who was riding his bike and stopped really quickly to take a photo.  Consequently, the best shots were usually ones taken during days off or after the day's riding was done, when I could concentrate solely on shooting without thinking about the riding that still needed to be done.  The following winter I took one camera and one lens on my 7 week trip in southern Spain.  I tried to be less serious about both riding and shooting and got better results.  Now that photography is no longer a pursuit of mine and I constantly remind myself that I have all day to get where I am going, I find that I get better images on tour, even with a digital point and shoot.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: bogiesan on December 13, 2010, 10:21:52 pm
Three points to contribute:
1. I lost my riding partner a few years ago (Erich's behind me in my avatar photo) and my photos from rides have never been the same. Erich didn't care when he got to camp. Camp was going to be there so he was determined we were going to enjoy our rides. And he made me stop often for photos. Maybe you can find someone to ride with and the two of you can encourage each other to slow down, look for photos, and then stop to take them.
2. If you're an experienced photographer, you know there's nothing like golden light. You may, like me, tend to ignore many direct sunlight images, even good ones, just because the lighting sucks. The best lighting tends to be around camp early morning and evening. Shooting off the bike or at noon is just so, umm, pedestrian.
3. Erich used to carry his serious gear and he used it to make some lovely images. Then we both started carrying simpler cameras and enjoyed the challenge of making terrific images with limited hardware. Now I just have a little digital poin'n'shoot that I wouldn't mind losing. Takes adequate photos. I leave all of my Nikons and fancy glass in the studio.

david boise ID
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: waynemyer on December 14, 2010, 12:21:30 am
I was a professional photographer in a past life.  It was very difficult for me to transition away from medium format and/or a great piece of fast, fixed-length glass.

But finally, it sank it: what's the best camera in the world?  The one you're going to use.  I now always carry a waterproof, shock resistant, freeze-proof digital P&S camera all the time.  The chromatic aberration is horrible, the flash either lights nothing or can be used for x-rays, and the frames-per-second makes my Hasselblad 503c look sprightly. Does it take a good photo?  Only to me and that's all that matters.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: waynemyer on December 14, 2010, 12:40:45 pm
Something else to consider: a helmet cam.  I have recently been using a helmet cam.  Many of the good models have a time-lapse mode, wherein the camera takes a picture at a preset interval.  Setting the camera to roll when riding through scenic areas is one way to capture the view without having to stop.  The pics can also easily be stitched into a time-lapse video in most video editing applications.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Grace Johnson on December 15, 2010, 03:52:18 am
Quote
it seems I can't do two things at once - namely focus on riding my bike and focus on looking for interesting  photos at the same time.  Stopping for pictures every five minutes gets frustrating.

When we first started bicycle touring – Paul also took pictures “every five minutes” - and that was tiring.  Nowadays it’s only when we see a landscape that makes us want to stop and stare – then Paul will stop, and look for that “unique” standpoint to take the picture.

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4139/4823316201_12428c347c.jpg)

Right now we are now on a multi-year bicycle/photography trip and beforehand we made a “rough” checklist of what we wanted photos of.    That way, we will take the photos we want - like of local cyclists, yet we can also enjoy the cycling part of our trip without worrying that we “missed a photo opportunity”.

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4079/4789881528_f436f276f0.jpg)
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: paddleboy17 on December 15, 2010, 01:47:49 pm
Wow who would have thought there would be this crossover between serious photography and serious cycling.

This year I made a transition in what I do with a camera when I tour.  It used to be I saw myself as an artist and only recorded images that struck my artistic fancy.  Now I see myself as a story teller.  I still take the arty shots, but I also give the mundane my best effort so that I can tell a story afterwards.    I also made my touring partner start taking a camera along too, as I told him that I was tired of seeing nice pictures of him.  My touring partner carried a nicer Canon point and shoot.  This season, I carried a venerable Nikon E995 with the wide angle attachment.  Yes it is only a 3.2MP camera, and getting a focus lock is dreadful, and the camera is a tad warm, but you can't buy a point and shoot with a useful wide angle lens on it.  The E995 is a twist body, so it is really easy to take over the shoulder shots with it.

I think someone make a line of point and shoots where it stitches multiple images while you pan with the camera to make a panorama, and that looks interesting, but I don't know what my toy budget will be for next year. 
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: knolltop on December 15, 2010, 05:43:00 pm
Thanks to all for the thoughtful posts. 
You've provided lots to think about ... feel headache comin' on.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: steelhead on December 25, 2010, 11:37:56 am
Thanks for all the photo posts. For the most part I do short tours in Oregon and Nevada (3 - 10 days). Lots of opportunity for panoramas. I have the good fortune to live near the Pacific Coast. I find the newer cameras that are GPS enabled to be a great post trip feature to catalog and sort photos. The Sony HX5V is a good example. If you use Facebook this camera has embedded software to facilitate photo transfer to your home page. OBTW if you use a MAC Iphoto has a neat feature to make a photo book using your GPS information.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: GCharles on December 28, 2010, 11:02:08 pm
A great post and I agree with much of the insight.  During the last two years I carried larger camera gear that in the end did not get used as much as I wanted to because of its size.  Now, I have switched to a smaller setup, realizing that I am sacrificing some quality, but will now have pictures.  After all, the best gear in the world does no good if you don't use it.

Happy New Year
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: BrianW on January 31, 2011, 01:33:40 pm
I used to tote around my Nikon film SLR and then my Nikon DSLR in my handlebar bag, but have found that the new point and shoots are so good that they do the trick for most of what I need when touring.

The challenge is to move beyond the thinking that all shots have to be something different and not "snapshots." I often fall into that thinking. It's good to try and make interesting, artistic photos, but I've found that there isn't anything to be ashamed of when you are taking adequate pics that help record your adventure.

And, I agree about it being a useful device for getting up long climbs: I rode up Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps mainly by stopping at every second or third switchback to "take pictures"!
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Mattie on February 06, 2011, 06:08:28 am
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.

Or is there some online backup facility where you can download your pictures while on the road ?



Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: FredHiltz on February 06, 2011, 07:28:24 am
I unload the camera to my netbook every day or three, where I do a quick first pass at discarding the duds and sometimes make a show for friends on the spot. The "keepers" go on a memory stick that lives in a different bag.

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of on-line storage sites. Many are free for the first gigabyte or so, and you can get more very cheaply. For instance, Google Docs is $5/year for 20 GB. The downside of these is the time needed to upload photos. Uploading on a typical wireless connection takes ten to twenty seconds per megabyte, but you might get lucky and find a faster connection. Check the sizes of your camera's files on a computer and multiply it out. My pix average about 13 megabytes each, which is probably the high end of point-and-shoot files.

If viewing and sorting are not important, but storage is the thing, then I'd buy a few extra memory cards for the camera and keep the full ones safe or mail them home. The popular SD cards cost $2.50 to $10, depending on size and speed.

I would rather have four 2GB cards than one 8GB card. If one gets lost or fails, I have not lost the whole trip.

Fred
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Pat Lamb on February 06, 2011, 05:13:04 pm
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.

I usually downloaded daily to a netbook, but didn't delete anything off the camera until near the end of the trip.  I think my camera is advertised as 4 Mpixel, average jpg was about 2 Mb.  So with a 2 Mb SD, I could keep close to 1,000 pics.

I did start buying cheap USB drives, backing up all the pictures I'd saved, and mailing them home about once a month.  That way if disaster struck (e.g., bike stolen with camera in handlebar bag and netbook in pannier), I wouldn't lose as much.  And I figured having two cameras on two different bikes, with the netbook in a different sack, I wasn't really likely to lose more than one day's shots at a time.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: mucknort on February 10, 2011, 09:42:55 am
.... but you can't buy a point and shoot with a useful wide angle lens on it.  I think someone make a line of point and shoots where it stitches multiple images while you pan with the camera to make a panorama, and that looks interesting, but I don't know what my toy budget will be for next year.  
Not true, there are terrific small cameras with very useful wide angle lenses now. These same cameras also offer very functional Panorama modes that stitch together several shots right in the camera to make on photo. These "compact zoom" cameras also have very good image stabilization so that you don't have to be rock steady while shooting, i.e. shooting one handed while rolling or for a super quick shot can work well.
On my last tour I brought the Sony H55 which has a 25mm - 250mm zoom. I found 25mm to be more than wide enough, but when it wasn't the H55 has a great panorama mode. The Sony H55 is now down to $176: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-H55-SteadyShot-Stabilization/dp/B0033VKKB2/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1297347621&sr=1-1

If money is tight (or if you don't want to worry about loss or damage to something you paid a lot for) I'd recommend the Olympus 9000 ($300 when it first came out, but now $129 from Amazon.com). It has a 28mm to 280 zoom and a very good panorama setting. My son owns it and it works great for travel.
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Stylus-9000-Stabilized-Black/dp/B001P06PXU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297347415&sr=8-1

Another key to photography while cycling for me is ready availabilty of the camera. I keep the camera in a little padded case mounted on handlebars so that I can pull it out in seconds. The kind with a velcro/lid is faster to use than one with zippers:
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Neoprene-Soft-Digital-Camera/dp/B000JFH982/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1297348927&sr=1-1
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: mucknort on February 10, 2011, 09:49:53 am
Just wondering how people manage their pictures on a long tour, whether pictures are downloaded onto memory sticks and posted home. Some of the little netbooks that people are taking with them these days do not have DVD drives and so I guess the options are to take a separate drive to plug in to the USB or backup pictures onto a memory stick.
Many of the netbooks do have an SD card slot built in. The one on my Asus EeePC was so well hidden I didn't discover it until after a few months of owning it. Memory cards are so cheap these days that even after loading the photos onto my netbook while on tour, I'd just buy a new card and tuck the full one away as a backup.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: mucknort on February 10, 2011, 10:49:04 am
A couple of Panorama examples from Idaho and Washington:

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n148/mucknort/DSC00055_6200.jpg)



(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n148/mucknort/DSC00723_0419-copy_edited-1.jpg)


Another reason for taking photos while on tour: I just look at these photos and instantly I'm transported back to that time and place.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Mattie on February 20, 2011, 05:51:56 pm
Thanks for all the suggestions on how to deal with picture files on a long tour - a bit of a plan is coming together.

I think I will use the two expensive Extreme III cards in the camera, which is a Panasonic Lumix G2, to capture video and stills and then download the files onto the Netbook. Then use the same card reader/writer to write backups onto cheaper cards to be mailed home.

The plan is to do a multi month tour of the Americas this year, if I can get away before the start of the summer. Otherwise it will have to be next year.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: GVDave on March 01, 2011, 07:33:00 pm
I opted for a palmcorder to tell the story of a 5 day  trip from Grass Valley to Eugene (using Amtrak).

The keys are 1.) keep the camera handy (I have a reflective mesh vest with a front pocket that is easy to get to).
                      2.) take lots of short shots of interesting things along the way
                      3.) for gosh (and everyone elses) sakes, edit it and keep it short!
                       4.) pick some music you enjoy.

Here's my trip video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEWoW-8QTJc

Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: shorecycler on March 01, 2011, 10:04:30 pm
that video seemed to go on forever and in the best possible way. I enjoyed your trip of Oregon, from the comforts of my home 3 miles from the atlantic ocean in NJ. nicely put together and thanks for the good vibes~
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: Mattie on March 02, 2011, 03:35:21 am
I opted for a palmcorder to tell the story of a 5 day  trip from Grass Valley to Eugene (using Amtrak).

The keys are 1.) keep the camera handy (I have a reflective mesh vest with a front pocket that is easy to get to).
                      2.) take lots of short shots of interesting things along the way
                      3.) for gosh (and everyone elses) sakes, edit it and keep it short!
                       4.) pick some music you enjoy.

Here's my trip video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEWoW-8QTJc



That was great - big smile on my face after watching that. Still learning video techniques coming from a stills photography background, so will keep your advice in mind. Great can't wait for the trip to Canada/US.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: inspiredcyclist on March 05, 2011, 05:11:56 pm
What a sensational, informative thread.  To all who shared amazing photos, and links with info, thanks!
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: CharlieR on March 10, 2011, 10:40:18 pm
Stop to take photos? It depends. It only takes a second or to to snap a quick pic set on auto. If you want to tell a story through a photo - that can take a little time. I'm ditching my film cameras and lenses for my tour and bought my first 'real' digital camera that doesn't feel like a toy. I want to be able to take those quick pics, but there will be times when I want to tell a story. This one should be able to handle both well - and it isn't all about the equipment. It is the desire, timing, and knowing how to use the equipment. The beautiful part about digital is if you don't get it the first time you know right away.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: sanuk on November 19, 2011, 04:34:19 am
As the origintor of this post - I've been out of touch cycling-wise for quite a while - I just would like to say how blown away I am by the way it took off.  Thanks for all your comments and insights.  If I knew how I'd post a couple of the pix I did last year on the 'Cool Coast.'  Incidentally, I  used my trusted Holga all the way and got some good 'Holgaramas' as I call them.
Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: bogiesan on November 19, 2011, 10:37:14 am
The keys are 1.) keep the camera handy (I have a reflective mesh vest with a front pocket that is easy to get to).
                      2.) take lots of short shots of interesting things along the way
                      3.) for gosh (and everyone elses) sakes, edit it and keep it short!
                       4.) pick some music you enjoy.

I don't care about shooting video ona tour unless someone is paying. And I'm expensive.
For still images, though, allow me to add:
5. Use a wrist strap. I've seen people go down trying to catch a fumbled camera.
6. Offload regularly. Losing your camera means the entire record is gone.
7. Proprietary batteries used to be silly (and all of my difital cameras have used AAs) but now they can last a week. Just be sure you have your proprieatary charger along.
8. Suggest you look carefully at armored or water resistant cameras for touring.
9. Be sure you get a camera you can use. The controls need to be accessible wearing bike gloves. The software needs to be comprehensible.
10. Don't buy more camera than you need. Consider 90% of you images will probably get crunched to tiny jpgs that are one millionth the size of the raw or tiff file. Do you REALLY need to be able to blow your shots up to 20 inch prints? No, you don't.
11. Look for and sign up for a weekend photo workshop a few months before you take off. You will learn how to use your camera under realworld conditions (wear your bike gloves), compose/expose/edit/share better.

As a professional photographer, I used to shoot, say 10 rols of film on a gig, 350 slides including bracketing that would be about 80 setups, in order to get the ten to twenty winners that would pay for the day. I shoot about the same ratio on my own but if I've got an art director along, that dope will have me shooting a thousand images to get one or two hero shots.

Title: Re: photography and cycling
Post by: BikeFreak on November 19, 2011, 04:43:51 pm
I share the same thoughts like you do. I'm also torn between stopping and shooting some photos or keep the good pace and just continue with the nice tailwind.

However, over the years it has boiled down to the following:

1. Photos of landscapes are boring. You can always go to the same place with a car and shoot the same pictures.
2. Photos of your bicycle on a mountain pass are boring. You just have too many of those photos :-).
3. Photos of people and especially bicycle riders you meet along are interesting and bring up a lot of memories. Now, 12 years ago, on one of my cross country trips I met a cyclist who used plastic paint buckets as panniers. These panniers were fitted to the bike by means of steel wires. That still brings up memories  :).

Question to the GPS compact camera users: How well is the functionality of the GPS? How long does it take to acquire a GPS signal? Does it only make sense for point and shoot if the camera is powered on all the time?

Lucas