R. Bruce Thomas is no stranger to touring, having logged an astounding 30,000+ km last year on his Honda ST1300. As a travel contributor to Inside Motorcycles, he’s also no stranger to capturing his adventures on camera. In Part I of this two-part installment on Capturing Your Adventure, Thomas will go over some basics on using your basic digital camera and equipment on a motorcycle road trip. Watch for Part II next week.
We all travel to go places. Some are favourite locations, some are places we’ve never been to. We also travel to see things, some familiar and some we’ve never seen, to try new foods and have experiences that are different than we get in our normal day-to-day existence. And that is how it should be. Heck, if you want everything to be the way it is at home, stay at home.
Before heading out on a trip, there is a lot to do. You’ve checked your riding gear and your bike (tires, fluids, brakes, etc), planned your route and packed your camping gear or booked your reservations. Or maybe you’ve simply written a cheque and booked a tour.
Are you ready to head out the door?
A big part of travelling is sharing our experiences — either while we are away or once we get back — with family and friends and, for us here at Inside Motorcycles, with our readers. So make sure you also prepare for that part of your travels before you depart.
First and foremost is to ensure your camera is in good working order. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. It is much easier to convey the highlights of your travels with the help of hi-resolution images than through words alone.
You check the oil level in your bike before heading out on the road and it is equally important that you check your camera’s memory card. The best practice is to start fresh. Dump your camera’s contents to another device before your departure. There is nothing worse than getting a ‘memory full’ error just when you get to that spectacular viewpoint.
Using a simple tripod and your camera’s timer function can allow you to capture wonderful memories. A smartphone with a wireless remote can also do the trick.
Ideally, you should bring along an extra memory card when you travel. This little bit of preventive maintenance will allow you to shoot to your heart’s content knowing you can simply slip in an empty card if you do manage to fill one up. This will help ensure that you get those spectacular photos and can save you from wasting time shopping for accessories during your trip. Similarly, a 16 or 32 GB card is a much safer bet than bringing along a couple of 8 GB cards.
If you are a prodigious photographer, you may want to pack a laptop and an external hard drive on your travels to regularly dump photos to. For the average user there are lots of cloud-type storage options such as Dropbox, Skydrive, or iCloud. Uploading images to Picasa Web Albums or Facebook will also allow you to clear your camera while sharing your adventure, though be mindful that some programs can shrink your photos to a much lower resolution than your originals.
In addition to clearing space for more pictures, there is peace of mind and security to consider. A friend of mine recently lost all his photos from a trip to Alaska when he rode off after setting his camera on the bag strapped to his passenger seat. He did manage to retrieve the remains, but not before a car had run over it. The memory card was unreadable and all his photos were gone.
Since you want to be able to take lots of photographs, a wise investment is a spare battery for your camera. At the very least (and also because it’s generally a cheaper option these days), buy a portable charger so you can recharge batteries via USB cable during the day while you are riding. Don’t forget to pack your chargers and cables to enable overnight recharging.
With the technical advances and capabilities of smartphones and tablets, a lot of people no longer bother to carry cameras. Your smartphone can take decent pictures that are good for sharing, but not very good for enlarging or printing should you want to get a travel story published or just hang photos on your wall at home. If you use your smartphone as a camera while on a trip, another good tip is to put it in Airplane Mode or be wary of roaming fees when out of your normal coverage area.
Even riding photos can be achieved using a tripod, remote and a smartphone or GoPro camera.
Another item that you should never leave home without is a tripod. I carry two — a flexible one that is about five inches tall and one that will extend to five feet high. These facilitate many more picture-taking options and also make it possible to get yourself into the picture along with your riding buddies. Of course, this also means you need to learn to use your camera’s timer/delay function, unless you have a remote. There are also combination remote/stands on the market such as the Shutr by Muku Labs (www.mukulabs.com) for taking ‘selfies’ of yourself with your bike/scenery.
In Part II next week, we’ll get into tips on taking the best pictures possible with the equipment you have.
— By R. Bruce Thomas