Saturday, May 31, 2008

Motorcycle muse: photograph suspension bridges

The high price of gasoline makes riding for the sake of riding frivolous and wasteful. We are all charged with the responsibility of increasing our green consciousness and cannot abide the prodigal use of hydrocarbons.

Thus, to give substance to motorcycle rides of this summer, I have decided to locate and photograph suspension bridges maintained by the VA Department of Transportation. The scheme:
  • identify a suspension bridge; the Internet is indispensable with special thanks to the Bridgemeister (David Denenberg) for compiling a list with latitude and longitude data
  • code the location data into the GPS -- this is important because most of the bridges are in out-of-the-way locales some not visible from nearby roads
  • layout a route to said bridge biased towards secondary and scenic roads for maximum enjoyment -- the GPS facilitates route planning
  • pack camera with other travel necessities
  • ride
  • photograph
  • repeat
The beauty of this project is that it combines motorcycles, GPS, and photography.

Stay tuned for my first post on 5 suspension bridges photographed during an overnighter ride on Memorial Day. An easy way to stay tuned is to point your reader (I use Google Reader) to this blog's feed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lost & Found - wrecked Honda Valkyrie

On Memorial Day, some 150-miles from home on a mission to photograph Virginia's suspension bridges (upcoming post...I promise), my riding party and I came across a blue & white Honda Valkyrie. We were on Rte 501 near where it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway in the apex of a sharp turn. The rider was no where to be found--if hurt, hopefully s/he was at the hospital.

The bike had a bit over 30K miles and looked in pretty good shape crash notwithstanding. It had New York tags. It looked as if it had been righted in the ditch--it was standing up.

Odd, at least to me, was the broken windshield. Except for the rider going over the handlebars and grabbing the windshield, I can't imagine how to break one the way this one was broke. The other damage, broken turn signals, dislocated hand controls and mirrors, etc. are consistent with laying the bike down.

I sure hope the rider is ok.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Photo post: Bikeweek 2000

Yeah, a while ago I know.

Me (w/ light on) going south on Main Street at Dayton Bikeweek 2000. This digital photo was taken with a first generation digital camera that stored images on floppy disks (remember them?). The less than 0.5 megapixel image (640x480) is not bad for displaying on screen, but doesn't print well except in small size.

A few other pics:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Digital cameras for motorcycles


Digital Single Lens Reflex
Offers the most flexibility primarily because of interchangeable lenses. Advantages include high image quality, easy image exposure control, and most allow shooting in RAW image format for greatest post processing flexibility. Disadvantages include bulk, carrying extra lenses, and complexity of use.

The DSLR I use is the older Canon 10D generally with a 24-85mm zoom lens. I almost always use aperture-priority mode and spot metering. I shoot in RAW format and don't hesitate doing post-shot image processing using the GIMP.

Advanced Point & Shoot
When a DSLR is too much camera to carry or when its complexity is undesired, a high end point & shoot camera is nearly as good. These cameras typically offer a zoom lens, manual, semi-automatic, and pre-set shooting modes, and some have RAW image format capability. Their advantages include relative small size, range of shooting modes, and an ability to use other equipment like hot-shoe flash.

I use the Canon G9. Because it's so versatile, many times it's the only camera I take on rides. I shoot in RAW mode almost exclusively. This is the primary differentiator between this camera and the one below.

Point & Shoot
These are the ubiquitous small sized cameras used everywhere. These cameras are designed to be very easy to operate. Most can be set in a full automatic mode requiring only a shutter push for a good photograph. Their primary advantage is small size and are excellent for recording events during a motorcycle trip. These cameras generally do not have a RAW image mode.

The PS camera I use is the Canon SD750. This camera fits in my shirt pocket and I have it with me nearly always.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Photography and motorcycles

Photography and motorcycles go together well. I plan to write a number of posts on photography and motorcycles in the up coming weeks. The photos will be predominantly "travel photos" of our riding adventures--check out earlier postings for examples. But I'll also discuss equipment and photo tips.

In the mean time, check out one of my favorite photography blog sites: TWiP (

Stay tuned!

Zen and motorcycles -- part 2

Have you had the experience of discovering your face is tied up in a grimace, and after realizing it, you let the tension "flow out" by relaxing your muscles?

I've discovered this never happens while riding.

Ride often. It's good for your health.