Photography on the touring motorcycle - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 25th, 2009, 10:27 pm Thread Starter
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Photography on the touring motorcycle

I have picked up my old photography hobby and would like to combine it with my motorcycle touring hobby. In the past this is really a pain. I pull over, pull off my helmet, dig the camera out of the tankbag. Take the shot or get off the bike and take the shot. Then reverse the steps and get going again. I have a larger camera now (Canon 40D), flash, maybe one spare lens, tripod. I have looked at some backpacks specifically designed for cameras and accesories. Has anyone tried them touring on a motorcycle? Any suggestions? things to avoid?

To complicate the problem my wife often travels with me which puts a strain on the carrying capacity of my '03 K1200GT.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2009, 9:26 am
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The 40D is a great camera but I honestly see a lot of people get it for the Digital Rebel xTi or xSi because they want a "real" camera and not the consumer one everybody gets. The Digital Rebels are enough camera to make a living with, plenty good for the serious hobbyist and the reason I bring this up is the newest Digital Rebel has live view on the screen - you don't need to look though the viewfinder! You wouldn't need to pull your helmet to line up and grab that quick shot.

The lens is what makes this difference anyways. I have the xTi (no live view) but haven't brought it on the bike yet. Any time I will be going out to shoot on the bike it will be just that, a photo trip on the bike, not a bike trip with a camera.

For your gear storage issues there are some huge tank bags out there. Here's the deal though - you'll want to keep your camera in "snapshot" mode handy on the tank bag. You can pack away the other lens, tripod, flash and gear because most of the time you won't need it. When you do need it you won't mind hauling all the gear out because you'll be in a spot where you want to/need to take your time. The backpacks are nice for carrying stuff but you can't wear one 2-up. What about carrying the camera gear in a pannier or top case? Or getting the backpack and strapping to the luggage rack, or on the pannier or top case. Totally doable there.

Check out my site (link in my signature) and if you have any questions just holler. There is also a link on my site to the guy I rent my lenses from. Cheaper than owning! Great guy to deal with, highly recommend him. No, I don't have any affiliation or deal with him, just ask to link his site is all.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2009, 4:26 pm
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I was looking for the same type of bag and found what I think is perfect for carrying my Nikon D60 with me on the bike. I bought a Tamrac Velocity 6x which is a sling bag. It's the smallest of the series and I can carry my camera with the kit 18-55mm lens fitted, a 70-200mm zoom and some filters. One of the larger sizes is best for carrying all my gear, but this one is perfect for on the bike. When I stop I can just slide it around to my front, remove the camera and shoot. I still remove my helmet to see through the sight, but that's all that I have to do. Check it out on Tamrac's site.


'03 K1200GT

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2009, 9:15 pm Thread Starter
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photography on motorcycles

Thanks for the lead on the lens rental. The L lenses are mighty pricey, but mighty good and renting is a good alternative. My top case and panniers are full of clothes and stuff for a 3 week trip, riding 2-up. But I think I could probably find a place to tie down a packpack. I have a Big Mak tank bag, and it will hold the 40D, but little else. I pack my laptop in the top case protected with a paddes envelope. riding solo, I can tie the pack on the pillion seat. But with the wife on board the luggage compartments get filled up and space gets limited.

Sometimes I think that motorcycles are fun to ride and travel on, but otherwise they are a bother when one is trying to stop and sightsee, take pictures, hike around a bit. You end up with all this gear you wear, helmet and riding suit, riding boots, that are terrible hiking boots. You have no place to stow this stuff; you wear it.

Maybe the best alternative is to take the camera and one all-purpose zoom lens, leave the extras at home.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2009, 11:16 pm
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I hear ya. It's tough to ride AND do all the side trips and sight seeing. You just have to pack like crazy and then basically change right there at the bike, with no place to safely stow your gear. Likely to get ripped off or something.

I did a hunt a while ago for an all purpose zoom lens. I call them "carry around" lenses because that's the lens you carry around on your camera and probably use most. Currently I'm shooting a Tamron 18-250. Does a good job although it's a slow lens when you get out to 250 (f6.3 I think).

My guess for a bike trip is you'll be shooting snap shots of the view, the bike, or people with the view and bike and maybe at the bar or campground. The 18-250 works well for all that. A great lens to capture the views on in the Canon 10-22. I rented one for the France trip and most of the photos in Paris and at Normandy were taken with that lens. I highly doubt you'd have a need for a very longs lens unless you were really pushing for a shallow depth of field shot or shooting wildlife on the trip.

Don't forget extra batteries and memory cards! I charged up one battery a few weeks ago on a trip to the Biltmore and just brought the camera, no extras. Sure enough that brand new battery went tits up before I fired the first shot. Carried around a 2 pound paper weight the rest of the day.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 27th, 2009, 3:40 pm
Will ride for picts
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Take a point-and-shoot with you also.... keep it in the tankbag and you'll have a way to capture some good shots while riding. Most of my pics are done with a P&S from the saddle while moving. You can get shots with a P&S that you won't get from your DSLR because of the risk (who wants to risk dropping a DSLR) and timing (that buffalo in the middle of the road). Having both gives you the best of both worlds.

I don't think I would have gotten these with a DSLR.

Sierra Cement: Good for skis, bad for knees.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 27th, 2009, 7:51 pm
2 heads are better than 1
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I pack a 40D on my GT. I have a large camera bag that will fit in the 49L topcase (i'll find the brand and repost, CRS) that holds the body, 3 lenses, and a bunch of other stuff. I also have a small bag which I travel with that takes the camera with a lens and a few accessories. Either allow room for a small laptop and some other stuff in the top case.

If you don't want to take all the big gear (which I debate all the time) getting a small point and shoot with a big sensor is a great idea. AS you can tell by Rich's pics that will do a fine job in many situations, and some you wouldn't want to use a DSLR for int he first place. Now, of course, you have to be as crazy as he is to do that...

David Taylor
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2010 BMW R1200RT Polar Metallic
2008 Ducati HyperMotard 1100S Red (of course)

The shortest distance between two points is for people who don't ride!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2009, 11:24 pm
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Having a flip up helmet would make your shooting much simpler also, no removing the helmet for each shot.
How about getting the wife involved with the picture taking? She can catch shots on the fly from the back seat with a point & shoot camera.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old May 5th, 2009, 11:34 pm
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Canon Powershot D9 or D10 (14 mega-pixels). More than you'll ever need and extremely high rankings too (Canon G10 Review). I carry mine (older G9) in my jacket pocket or around my neck on a strap if I think I'll need it. Problem is just stopping the bike to grab a shot. I can still feel the imprint in my ass along CA Hwy. 44 west of Lassen National Park last year looking towards the old volcano. Snow, clouds, and light rain just made it an "Oh, Wow!" and I never stopped and shot it.

Short of that, you could always run a VIO POV.1 camera and grab the photo off the AVI movie. It's not as good, but it gets the idea across and prints out good enough for office lies. The thing will run all day on an 8 Gig card and 4 AA-rechargeables in high 720 scan mode. Personally, I'd like another for a rearward camera for passing "road grunts."

D-SLR's are way too much carry for a biker.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old May 11th, 2009, 4:33 pm
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What kind of bike are you on? I found a small camera bag that opens from the top. I put it in the top case on my GS, and leave it unzipped (but closed). It allows me to be able to stop, open the trunk, grab the camera, flip up the face of my helmet, and take a shot. I put it back in the trunk, secure it and I'm on my way. I can also lock the trunk when I stop for lunch, which is nice.
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