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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moto Foto


Trekking far from the pavement is in every nature photographer’s blood. Using a motorcycle to do it can be the perfect “viewfinder.”

This Article Features Photo Zoom




Silver Canyon Road to the crest of the Bristlecone Forest had only just opened in the spring, at least nearly as far as the Patriarch Grove. Up there at 11,000 feet in the White Mountains, some lingering snow pack still blocked further progress even at the end of May. We left the floor of the Owens Valley near Bishop and began the initial 6,500-foot climb, but not on foot. Not in a 4x4. Rather, our exploration vehicle of choice was the dual-sport motorcycle, the two-wheel SUV.

Since Outdoor Photographer’s inception, we’ve always felt an obvious affinity with environmentalism and the responsible use of the outdoors. As the means of reaching outstanding photo locations, we’ve covered everything from backpacking, canoeing and bicycling to outfitting the ultimate photo vehicle. The rides of our contributors range from Subarus to all-wheel-drive vans and pickups. This is our first focus on two-wheeled transport. It’s surprising how many of our readers and photo-industry friends ride on- and off-road. Today, with the pressures of a warming world and towering crude prices, one feels the need to turn to resource-efficient ways for continuing the adventure, like something that can go 100 miles on two gallons of gas—off-road.


Sigma 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM
Nearly all adventure motorcyclists are prone to document their trips, whether with been-there snapshots or well-crafted photographs, and all are shared profusely online. Motorcyclists have been among the early adopters for using camera and video mounts, displaying routes with Google Earth imagery.

In the case of our Bristlecone adventure, dirt bikes were the perfect choice. It’s easy to carry sufficient photo equipment in a backpack. Individual riders can do their own thing, stopping and shooting wherever their perception of an opportunity comes along. And the motorcycle is low-impact if one respects the regulations of low-noise exhaust, spark arresters and keeping to established roads and trails.


Tamron AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD
The two-wheeled adventure does require special attention to bulk and weight. So in this guide, we explore some of the gear options to help keep the load to a minimum, while not sacrificing the quality of photography. Naturally, most of the suggestions can be applied to other forms of low-bulk exploration. These items should be considered for anytime you choose to go the extra mile, or more, past the pavement or trail head.

A note about the products in this article. We’re not trying to put together the definitive guide to all of the products that could be useful for this kind of motorcycle adventure photography. Instead, we want to give you a flavor of what’s available and how you might make use of various product examples. You can learn more about the products we’ve listed in this article, as well as a host of other possibilities, by checking out our website, www.outdoorphotographer.com. Also, take a look at the November issue of our sister magazine, Digital Photo, and that publication’s website, www.dpmag.com. DP’s November issue is its annual Buyer’s Guide, and it has comprehensive discussions of just about every camera currently available, as well as accessories and other useful equipment for all sorts of photography.

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