20 October 2020

Working on a moto-centric project

 A buddy of mine has agreed on working with me for a slide-show of discovering the pleasure of riding his motorcycle on country roads.


dusty road


For the last two month, on evening and weekends, we have been leaving the city and headed West, to the rural areas not too far from the city. The search for the vanishing dirt roads has granted us some wonderful moments.


ride to the country_c



gorge road


The conditions are always best at sunset, where the shadows are longer and softer, the light warmer and illuminating from the side. David is happy to pose for the camera and doesn't mind to do a few passes for me so I can frame him correctly. I use almost exclusively adapted old lenses to create the mood and look I need.


speeding through the grass_b_JX090216


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28 August 2020

Urban motorcycles

I am not a big fan of urban riding with all the stop-go traffic and congestion. But admittedly there are some spots in the city that lend themselves as a backdrop for interesting images.

  XSR700 blue hour_b
Yamaha XSR700. M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8


Alex's CB650R
Honda CB650R.  Zonlai Discover 25mm f1.8


Keith's XSR_b
Yamaha XSR700. Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7



the touch
Yamaha XSR700.  Cosmicar 50mm f1.4  (C-mount)


bike and rider_bw
Yamaha XSR700. M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8


riders
Yamaha XSR700.  Cosmicar 50mm f1.4  (C-mount)


Benji
Benji. Cosmicar 50mm f1.4  (C-mount)

16 July 2020

Winter riding

Best time of the year to be riding.
I don't risk dehydration on longer rides when I get caught out without a hydration pack and I can wear my protective gear without overheating.
The lower angle of the sun finally gives me "European" light conditions where the sunset lasts more than mere minutes.

Winter grass
Adapted E.Zuiko 100mm f3.5 (for Pen-F system)

The light during the day is lower creating longer shadows and more pleasant contrast.


rural traffic



The air is crisp and dry with little chance of an afternoon thunderstorm to get caught in. But mornings call for a decent jacket and maybe thicker gloves.


K Break track
adapted D.O. Industries Naviata 75mm f1.3 (C-mount)



flooded valley
adapted Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4  (C-mount)


14 October 2019

Dodging fires

The land is parched, it has been a long time since it has seen rain, and yet I hoped to reach some green spots higher on the Main Range.
The forecast was calling for high 30's maybe even 40C but nights could be still crisp.
I headed West with a vague idea of where I wanted to spend a few nights, not sure how the bush will look like.

The smoke from a week old fire was still creeping on a ridge not too far away.

burned country

When taking a wrong turn I ended up on a dead-end dirt road where the sides were all blackened, some stumps still smoldering. The local rural fire brigade saved this wonderful timber hut from the flames.

saved from fire

Eventually I found my way out of there and headed South where previously I spotted a great place to spend the night. Away from any highway I was hoping for a stunning view of the lower hills at sunset, but the smoke was veiling the sun giving the place an eerie orange look.

smoky sunset

The grass was still thick and green enough to call that my camp for the night. At lunchtime the heat in the valleys reached body temperature, and yet now I was wearing a down jacket just as the night was falling.

dinner's ready


night spark


Vanilla joined me the following day. We rode some incredibly bumpy "sealed" roads but then were relived to find dirt roads were smoother than the paved ones. The afternoon sun became just too much to be riding in the bush. A great spot on the banks of a rather shrunk river (from the drought) where shade convinced us siesta was a better idea than pushing on. At the early camp we shared the afternoon with the an incredible variety of chatterbox birds, attracted by the flowering trees.

siesta


Northern Rivers

Sadly the temperatures rose even further next day and the wind picked up. The place was a tinderbox and fires flared up turning deadly.
Our planned route to explore some remote forest tracks changed to safer main roads where travelling at speed kept us relatively much cooler than slogging in the bush.


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08 July 2019

The road less traveled

When I come in a fork in the road I take it.
I take the road less traveled as it gives me a different perspective to the predictable.


heading home

Winter sunset over the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland.


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17 May 2019

Outback camping.

Long time sea kayaking buddy, companion of many expeditions, joined me on an overnight ride to the country. We picked the roads less traveled and in the late afternoon we ended up on dusty unsealed ones. We were looking for a secluded spot to camp for the night.

gravel road
Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4


commanding respect
Vanilla sporting that kind of look that commands respect, the face of wisdom.     Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4


Towards sunset we found what we wanted: a seldom used rural track that was a wide corridor of trees and short grass, with the occasional tree-trunk to sit on.

beloved bush

We were travelling light with tarps instead of tents for shelter. There was a light breeze in the air but it calmed down once dark. No frost yet but it is just a matter of weeks before that will happen.
Clear skies and no light-pollution from the urban sprawl; there was a meteor shower although peaking too early in the morning for me to care waking up and getting a proper look.

ideal campsite


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14 March 2019

Vintage wheels

In a society avidly seeking Artificial Intelligence to drive our daily lives some revel in the counter-culture of analogue, where mechanical triumphs over electronic.
I am not here or there but I not particularly fond of machines making all the decisions for me :-)

the machine


On one of my recent outings I stumbled across a peculiar gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts that enjoy to reminiscent an era where motorcycles were a bit crude and needed much more input from the rider to keep those wheels on the road.


red Triumph




old and newer


It was an outing from member of the Brisbane Cafe Racers making The Gantry their destination that day.
In the mix of many shiny motorcycles there were a few modern ones but the emphases seemed to be on non water-cooled or electric-start engines.


polished


 Needless to say that there were many vintage motorcycles of different eras and purpose, from road racers to low-powered commuters to scooters. Some adhere to the pristine look of original unaltered style while others are happy to mix&match parts from several bikes.


chrome Triumph




tool roll


I felt a vibe of laid-back attitude permeating under the roof of the old saw mill. Some took the look of their rides very seriously while others almost seemed to mock them with unkempt beat-up sleds.


racing stripe




battle Vespa



The banter was friendly and the conversation jovial, and while I wanted to know more about this club I was overwhelmed by the visual feast in front of me. I was busy looking and photographing the bikes until time came that they had to move on to their next riding destination.


bubble visor




biker bitch


All images created on Olympus E-M1 and a refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7


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25 February 2019

The need for getting lost

I find a strange pleasure in getting lost, intentionally.
In a world that is fully mapped with extreme detail, where the eye-in-the-sky of Google Earth can bring me to view any tiny remote place on the planet, I sometimes long for the feeling of not knowing where I am.
Being lost, at least temporarily, in a natural setting brings me the (false) sense that the world is not so small after all.
Where not essential, like in a busy urban environment, I prefer to not use electronic navigation aids. I roughly work out where I want to head away from busy places and then often I just want to explore.

Lately I have been finding myself more and more drawn to dirt roads where a clear direction is not defined. I choose a forest with a network of trails, some rather smooth, some very rough, not suitable for my riding choice. I have to make a judgment call not to bite more than I chew.
As they say: when you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Sometimes my gut feeling says right and other times left, according to what valley or mountain ridge  peek through the forest trees.

lost in the forest
Getting lost, no longer sure of my heading

Last Sunday I had full tank of gas and enough water in my backpack to keep thirst at bay. I rode for a few hours, stopping at times when the views demanded it.
Slowly I could no longer work out the right perceived direction to get back onto the pavement. I knew if I rode long enough I could have popped out somewhere but the rutted, rocky and pot-holed tracks were tiring me out; I didn't want to make a mistake and crash.

forest track
Steep, loose and dusty

I stumbled across a 4X4 driver, stopped at an intersection and swallowing my manly pride rode up to the driver side and asked for directions.
She had a phone in her hand looking at a map and pointed me in the direction I came from: "take a left when you come at the last intersection, keep left and eventually you will get out".
I had my phone in my pocket with detailed GPS maps too but somehow it was easier and nicer to ask for directions.

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13 December 2018

The menace of geotagging

I enjoy the outdoors.
I have been enjoying the outdoors before it became trendy, actually when it was still uncool.
At school I didn't want to reveal that I enjoyed walking in the forest, or hike up mountains; it just wasn't the done thing.

Sunset at granite belt


With the advent of social media, specifically YouTube, I started to see a shift in the perception of the outdoors: it no longer was just a place for misfits and simpletons. Add a bit of adrenaline sport and suddenly every kid wanted to be a hero outdoors with his GoPro.

But GoPro video footage requires an attention span from the viewer slightly longer than the one of a kitten. Still images are viewed much faster and easily, especially on mobile devices with possibly sketchy reception.
Welcome Instagram: a portal of vicarious life for the masses.

I don't think one needs much talent to create compelling images for Instagram: just about all of them are viewed on a tiny screen. Any camera can produce the perfect photograph and the mobile phone, constantly in the hands of any "adjusted" young person, is the ultimate enabler of projecting a life that we want others to see. We trim the mundane, the ugly and the boring; we only want the best to shine. My life has to look fabulous; only that way I will have a social status among my peers.

And what better way to show how successful I am than constantly showing my life is better than theirs?
Bling and toys only can influence so much but nothing is more desirable than visiting exotic locations, in my book.
It was 1990 when a tiny image on a small shoe brochure stunned me: Arches National Park (Utah).
6 months later I bought a ticket and I was on my way to discover the untamed West. Well, it was by then tamed but I saw just one other car in the whole park; I hiked the few established trails and then took off track and camped at (now) iconic locations.

This is the very same location today, where years ago I pitched my tent for the night, all alone.

Delicate Arch Sunset

What happened?
One word: geotagging

In the me-too world where the masses want to emulate their (Instagram) heroes the simple act of geotagging a posted image can literally destroy a once unique and pristine place.
And while I do respect a photographer for his/her art I loose all respect for selfie-stick toting crowds that all all costs must include themselves in the scenery. And you guess it: to prove that their life is also worthy of social status.
The problem is that the masses are large, and just like a plague of locust of biblical proportions, have been known to trample an destroy natural beauty.

That brings me to last weekend.
I visited a friend of mine that lives a few hours away from the city. I like the countryside there, the rolling hills and mountains with rainforest tops. The area is not well known and he treated me to an off road adventure in his 4WD to a secluded location.

New Austria


The scenery stunned me as much as the absence of any crowds. There was no sign of tramping, rubbish or even much traffic. I loved the scenery.
At the end of the day I was truly content: I wanted to share that wonderful place with other close friends.
And then it dawn on me: is it safe to do so?
I am now in two minds: it would be selfish to keep it all to myself but at the same time I fear that a careless act from my friends of simply posting a nice photograph on some (anti)social media, describing the location, could lead to trampling Insta-crowds.
If only I could blind-fold them and disable their phones prior leading them there :-)

broccoli valley

Off the beaten track, literally



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30 October 2018

Off the beaten path

When chasing dreams of years past I feel most comfortable when I am in "adventure" mode.
Sea kayak expeditions certainly give me that but a friendly coast that allows me to explore is not always easy to attain.
Before my wet adventures I used to ride motorcycles, adventure bikes, before that class even existed.
I am now back on two wheels and while backroads away from the main highways do give me a sense of escape, my heart is still in the dirt, dirt roads that is.

XSR700 scrambler
Yamaha XSR700

My bike needed some tires that would make it sing on gravel, it needed teeth to bight into the soil.
While not really a machine that could cross the desert like my previous rides, this little thumper behaves well enough to be comfortable on country farm roads that are not paved. And that is where I like to ride.


Backroads exploring_bw


There is no traffic, only the occasional vehicle that is going into town for supplies. There is a bit of dust and a few creek crossings, a bit of loose stones and mud after rain. There are no curbs or shoulders, no speed cameras and drunken drivers, no ass-hauling trucks with swaying trailer. Mostly there is nobody out there, just me. But I see horses and cows, and towards the evening a few kangaroos that hop across the road. Speeds are low but the ride is thrilling in a different way.


billabong


And then I stop anywhere I want and there is nothing but silence, maybe an undertone buzzing sound of insects, maybe a laughing kookaburra.
Inevitably my eyes keep on scouting for suitable places to camp even if I have no intention to do that tonight. It's like in the old days when I used to ride with a few buddies, heading West.
Bikes loaded with camping gear and a map stuck to the gas tank. It was pre-digital era where a compass would be consulted occasionally. I still carry a map today even if my phone could get me out of a geographical embarrassment if needed.


back to riding_bw



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10 October 2018

Imagination

Raupe in evening light

Good photography requires imagination; and that by definition cannot be automated. Net effect: frustration after spending a silly amount of money, move on to the next thing that delivers instant gratification. Ming Thein

The distinct feeling of frustration when after spending a good chunk of money on the latest/greatest and finding the results aren't met but the expectations.
And yet the cycle will continue by chasing the next iteration of the "latest and greatest" in hope that this one will really deliver the promised stunning images as seen in the advertising material.
Without the realization that the missing part is one's imagination that is required to create good photography, the best gear in the world will never produce more than possibly technically perfect images that will unfortunately lack appeal.

Money can buy very good equipment but can not buy talent.


06 September 2018

Nostalgia

When they say you can’t go back, I think they mean because you can go back to a place, but you can’t go back to a feeling, or back to the person you were. Which is maybe why nostalgia is such a strange, heavy, sad and happy feeling—sad that something is gone, happy that it happened, and sad you can’t manage to get there again, no matter how hard you try.   _by Brendan Leonard

riding outback



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