From The Saddle

This post describes a photographic technique that is dangerous. Attempting to duplicate this technique could result in injuries. It could also be fatal. The author does not recommend it, and does not accept any responsibility for anyone who undertakes the duplication of this technique.

I sometimes take photographs “from the saddle” with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01. The FX01 is well suited for this, since it has fairly good image stabilization and will fire a burst of six frames. It also is easily operated with one hand. The following photo, a “self-portrait”, was taken in New Mexico. The sun was at the right angle to throw this shadow on the road beside me.

I originally tried to mount this camera on the motorcycle with a simple handlebar mount, but realized that it would be subjected to constant vibration for the duration of the time it was mounted. It would probably break the camera quickly. My eventual solution turned out to be the use of a simple neck strap. I found a strap that would allow the camera to dangle at the level of my stomach.

The photo to the left was taken somewhere in New Mexico.

To repeat: This is dangerous a dangerous undertaking. I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1962 and I sometimes choose to run the risk, accepting full personal responsibility for it.

When I see something I want to shoot (and there is little traffic and no hairpin turns), I set the cruise control to maintain a steady speed and keep my right hand on the throttle, then grab the camera with my left hand, slide the power switch on the top to the On position, point the camera in the desired direction, and hold down the shutter button (which is also on the top of the camera). Being quite familiar with the camera, I can take photographs without looking at it, which is comforting, since I don’t like to take my eyes off the road while riding. If something disturbing happens, I can drop the camera and put my left hand back on the handlebar grip. Because the neck strap is not too long, the camera will drop to my stomach, rather than smacking into the gas tank.

This one was taken on Route 38 while climbing the long grade up into the San Bernardino Mountains.

This photo shows Brandon McKee riding north on Route 395 along the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The following photo shows Danny Underwood waiting for a train to pass in Amboy, California.