Trails of South America (PtI)... a photo journal

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JediMaster, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    The further I got into writing Chapter 26 the more I reaslized it was becoming a bit of an epic and so as I've done previously I've split it into two. Chapter 26 covers Ecuador and Chapter 27, which all being well I'll post from Sucre in a few weeks time, will cover Peru.

    So what has Chapter 26 got install? Well it includes the full story behind my Facebook teaser...
    'One minute I was having a few beers in a bar with some friends...the next I was drinking Moet & Chandon on a jet-ski on the indoor swimming pool of one of the richest families in Ecuador!'

    [​IMG]

    ShortWayRound - Chapter 26 - "Rain drops keep falling on my head"

    Enjoy!

    Adam
  2. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    So far only half way through but very jealous! Wicked addition to the report!
  3. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I don't know where she found it but Claire (regular readers will know who she is) just sent me this...

    ...a poem for adventure motorcyclists...


    Why...

    ‘Why do you do it?’ friends often ask, perplexed,
    Brows raised, minds sorely vexed.
    ‘The world out there is dangerous!
    Aren’t you scared? Why do this?
    You need steady work, a house, two cars!
    You have only a motorbike, and sleep under stars!’

    Dear friend, if you must ask, you cannot know
    This curiosity that drives me so.
    To you it is hidden; in me rises unbidden!
    But one day the world I’ll have ridden
    By iron steed, then perhaps this need
    Will have vanished, finally vanquished!
    That day will find me on deathbed,
    With no regrets for the life I led.

    Will you be able to say the same?
    Or will you despair a life worn plain?

    I will stake my Himalayan memories
    Against your estate of a thousand trees.
    Pit my Thai sunset
    Against your private jet.
    Weigh my horse rides at sunrise
    To your Italian suits and ties.
    I’ll rejoice in friends before I go,
    Not the figures of my stock portfolio.

    And, amazingly, there are more like me;
    They reject slavery, and are truly free.
    They took the chance we all had,
    And honestly it makes me sad
    That you didn’t.
    You thought you couldn’t…
    What?
    Live without the luxuries
    Of all our modern amenities?
    You choose the bonds of mortgage, but claim to be free,
    Wasting a lifetime absorbed by TV.
    Why watch it? but live it!
    One life’s all you get!
    Don’t put off ’til morrow and continue to borrow
    The lives of strangers; ’tis the greatest of dangers
    To the soul
    Which grows old
    Before its time.

    Hercules, Columbus,
    Guevara, Odysseus,
    Champlain, Agamemnon,
    The list goes on…
    What have they in common?
    Regardless man or god,
    The soil of continents they trod,
    Not in search of gold but adventure!
    Not growing old ’cause they ventured
    Far from safety; but far be it from me
    To Judge…

    The pitiless pity us
    With souls black pitted.
    Pray! save it for those less spirited.
    For us… our horizons are unlimited.

    by James Richmond


  4. MotoLara

    MotoLara ADV rider wannabe

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    Fantastic stuff Adam :clap:clap The route you took on the north part of the Peruvian Sierra was one of the highlights of our trip. Thanks for bringing back good memories mi amigo.

    That bridge was not an ideal place to drop a bike, eh?
    :lol3 that day the cross-wind was killer!
    [​IMG]


    I also thought the view from there was unique
    :nod
    [​IMG]


    If you ever wondered what you looked like from 3 switchbacks up on that road:

    [​IMG]


    I looked at your camping spot photo near El Canon del Pato and thought 'that place looks VERY familiar' ... we pretty much set up camp on the very same spot! ... one thing Naomi (my partner) doesn't remember fondly from camping there was the vicious mosquitoes that attacked her at dusk ... oh yeah and the strong wind made a 5-minute put up the tent a 60 minute job. By far the hardest day to set up the tent on the entire trip.

    [​IMG]


    Anyway amigo, excuse my thread hijacking but I couldn't stop myself from commenting when I saw your wonderful photos.


    Buena suerte en todo!

    Salud :freaky
    Alberto.
  5. bergsteigen

    bergsteigen One continent at a time.

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    Beautiful...
  6. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

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    Adam,
    Your photos are amazing, thank you for taking the time to stop and capture the Epic.

    Seriously, this is the first RR where I wouldn't mind if other Inmates quote your posts and "accidentally" repost all your photos so we can have just one more moment of wonderment.

    Any photo tips for camera settings - I also shoot with a D300s, but nothing I've taken has come close to your art. :bow
    - Rob
  7. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Hi Alberto - Looks like you had some sunshine in the gorge - nice. But I'm curious - why are you looking over the side of the bridge after you fell off? Did someone push you off then run away?
    Only teasing...no, not the place to drop your bike but then you ere probably the only people on that road so no hurry eh?
    That bush camp was pretty windy, hence me making a windbreak with my bike and a tarp before pitching my tent.
    Anyway, cheers for posting.

    Adam
  8. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    That made me laugh...nice one Rob!

    Flattery like that deserves a reply so here goes...

    Don't quote me on any of this, its just my thoughts and experiences. Guys like SergioPhoto and Motojournalism know waaaaaaay more about this stuff than me.

    Settings - I use a Circular Polarizing filter almost all the time outdoors. It can be a pain in the arse to keep clean and it will loose you a couple of fstops but that ok when everything is stationary. If you're using top quality glass (I'm not) then as Sergiophoto quite rightly points out you won't be getting the best out of the glass.

    All of my stills are taken on either AP or manual. I've never used Auto and I control the ISO manually.

    I like images just slightly underexposed but that's just my preference. As a result I often shoot at -0.3 or -0.7EV depending on the subject. I also use manual quite a lot. I'll take one shot on AP, review it, check what the camera used and make my own adjustments from there. Read the Histogram.
    Each of the photo's I've posted will be one of several of the same scene taken with different exposures, different apertures, different focus points, different compositions. I'll then sift through them on my laptop and pick what I like.

    One of the biggest things for me is bush camping. A pro landscape photographer ONLY shoots at sunrise and sunset. Most travelers are in towns/cities then or if they are camping they've been set-up for a few hours before sunset. I'll often ride until the sun is virtually gone before finding a campsite because that's when I get my best photos. I also regularly get up before sunrise although that really depends on my location.

    At the end of my first year on the road a pro-photographer looked at some of my photos and berated my composition. It was like getting slippered at school - I'll never forget it. As a result, everytime I look through the viewfinder I think about composition (doesn't mean I always get it right - not by any means) but I always think about it. It was the single most useful piece of constructive criticism I've ever received. And by the way, I still welcome that constructive criticism now.

    What looks good from your bike doesn't necessarily look good through the viewfinder. We can take in the 'scene' the camera can only take in the 'shot'. When you look through the viewfinder ask yourself "Is this a good picture?" If the answer is NO then ask yourself why and do something about it. Move your position (often just a few feet will make a huge difference), climb a bank, lay in a ditch, zoom-in, zoom-out. Whatever it takes until you decide you've got what you think is the best picture you can get. Sometimes I think I can 'see' a picture but when I look through the viewfinder its not there and no matter how I move around I can't see through the viewfinder what I can see in my head. On those occasions I don't shoot (I've got enough shots to wade through!)

    I look at other photographers work and ask myself "Why does that work? Why do I like it? etc" One of the joys of photography for me is the constant learning curve. Just like riding my bike, after 5 years on the road I'm still learning, still evolving the way I do things and that adds to my interest.

    I hope at least some of that has been helpful....the D300s is a cracking camera

    Cheers

    Adam
  9. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

    Joined:
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    Now where was I?...Oh yeah, freezin' my arse off in Peru.

    Somewhere along the road to Huanaco I blew a fork seal...and then the other so I stayed on tarmac through Cerro de Pasco and across the high plateau to Huancayo. It was cold...really cold. I hadn't cruised along at a steady speed for a long time and the cold just slowly sank in. I stopped roadside and ordered whatever they had that was hot which turned out to be some kind of intestine soup. It tasted as bad as it sounds but with no heating in the cafe it was the only thing that thawed me out.


    I spent a night in Huancayo and in the morning went in search of a new rear tyre. All I found were importers of Chinese motorcycles and so begrudgingly decided my only option was to make a detour to Lima where I would also be able to find someone to change my fork seals - one of the few jobs I can't do myself (anyone made a small, lightweight tool for removing fork seals without dismantling the legs?)

    The weather hadn't finished with me yet though and I got snowed on over the Abra de Anticona at 4832m between La Oroya and Lima!


    [​IMG]

    I'd emailed Mark & Claire from Huancayo and discovered that they were in Lima and so I rode straight to their hostel thanks to them providing GPS coordinates.
    To cut a long story short, I spent 5 days there, got my fork seals replaced, changed the engine oil, fitted a new rear tyre and hit the road again. Mark & Claire were great company as always but Lima sucks. How people can live there devoid of sun is beyond me!
    When I crossed the Abra de Anticona for the second time I swear it was even colder but the clear blue skies took my mind off it and I stopped roadside for a brew and thaw out once I'd descended to a sensible temperature. It was a day on tarmac that ended in Huancavelica and more chicken 'n' chips.

    Huancavelica...


    [​IMG]


    The next morning I was disappointed to find a layer of cloud hiding the mountain tops as I rolled out of town. Back on dirt, heading towards Ayacucho and Lircay across the Abra Chonta next to which there is an unnamed pass that according to my map is the highest pass in Peru at 5059m. My GPS disagreed and said it was a mere 4982m (16345ft)
    The road runs due south as it approaches the pass of Abra Chonta but just before the summit the road to Lircay turns east across the unnamed (on my map) pass.

    Just over the high pass...


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    Their were two routes into the valley. A long, gentle truck route that took in much of the valley, and a steep series of switchbacks that on occasion intersected with the truck route. I took the truck route so I could see more of the valley but met two trucks in bloody awkward places. One on a 90deg blind bend where I had to jump off my bike to turn her around quickly enough for the truck not to have to completely stop. I eventually came to another mine and a closed gate. A quick chat with the security guard and he opened the gate telling me to 'Ask the way as you go' !!!

    [​IMG]


    When I left the mine I looked back and thought "There's something strange about that view" and then I realized that the wall of rock I was looking at had once been a waterfall but that the river had been dammed by the mine...


    [​IMG]



    A closer look...

    [​IMG]

    In the next valley I was flagged down by a local guy and his son with their broken down Chinese motorbike. At least I thought it was broken down but it turned out he couldn't start it. I think he'd just been trying with the electric starter as I managed to get it going with the kick start. He had no confidence in it though (do you blame him!?) and asked me to take it for a ride. I rode 10m before stopping to straighten the forks in the yokes and get the handlebars square - there wasn't a thing on it that was straight! When I returned it to him he still wasn't convinced but what more could do? I took his photo...

    [​IMG]




    Leaving Lircay I began looking for a bush camp. The valley was narrow and didn't begin to open out until I approached the pass at 4532m. Not far from the summit on the east side I got lucky and spotted a campsite outside an abandoned mine entrance.
    I covered Rosie and sat behind her cooking my dinner in the hope that I'd blend into the background (not that there was much traffic on the road). Once it was dark I pitched my tent.


    [​IMG]



    Leaving camp...


    [​IMG]



    This was the valley I'd camped at the head of...

    [​IMG]
  10. sergiophoto

    sergiophoto travelingphotog

    Joined:
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    Boulder, CO
    Hola Adam,

    I read your very nice suggestions on camera settings and compositions, etc. and would agree with most of what you said, except a few key items, that are quite crucial, especially if you are shooting digital (as opposed to film). The D300 is a very nice and robust camera.

    So here goes.

    1) It is absolutely ESSENTIAL TO NOT UNDEREXPOSE when shooting digitally, and it will have a great impact in the quality of your file! This creates noise (akin to grain in film) and digital cameras by the fact of their design are not happy with underexposed files. IF, you shoot in RAW mode then you can underexpose (if you have to or by mistake) and still 'save' the file by adjusting the processing for that RAW file to bring an underexposed file to a proper exposure. Otherwise, if it is critical that you nail your exposures whenever possible. I will add that OVEREXPOSING by about a 1/3 of an F-stop will add more data to your file and they will look MUCH better. This is getting into more digital jargon but in short, most of the data captured by all digital cameras is on the lighter side of the (the overexposed right side of the histogram) exposure. This is just a fact and I do not why that is. But it has been proven to me for years that is the case. So, if you overexpose, then obviously you need to process the RAW file to 'bring it down' to a proper exposure and your file will look great and much more data will be there for future use. This recommendation is for RAW file and not for JPG files, which in my opinion you need to nail the exposure as the latitude in a JPG file is not nearly as wide as a RAW. Trust me on this as when I was beginning to learn to shoot digital I was underexposing (just like I did with film, which looked great!) just like you did and I was getting awful noise and the file were 'muddy'. I was told to slightly overexpose and all was good with the world again.

    2) You already know this from a past conversation, but using a polarizing filter is a great way to loose 2 f-stops of light that you may need in order to make an image. The you may need to cranking up the ISO. On that note, digital cameras produce the best quality files when you use the lowest ISO possible. Some cameras have fantastic high ISO capabilities but most do not.

    Continuing on the polarizer issue; every time you add one more piece of glass in front of your lens you are degrading the quality of the file, no matter if that is the best German-made glass or not. In any case, many years ago I did the same thing, shot with a polarizer ALL THE TIME, but after a while I noticed quality issues and especially a dark blue area in the sky that was not spread even across the sky. That was due to 'over-using' the polarizing effect and also using it at the wrong time of day and in the wrong angle in relation to the sun. Soon thereafter I stopped leaving the polarizer on (used it sparingly) and my images got better. If anything try using a skylight or haze filter designed for digital lenses. Yes, there are differences. Always buy the most expensive glass you can find as the results will be worth it. Personally I do not use any filters on my lenses and I do not baby my gear, but always use a lens hood, always. I have never scratched any front element enough that it could not shoot a great image with. Minor scratches on the front element are no issue (in my opinion) unless you are shooting into the sun or some other bright light source. The element to protect is the rear element, if that one gets scratched, you will need to get it replaced.

    3) In the good old days of film any camera body would do as they were essentially a light-tight box and you needed to spend the money on the glass. The best glass costs money and that is what takes the images. With digital, having a quality body is as important now than ever before. So now, you need to choose your camera body based on the sensor and other capabilities of the camera but the quality of glass used is still a major issue. Buy the best possible glass and you will have the best images (all things begin equal of course). Do not ruin the great glass by putting a 'cheap' filter in front of it while saying you want to protect it. Cheap glass in front of good glass gives poor quality images, period.

    4) The LCD on the back of your camera is 'lying to you'. IF, you shoot in RAW mode, the LCD shows you a JPG of the RAW file, which is not the same thing. The histogram should be used "as a guide only" of what your file may look like. It is impossible to compare a JPG on the back of a low resolution 2-3" screen to a monitor, so don't. Use the histogram to guide you to see where you are crushing the black points and overexposing the white points and then adjust your settings to compensate, IF necessary. If you shoot in JPG mode, then you need to make sure your in-camera settings are set up correctly for the type of shooting you like to do. In this case, the LCD will still show you the JPG of your JPG, but it's not the same thing, but closer to what it may be. Still use the histogram to 'guide' you, not decide for you. As before, overexposing ever so slightly is best in order to get a quality file.

    5) Landscape photography can be done all day long, as long as you know how to use the light and your equipment to their best potential wherever you are. I shoot landscapes all day long, but prefer the 'golden hours' of pre-sunrise until sunrise and then pre-sunset, sunset until dusk and into the night sometimes. I also shoot in the middle of the day, but choose my scenes carefully. As an example, noon light basically sucks (too much overhead and very contrasty) but you can still make an image and adjust in post-processing. This gets into the conversation of 'image manipulation', etc. We will not debate that now.

    6) If I shoot an image at the 'wrong time of day' or under less than favorable conditions, I use Adobe Lightroom (not Photoshop) to process my files and can add a 'graduated ND filter' via the software to bring down the sky or add contrast or do some other processing after I see the images n a proper monitor. I have shot in very poor conditions where the natural light is flat and have produced a pretty stunning image by processing the RAW file (carefully and judiciously) in such a manner that I enhance what was there a bit. I do not over-process the files and I do not use Photoshop to 'manipulate' a file. All RAW files are supposed to look 'bland and boring and flat', and that is why you MUST process them. That does not apply to JPG images. So, that is why I do not use polarizers as I can get a much better result by using the software (mostly a graduated ND filter and some contrast and a few other things) and do not need to worry about more glass in front of my lens and over-polarizing and loosing 2 f-stops of light while making the image.

    I hope this helps a bit to whomever is interested. It may sound complicated, but if you are doing that 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip, I suppose you want to make sure you come back with the best images possible, unless you plan on doing another one. Then I am jealous....

    Cheers

    Sergio

    www.sergiophoto.com


  11. dunters

    dunters Dunters

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    25
    Hey Adam,

    I just got caught up on your website. Great stuff. I get back on the road Oct 1st and after reading your adventures, I can't wait. I came home for the summer and left my bike parked in Mexico at Garry's daughter's house. (If you're reading this Leslie, Garry, Ivonne, thanks again)

    keep your posts and pics coming, and have fun on the road.

    cheers,
    -duncan
    http://motorcyclemenus.com
  12. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Christmas in Colombia?
  13. dunters

    dunters Dunters

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    25
    Actually that's almost the plan. I'm meeting my family in Panama for christmas and we're planning to sail the Stahlratte into Cartagena from Jan. 3rd to the 6th. Will you be around? We should definitely meet up if you are. We should also check with Nick and see what his schedule is. Last I heard he parked his new bike in Guatemala and flew back for the summer as well. Could be a fun reunion.
  14. McFuryMcNugget

    McFuryMcNugget me specie in dea ist

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    Location:
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    One of the best photos.

    Many happy returns.


    McFury.
  15. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Thanks to Sergio for sharing his professional photographic knowledge on #130. Like I said in #128, its a constant learning curve. It's not often a photograper of 30+yrs experience offers his advice for nowt so cheers Sergio :thumb

    So on with the story...

    Leaving my bush camp behind I headed on towards Antaparco. A new road appeared to my right and I took a guess that it was a more direct route so I gave it a try. It was freshly graded and fast until I came across the construction crew - it was that new! The deep, loamy soil one always seems to encounter in those situations can be rather tricky but it was no problem for Rosie.

    The view overlooking Antaparco was so good I felt it worthy of a few more photo's than usual...


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    A panorama...

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    At first I thought the track I took into the valley was abandoned as it was pretty overgrown. It wasn't until I came to the first of two landslides that initially appeared to block the track, that I found someone had cleared path through. Down in Antaparco I stopped for a coke and chatted with the very friendly and inquisitive locals before setting off along the river towards Ayacucho...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These kind of striped rocks always remind me of the multi-coloured sand filled glass vessels for sale at British seaside towns...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hostel La Crillonesa in Ayacucho were happy to squeeze Rosie in...

    [​IMG]

    Next up...Ayacucho - Cusco
  16. badguy

    badguy Susan

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    This thread is great! Not only do we get the story and amazing photos from the trip, but expert photography advice as well :super

    Thanks guys!
  17. Cuttle

    Cuttle Seriously?

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    thank you so much for sharing!

    amazing pictures :clap
  18. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Well heck Adam, Just finished reading your whole Blog and going through the amazing pictures. What GREAT PICTURES!!!!! Thanks so much for all the time spent to write and produce the pictures. :clap:clap:clap
  19. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

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    Los Angeles, CA
    Adam and Sergio, your photo tips will help me move from taking snaps towards something more meaningful, gracias.

    Funny, I've been using a polarized filter I picked up in Cuzco, it was the cheapest one I could find (even by Peruvian standards) and it just now occurred to me what an impact this would have on photos. :puke1

    Adam, I'm looking forward to seeing your Cuzco photos!!
    - Rob
  20. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Just arived Cochabamba after a 5day/4night(3 bush camps) 'Mini-Adventure' from La Paz via Sorata, Caranavi, Coroico and Independencia :D. Highlights(!) included: Collision with jeep on mountain road (no damage) :eek1, 2hrs of the most dangerous, unenjoyable motorcycling of my life :yikes, jacket zip breaking at lunchtime on day 3 (no fun in the clouds at 4000m) :pissed, getting as lost as its possible to be without actually being lost(!), breaking a pannier frame just as the track turned into the roughest I'd ridden in weeks, coasting down the valleys (engine off) to avoid running out of gas, a puncture and a snapped footrest mounting bolt. Then there were the mozzies and the sandflies. Met some lovely, friendly locals though :thumb

    I'll continue with the RR once I've got Rosie fixed up.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>
    Anyway, who knows where to find the best steak in Cochabamba?

    Adam

    <o:p></o:p>