So you want to capture your ride on film. Whether it’s still or video, it’s important to think ahead about what exactly you want to get. If you’re reading this, then I would imagine you’re not a professional, otherwise you’re in trouble (LOL). But honestly, this is about having fun. We can all strive to do our best work, but remember that you’re going to do your best work when you’re having fun. So, where do we begin?
Do you want to be in the shots?
This is a crucial question, especially if you’re going to be traveling solo, because you’ll need a way to take a shot without operating the camera yourself. There are traditional choices like a tripod or selfie-stick for capturing yourself on camera, but there are a few others worth taking a look at:
1. 360 Degree Camera
These are incredible clever devices and I’ve seen them being used by content creators in the UK. How do they work? Well they use two cameras, both with a 180 degree field of view, that capture video and then stitch it together either automatically or with a companion software. This is a great option for those who want footage of both the road and themselves, as you can pan and change the field of view to get the desired subject in frame. With a base price of £229, they aren’t the cheapest option but they do provide good results.
2. GoPro (and other action cameras)
These are ubiquitous these days, and with a myriad of affordable options on the market you can get one and start capturing immediately. Their quality can vary widely, so make sure you get the right camera for what you’re doing. This is where quality and purpose come into play. Do you want professional, print quality images? If so, you’re going to have to pay a premium for equipment that produces a high quality image. On the other hand, if you want to have fun and just get some cool shots of you riding, and if you don’t mind that it’s not 4K quality, then you’re probably fine getting an affordable action camera. Because their field of view is fixed, you should consider having multiple mounts placed around the bike and on your helmet so you can get a mixture of perspectives. Be creative!
3. Smartphone Mounts
Let’s be honest, smartphones are the digital cameras of the 21st century. We pretty much all have one and we’re comfortable using it. So why not use it on your ride? This is a great option for those just starting out in photography and content capture. Besides just snapping a selfie or a pic of your bike, you can get special tripods and mounts for smartphones that allow you to use it like an action camera. This drastically reduces the price to start capturing stills and video, as the cost for tripods and mounts is usually under £30. Remember to check if your smartphone is waterproof! If not, best to invest in a waterproof case. Again, this is a lower cost option than purchasing new cameras, and is best for those just starting out.
Are you documenting or stylizing?
So, this is something that I think a lot of people don’t clarify before they start shooting. Are you documenting your trip, or are you taking beautiful, interpretive and stylized shots of the places you go and the people you meet? Depending on which you choose, you’re going to spend your time doing very different things.
- Documenting – detail, detail, detail. If you’re documenting your trip, you’re probably going be shooting constantly to capture the progress you’re making along the way. This would include footage of riding as well as images of checkpoints and milestones along the way. You’ll probably want to keep notes along the way as well so you have descriptions of events and the significance of each location along the way.
- Stylizing – Location, location, location. Unlike documenting, you’re going to be shooting occasionally at the significant and beautiful vistas and locations you come across on your journey, but you’ll be spending more time getting just the right shot. This may mean riding a section more than once or twice to get a shot without passing cars, or may spend some time waiting for the sun to come out for good light. The main difference here is that you are spending time getting a few amazing shots, vs. capturing everything along the way.
Can you be bothered to carry extra gear?
This might not be that important if you’re documenting, as a smartphone can do everything you need, but if you’re stylizing then you should consider investing in a DSLR camera and learning its various modes. I purchased my first DSLR one year ago, within a month I was confidently shooting in manual mode, and from there I really started growing in my photography. You can start by shooting in the assist modes, but I encourage you to look at YouTube tutorials on how to use your camera so you can really master its components. I guarantee this will be the biggest step in photography for you, as you’ll start to see light, composition, and the subject in a new and powerful way.
Here’s a short list of reminders
- Write down a list of the cool places you’re going, and the things you want to shoot along the way – then put together your gear.
- Remember that sunrise and sunset will give you the best light (F*$K filters bro).
- Bring gear that you’re comfortable using, otherwise you’re going to spend your entire trip learning how to use a new camera instead of enjoying the ride.
- Change up the angles and perspectives – remember that the viewer wants variety.
- Have fun!