Motorcycle Helmet Camera Tips n' Tricks

Photo - LDF

Many of  the best views on a motorcycle trip are seen while you are actually riding your motorcycle: The images you see while cresting a hill to a scenic vista, leaning into the twisties, lane-splitting in a foreign city, or being confronted by a three-on-three Mexican passing contest are priceless.

Photo - Ben Slavin

I've never been comfortable riding one-handed, shooting with a camera in the other. I just can't pay attention to composition and to the road at the same time. But lately, I've seen a lot of cool stuff done with those small point-of-view (POV) cameras, like the Contour HD and the GoPro Hero HD.

I wanted to learn more so I've asked some friends who are known for their POV helmet camera videos to pass along some tips and tricks:

J.David Roccaforte - Dr Rock on ADVrider
Christian Lacasse of the BMA
Ben Slavin of
Jim Baillargeon of Klim Québec

Check out the video below then keep reading for the full details.

POV camera wisdom from the guys

Mounting the camera to the handlebars would seem to be the obvious choice. But the handlebars are already crowded with the GPS, mirrors, roll-charts and cables,

Great Wet North

Riding season is but a distant dream in most parts of Canada - We're still frozen for another month or so. 
We seem to be experiencing what I call the NetherSeason - It's not winter, but it certainly ain't spring! Nothing to do but flip through some photos from last year.

But spring is slowly approaching, and it's time to start thinking about this year's motorcycle modifications. Ontario is infamous for being a bit damp in the spring, and the second photo below shows an old Yamaha XT that had a particularly novel solution to the water-crossing issue.

Photo - Deadly99

Paris Dacre-3937

Here's a quick refresher on Canadian geography if you're from out of the country, Ontario is east of the province of "R".

On the Road - 4-Wheel Favorites

I'm exclusively a two-wheel traveler, but I come across a lot of interesting four-wheel vehicles on the road. They always make a fun photographic subject, collect 'em all. :) 
Here are a few favorites from the US, Mexico, and Central America. There's a few classic Land Rovers and Land Cruisers in there too:

Click for large images, and let me know in the comments if you have any corrections or additions to the vehicle names!

Nevada fire-truck


Land Rover Series II

Volkswagen Baja Bug

Trans-Canada Adventure Trail

Just wanted to make a quick mention of  a project I'm contributing to: Deadly99 from ADVrider is tackling the logistics of stringing together a cross-Canada gravel road route suitable for dual-sport motorcycles and overland 4x4s.  It will be a proper backcountry route, linking public trails and gravel roads across the Canadian wilderness, coast to coast.
It's very much a collaborative effort, many folks are chipping-in with local road knowledge, a cartographer is contributing proper topographical maps, a videographer will be making a DVD and I'm lending some graphic design skills. This will be available to the public as a printed guide. Here's a sneak preview of what the logo and guide book will look like. It's just a rough draft at the moment, and will change as the project nears completion. Check out the whole story on though you may want to skip toward the end - 58 pages as of this post...

Photography Basics - Leading Lines

Here's a brief overview of the concept of leading lines in photography. It's a technique you can easily use with any camera to create stronger images.

A winding road or a set of railroad tracks leading off into the distance is a clear example of a line that grabs our eyes and draws us deep into the image. This kind of line gives a photograph a sense of motion and an illusion of depth.

Road to Carti - Kuna territory, Panama

A leading line could be any area of contrast  in the image, it could be the edge of a building, a shadow on the ground, the ridge of a hill. And by changing your camera position you can control where the lines actually lead to. For example a road can look more or less curved depending on which side of the road you shoot from. And in the photo of the Bonavista lighthouse (see it further down this post) I walked around the lighthouse and closer and further to the fence until the curved line of the fence pointed at the lighthouse itself.

In this photo, it's the river that grabs our attention, leading our eye into the details far in the background.
Duffy Lake Road - British Columbia, Canada

Keep an eye out for multiple leading lines: This photo combines the layered landscape we covered in MotoJournalism Book One with several lines that draw the eye along the vine-covered fence, and through the rows of agave to the middle ground. You could even count another leading line along the row of shrubs where the two large trees sit.
Costa Chica - Mexico

But line in an image can also be implied, it doesn't have to be a physically continuous single line. The receding arches here, and even the iron lanterns point directly to the band in the middle.

Antigua, Guatemala

Once we're able to quickly see potential leading lines in a scene in front of us we can actually compose an image in such a way that we can decide where the viewers eye will go.

This photo of a meat market uses the perspective of the corrugated iron to point directly at the woman and the butcher at the back. 

Mérida, mexico


Travel Photography Ebooks on Expedition Portal

Just a quick note to tell you that Expedition Portal is now carrying the MotoJournalism ebooks in their store! It's alongside the Motorcycle Mexico DVD and things like winch lines -how cool is that.

Expedition portal is to 4-wheel overland travel what Horizons Unlimited and ADVrider is to us 2-wheel types. 
There's heaps of interesting things to check out on the site and it's forums. 
I particularly like this bit on the 1995 Land Rover Camel Trophy and their Expeditions West 2010 photo recap

Lucha Libre Poster - Mérida, Mexico

A favorite memory from Mexico was the Lucha Libre match in Mérida.  
Unfortunately, the match happened while my SLR was kaput. The low-light of the arena and fast action of the wrestlers is one situation where a compact camera will fall-short. There was just not enough light getting through the tiny lens to the tiny sensor to get good still photographs. I managed to salvage a few photos by converting them to a grainy, high-contrast black & white, pretty crummy, but better than nothing!

Flash was out of the question. Even though I was practically ringside, a compact camera's flash doesn't reach very far! But the compact camera redeemed itself by forcing me to try the video feature that I'd never really bothered with. I've assembled the clips into the video below. Of course the quality of the video is just what you'd expect out of a compact camera, but it made for a fun souvenir. It was enough of a taste of the potential of shooting video to convince me that my next SLR will have a video function. Something as fast paced as Lucha Libre reallly suits video, as the tremendous toughness, acrobatic skill and humor of these guys doesn't come across in a still image.

Beyond the Border - Sterling Noren Interview

A man struggles to keep his footing on the loose desert shale, there are no easy hand-holds on the steep incline. Much of the spiked foliage would draw blood in a fall and he has a load to carry. Dust rises from the rocks that tumble down behind him.
But the slope is easy where he has stopped to set a tripod and video camera. Far below his motorcycle leans on it's sidestand along a dirt track and beyond that shines the blue water of the gulf and the frigate birds circle high above in the clear sky.
The Baja climate is too warm to be climbing hills in heavy boots and a helmet, and the man sweats from the exertion. After a moment's rest in the light breeze he peers through the viewfinder of the black camera, framing the scene and making small adjustments.
Satisfied, he sets-off back down the hill leaving the camera behind.

And so it goes, behind the scenes of Beyond the Border - Riding Solo in Mexico

For more than twenty years, Sterling Noren has been a visual storyteller. He has worked with television documentaries, journalism, film and video editing, commercial production, motorcycle travel and instructional videos. He's produced work for the GlobeRiders with Helge Pedersen, TouraTech, BMWmotorycles, The Discovery Channel and plenty more.

I was excited to catch-up with Sterling and learn more about how he uses the camera as the tool to share his motorcycle adventures.

You’ve been all over the place on motorcycles; Iceland, China, Russia, Turkey - How long have you been riding motorcycles and what do you ride now?

The Journal in Motojournalism

The Journal in MotoJournalism is the storytelling part of the equation. Overland journeys drop us right into the deep-end of personal experience and adventure.  When we travel slowly through the countryside and the cities it puts us into direct contact with individuals, cultures, history and landscapes.  
The experiences we have and the photos we take give us an infinite well of potential stories to draw from, but how can we put those experiences into a compelling story?

I wrote a ride report about my last motorcycle trip - Canada to Panama - while I was on the road. Of course photos were taken all day every day, but I'd also jot down notes in my Moleskine notebook: Where I started and finished the day, who I met, what I saw. Nothing in detail, just enough to trigger my memory.

With my memory fresh and an open bottle of beer, I'd work at night in hotels and hospidajes or camped in my tent,  I'd use my netbook computer to process the photos and expand my hasty notes into a narrative.
The entries in the ride-report are raw and rough around the edges - just initial impressions really - but they have the excitement of the unknown. I'd finish writing a chapter then ride-off to live the next one.