Ride Ride Ride

On Saturday we went on a long ride. Taylor was intent on finding some twisty roads to play on and wasn’t interested in stopping every five minutes to take photographs. We passed one photo opportunity after another and I did my best to take mental notes of the interesting bits and still concentrate on keeping the motorcycle upright and between the lines on my side of the road. We had a good adventure and some bad fast food. It seems like I’m more about the constant stopping and Taylor is more about the uninterrupted flow of the ride. He got a new pair of boots for his birthday and was stomping around the house like a berserk robot trying to break them in a little. That’s one advantage of borrowed or “hand me down” gear, it is already past the newness stage and seems to fit better. It also makes me feel a tiny bit less of a novice by giving the appearance that I have some experience. Maybe some of the experience will rub off or be absorbed. Maybe wishful thinking.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and a young guy who was arriving for work looked over my bike and was astonished to learn that BMW made motorcycles. He even took a couple of photos with his cell phone and asked how much such an exotic machine might cost. Oh to be young and to have ambitions. Earlier in the day an older man was looking our bikes over at the gas station and commented that the BMWs held their value too well and that is why he had never owned one but that he had owned nearly every other kind of motorcycle. Taylor seems to have grown tired of the novelty of having complete strangers asking about the motorcycles each time we stop and of asking where we are going to or coming from. I can see where this curiosity might come in handy some day if you were broken down or stranded someplace far from home.

When we stopped for a late lunch Taylor asked how I was feeling.

“I feel like an eighteen year old trapped in a sixty year old body and I’m not even sixty yet.”

I was plenty tired by the time I got home. Pulling off the big black boots was a chore and it took me an hour to work up the energy to jump in the shower.

This morning I slept late and when I finally left the house it was to go for a drive in the car to take some photos. Nothing too special in mind, just and excuse to use my camera. There were lots of pretty clouds in the sky but I only made a half-hearted attempt at taking photos. I forgot to bring my glasses so trying to look at the tiny maps on the iphone or reading the camera menus was a pain. I stopped at the dollar store and bought some cheap glasses but by then I was hot and worn out from jumping in and out of the car to take photos. I decided to take the long way home on the highway to give the inside of the car a chance to really cool off.

Back at home I debated going out for dinner. Everyone else had already eaten by then so I made some eggs and had breakfast for dinner, which was fine with me since I never got around to eating breakfast today. I have managed to accomplish a few things on my to-do list this weekend so I’m pretty happy. The fence company photo eventually made me think of the Eagles song, “Desperado.” (You’ve been out riding fences for so long). I guess I’m going to have that tune stuck in my brain the rest of the night. There are of course worse things in life and I would be happy if I could contribute something lasting of my own to popular culture.

Big Bang Beginnings

A lot of things seem to begin with a bang and radiate outwards from a central point. I like the symmetry of umbrellas and they are quite useful for a number of things like keeping the sun and rain at arm’s length or softening the light from a flash unit. A beach umbrella is a good metaphor for a day at the beach and makes me think of all the sights and sounds experienced in that particular environment and I seem to favor umbrellas as subjects for some reason.

I shot this photograph with my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash with the reversed lens or “flipped”, which causes the corners of the frame to stretch out and blur in a dreamy way. I like taking photos with old cameras except for the inevitable scratches and dust on the film that take time and patience to correct. For me film seems to testify to an event in a way that pixels cannot. I won’t bother arguing the merits of film versus digital, I’m just pointing out that they are both different and that each provide a unique photographic experience.

A cold front moved into town last night giving a hint that summer may eventually end, though I know the hot weather is not finished yet. In fact, things are predicted to heat up again by the weekend when I hope to go on a long motorcycle ride with no destination in mind. I’m hoping that the thought of doing that will carry me through the rest of this week.

No Rain

Beautiful Boots

Well, maybe not beautiful but sometimes what you need. The weekend never seems to last as long as I would like and I never have the energy to do everything I want to. I still had my soft box set up in the Living Room so I took a couple of photos of boots for no particular reason. One SB800 flash from behind in a 24×30 soft box and a 24 inch reflector in the front. Black card table up against the wall on the right so I’m getting some fill on that side as well. Flash at 1/4 power. f/9 at 1/250th. ISO 400.

These boot are very comfortable but are just about ready for some new soles. I polished them the other day and I think they look pretty good. One the other hand, I am pretty tired this morning and it’s hard to wake up. I just now remembered that I have some film to pick up today so I guess scanning and editing will be my photography project for this week. I’m also working a little bit of overtime this week, which was not by choice but rather, “Needs of the business.” Oh well, sometimes that’s what it takes to keep me in beans and biscuits.

I could go on and on about form, function, beauty and art but other people have done that before. Sometimes you have to look hard to see the beauty and thought behind a simple object. I like the fact that it is often the most profoundly simple things that actually have the most thought invested in them. The lack of anything that is not needed is the soul of any good design. I’m meditating on the Tao of boots and one light photography. Keep it simple, keep it real. It is the space between the spokes that makes the wheel useful and the space within the boot that makes it fit…

Cycles of Life

I got up early the other day to run some errands and wound up over at Donelson’s Motorcycle shop. They have a small museum there with some cool old bikes and racing memorabilia.

These guys are motorcyclists and have been all their lives. By comparison motorcycles are only a small footnote in my life. I’m only just now getting around to it or maybe back to it. I doubt that I will ever accumulate as many miles as a lot of people half my age have already traveled.

I walked around the room and looked at all the motorcycles and the photos on the walls of the fit young men full of confidence and swagger who rode them. I would have liked to see them race back then.

I thought about riding my own motorcycle to work be decided against it at the last moment. By the time I was ready to go home late that night a thunderstorm had started and I was glad to be dry inside the car. The hot weather continued the next day but I did go for a ride and picked up some boots and a helmet from James. After that I rode over to the park and then stopped for a late lunch. I was feeling tired so I went home and took a nap and dreamed about being young and taking long trips to far away places…

Backup Plan

Yongnuo RF-602

Some new triggers arrived in the mail yesterday. These are actually backup units for the ones I already have. Delivery takes about two weeks after you order these so as with everything else that can’t be sourced locally you should have some spares or else some very good friends that you can borrow from in a pinch.

I’ve been very happy with these wireless triggers over the past few months and feel like they represent a good value for people just getting into off-camera flash work and may not be willing or able to commit to more expensive systems with additional functions. Yes they are manual only and there is no HSS feature with these, though I did read about a hack of sorts the other day that I am anxious to try that out.

These little triggers just seem to work pretty consistently and have a decent working range. You can also use them as a remote shutter release providing you order the correct cable for your make and model of camera. For about $120 dollars you can buy enough of them to trigger four flashes and have a spare transmitter. I like to use Eneloop low self discharge AAA batteries in the receivers and I usually take the battery out of the transmitter when I am not using it to prevent accidentally draining the battery. These do ship with batteries (disposables) so you are ready to go right out of the box.

I use these triggers for manual flash with my Nikon SB900, SB800 and SB600 flashes. Of course I can always use the Nikon CLS function at close range or where I have a good line of sight between flashes and camera. The radio triggers come into their own when you need to position flashes in odd locations or inside of things where the flashes can’t communicate using the Creative Lighting System’s pulses of light to communicate exposure information. Manual flash allows for the most control while automated flash is good for changing conditions or fast moving subjects. It’s good to have the option to shoot either way.

Funduro Log – Day 5

Sunday

Sunday arrives and everyone is feeling tired and lazy. We watch some TV on the big screen until deep into the afternoon. I finally convince Taylor that it’s time for another ride and off we go again. I put the luggage back on the Funduro to see if it would feel any different. I actually forgot about it after we got going but then it was empty so it had little affect. We fiddled with the neutral light a bit and it started working a bit. Something probably needs to be cleaned or tightened.

I did a little better with my shifts today and we practiced stopping on loose gravel by locking up the back tire to see what it feels like when that happens. I was reminded of my first motorcycle lesson back in the 1970s riding a Honda Super 90 on wet grass. Today we looked for some trails to ride on but didn’t find any. My engine died on the way home after a hard stop, making me think the gas tank was getting empty so I switched on the reserve. Taylor seemed skeptical because he bought gas on the way home from the BMW dealer the other day when he picked up the bike. He didn’t seem to remember exactly how much gas he bought  so I’ll buy gas the next time I go out just to be sure.

On the way home we stopped for hamburgers and a cold drink. To me it seems like the stops punctuate the riding and put it into perspective. You can’t have a good ride without a good stop, at least that’s the way it seems to work in my mind. Before we stopped the low afternoon sun had been blinding as we road west but after we finished our burger stop we were treated to a glowing gold sunset.

That’s the end of my five day Funduro Log this week. I’m hoping there are many more tales to tell in the future. Maybe a Funduro road trip in September or a Funduro campout in October. It’s been a long while since I’ve been camping, maybe even longer than it’s been since I was on a motorcycle. Am I in my second childhood? I hope so…

Funduro Log – Day 4

It rained late last night and seemed to threaten rain again this morning. I knew it was only going to get either hotter or wetter as the day went on so I headed over to Taylor’s house to take another stab at riding the Funduro. My idea was to find a nice empty parking lot to practice stopping, starting and turning. Taylor took the lead and I followed behind, grateful not to be bothered with direction finding or worrying about what areas to avoid. We rode all around and finally stopped at an empty parking lot where he had me ride circles around a lamp post for about five minutes and then we started off down the road along River Des Peres and then to the military cemetery. I missed a few (dozen) shifts and took a few turns too wide but I was feeling a lot better in spite of the heat inside my helmet that felt like the inside of a large roasting pot.

When we stopped at a gas station, one of the other customers came over and looked at our bikes. He seemed to think the Funduro was some sort of a sport bike because of the fairing. I tried to explain to him that it was really an enduro or hybrid motorcycle that could also be ridden off the pavement. He finally got the connection when he looked at Taylor’s tall GS with the knobby tires. Then he started telling a story about riding dirt bikes to Baja Mexico. After that came the apocryphal story of finding an old Harley Davidson in a barn in perfect running condition with the exception of the dry-rotted tires… Time to go.

The heat was getting to me again so we headed back to the house and ate some lunch. After that we decided to take an excursion in another direction towards Creve Coeur Lake. It was a long way and I was ready for a drink of anything with some ice in it. We made another quick stop to rehydrate and decided to head over to the BMW dealer to pick up an axel bolt Taylor had ordered last week. I also wanted them to look at my neutral light, which had stopped working. They were already closing up shop when we arrived but Taylor got his part and they did look at my indicator light but the bike was too hot to do much with so we left that for another day. When we got back to the house dinner was on the stove and  there were plenty of cold drinks and ice in the fridge.

We ate dinner and then sat for a while and talked about the day until I managed to work up just enough energy to drive back home. I’ll sleep well tonight, with the sound of the road and the F650 engine thump-thumping softly in my brain.