A large draw of the Canning Stock Route was the sheer space we’d be riding through. Latterly in the 2 year run-up to this trip it’s fair to say that the prospect of trying to communicate the country and our journey in images often took more prominence in my thoughts than the bicycle or details of the route.
Here’s I’ll relate some of the challenges there were to achieve what(ever) I have; in terms of light, terrain and the obvious limitations imposed by the need to carry 35 days food and up to 4 days water.
Camera and Lens reasoning
There are lots of ways of going ‘lighter’, but I chose a m43 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a less modern and imposing design plus the ability to have all the functions I wanted to use set by button or dial rather than the touch-screens that are on the increase.
For the trip, with regard to lenses, I wanted to cover landscapes, close-ups and zoom. I wanted to be able to work in low light and I had vague notions about getting some video footage too. While I will admit (in retrospect) that I would do things differently if anyone ever persuaded me to cycle the CSR again, I got nearly all the shots I had time and energy for. Some of them even came close to showing what it was really like.
After much searching I decided to use a Brunton Solaris 12 solar panel (12V/12W output) for charging, via the female car charger lead supplied. This (in theory) allowed me to use the 3rd party chargers available for my camera battery.
Photography kit list
- Olympus OMD EM5 body
- Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom lens + circular polarising filter
- Olympus 12mm f/2.0 prime lens + circular polarising filter
- Rokinon 7.5mm fish-eye lens
- Gorilla Hybrid mini-tripod
- Bamboo/cane home-fangled ball-head monopod*
- Filters (C-PL x 2, 6 stop ND filter* for 12mm lens and 10 stop ND filter* for zoom lens)
- 1 x Olympus BLN-1 battery, plus 1 x third party BLN-1 batter with car charger cradle plus lead
- Brunton Solaris 12 solar panel with female ‘car charger’ output
Before I offer some sort of critique, here are some photographs that demonstrate each lens:
- Third-party BLN-1 batteries and their car chargers aren’t up to being bashed around in my bar-bag (or they’re worse than that). That battery charged once only on the cradle before the cradle gave up the ghost (appeared to be a loose connection). In future, unless someone can come up with a robust BLN-1 car charger, I’ll bring a ‘proper’ fully charged battery per 5-7 days riding (more if cold). I was rescued by Mike, a 4WDer in Kunawarritji who had an EM-5 and the ‘proper’ Olympus charger allowing me to fully charge my single olympus own-brand battery – this lasted 8 days and 300 shots.
- The single solar charge of the 3rd party battery that did work took 3-4 hours.
- The Olympus OMD EM-5 can be set up to improve battery usage – particularly to minimise use of the touchscreen monitor. I solely used the viewfinder, and only occasionally reviewed photos after taking them.
- The camera didn’t overheat (despite temperatures around 40 degrees celsius at times), though my iPhone did (in black plastic bar-mount case, and used for back-up navigation and music sanity-control over the corrugations)
- The riding on this route is too bouncy to do handheld ‘riding action shots’ – the fangled monopod could have been left behind, though the piece of cane did a fine job propping my bike up at camp. A Go-Pro set-up would have worked, but this was not really an ‘adrenaline route so I didn’t regret not having one.
- I didn’t regret including any of the lenses. Changeovers worked, and they didn’t get too dusty – either on the camera or in the lens bag.
- The Gorilla Hybrid mini-tripod did fine, though with the Panasonic zoom it wouldn’t have managed much wind.
- Good quality circular polarising filters are a must in these bright conditions. I needn’t have brought the neutral density filters as I didn’t have the battery power to do time-lapse or star-trail stuff.
Some more examples:
I have made a Flickr set of a selection of CSR photos – please feel free to explore.