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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.

The 'cockpit'.  With much patience towards my poorly explained diagrams Scott had made a camera case designed to be accessed with one hand while riding.  The white fabric was not only extremely tough, but the colour was chosen to stop the camera overheating.  Partially shown at the bottom of the picture was a top-tube bag to store the 2 lenses not in use

The ‘cockpit’. With much patience towards my poorly explained diagrams Scott had made a camera case designed to be accessed with one hand while riding. The white fabric was not only extremely tough, but the colour was chosen to stop the camera overheating (a problem I’d had with the black 1st prototype). The camera bag had a small mesh pocket in the lid for spare data cards.  Partially shown at the bottom of the picture was a top-tube bag to store the 2 lenses not in use.

A rare shot of Scott from the front.  My options for candid 'action' shots were limited (expectedly) by his faster riding speed.

A rare shot of Scott from the front. My options for candid ‘action’ shots were limited (expectedly) by his faster riding speed.

'Scott heading off into the distance' photos were much easier

‘Scott heading off into the distance’ photos were much easier

Sometimes chance gifted me a better angle - with Scott drinking (something we tried to do by the mouthful rather than the gulp)

Sometimes chance gifted me a better angle – here with Scott drinking (something we tried to do by the mouthful rather than the gulp)

Other times I had to be more organised and set things up (tell him to wait!)

Other times I had to be more organised and set things up (tell him to wait!)

Other times he was already in the right place

Other times he was already in the right place

Camera and Lens reasoning

One of the earliest kit upgrades I made when we got back from the 20 month Americas Trip was to invest in a smaller/lighter system than the Nikon DSLR I'd carried for 28,000km

One of the earliest kit upgrades I made when we got back from the 20 month Americas Trip was to invest in a smaller/lighter system than the Nikon DSLR I’d carried for 28,000km

Getting some power into the batteries - sadly the third party car charging cradles patently aren't designed to stand up to real-world handling

Getting some power into the batteries – sadly the third party car charging cradles patently aren’t designed to stand up to real-world handling

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

*not used

Before I offer some sort of critique, here are some photographs that demonstrate each lens:

The morning after the fire the night before (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

The morning after the fire the night before (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

Dawn light on camp (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

Dawn light on camp (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

Easy does it - taking things slowly over the remaining wet bits (Panasonic zoom at 100mm, f/2.8)

Easy does it – taking things slowly over the remaining wet bits (Panasonic zoom at 100mm, f/2.8)

A third wheel for water carrying and spare parts in time of need.  Softer sand, but well compacted (Olympus 12mm at f/2.0)

A third wheel for water carrying and spare parts in time of need. Softer sand, but well compacted (Olympus 12mm at f/2.0)

Gallahs in the dusk-light at well 41 (Panasonic zoom at 100mm, f/4.0)

Gallahs in the dusk-light at well 41 (Panasonic zoom at 100mm, f/4.0)

Down-dune speed (Olympus 12mm f/20)

Down-dune speed (Olympus 12mm f/20)

Observations:

  1. 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.
  2. The single solar charge of the 3rd party battery that did work took 3-4 hours.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Gorilla Hybrid mini-tripod did fine, though with the Panasonic zoom it wouldn’t have managed much wind.
  8. 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:

Just as we were standing at the top of a dune wondering how to get the disgruntled camels a few hundred metres away, a 4WD turns up (Panasonic zoom 100mm f/2.8)

Just as we were standing at the top of a dune wondering how to get past the disgruntled camels a few hundred metres away, a 4WD turns up (Panasonic zoom 100mm f/2.8)

This expanse of zero-shade coincided (fittingly) with lunchtime.  So, it was delayed until something better could be found (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

This expanse of zero-shade coincided (fittingly) with lunchtime. So, it was delayed until something better could be found (Rokinon 7.5mm Fish-eye)

Lizard escape tracks - they would run along the middle of the track before a sharp right angle turn into the bushes (Panasonic zoom 100mm f/2.8)

Lizard escape tracks – they would run along the middle of the track before a sharp right angle turn into the bushes (Panasonic zoom 100mm f/2.8)

I have made a Flickr set of a selection of CSR photos – please feel free to explore.

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