Saturday, 13 October 2018

Variations in On-Motorcycle 360 Photography

The other day I tried a variation on the on-bike 360° photography I've previously done.  Rather than mount the camera on a flexible tripod on the front of the bike, I attached a carbon monopod to the rear top-box rack, extended it and put the camera on top.

The bottom part of the monopod had a screw in point.  With that removed I could bolt this very light weight, carbon fibre monopod to the rear luggage rack (which itself is attached to the frame) very securely.  In almost an hour of riding on typically lousy rural Ontario roads both the camera and monopod were very secure and the photos showed no evidence of wobble or blur.

These are the parts used:


With the camera over a metre above and behind my head, the three-sixty degree pinched perspective makes the bike and I look quite far away:





After doing a round at full extension (the monopod extends to just over five feet or 160cms), I reduced the bottom leg.  I couldn't see the results of the shots until I got back and I was worried that the full extended monopod would produce wobble and blur or be structurally stressed (it didn't and it wasn't).  The monopod only weighs a couple of hundred grams and can hold 10 kilos or 22 pounds of gear - the Theta weighs less than a hundred grams.

With the camera reset closer to four feet above the back deck of the bike I did some more miles, including riding over some very rough roads.  Even in those circumstances the rig was solid, unmoving and took sharp photos, even in the relatively poor light (it had been heavily overcast, foggy and raining on and off all day).


The pavement leading up to the West Montrose Covered Bridge is particularly rough, but even then the photos were clear and sharp.
Good horizons on such a tall camera mount, and this is at the lower setting.


With the camera set so much higher, corners don't seem as dramatic.  When the camera is mounted on the rear view mirror it turns with the handlebars, amplifying the lean effect.
Perhaps the best example of the camera's lack of wobble was the shot from inside the covered bridge.  On an overcast, dim day in a poorly lit environment with the bike bouncing over rough pavement, the sharpness is still surprisingly good.  This was so dim that I had to raise the sun visor in the helmet:

This is a photo uploaded to the Theta 360 site and modified with the little planet geometry tool.

I'd call this a successful test.  Setting up this kind of monopod on a Givi tail mount for a top box works really well.  The monopod base fits snuggly in the tail mount, which is a very solid, over engineering piece of kit designed to carry potentially heavy luggage.  The monopod takes a big quarter inch bolt.  I used a big washer on the bottom and a smaller one that fit perfectly inside the lattice on the top of the rack.  With the monopod tightened down with a ratchet it was extremely secure.

The camera didn't wobble on full extension, but with the monopod retracted one level (the shortest, narrowest one at the bottom) the monopod rubber met the top of the luggage lattice and it was even stronger.  With the camera on the shortened tripod, the photos still offered a surprisingly distant perspective:


With the monopod shortened one level it's still well above six feet off the deck (I'm 6'3").
It's another unique perspective to pursue with 360° on-motorcycle photography, but I have to say, I think it feels a bit alienating because everything is so distant and you can't see the rider's face.  Short of flying a drone perilously close to a rider, there is no other way you could get this perspective though...

One of the few sunny moments on the ride - you can see the monopod's shadow on the road.




Something like this might look really cool on a bike doing a wheelie, or someone knee down in a canyon.  It also does a nice job of capturing the surroundings, but unless I'm looking for shots that are more about the scenery than the ride, I doubt I'll be doing it again.  I prefer the more intimate and exciting angles you get from mounting the camera closer and in front of the rider:


Monday, 8 October 2018

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Low Light Autumn 360 Camera On Motorcycle Photography

Taken around 4pm on a September 28th.  Sunset is about 2 hours off, but the sun is already low and a weather front is moving in bringing days of rain with it.  Not great light, but it shows you what a Ricoh Theta can pick up in poor conditions.  Most shots were taken while we were moving at 80+km/hr.

 



  
  



Autumn Colours

Between the cooler temperatures, the steeper angles of sunlight and the changing colours, Autumn ushers in a blast of colour that you can't find in the sun bleached heat of summer.  Golden hour starts mid-afternoon and lasts for 2-3 hours and the weather tends to have more moisture in it for spectacular sunsets and dewey mornings.  Fall has always been my favourite season.  Even fourteen years of teaching hasn't beaten it out of me (teachers are supposed to prefer summer).

On a cool Saturday afternoon I took a 90km loop southeast to a part of the Niagara Escarpment I don't usually ride as it's too perilously close to the GTA.  I found a few curves and enjoyed the Niagara biosphere green space before blundering too close to the cidiots lined up to get into the only apple farm they've hear of.  Once clear of the madness of lining up to buy apples, I found myself heading back home as the sun was setting into a wall of clouds hinting at the days of rain to come.

On bike photos were taken with the Ricoh Theta 360 camera attached to the windshield with Lammcou GoPro Phone flexible tripod.  The camera was set via my smartphone to take a photo every 10 seconds.  I then set and forgot about it and enjoyed the ride.  If you're curious about 360° on-bike shots, there are more details here.

Closeups were taken with the Canon T6i digital SLR using the Canon 50mm prime lens in the garden.  The gourds at Dar's Delights (good coffee, excellent donuts!) were taken with the OnePlus5 smartphone (which also remotely controlled the Ricoh).  Editing was done in Adobe's Lightroom which did well to pull details out of the darker riding photos.

There are two sets below.  The riding photos and the off-bike photos:




























Off-bike photography:































Variations in On-Motorcycle 360 Photography

The other day I tried a variation on the on-bike 360° photography I've previously done.  Rather than mount the camera on a flexible tri...