by Steve Palinscar
You may have heard of photo walks – organized walks with a camera for the purpose of taking pictures. But we are, after all, cyclists, not walkers. As cyclists we can easily cover distances even Volksmarchers can only dream of. We often go to scenic areas rich in photographic opportunities but not so spectacular or famous as to be worth a special drive just to take pictures.
Why a special photo ride? Why not just bring a camera on a club ride?
That’s what Dan Lehman does, after all, and we all know his work. Dan’s an A rider, and if he tags along with a CC ride, he’s fast enough to be able to stop, take pictures and still catch up. I’m dropped the instant I stop, even just long enough to remove a wind breaker; if I stop long enough to take pictures I probably won’t see the ride again.
But imagine a ride whose purpose is to combine riding with photography. What I like might not be what appeals to you, and I certainly can’t tell you what you should be photographing, so there won’t be designated "scenic vistas” where everyone will be expected to stop and take pictures. The route would be made up of scenic stretches rich in target opportunities, where you could stop and take pictures whenever you saw something interesting – and possibly others seeing you might stop there as well -- followed by designated regrouping areas where all would gather; "transit stages” would let the group hurry though the less photogenic places while getting in some uninterrupted riding; and regular rest stops would allow for the usual comfort breaks. Afterwards, participants would be able to post their photos in a Flickr group pool.
Some compromises will have to be made: this would be first and foremost a bicycle ride. Dawn and dusk might be ideal times for photography but not necessarily for bicycle riding, so we might not have the best possible photographic light. While for some the pursuit of the ultimate landscape requires tripods and large format view cameras, such a ride will be no place for the Linhoff and the Manfrotto: even with the best of good will, I can’t imagine anyone's going to wait that long for you at a regrouping spot. Sometimes we’ll go on roads that are great for cycling but not necessarily for photography, too.
I’ve never been on an official organized photo ride, and I’m not even sure if such a thing exists anywhere. I’m making this up as I go, based on what I wish had happened on rides when I’ve brought my camera, and on what actually worked on tours when I did have it. Partly my goal is to figure out whether such a thing could work, and if so how best to organize it in order to set a pattern others might follow in future.
Interested? While there are many scenic places in the PPTC riding area, I’m most familiar with those in Southern Maryland. For a first attempt, I’ll begin with a route in the Amish area in Charles and St. Mary’s counties on Saturday, May 21, starting from Oak Ridge Park at 9:00 am. The route is 38 rolling miles, with two official rest stops (one a WC break at an Amish schoolhouse, the other at a country store) and 1200 feet of climbing. See the Ride Schedule to register!