The Best Camera…

1-Sep-2013 @ 17:32

…Is the one that’s with you

After a slight hiatus, I am returning to post on my much neglected blog!

25 minutes from Leeds City Centre

25 minutes from Leeds City Centre

The reason for my terrible treatment of the Weekend Photographer has been a competing hobby. I bought a new bike in April and have been making the most of summer weather exploring the countryside rather than taking photos. However, on a recent ride I decided to combine these two pursuits and resume writing and photographing to record my adventures.

Leeds Country Way

Leeds Country Way

Of course I wasn’t going to lug around my giant DSLR around the Yorkshire hills. So I had to get more creative with my photographic equipment. I tried a couple of old compact cameras, but they were just embarrassing. So I settled on using something I carry everywhere: my smart phone! Yes, the thing that makes calls, sends messages, emails and checks the entire internet for me might also be able to replace a big fancy camera in the right situation.

More scenic countryside

More scenic countryside

Now I know that these photos aren’t going to win the Pulitzer prize, or even get printed. But as a proof on concept, and for sharing on Instagram, they are more than good enough for me.

Warning, ducks!

Warning, ducks!

The ride I went on was from the Vertebrate Publishing West Yorkshire (South Pennine Trails) and took me from city centre Leeds out into the countryside in search of that most hallowed of byway: singletrack. You can check out the exact route I took here on Strava and observe the number of times I foolishly followed my own sense of direction rather than the GPS track I’d drawn using the excellent BikeRouteToaster site.

Phoebe and Bunty the Westies

I also met Phoebe and Bunty the Westies

Now I’m perfectly able to admit to still feeling like a beginner mountain biker, so its not the most extreme route. I did however, get to ford a stream and ride over some exciting tree roots in some woods. In fact the scariest moment was when I encountered a horse (and rider) on some narrow bridleway, fortunately this horse had a reverse gear so I was able to slowly pass it without falling off in panic!

Evidence of Leeds Festival

Evidence of Leeds Festival

The bits I didn’t enjoy were mainly the couple of kilometres I travelled along the A64 which delivered the wrong kind of adrenaline hit. Sadly this is probably part and parcel of ex-urban biking.

I was wearing trainer socks.

I was wearing trainer socks.

I did the route in just over two hours covering 41km and climbing 400m. This can and will be quicker next time I do it, now I understand when my GPS says turn left, it means “do it now” not “check in case its the next left”.

A muddy bike is a happy bike!

A muddy bike is a happy bike!

As I eluded to in the title of this post (artfully stolen from the excellent Chase Jarvis) I really did appreciate being able to stop whip out my phone and grab a good enough shot using auto rather than faff around with the big camera, changing settings and worrying about doing it properly because you feel you have to when you carry a DSLR.

In fact, once I got home I decided to go one better and edit the photos on my phone (using SnapSeed) just to prove I could do the whole thing without touching an actual computer. And while the shots aren’t going to make it into my portfolio I’m actually very surprised at how well they’ve come out and survived being edited on something with such a tiny sensor and screen.

 

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