Six Tips for Photography while Cycling

If you have a passion for photography and also enjoy cycling, then combining the two can make for a rewarding day out. As a avid cyclist myself, I often like to explore new routes and look for eye-catching scenes to photograph. This makes for a training ride that has a double purpose: keeping fit and satisfying your desire to take better photography. When on a bike, you can travel so much further and see so much more than if you were on foot. However, that said, there are advantages and disadvantages with both approaches. The main disadvantage when cycling with a camera is that it can be a little cumbersome the larger the camera. I often carry a small Canon Powershot in my rear pocket on most of my exploration training rides and it works really well for shooting while on the move. However, if you take an SLR camera with you, you’ll need to stop more often to compose good shots.

The limitation with the small camera is that the image quality is not as good as the SLR but the convenience of portability is the biggest plus. In a couple of recent training rides I’ve gone on – 150kms in Taizhong and a couple of days ago up in the Wulai Region, I took my Nikon D90 camera with me slung over my back. It worked well but just had to be more careful about handling the camera and keeping it safe from debris and potential rain showers. I found that my quality of shots improved dramatically and I would spend more time composing good compositions when I found a good vantage point. I don’t just shoot any pretty thing I see during my ride, but seek out potentially more striking scenes that can evoke an emotional response from whoever will view the images. For example, as a cyclist I find that looking at images with an empty road snaking through beautiful scenery inspires me to go hunting for those roads myself. I enjoy the thrill of exploring new routes and finding good images to remember it by.

Today’s posting is going to close with six tips for taking better photography whilst out riding:

  • Choose either early morning or late afternoon to start the ride as this is the best time of the day to capture the “golden light” that photographers often seek.
  • Always think in terms of what would make a “shot of the day” type of image rather than just snapping any pretty scene you see. Be selective.
  • If you see something particularly striking, don’t just settle for the quick snapshot but spend some time shooting the scene from different perspectives. If you are willing to take the SLR with you on the bike, you’ll be more inclined to do this.
  • Think about what other people would consider as a great shot that would inspire them to go out exploring themselves and seek their own epic ride images. Also, don’t forget to take images that inspire yourself.
  • Explore routes off the “beaten-track” instead of sticking to the popular routes. You’ll find alot of gems that are undiscovered by most cyclists or even regular tourists.
  • Sometimes it is nice to include your bike within the composition of your photograph as it adds another dimension of interest.
Stay tuned for my next blog posting as it will be a sequel to this one with additional tips and ideas for taking brilliant shots whilst out cycling.  If you have enjoyed reading my postings, please consider following me on twitter: Bikedan and RSS my website for automatic up-dates to your reader each day.
  • Craig Ferguson (@cfimages)

    Good tips and beautiful photos.

  • Todd

    I have my D90 slung over my back in a small shoulder bag during most of my rides. The bag has a small waterproof cover that can easily be pulled on or off in case of unexpected rain.