How to Photograph a Bike Tour: Recording the Experience
Photographs remind people of the highlights of life events, and they are often some of the most cherished records of those times. Now that it’s so easy to capture almost any moment using a smartphone, gathering those special images is easy.
While the difficult logistics of photography are a thing of the past for all but the serious practitioner, it still pays to think about form and composition. Taking a few moments to choose a good backdrop and considering the framing of your subject can be the difference between photos you will print and review and a memory card clogged with indistinct blurs!
On a bike tour, you often get up early, and the morning offers amazing light. It’s often the most magical part of the day, with streaks of red, orange, purple and blue on the horizon and sometimes a light mist too. These evocative conditions make for artistic images, and gleaming bikes can reflect the first rays of the ride.
Backroads Pro Tip
The morning is a great time to record the place where you are staying, so wander around the grounds and capture some shots before taking off for the next leg of the ride.
During the ride, use natural features to make your photos dramatic. The brows of hills usually afford great vistas, and they also tend to be places you stop for a breather. Zoom in on other riders still grinding upward. Be especially careful to capture their contorted faces expressing exhaustion—and perhaps a bit of pain.
On the highest peaks, stage a victory shot. The customary practice is to lift your bike above your head like a champion thrusting a trophy to the sky.
And what bike tour would be complete without regular stops for coffee and beer? Each drink is an important part of any cyclist’s intake. When the group is relaxing with the first espressos of the day in a small town—trusty steeds lined up against the wall—stop a local, and ask nicely to have your picture taken. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language. Everyone gets the idea if you hold up your camera or phone and indicate which button to press.
Eating is another important part of the day on a bike tour, and food always makes a colorful subject for a good photograph. Again, ask someone to take a photo of you and your family and friends. (If you don’t ask others to help, you are in danger of having an album full of images taken from the angle of an extended arm!)
There are many services on the Internet that allow you to make printed albums out of a collection of photographs. These are cheap and worthwhile. Even in this digital life, it is easier to pull a book from a shelf than it is to gather around a monitor.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of taking photos during your bike tour, though, is that your shots can remind you what cycling is all about: getting away from the bustle of the modern age and enjoying the timeless pleasure of self-propulsion.