Great Gear – GoPro

“Is that one of them surfer cameras?”

It was 6am in front of a semi-cheap hotel in Rahway, near the NJ Turnpike. I was attaching my GoPro Hero III to a mount I had placed on the nose of my BMW 1200GS. You can see it in the photo above just below the headlight. A small crowd of construction guys was standing outside smoking. It looked like they were waiting for a bus.

“Yeah.  First time I’m using it.  I wanted to try it out to see how it does.”

“Nice-looking bike you got.”

“Thanks.  A little tall for me, but it’s a beast.  Do you ride?”

“No.  I used to.  Don’t have time and I don’t have a bike.  Where are you going?”

“Times Square, then riding out to California.”  By now several others had come over.

“Dayam.  All alone?  Where’s your GPS?”

I pointed to a piece of paper in the clear part of my tank bag.

He turns to the others with (I think) a fake Latino accent, “Yo, he don’t need no stinkin’ GPS.”

Several laughs.  The rest of the crew came over. I usually have folks stop and chat about bikes when I’m stopped for gas or leaving a restaurant/hotel.  When they realize I’m on a multi-day road trip, they all want more details.  Particularly on this trip when I was out west and they saw my NC license plate.  Cross-country road trips seem to spark everyone’s imagination.

“First time cross-country.  Looking forward to getting out there.  I’m going to try to get to the city before it gets too crowded.”

I pressed the shutter on my GoPro, put my earplugs in, put my helmet on and started the engine.

The crew waved as I pulled away.  I appreciated their interest in my trip.  I would be surprised to find a guy in America that doesn’t want to take a solo motorcycle trip across the country. The stars lined up for me and it was a great excuse to try out a GoPro.

Here is a short video showing clips from that trip with some Lynyrd Skynyrd background music.

No editing other than a quick transition between segments.  You can see how the GoPro camera performs on different terrain, various speeds and weather conditions.  The section on the wooden bridge was backlit, after rain, with a bug splattered in the upper right of the lens.  Unusable without lots of processing.  The best clips are well-lit from behind at highway speeds.  With no bug splatter.  That final clip is shortly after sunrise heading west on I-70 the other side of Denver. The sun was behind me.  The air was dry and crisp, it was about 40 degrees.  Absolutely perfect conditions for this camera.

And for riding.

Most of the video footage was great.  I liked the camera, but I found myself bored watching the videos.  In fact, I  haven’t looked at them again until today when I pulled them off a backup hard drive and put the clips together.

On the way back, I tried out the still photo feature.  I set the GoPro up to take a photo every few seconds.  I liked this much better and is now the default way I use my GoPro camera.  Below is a time-lapse of the ride heading east from Eureka to Ely on Highway 50.  75 miles in a minute.  This ride was later in the day with the sun at my back.

It’s a fun video for me to watch – even with no soundtrack.

Here’s another shorter one that I took while riding in the rain in Oklahoma.  Watch to around the 15 second mark – the camera caught a lightning strike.

I like taking photos while riding, but I don’t always want to stop to take a photo.  Now I use the still photo feature exclusively when mounted on my bike.  I have upgraded to a Hero 5 and have set it up to take a photo every .5 seconds, using a 64GB card and an external power supply to keep it continuously shooting.  Most of the thousands of photos are throw-away because I don’t use them for time lapse videos any longer.  I usually get around 20 to 50 from each trip that I really like – never would have gotten them otherwise.

Recently, I was riding on the Skyline Drive in Virginia.  It was questionable weather and I wanted to outrun an upcoming storm.  I still wanted some photos and I solved that issue by pulling onto the interesting overlooks, pointing my bike in the direction of the photo I wanted, waiting a few seconds, then pulling away.  You can see a nice photo of the storm that I got this way.

I’ll have a future Great Gear post that gives some details about how I use the GoPro.  In the meantime, please take a look at the photos below of some of my favorite still photos taken with my GoPro.  These are great little cameras and I enjoy using mine attached to my bike.

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