My Former Travelling Studio

I love to use my motorcycle to travel and take me to the sites I like to photograph. There is nothing like being able to sit there and see all around you the grandeur of the west as the smells and sounds of the road caress your senses.

This is a shot of my 2003 Road Glide I named Devilhog. I gave it that name because it was assembled on April 1, 2003 and had a VIN number that ended in 666. I rode this bike over 90,000 miles until I had a rear tire blow out on I-80 just east of Bonneville at the east bound 26.5 mile marker. I was cruising along at 80 miles an hour when suddenly the bike started shaking violently. I fisrt thought it was a tank slapper coming on but then I realized it was a blown rear tire. I had just passed a string of vehicles and was slightly ahead of an 18 wheeler when it went down on it’s right side. Fortunately for me the engine and saddlebag guards kept me from being caught under the bike and we both slid down the highway separately.

I was wearing my leather jacket and full face helmet which I’m certain saved my life. The helmet was scraping along on the face shield as I was sliding on my right side. I remember thinking this isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be; then I started thinking “damn I’m broken down on the interstate with a flat tire”. LOL … Little did I know that my bike was destroyed and I was lucky to be alive. I sprained my left wrist and had a small cut on the back of my right hand where my glove had ripped but otherwise I was OK. Some wonderful ladies who were ahead of me and saw the crash in their mirrors came back and helped me gather all my gear from the highway. They stayed with me until the EMTs and Police were on the scene and I was in safe hands.

I was amazed to find that all my stuff was intact, though my luggage was pretty tattered, and my camera, lens and laptop were unharmed. I’ve since replaced the Devilhog with a 2007 Road Glide and switched from Michellin brand tires to Metzlers. Michellin discontinued the series of tires for Harleys I was using and I suspect it was because they were not safe to ride on. I didn’t have the presence of mind to get the rear tire back so that I could find out why it blew so I probably passed up a chance to be compensated for my loss. My consolation is that I walked away from what could have been a catastrophic event because I chose to ride wearing the proper safety gear and because luck was with me that day.

This photo was taken the year before my crash; in Canyonlands National Park. I processed it using Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust Spicify preset. Compositionally I like the way the bike’s position accentuates the perspective in the scene as the road itself leads your eye from the foreground to the horizon and the amazing rock formations of Canyonlands.

2 thoughts on “My Former Travelling Studio

  1. Nick,
    Several decades ago, my dad and I decided to take a shot at making tables for Long John Silver’s Restaurants. The fact that we had no money and no wood working equipment did little to stymie our enthusiasm. From scatch, we made a table saw, dust collection system, belt sander and other tools needed to manufacture tables and benches. Our work shop was a 20′ x 20′ garage and we naively thought we could supply the needs of a restaurant chain that was expanding like gangbusters. We were thinking 15 or 20 tables a week, they needed hundreds per week. A friend suggested that I visit a modern woodworking shop to see how our ‘made from scratch’ equipment compared to the level of automation that was common in the furniture making business at that time. I made that visit and I knew immediately that making tables for Long John Silver was not in the cards for me and my dad. There was no way we could afford the kind of operation needed to be competitive. The impossibility of it all really was depressing.

    I marvel at your photos through my amatuer photographer eyes and thoughts of automated furniture making equipment enter my mind. Is reaching your level possible? I am depressed but will keep plugging along. Hope to meet you one day.

  2. Doug I appreciate your comments but I’ve been at this for over 40 years. I too built furniture and took a shot at mass production only to discover as you and your Dad did that the logistics and equipment needed were too great for my limited budget.

    As for becoming a better photographer I think it’s mostly about practice, practice, practice. After many clicks of the shutter some things become second nature. I had one big advantage in getting this far; it was going to the Louisville School of Art. There I learned about design, composition, color and how to use f-stops and shutter speed to get the proper exposure. My photography professor told us to go look at the work of as many photographers as we could because we would learn a lot by seeing what those who proceded us had already done. I tried to read everything in the LSA library and to this day I study the work of as many photographers as I can. By looking at the work of the greats in the field you see the ways that they approached the very same themes and subjects you desire to capture.

    As far as reaching my level I can only say that if a guy from my admittedly meager start in life is any indication then yes all it takes is a love of photography and passion for your craft. If you ever have a chance to see the Anthony Hopkins movie ” The World’s Fastest Indian” get it and see what passion for something can lead to. The story is about a man’s singleminded focus on the one thing he really wanted to accomplish and how he followed his muse to the end of his life. It is one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen and fits nicely with my personal ethic of never ever letting anyone convince you you can’t excel at your craft.

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