Photography From The Saddle

I have two great loves. One, which won’t surprise you, is two-wheeled transport. The other is photography – more particularly, landscape photography. Fortunately for me, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other very well.

One of my greatest pleasures is to load Bella with my photography gear, and to head off into the wilderness in search of good photographs. Bella, incidentally, is my 2009 Vespa GTV 250. Venturing out in search of photographs is my form of hunting or fishing (except that no animals get harmed in the process). I make the reference to hunting because – just like the fishermen can report – a very enjoyable day can be had without catching a thing. What a great reason to get out and ride!

In a light-hearted departure from the usual subject of this blog, I’d like to share with my readers a scooter/photography trip I took at this time last year.

ViewMasterBut first, a little back-story: as a child, living in my native England, I was bought a ViewMaster. I loved that thing. My very favourite was a disk consisting of images of Colorado. I’d spend hours peering into this 3D miracle, being transported to those mountains so far away, and dreamed that one day I would go there to see for myself. Possibly it was this that first sparked my love for landscape photography.

Fast-toward a (ahem) few years, and I found myself living in the good old US of A. Many years had passed, and I still hadn’t seen the place I dreamed of as a child. This time last year, I set about putting that right. I had to start working on that bucket list!

IMG_0123-1024So, I carefully attached Bella to the back of the motorhome, and Sally, (my dog) and I headed out west.

I really think you’d have to look hard to find a vehicle better suited to photography trips than a scooter. It is, of course, very frugal (not so the motorhome), but is also very light and manoeuvrable with excellent carrying capacity. I can take a scooter into places that I could not go with a car, and even my street motorcycle would be a burden. The scooter is made for the job.

So, the plan was to take myself out west, and head out on the scooter to photograph those places I’d dreamed of as a child. As it turned out, once I reached Colorado, I kept going west – using the scooter for photography outings on the way – until I reached the Grand Canyon.

It really was a trip of a lifetime, and Bella proved herself perfect for the job. I could even hang my camera bag onto the shopping hook in front of my legs.

It took something like forty years to get round to it, but I finally did make that trip to Colorado, and other destinations out west. Incidentally, Utah was an eye-opener. What a beautiful state!

I’d love to hear from some of you who use their scooters for photography. Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few of the shots that I got while I was out there. You can click the photo for larger versions. Until next time, Scoot Safely!

Crested Butte
Crested Butte, Colorado was an enchanting place. I could have stayed there a very long time. I was initially camped about thirty miles away (and it felt like thirty miles below), but the pre-dawn – and very cold – ride on the scooter was worth it when I got there. I loved the place so much, I went back for the motorhome, and brought it back up to stay there a couple of days. Magical!
The Rainbow Bolt
Talking of pre-dawn, I was riding through Crested Butte early one morning, and noticed that some cars had suddenly made a stop by the side of the road. When I looked, I could see why! I don’t think I’ve ever got a camera out of a scooter so quickly!
DSC_1852-1024
Still, I wasn’t alone to see the dawn in.
The Bridge
Another of Crested Butte.
DSC_2144-1024
Bella taking a rest. Bless her.
The First Snow
Now, wouldn’t this be a nice place to live!

I then moved on to Aspen to get the iconic shot of Maroon Bells. I camped about thirty-five miles away, got up at 4.15 in the morning, and rode the scooter up to Maroon Bells. It was freezing, but I wanted to get the pre-dawn shot of the mirror lake. Sadly, it was blowing a gale that morning, and there was no mirror lake!

Mountains on Fire
I did, however, get the dawn light catching the mountains afire as it crept over the horizon.

About 8.30, another photographer (there were plenty there) took pity on me, and let me sit in his car with the heater on for half an hour. I still hadn’t recovered from the freezing ride, and the gale blowing across the lake didn’t help any.

Maroon Bells
Maroon Bells in all its glory. Notice the snow blowing off of the peak. It sure was windy!

So, on to Utah. As I stated earlier, Utah was a real surprise to me. It is breathtaking. Of course, I couldn’t do Utah without taking Bella through Arches National park.

Cactus
Cactus and Balancing Rock. Arches National Park, Utah.

And wouldn’t you know it? I got talking to some people in the park, and it turned out they were fellow English folk from a scooter club in England! They sent me the following picture when they got back to home.

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Yours truly looking suitably weathered.
Rather them than me!
Rather them than me!

Of course, you couldn’t visit Arches National Park without getting the iconic Delicate Arch shot. I so nearly missed it! I was racing around the park – trying to get the last shot of the evening. It turned out there is a quite strenuous hike up to Delicate Arch of a mile-and-a-half. It was sunset, and the light was fading fast. I really didn’t think I was going to make it, but tried anyway. British grit, don’t you know. I made it to the top, set up my camera, went “snap” and an instant later it was like someone had turned the lights out. Dusk seems to fall rather quickly up there. But I got the shot!

Delicate Arch Sunset
Delicate Arch Sunset

From Moab, we headed to Monument Valley. When I got there, I thought: “Well, it’s really not that far to the Grand Canyon! I checked with Sally (my travel companion and partner in crime). She said it was OK, so off we went.

Sally looking to see how far to the Grand Canyon.
Sally looking to see how far it might be to the Grand Canyon.
Sally made it to the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Sally made it to the edge of the Grand Canyon.

It was a magnificent trip. The realisation of a childhood dream. Made so much better by being able to make my explorations on a scooter.

Incidentally, what a beautiful country my adopted home is!

The Watchtower. Grand Canyon, Arizona.
The Watchtower. Grand Canyon, Arizona.
I hope you find these posts useful. If you do, please consider supporting, while gaining access to all this information, and more, by purchasing: Proficient Scootering - The Comprehensive Guide to Safe, Efficient and Enjoyable Scooter Riding. It's available for all e-readers and in print.

4 thoughts on “Photography From The Saddle

  1. Alan, I’m jealous! You have a great eye, and take wonderful shots! You’re Sally smiling brought a smile to me as I had a dog that did the same when I was a child. Does Sally have any Australian Shepherd in her? I have an Aussie named Cosmo, and he is great fun. I wish I had your talent for writing and photography! Thanks for sharing your trip!

    1. Thanks, Steve. I’m not sure what Sally is. She’s a rescue; an adorable mutt. She picked me from the pound. I went to the pound to rescue a dog, and she was at the back of a cage which contained two dogs.

      She was unusually quiet. I opened the cage, crouched down, and she silently walked past the other dog, and simply rested her head on my shoulder. That was eight-and-a-half years ago now, and we’ve been together 24/7 since then. Yep, I’m crazy about dogs! 🙂

      I wouldn’t imagine she has much Aussie in her. She’s very laid-back, and very timid. She barked once, scared herself, and hasn’t done it since.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hello. Photography is one of my hobbies, as well, though these days I don’t give it as much time as serious photography would need I ride a GTS300. I post pics from my rides on MV. So far I haven’t gone to any exotic places, so my pics are from southern Ontario, Canada. Not as stunning scenery as mountains and canyons, but still very beautiful. If I could somehow haul the Vespa with my Corolla, it would increase my roaming range manyfold, but a trailer is out of the question…

    1. Hi Michael, sorry for taking so long to reply!

      That’s the great thing about photography, you can get great enjoyment from it no matter how “serious” you are. And it’s the perfect companion pastime to riding scooters.

      I find that one of the biggest challenges with photography — certainly in your own area — is overcoming laziness. How many times do you pass a place, see a potential photo, but it’s too difficult to stop or turn around; there’s traffic around you, etc? I’ve learned over the years to force myself to turn round, and work the scene. That’s where a scooter excels. They’re so small and manoeuvrable that it makes it much easier.

      I think I may have seen some of your shots on MV. I’ll go there and take a look.

      Thanks for the comment!

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