It Takes Pictures

Today’s was one of those furtive winter rides – the kind where you nip out for half an hour just to run the engine up to temperature because the roads are momentarily free of ice, the battery needs charging, and because you wonder if you’ve forgotten how to ride a motorcycle.
Only two things of note happened. I was asked a stupid question at the gas station, and I went faster than the law allows on the freeway.

Off on a Winter's ride

First the gas station: The fuel gauge on the Kawasaki reads a bar lower when the bike is on the side stand. Consequently, when you start the bike with a quarter tank, it flashes “FUEL” on the dash like it’s going to run dry any second. Knowing I only had a 30 minutes of riding before my tenders would freeze, I rode to the gas station.

Feeding the Z an energy drink

It was a busy place this afternoon – As I was selecting my fuel grade from the pump, the gentleman refueling from the other side of the island got my attention with an “Excuse me…”
I turned and said “Hi”.
He said “If you don’t mind my asking, is that some kind of camera on your helmet?”
I said “Yes, it is.”
He asked “What does it do?”

Ask a silly question...

I said “It takes pictures.”

“Oh,” he said, “I just hadn’t seen anything like that before.”

I left the conversation at that.

Once gassed up, I jumped on the freeway and followed some truck or another to about the next exit. I was getting cold. So when I had an opportunity, I passed, saw some open road, and covered the next mile in something less than thirty seconds. Then I got off the freeway, and rode home.

Getting on the freeway


8 Comments on “It Takes Pictures”

  1. Rob says:

    Howdy. I assume you’re using the GoPro HD Helmet HERO? I was thinking about buying one myself. Any advice? I dig the pics. Dig the blog…


    • Thanks for the kind words!

      You’re close on your camera guess, but not quite. I’m an early adopter – my helmet camera is the original Go Pro Hero Wide, with the motorsports package. It’s not HD.

      I do have some observations about the Go Pro cameras. They are tough, simple, and reliable, but not without some flaws. The camera was originally built (so I am told) to be a wrist-mounted still camera for surfers and kayakers. As a result, the status display and the controls are optimized for one handed operation with the camera worn as a wristwatch. For motorcycling, you would never do this, so the buttons and display are just awkward.

      For a new purchaser of a Go Pro I would suggest the following: Use only the best Lithium batteries. Regular alkaline batteries result in terribly short battery life, which means missing photographs and videos. Practice operating the camera extensively BEFORE you go riding. Try out all the settings, and review your test footage. That way you won’t be disappointed after a ride to find you shot all your video in upside down mode, or that you had the camera pointed too low or something. Carry spare batteries, and change the batteries after every three hours of video shooting or five hours of still shooting – the battery meter lies!

      But beyond that, I think it’s great. I have worn it during races, in all kinds of awful conditions, and it just keeps on working. A very good value. If you get one, and start taking pictures and video, please let me know – I’d love to see them!

      • Rob says:

        Thanks for the tips. I did buy one, and I took your advice. I got a good second battery, and I played around with it quite a bit to understand the settings before I got on the bike with it.

        I did my first test video today, and I pulled some snapshots from the video. They weren’t very good — I hope it takes better pictures in photo mode? I haven’t tried that yet. Maybe tomorrow!

        This is fun… I’d be glad to send you a couple pics, but I haven’t posted them anywhere yet.

      • That’s great! Take heart, the still pictures it takes are much more detailed than the frames of the videos it takes. When I first bought mine, I took nothing but video, and I loved watching the videos over and over. Lately I have just let it run in the mode where it takes a still photo every 5 seconds, unless I’m doing something completely new.

  2. Rob says:

    The weather hasn’t cooperated for me to try the photo mode, but here’s my first goofy attempt at making a video. Sorry about the music. It was cool in high school…

  3. Rob says:

    Hey Bill, me again. I just wanted to let you know that you and the GoPro inspired me to start my own blog. I’m loving these helmet-mounted photos. I don’t think I ever made a second video attempt; I’m having too much fun with the pictures.

    Check it out when you get a chance:

    I’m enjoying the updates here on your blog, BTW. It looks like you have a lot of fun with your daughter!

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