Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Texan in Tibet - Media Media Media

I tried to convince myself that I didn't need to take a GoPro on this trip.  I need to ride as lean and unburdened with equipment as possible.  But one camera isn't much to carry, is it?  Honestly, anyone who has a GoPro knows you can never just grab a camera and go.  First, I have to decide which camera to grab.  I bought a Hero 3+ model cheap on eBay when the Hero 4 came out and people were dumping the "old" stuff.  Then, I bought a Hero 4 cheap from the same eBay seller a year later when the Hero 5 came out.  I'm not sure which one of us was he sucker.  The only brand new current model (at the time) GoPro I ever acquired was the GoPro Hero5 Session, which is a tiny cube-shaped form factor.  I actually won that one.  Now they're up to the Hero 8, but I've decided my old cameras will suffice.  I've updated them to the latest firmware and really can't justify the expense of buying new when I rarely use them.

Once you enter GoPro world, it's a given that you will load up on the plethora of accessories that are out there.  For example, one camera battery is never enough and a bulk pack of three aftermarket batteries is the same price as one genuine GoPro battery.  Now that I have four batteries, I need an extra multi-battery charger.  But what if I need a charge and there's no AC power available?  No problem.  The handy cigarette lighter and USB port adapters are there.

While the cameras themselves are pretty tough, they still need to be housed in a waterproof case.  Since 90% of my adventures are on motorcycles in the worst of environments with rocks flying about and branches slapping my helmet, having a spare protective housing is a must.  My other 10% is diving, so yeah, I need a dive housing.  Of course I want clear, vibrant underwater colors at depth.  No problem.  Amazon Prime delivered a snap-on polarized filter pack in two days!  I don't want to lose my precious camera on a dive, so the floating handle with telescoping selfie stick is also a must.

These Are Just the Parts I'm Taking!
So now my cameras are fully-powered and safely protected in their waterproof housings.  Still, I can't exactly hold onto and operate them while I navigate through third and fourth world terrain.  GoPro and hundreds of low-cost knock off vendors have an answer for that with a seemingly unlimited selection of clever mounts.  There are rigid mounts, articulating mounts, extending mounts, tripod mounts, tabletop mounts, automobile dash mounts, bicycle/motorcycle handlebar mounts, helmet mounts, wrist/glove mounts, coal miner-style head mounts, and even chest, arm, and shoulder body mounts.  And yeah, I have at least one of each of them.  I've even fabricated a special mount to collect some reverse view footage.  I never used it though.  All of my street and dirt bike helmets have at few of the standardized GoPro attachment plates affixed to them.  The above-mentioned mounts attach to these plates, allowing me to capture any angle - just in case something interesting happens.

All my epic footage has to be stored someplace, so it's a Good thing SD memory prices have fallen through the floor.  I can stuff a fair amount of video on a 16GB card.  But my audience (pretty much just me and a few friends) deserves to live vicariously through my adventures in cinematic 1080p ultra-wide format at 60 frames-per-second, so at a minimum, 64GB memory cards are a must.  I would say 4k uber-wide, but my newest GoPro camera is six years old.

My first riding video was shot with a standard definition video camera mounted on my handlebar behind a huge windscreen.  This was from a motorcycle trip where I took my mother from Texas to Whidbey Island, WA for her 72nd birthday.  The low-quality footage included sun glare and shaky imagery, but the background music in the edited upload was appropriate. It was a time-lapsed trip across Death Valley from California to Nevada...In August.  I've done smarter things, but even riding two-up through 130°F temperatures, we made it across and didn't die from heat exhaustion. I must admit there were moments when it felt like I was sitting in front of a confection oven, but I knew if I stopped, I might not start again.

On my Alaska trip, I used a slightly improved bullet-shaped camera from Drift Innovation that shot 720p high definition video.  This camera was unique because the lens could be rotated 180° allowing for numerous mounting options for the small form factor camera.  I captured this deer strike image from video shot traversing Bighorn Pass in Wyoming.  It had a wristband remote control allowing me to keep both hands on the bars and my eyes on the road.  The video from that camera provided excellent riding scenery and I also used it for the commentary footage in what would become my Alaskapade 2011 video.

For the reasons described in my first entry in this series, I never produced a trip video from my Australian Outback crossing from Airlie Beach to Fremantle on a Suzuki DR400 dirt bike.  I found this footage of me goofing around after my accident in the Simpson Desert.  I haven't even looked at the other footage I shot on that trip.  Perhaps this trip will be different.  I hope to capture some amazing footage, but at this point, I have no plans to produce anything like the Alaskapade video.  I suppose time will tell.