Bike or Car

Bike or Car… What has that got to do with photography? I’ll come to that very soon. Today, I was having a chat with one of my old friends. I am home, down with fever and on a very strict soup and diet regime. Going out for photography was out of question. Thankfully he spared time and chatted with me. Somehow we remembered the good old days when both of us had really inexpensive motorcycles (or bikes for short). As time passed by, both of us moved to different cities and kept our bikes. For me, my bike was the biggest help in reaching out to places unknown. Yes, this is where the photography comes in.


Hill Road

(A hill photograph that I had clicked while I went on a ride to the hills, long time back)


Now I drive a car and no longer own a bike. Has it impacted my photography? Yes, it has. I realized it today after thinking over the matter following a chat with my dear old friend.


Advantages with bikes –

  • It was less conspicuous and so I could park it in busy market places, villages or even on empty road-sides, without anyone actually raising an eyebrow. Parking my car in a busy market place is a big headache. So, street photography is easier if you own a bike (and by that I mean a low-end budget model). This is by far the biggest plus in favor of bikes.
  • With bikes, the rider is a part of the scenery whereas with a car, the scenery moves around as if on a television screen (I remember reading this in the book ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’). Being a part of the scenery slows one down and photographs tend to emerge all around. While on bike, I used to stop very frequently for capturing landscapes. Not so with my car.
  • My camera bag was usually on the pillion seat and so on most of my trips, I was on my own. My bike, my camera, my thoughts and my way of photography! I was the king.
  • I could explore thin mud-roads, trails and even the sea-side coconut grooves, with no discomfort at all. The number of photographs that I have of these locations, despite using a film camera, is mind blowing.
  • Once in a while I spotted a wild fox or a beautiful bird. The size of bike rarely frightened them. With my car, I have seen the foxes run away and the birds fly away, as soon as I stop on the way.


Nanda Devi Peak

(Snow covered Nanda Devi peak. Photographed with a long 500mm tele while the lens was mounted on a heavy tripod. The vignetting is due to poor quality lens.)


Advantages with car –

  • Protection from weather elements. I remember the time when my camera bag had got soaked in rain. With present day digital cameras, this would have been a catastrophe. (Old friends and photography)
  • I now carry really heavy tripod with me in car. Sometimes, it comes handy while using long teles (for example – in the photograph above). Can’t really imagine carrying such a tripod on a small bike. I have also carried a view camera in my car. Try doing that on a bike.
  • The air-conditioning doubles up as a dehumidifier. As long as the temperature difference between the inside of car and outside is not much, there are no chances of fogging. Dry interiors mean that I can be on the road for months during the rainy season without bothering about lens fungus. (Rainy Season)



My photography deteriorates when I don’t get out of my car. Still, what’s the final verdict? No, it is not the verdict that you might be thinking. Both cars and bikes have their own advantages and disadvantages. For me, I have realized that I make the best photographs, when I walk. The more I walk and explore, the better my photographs turn out to be. Even with a bike, my photographs were better when I stopped and took a walk rather than clicking while still on bike.

Bike or car? Maybe to reach a destination, but never to indulge seriously in photography. Walking is the best!

Bicycles? Well, I have never tried any serious photography while cycling so can’t comment.


Snow covered peaks

(Captured while on a short walk with friends. Do read about it here – When the clouds clear up!)

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