Bikepacking in an attempt to go lighter

I recently returned from a trip to cycle the Northern Ireland Coastal Route.

Once my bike was fully loaded it was far from sprightly and steered like a supertanker so I figured my next cycling trip would need to be significantly lighter.

Bikepacking Bags attached onto Genesis Tour de Fer

Bikepacking Bags attached onto Genesis Tour de Fer

Bikepacking Bags Starting from the left

  • Seat Bag up to 16 Litres – Ortlieb
  • Frame Bag – Blackburn
  • Fuel Tank – Topeak
  • Handlebar Bag – Ortlieb
  • Handlebar Accessory Pouch – Ortlieb
Ortlieb Handlebar Bag mounted on a Genesis Tour de Fer

Ortlieb Handlebar Bag mounted on a Genesis Tour de Fer

Ortleib Seat Bag mounted to a Brooks B17 on a Genesis Tour de Fer

Ortleib Seat Bag mounted to a Brooks B17 on a Genesis Tour de Fer

Bikepacking gear mounted to Genesis Tour de Fer

Bikepacking gear mounted to Genesis Tour de Fer

img_2657

2 Fluid and one Fuel Rack mounted on a Genesis Tour de Fer

2 Fluid and one Fuel Rack mounted on a Genesis Tour de Fer

 

So in these bags here is a complete kit list

Shelter & Sleep

  • Alpkit Hunka Bivvy (Seatbag)
  • Alpkit Tarp (Seatbag)
  • Thermarest Neotherm Mattress (Seatbag)
  • Blacks Cosmos 600 4 Season Sleeping Bag (Handlebar Bar)
  • Thermarest Fleece Pillow Stuffsack (Seatbag)
  • Exped Air Pillow (Seatbag)

Cooking

  • Mini Trangia (Seatbag)
  • Small Trangia Methylated Spirit Fuel Bottle (Frame)
  • Lighter & Spare Lighter (Seatbag + Tuel Tank)
  • Titanium Spork (Fuel Tank)
  • Foldacup (Seatbag)
  • Water Bottle x 2 (Frame)

Clothing (All in Seatbag)

  • Merino Wool Long Pants – Icebreaker
  • Merino Wool Long Sleeve Shirt – Icebreaker
  • Merino Wool Socks -PHD
  • Merino Wool Beanie – PHD
  • Thin Gloves – North Face
  • Down Hooded Coat – Mountain Equipment
  • Merino Wool Buff

On Bike Clothing

  • Helmet
  • Winter Gloves
  • Merino T Shirt – Icebreaker
  • Shorts – Endura
  • Fleece – Arcteryx
  • Waterproof Jacket – Marmot (Rolled up on Seatbag)
  • Bamboo Boxer Shorts (Not keen on padded shorts)
  • Merino Wool Socks
  • Cycling Shoes – Scott
  • Merino Wool Buff

Genesis Tour de Fer Specification

The bike is a 2015 model and has had mudguards and racks removed.

  • Frame Genesis Mjolnir Seamless DB Cr-Mo
  • Forks Cr-Mo Unicrown
  • Front Derailleur Shimano Alivio FD-T4000
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano Alivio RD-M4000
  • Shifters Microshift BST09 9sp Barcon
  • Front Friction  Rear Index
  • Chainset Shimano FCM521
  • Chainrings 44/32/22T
  • Bottom Bracket Shimano BBES2AK, 68×121mm
  • Cassette Shimano CSHG400 11-32T 9sp
  • Chain – KMC X9
  • Brake Levers Tektro RL-340
  • Rims Alex Rims DH-19, 32H
  • Hubs Shimano Deore M525, 32H
  • Spokes Sapim Race DB w/ Brass Nipples
  • Tyres Schwalbe Marathon GreenGuard 700×35c

There are a few extras spread across frame bag, fuel tank and accessory pouch

  • Camera / Memory / Batteries
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush / Paste
  • Pack Towel
  • Deodrant
  • Notebook / Pen
  • Iphone
  • Power Bank
  • Food for a day and a half
  • Front and Rear LED Bike Lights
  • Head Torch Petzl Tikkina with AAA Batteries

Toolkit (Frame Bag)

  • Multi Tool
  • Spare Inner Tubes
  • Quick Patch
  • Latex Gloves
  • Chain Lube
  • Rag

The Ortleib bags come with a five year guarantee which I needed to test when one of the plastic clips broke on the seat bag.  Within two days of contacting the distributor (Lyon Outdoor) a replacement clip arrived in the post.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Week on St Agnes

In a rather hectic schedule I found a week where I could explore St Agnes with little or no interruptions.

DSC_0094

Plane to St Mary’s from Lands End

St Agnes is part of the group of islands called Scilly.  Around 29 miles off the coast of Cornwall. It is the most South Western part of the UK and a long swim from here would eventually bring you to America assuming the currents don’t crash your small and frail body into the rugged and jagged rocks around the Bishop Rock Lighthouse.

Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Bishop Rock Lighthouse

In order to reach the Scillies you become a slave to public transport.  That 29 mile stretch of water can be overcome by boat or plane.  A while ago there used to be a chartered helicopter ride from Penzance but the heliport is now a Sainsburys supermarket.

The Scillonian III

Accommodation and camera kit would have to all fit into a rucksack on my back so I needed versatile equipment and to travel light.

In the rucksack the camping gear took up most of the room leaving space for a body and a couple of lenses, a travel tripod, slimmed down filter kit and cleaning essentials.  No charging or laptop so enough batteries and memory for the week.

My choices were the Nikon full frame kit, the Nikon crop frame kit or the Fuji X kit.  Now Fuji has strange battery consumption and often in a days shoot I can consume five or more batteries.  This excluded the Fuji’s from my choice.  The Nikon full frame kit with body and 2.8 lenses is just too bulky and heavy   So this left the Nikon D3200 with 18-55 and 55-200 compact VR lenses.  Both of these have 58mm filter thread so the smallest Hitech filters were taken too.  Circular Polariser, Graduated, Neutral Density, Warming and holder were also packed.  To complete kit a Velbon Ultrek travel tripod, infra red release and some gaffer tape.

All this was packed into a fleece camera insert and then into the side pocket on the Lowepro Sport 200 rucksack.  This has been slightly modified with the padded area removed so when not photographing the bag can be use for hiking and travel.

Resolution on the D3200 is awesome and when keeping to low 100 ISO I was comfortable that results would be outstanding.  I may not be able to blow images up to fifty inches but with a steady hand and secure tripod combined with the vibration reduction in the lenses I felt confident with the image quality.

The D3200 is aimed at consumers but somewhere deep within the menu options all the functions are there.  The scene selections are also a quick way to access aperture control. It would have been good to have two bodies as there was a lot of lens swapping during the trip.

Tropical sand and arctic temperature sea

Tropical sand and arctic temperature sea

Walking up to the dock I spotted our vessel that would take us to St Mary’s the Scillonian 3, a shallow draft passenger and cargo ferry.  The draft makes it a bit bumpy in anything other than flat calm seas so there is a plentiful supply of sick bags strategically dotted in wall dispensers around the ship.

DSC_0028

Looking towards St Michaels Mount from the rear of the Scillonian III

Sitting on the rear facing observation deck St Michaels Mount looked stunning in the distance. This was my first chance to confirm that the 55-200 and the vibration reduction would be up to the job.  About half an hour into the journey things began to get choppy and increasingly greener people were retching into those sick bags.  Not long after the man selling pasties had abandoned his post and mopped up a sea of puke in the lower cabins instead.  Luckily I don’t suffer from sickness so for me a pleasant journey across.

Arrival in St Mary’s was gorgeous, the sea was shimmering and the sky a vivid blue.  All the boats in the harbour bobbed pleasantly and the view across the bay towards the lifeboat station was the first Scilly picture I took.

DSC_0054

St Mary’s Lifeboat Station across harbour and bay

We waited for the smaller Spirit of St Agnes inter-island ferry to take us to our St Agnes island hideaway.  The first interesting spot on the island was a day mark.  Looking from a distance the gable end of a two or three storey house.

DSC_0061

St Agnes Daymark 

Tent pitched and some food consumed and it was time to explore. Right next to the campsite is Troytown Down which is a mix of gorse, grass and heather punctuated by lumps of granite which have been sculpted by nature into some amazing shapes. Over the years people have named these rocks.

DSC_0007

St Mary’s Pirates are here

The campsite is right on the end of the island and the sea is a stones throw away from the boundary wall. The sea is quite rough here and at times there is no gentle lapping of waves on the rocks. More an ever increasing roar similar to what would be experienced on the edge of the M25.

DSC_0292

Gugh is an island attached to St Agnes by a sand bar that is dry at low tide. There are less than ten permanent residents on the island. The coast is mainly rock with the occasional beach. The general ground is gorse with rocks and a few small trees.

DSC_0262

Gugh Sand Bar

There are some rocks naturally carved by the sea and some that have been placed by humans at a similar time to Stonehenge.

DSC_0143 (1)

The old Man of Gugh is a 3 metre lump coming out of the ground at a forty degree angle.

Old Man of Gugh

Old Man of Gugh

Here are a selection of other images taken.

Troytown Maze

Troytown Maze

More tourists leaving their mark

More tourists leaving their mark

The birdlife is really tame and sometimes cheekily sharing your sandwich

The birdlife is really tame and sometimes cheekily sharing your sandwich

Nags Head rock

Nags Head rock

Tourists making their mark in shells

Tourists making their mark in shells

Some amazing rock formations sculpted by nature all over the island.  This one reminded me of an elf

Some amazing rock formations sculpted by nature all over the island. This one reminded me of an elf

DSC_0012

The sand on the Scilly beaches is white, coarse and inviting.  There are billions of glittering bits reflecting the sun

The sand on the Scilly beaches is white, coarse and inviting. There are billions of glittering bits reflecting the sun

St Agnes Lighthouse which is visible from just about anywhere on the island

St Agnes Lighthouse which is visible from just about anywhere on the island

St Agnes Sunset.  A shame that there was a bank of cloud on the horizon which remained there all week.

St Agnes Sunset. A shame that there was a bank of cloud on the horizon which remained there all week.

Shah the St Agnes gigg on the way to St Mary's to race .  They won !

Shah the St Agnes gigg on the way to St Mary’s to race . They won !

Taking Shah, the St Agnes Gigg down to the water

Taking Shah, the St Agnes Gigg down to the water

Troy town beach towards Bishop Rock at Sunset

Troy town beach towards Bishop Rock at Sunset

Sunset over Troytown St Agnes

Sunset over Troytown St Agnes

Blue skies and blue flowers

Blue skies and blue flowers

I couldn't work out if these flowers were grown commercially or just for aesthetic reasons.  In St Mary's

I couldn’t work out if these flowers were grown commercially or just for aesthetic reasons. In St Mary’s

The flowers across the Scillies are vibrant, everywhere and really unusual and different from the mainland

The flowers across the Scillies are vibrant, everywhere and really unusual and different from the mainland

There are only a handful of vehicles on St Agnes with a couple of cars, tractors and golf buggies.  Visitors and tourists have to walk

There are only a handful of vehicles on St Agnes with a couple of cars, tractors and golf buggies. Visitors and tourists have to walk

Couple of the Gigg's after a race from St Mary's to St Agnes.  St Agnes won this particular race

Couple of the Gigg’s after a race from St Mary’s to St Agnes. St Agnes won this particular race

One of the Troytown Farm Cows on St Agnes.  They make amazing ice-cream in wonderful flavours there

One of the Troytown Farm Cows on St Agnes. They make amazing ice-cream in wonderful flavours there

Public convenience in the form of a shed in one of the tea rooms on St Agnes

Public convenience in the form of a shed in one of the tea rooms on St Agnes

Jellyfish in St Agnes

Jellyfish in St Agnes

Pebble Tower

Pebble Tower

DSC_0016

Tourists making their mark with pebble towers.  These cover a beach on St Agnes

Tourists making their mark with pebble towers. These cover a beach on St Agnes

St Agnes Boathouse

St Agnes Boathouse

Troytown Maze close up

Troytown Maze close up

Tropical sand and arctic temperature sea

Tropical sand and arctic temperature sea

Is your profile picture projecting the right message about you ?

Great Profile Pictures – why they are important and how to have one

Never before has something the size of your thumbnail had such an impact  on how people perceive you online.

Your profile picture is equally as important as the words you say about yourself. In fact, without an effective picture, potential customers, employers or partners are more likely to not read anything about you at all.

The importance of a profile picture cannot be emphasised enough.  But a before you grab a snap of yourself ensure the picture sends the right message about you.

Common pictures we all see that do not help include:

  • Badly lit images giving a shady look.
  • A group picture with other members of the group cropped off.
  • A picture taken at a wedding with prominent flowers.
  • Pictures taken at black tie dinners or award ceremonies
  • Sunglasses hiding eyes.
  • Reflections in reading glasses hiding eyes.
  • Eyes looking in the wrong direction causing subliminal messages.
  • Inappropriate eyeline implying a overly subservient or dominant personality.
  • Wrong use of colour giving off inappropriate messages.
  • Pictures with babies
  • Pictures of a persons youth
  • A selfie where the lens distorts facial features
  • A ‘Facebook Pout’ more appropriate to a dating site
  • Strange background distracting from the face
  • A cartoon character, logo or andom body feature
  • A Car, truck, can or motorbike
  • A side profile (only works if you are the Queen and your picture is on a stamp)
  • Overly produced images that are portraits than profiles

So the quick formula for an acceptable profile picture. Firstly, the background should be a neutral colour and non distracting.  Clothing should be appropriate for your profession.  Only wear a wetsuit if you are a professional surfer.  Ensure your eyes are visible and don’t suggest that you are a mad, zany murderer or someone away with the fairies.  Looking softly into the lens works.  A smile is good but fails if it is forced.   The picture should be well lit with highlights and shadows in the right places.  Focus is important as is white balance.  Head and shoulders work or just a little closer works too.  It is widely accepted that profiles should be updated annually or at least every couple of years.  You should also use the same picture across all online social networks.

People generally do not like photographs of themselves, most people like close ups even less.

When making profile pictures for people I find out about the individual, what they want to achieve, where the picture will be used.  We discuss colour and explain how these subliminally send messages to the viewer.  We also discuss body language and how micro expressions, angle of head and position of head in relation to lens can also project subliminally.  I recommend types of clothing and if we are unsure what will work best I encourage a couple of changes of dress.  I bring along lighting equipment, backgrounds and of course cameras and lenses.  These are integral to producing a great picture.  During the actual shoot I relax the sitter and coach them through various poses and techniques that will bring out the best of their personality.   A portrait takes around thirty minutes.  I then go back to my editing suite and finish the image rendering it in colour and monochrome providing files that can be printed up to A4 then files that are Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter friendly.

Where beneficial, I also produce situational images of the person in their work environment, at a desk, in their workshop, at a flipchart for instance.

A great profile picture doesn’t have to be produced by a professional photographer and can be produced with a smartphone.  All information relating to psychology of colour, body language, styling and neuro linguistic programming are of course available online.

If you are confident in producing the image yourself then go for it but if you would like support and assistance I would be happy to help you.

I explain more about profile pictures at various 4Networkng meetings around the UK, dates for these are on http://www.4networking.biz

You can contact me directly:

chris@chrispearceramwell.co.uk

Studio 01935 388 159

Mobile 07789 777 600

Unknown

My profile picture Close up to fill the small available frame. Slight smile, camera positioned slightly lower than eyes to project confidence, slight angle of head as this is more appealing to our brains when we look at images. Monochrome as I didn’t want colours to distract. Strong eye contact with no reflection in glasses. Catchlights in eyes. Non distracting background. Shame I am not Brad Pitt but I mentioned earlier that nobody likes their photograph really !

I am a qualified professional photographer producing images of people, property, products, places, portraits, pets, weddings and events.  The majority of my work is in the commercial sector.  I use a wide variety of equipment and techniques to satisfy client requirements.
I am often asked what type of equipment I use.  For portraits I prefer the Fuji X series cameras and lenses which are smaller, discreet, less imposing and virtually silent.  I find that these cameras don’t put a barrier between the photographer and subject.  For photographs where people are not the prime focus I use Nikon full frame professional cameras and lenses.  Lighting is a mix of ambient, studio flash and portable flash.
All editing is done using my Macbook Pro or iMac and software includes Apple Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop or Final Cut Pro.  I have developed various bespoke editing techniques that help me produce stunning pictures that resonate, substantiate, differentiate and engage the viewer encouraging a call to action.

Northumberland

Each year I aim to get somewhere new by the coast to add to my portfolio.
This year it was the turn of Northumberland.  The trip however was only part photography based so I had to slim down my kit.
The minimum I will take on a landscape job.

The minimum I will take on a landscape job.

Trip Kit list

Nikon D800 Body
Nikon 24mm 2.8 Lens
Nikon 35mm 2.0 Lens
Nikon 50mm 1.4 Lens
3 Legged Thing Spiked carbon Tripod
Formatt Hitech Filter Ring and Holder
Selection of Graduated Filters
Selection of Neutral Density Filters
Warm up filter
Circular Polariser
Few Hundred GB of memory
Cable Release

The conditions changed dramatically through the week from blue skies to moody storm clouds.  The only constant was a relatively strong wind which kept things moving and the temperature a little lower than expected.

We based ourselves at Seahouses and traveled along the coast from there venturing up to Holy Island where the coastline is sandy and down to Dunstanburgh where there are boulders strewn on the beach not dissimilar to dinosaur eggs.

Most of the compositions ended up with me taking control of the exposure and slowing things down a little to create some mood and atmosphere.  This also meant that most of the time the camera was firmly attached to the tripod.

Here are a few of my favourites from the trip.

CPR_7880 CPR_8445 CPR_8156 CPR_8339 CPR_7945 CPR_8149 CPR_8102 CPR_8025 - Version 2 CPR_7949 - Version 3 CPR_8203 CPR_8039 CPR_8055 - Version 2 CPR_7941 CPR_7954 - Version 3 CPR_8149 - Version 2

My Week

Just had a week away in Northumberland taking pictures, kayaking and generally chilling out with friends and family.  Came back to some client requests so had a relatively busy week photographing houses, people, quarries and a brick factory.

Whilst composing a shot this guy sparked up his welder and temporarily blinded me.

Whilst composing a shot this guy sparked up his welder and temporarily blinded me.

On Friday a sinister light appeared on my car dashboard so I dropped the car off at the garage and took the opportunity to cycle back.  This was great fun and after a week off the bike it was nice to flex those leg muscles a bit.

Taking a breather whilst doing my bit for the environment.

Taking a breather whilst doing my bit for the environment.

Saturday came and a planned training walk on the Dorset Coast began.  We parked at the National Trust Car Park above Ringstead.  Donned the rucksacks and hiking boots and set off along the path towards Lulworth where a refreshing and cold pint of cider would be waiting at the gorgeous surroundings of the Lulworth Cove Inn.

The weather was warm, no scratch that, it was hot, humid, airless with a blue sky and a shimmering sea to complement the view.  The rucksacks contained a fleece and raincoat.  Unfortunately no sun hat nor sunscreen.  Or insect repellant which would have been very useful.

Towards Portland overlooking Bat's Head from the SW Coast Path

Towards Portland overlooking Bat’s Head from the SW Coast Path

Any exposed skin was gently browning under the natural sun grill and with each step legs disturbed the millions of insects that had just been woken up by the warm weather.  Breathe through the nose so not to swallow any and hope that the insects on your arms would offer sufficient cover so not to burn too much.

Constant ups and downs of South west Coast Path

Constant ups and downs of South west Coast Path

Considering the amazing weather there were very few people about until we arrived at Durdle Dor where there were thousands all queuing up for ice cream or lugging buckets, spades and other beach day out stuff like sherpas down to the pebbly shore.

For us there was one more hill blocking that pint of cider so with a last push we strolled on towards the stone incline which had even more people trudging up it stopping to enjoy the view but more likely to gain some much needed oxygen before reaching the summit of their day out Everest.

After a couple of pints of cider we headed towards the cove and flopped on the pebbly beach to enjoy the view and cool off in the freshwater stream that gurgles and flows into the sea.

Off with the boots and socks and letting off steam before the walk back

Off with the boots and socks and letting off steam before the walk back

Time to head back and do those up and down hills in reverse now sloshing with cider and feeling more than a little tired.  We too stopped on the uphill path to ‘take in the view’ whilst panting like overheating Yorkshire terriers.  If anything it was getting hotter.

Enjoying the view whilst slumped over a fence post to have a rest

Enjoying the view whilst slumped over a fence post to have a rest

We took the higher path which had a larger ascent but avoided most of the roller coaster hills nearer the sea and after a couple of hours reached the car and another opportunity to remove footwear and cool off with the air conditioning on full.

Earlier in the week I popped in to the National Dive Centre to look at the zip wire and thought how great it would have been to have one of these on the downward sections of the coast path.

From the top of the zip wire at the National Dive Centre

From the top of the zip wire at the National Dive Centre

Back at home now liberally slathered in cream and typing this post.  All in all a great walk and a perfect end to a great week.

This 5 mile section of the SW Coast Path is well worth doing whatever the weather.  My advice would be to take sunscreen, a hat and maybe only have one pint in Lulworth.   If you park in Ringstead Beach Car Park it will cost you over a fiver but the National Trust car park is free.

Networking Works…

DSCF7156

When you go to a networking event there are a number of guarantees. First the coffee will be broadly undrinkable. The breakfast options will be generally unhealthy and if you opt for the Full English it will be made with cheap ingredients and often sausages that are as culinary acceptable as a dead mans cock. Often looking vaguely similar too I imagine.

There are at least two financial advisors, one will writer, some management consultants in various guises plus someone expounding the virtues of cheaper household bills.

Another common attendance is someone selling nutrition whether this be Herbalife or something similar. Now the last thing you want to talk about whilst eating your tenners worth of nasty food is to be told that diet is important.

This morning all the above applied but in addition there were no less than four photographers. Now whilst sipping apple infused herbal tea (at least something is palatable and vaguely healthy) and avoiding the onslaught from from the networking groupies I started thinking about some sort of USP to discuss during the introduction creeping death where each attendee has forty seconds to tell the room about themselves in a sufficiently interesting way to encourage further discussion during the three ten minute 1-1 rounds to be held later.

I quickly whipped out my Ipad and pulled together a selection of images from a recent property shoot and came up with some captivating stats which would divert attention away from mopping up baked bean juice and make people concentrate on me.

Hoorah, it worked. My property photography specialism was not discussed by the other photographers, one concentrated on portraits another on commercial and the other on weddings.

My usual general introduction mentions that I photograph and video anything beginning with ‘P’, People, Property, Products, Places, Portraits, Weddings, Events and Parties. (there must be a word for wedding beginning with ‘P’ somewhere in my lexicon. DSCF7165

After the event had concluded all us photographer types huddled in a corner and discussed gear. Our profession is great in that there are always lots of shiny toys we could purchase to erode our profits further.

We also noticed that Interestingly, we each had a Unique Selling Point that, in addition to our specialisms was our individuality, personality and approach and there was an opportunity for each of us to develop our network and capture business. There could also be an opportunity for collaboration in the future.

If you haven’t tried networking it does work and is valuable to business but my advice would be to eat breakfast before you leave home. Of course who in life tends to follow his own advice.