1800 miles later part 3 - Dave Kai Piper
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Dave Kai Piper

If anyone is like me, heading home from a long trip is always the worst bit. I had loved exploring, the isolation of me and by bike and I had come to not even notice the rain anymore. But, the time had come to start my journey back to the UK. 

I booked on to the 1 pm crossing from Dublin to Holyhead, and I planned a direct sprint across Ireland. All went well until I missed my turning and ended up in Dublin city center. Traffic was so bad that even with some crazy close filtering through traffic I was very close to missing my ferry. Much of the delay was due to road closure for the tram works that are going on, but, with some careful driving I got the bike though and made the ferry with about 5 mins to go before they started loading. 

Since the weather was so nice in Dublin, I had kept out the GFX to try and get some images leaving Ireland and coming into the UK. We enjoyed a lovely trip over and had amazing views of Holy Island as we came in to dock. The boats in the water near Holyhead provided the perfect setting to get some shots from the ferry. The two images below were both taken as we came in to dock. The lower image of the two below was taken at f32. The sun was nice and bright & I wanted to really push the lens to see how it performed across the range – super well it seems & near or less zero diffraction. The GF lenses are pretty amazing, but that is nothing new or surprising. Fujinon are one of the best lens manufacturers in the world, the GF range is another extension and example of this pedigree. With a roadmap of lenses for the GFX looking quite healthy, new people buying into the GFX can be sure product development will be something they won’t have to worry too much about.

Dave Kai Piper
Dave Kai Piper

Travelling to Holy Island

My first night back in the UK was spent ‘glamping’. Booking into hotels and Bed & Breakfasts with the bike can be tricky sometimes, some hotels only have roadside parking and some in bigger towns and cities have no suitable parking at all. Some have many flights of stairs and all sorts of problems for keeping the bike and kit securely in place when moving about. Normally I try to book via phone to just check out what the options are, asking about any deep gravel car parks, rear or off-street parking etc. I spoke to the lady at the Bed & Breakfast, she mentioned the little ‘pods’ they have. They are made out of local wood & sleep one person and the bike would be in eye line of the pod. Excellent I thought & booked over the phone. The ‘pod’ was very cosy and warm with a small shower & wash room and the most amazing views, the super long and very deep gravel drive way was another story. The Honda Deauville is really not built for deep soft ground, especially when it is fully laden. The car park was indeed very close to the Pod I was in but was very tricky to park on. In the end, I had to find a couple of large bits of flat wood and use my road atlas to get a large enough footprint to keep the bike stable. Normally, if the small plastic disk I carry it not big enough, a coke can or something is also good to use.

After getting the bike sorted and my gear stored, I had a quick repack of the bike taking off everything but my cameras and tripod and headed back out to explore the island. There was a stunning lighthouse I had found when researching the local area and some interesting rocky beaches.

The light was setting fast and I thought it made sense to try and photograph the light house at night, hoping to capture the light from the lighthouse, so headed to the beach first. It was still quite light but I knew the sun was going to set fast. I found a spot to park the bike up, and walked out as far as I could to the water, set up, worked out my exposure times for the Super Stopper and started shooting. The first image had to be abandoned half way through the exposure (240-second exposures) as the water had built up into quite a rough swell and was starting to move the camera and through spray up into the lens. After a quick relocation, this was the resulting image.

Camera: gfx 50s, ISO 125, f4, 33mm using the 32-64mm, 240sec

Shooting with a really deep depth of field is something I very rarely do, the image above was shot at f4 and I am constantly checking it to see if it is in focus or not, I think on hindsight, f4 was too shallow for the image to really work. The image below was shot at f32. Although I prefer the light and the composition in the image above, the solid sharp texture of the rocks and the soft pastels of the water have an almost ‘watercolour’ feeling to it, it does make for a striking image. I would be interested to read the comments as to which is the preferred image.

Camera: GFX 50s, ISO 100, 9s, 53.6mm on the 32-64mm

Camera: GFX 50s, ISO 100, 32-64mm f4, 10s exposure

Camera: GFX 50s, ISO 100, 32-64mm f4

In the morning, I had a full day riding through Snowdonia to Birmingham. Only stopping a couple of times for petrol and the odd photograph that had to be taken. It would of been rude to ride thought Pen Y Pass and not take a photo. 

GFX, ISO 100, 3mm, on the 32-64mm f4

A bit of left of food from last nights takeaway Chinese made for an interesting breakfast and lunch. My original plan was to head directly to Manchester to meet up with the guys at Peli UK, but my plans had changed and I was running a couple of days behind my original schedule. The new plan was to drop some images off in Birmingham that needed to be turned around for a client and pick up some lingerie I was shooting for French lingerie company Maison Close, then ride up the next day for my shoot with Maddie Morgan. The plan was to shoot some images to showcase the lingerie for Maison Close and test out how well the GFX works in this environment. All the images below are photographed using the GF120mm.

The GFX really came alive for me, photographing people is more my thing than landscapes or nature. This was the first time using the GFX in a proper shoot and, as you might think, it was faultless and as good as you can expect. Skin tones and critical focus are not a worry with the colour rendition and GF lenses. The wide dynamic range was great to exploit by using flash and the natural light. The detail in the bright sky was held perfectly letting me have contrast, tone, and clarity across the range. Moiré was a slight worry but nothing that was comparable to other cameras using the same sensor technology. All the lingerie had a very fine weave and no images were unusable due to moiré. As I mentioned, I did only have the one battery and did use it all during this shoot. Mostly as Maddie and I was using the camera to review and help shape the shoot.

The camera was wonderful and a joy to use.

I was on my own for this shoot so there are not BTS images I can share to show the light set up, but, I was using the Cactus RF60 speed-lights, mounted on my Steve 3LT tripod. A combination of available light with flash modified using the Roundflash. In fact, the very same lighting set up used to photograph my mate’s bike a couple of days ago. Sometimes I do find that one Speedlight does not give enough punch, especially when shooting HSS, like I do very often with the Cactus & 56mm APD combination. It is a great way to get a nice light that has punch and control. This set up also is just about as big as I can get away with while traveling on the bike. During the Ireland trip, I took a single RF60 and the Roundflash. Stopping over in Birmingham let me pick up the extra flash and Strip for the shoot. The trigger I use it the V6II HSS. It works seamlessly with the new X-Series firmware.

Maddie Morgan

So I am back home, 1800 miles through wind, rain, ice, sun and pretty much every mixture of everything.

I had so much fun, as a way to sum everything up, I just can not wait to be back out on the road. Camera in tow, the wind in my face, heading out to explore. These are some images lifted from my Go-Pro. At the top of this page is a video I made during the trip.

Would I do anything different – no, not really, maybe a better pair of waterproof gloves.

Which camera was my favorite, that would the GFX, I think. Would I buy one… Not yet.

What was the standout moment? The sound the 50 bikes made when starting up inside the ferry then we got to Dublin, that was pretty amazing. It made every organ vibrate in my body.

Whats next? I am heading out to Wales with my partner soon, she has a little Suzuki Van and it will be her first trip camping on the bikes. We are really looking forward to that.

Dave Kai Piper

Some images from the trip.

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