Up to San Francisco!



Wow, it’s hard to believe a year has gone by. The Death Valley ride generally marks the closing of the riding season for the fair weather riders in California. The climate here is such that one can write a motorcycle from the Bay Area all year long. The destinations will differ by the season but at least your riding all year long. Winter here brings rain and cold but it’s not like some areas of the country like Colorado where weather grind things to a halt.

The ride leader has an explicit mantra that the ride is disorganized. People generally go the same direction and stay in the same hotels year-over-year but there’s no leader. In 19 years there’s only been one major tweak to the ride: moving the Sunday night stay from Bakersfield to Kernville. Saturday’s ride goes from San Francisco to Bishop over one of the Sierra passes. Sunday’s ride goes from Bishop to Zabriskie Point and on to Kernville. Monday people will make their way to the valley and then up Highway 25 back to San Francisco. Last year I took an extra day to go see Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. I had fun with that and decided to take an extra day again this year. Hopefully I don’t bring bedbugs back!

A few weeks ago I rented a camera to take some engagement photos of some good friends of mine. I’ve been long courting moving from a point and shoot to a full SLR camera. I figured it would be good to rent and SLR to take their engagement photos and then use a similar camera for landscape work on this ride. For the engagement photos I used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24 – 105 lens. For this trip I had a similar setup that included:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • 24 – 105 lens and 16 – 24 lens
  • A polarizer
  • Two batteries
  • An external flash
  • A giant camera bag

All this could be had for a weekend at the Keeble and Schucat rentals counter. I wanted to rent the experience to see if it was worth purchasing. The instant immediate downside was that this camera was big. Usually for this trip I take test my top case. With the top case mostly full of camera stuff I had to bring the side bags as well. It wasn’t a problem. It just makes more stuff to manage.

Every motorcyclist at some level or another should know about the ideal gas law. In simplest form it is written:


effectively what this means is that the pressure (P) * volume (V) of gas in the tire is equals the amount of moles of gas (n) * the temperature (T) * the universal gas constant (R).

I hadn’t ridden my bike in a while and when I checked my tire pressure the front tire was about 15 psi. I figured some of that was just pressure loss. It was colder in my garage then when I last checked my tires. And truth be told I can’t remember when I wrote the bike last to know how much was normal leakage. I figured if it was really bad the tire would be flat. I filled the tire up to normal pressure and hit the road for San Francisco.

I stayed the night in the city but my of my friend was working late and I couldn’t show up to this place until 8 o’clock. I cruised up to Twin Peaks to try out the new camera. It was nearing sunset so I was hoping it would be time for some good photos.

I was used to taking photos with the manual feature on my Canon G11 but I quickly found out this camera uses different settings for the same light. Thus most of my experience behind the lens wouldn’t carry forward. While I enjoyed the camera, it was looking like most of my work was going to have to be on auto until I learned to recalibrate the settings.

A full panorama of Twin Peaks at sunset:

2012 Death Valley 003

I was surprised how nice a sunset photo comes out in black and white:

2012 Death Valley 001

“The turn” heading of Twin Peaks:

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Downtown San Francisco:

2012 Death Valley 006

What amazed me about this camera and the Mark III was the ability to control depth of field. What’s interesting to me about this photo is how sharp the foreground is and how blurry the background is:

2012 Death Valley 005

When I checked in for the night in downtown San Francisco checked the tire pressure again. I only lost about 3 pounds but, the tire was warm, the gauge was different, and it was a little bit cooler than it was back home. While things weren’t looking good, I didn’t have true conclusive evidence. The best thing I could do was wait till morning when all of the values reset.



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