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The Mobile Photographer

Off late, I have been obsessed with Instagram, the popular photo sharing tool on my phone. To be honest, I got into phone photography a little late, only a few months back – 2 reasons for this, I own a DSLR so thought using the mobile is beneath me and I had an iphone3G with a 2MP camera covered with dust, so totally avoided taking pictures with it.

My reason to get a high end phone was the camera which accompanied it; currently I use an HTC Sensation XE with a 8MP camera.  I end up using my phone for both, taking pictures and processing pictures on the go, these are images taken earlier with my DSLR. Yes yes I know some of you are saying why post production on a mobile? The answer is pretty straight forward – it is “simple”, Photoshop is fairly complicated and time consuming; layers and more layers, I am all for Photoshop only if I have ample time on my hand, 99% of the time that is not the case.

For shooting while on bike rides, I mostly use the phone’s default camera , it starts up the fastest and hence, my next favourite application is Panorama. The phone makes it so easy, at least 3-5 slide panoramas are just a click and moving the camera left to right, very intuitive and opens a whole lot of options for the rookie panorama photographer. What stands out in all these apps on the mobile is the fact that they come with default effects, Black and White, Sepia, HDR and so on, these are the kind of effects you would only find in a high end software a couple of years back. Personally, I do a lot of correction, mix and match using applications, filters, cropping till I get the right image. Once done, generally the images go up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – just so convenient using the mobile, no searching in directories and so on…select check boxes and upload one time.

There are multiple schools of thoughts basis mobile photography, there are people who love it and some who say it is a gimmick – let me explain why. Like I mentioned earlier, the current generation of phones offer multiple corrective tools and filters. These help make average pictures look rather dramatic Instagram is a good example of the same. The purists believe there is no effort there; the shot is not setup, the lighting is not adjusted, post production skills are zero and hence even if the shot is nice it is still gimmicky. I disagree just because it is easy does not take away from creativity and effort. Take mail for example, it use to be a painful process until e-mail came along now it’s easier, of course this does not take away that like the original mail the email has to be written/typed, similarly a picture need to be taken.

I still use my DSLR on weekends and will continue to do so, the control it gives me is phenomenal. The phone on the other hand is like a higher end digital camera that I carry around everywhere. Most pictures you see around this post have been taken or treated using my phone while i was riding my trusty Bajaj Avenger. I would highly recommend using the phone to shoot candid shots and difficult to reach areas (I know what you are thinking and that is not what I meant). Below are a few tips that will help you snap some really awesome images using your mobile –

  • Like your DSLR know your phone camera, the newer ones have similar functions, DOF, ISO, Scenes etc, check settings on your phone for more
  • Activate the Grid and use the rule of 3rds very important for all rookie photographers
  • Try and use the phone the same way you would use a DSLR, look at the lighting around you, create the composition in your head and then shoot.
  • Touch Screen phones allow you to focus on objects just by touching the screen, check how that works on your phone
  • Use filters on multiple applications till you achieve the desired effect on the image
  • Crop ruthlessly, mobile devices attract a lot of distractions in the background, it is the nature of the beast, ensure you cut them out as required.
  • Share your pictures in social networks, beyond the morale boost it will keep you clicking
  • Follow professional photographers on various social networks, try imitating them, there is no shame in that.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading the post, do share links to your pictures in the comment section below, my instagram ID is mihirshah1975 if you are there drop by to say Hi!

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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Unusual Motorcycles

Every now and then you will see a motorcycle on the road and go “WOW! That’s an awesome looking piece of equipment!” People queue up outside showrooms or expos to see motorcycles that have been created basis themes or brands. We have always been fascinated with unusual bikes; hence one of our favourite pastimes is customizing our bike and also watching the Biker Build Off.

To add to the above, Movies, Games and various other brands are also promoting their products using Motorcycles; a classic example of the same – Batman, Gears of War, Tron Motorcycles, etc.. The Gears of War Bike was actually designed by Paul Junior Designs; the wheels of the game-inspired trike include the Gears of War cog skull symbol and the paint resembles armour used in the game. It features crash bars to fight locusts, dual gattling guns and 14 inch wide tires. Check the video below for the unveiling.

The Batpod, on the other hand, is a totally different ball game (we will be covering this in another post). Designed by Nathan Crowley, who designed the Tumbler for Batman Begins (2005), the bike has 20″ front and rear tires (the Tumbler’s front wheels), and is powered by a high-performance, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, geared toward the lower end for faster acceleration and with no exhaust pipes. The exhaust is routed through the hollow steel/aluminum/magnesium tubing used for the frame of the bike. The Batpod is steered by the shoulders instead of hands, and the rider’s arms are protected by shields. The two foot pegs are set 3½ feet apart on either side of the tank, which the rider lies on, belly down.

The Tron Bike is by far, my most favourite bike, purely on the way it looks and also the way it is showcased in the movie. Electroluminescent strips built into the tire cowlings, wheel rims and body illuminate the cycle. It is powered by a fuel-injected Suzuki 996cc, 4-stroke engine. Riders lay at a near-horizontal position astride the padded leather seat, with feet on foot pegs that control its 6-speed constant mesh manual transmission and hands on the handlebars for throttle and braking. The hubless wheels are former truck tires built up, then custom-shaped to fit onto one of two counter-rotating rims spinning within each other, providing the broad-tired authenticity of the computer cycles from the movie. A chain-driven friction drum manages acceleration and braking from the handlebars. It uses a 3 1/2-gallon main fuel tank and 1 1/4-gallon reserve tank. Check the awesome video below.

I thought it would be fun to put down some Unusual facts on Motorcycles in this post, some of them you already know some will make you go WTF….

The German inventor, Gottlieb Daimler, is generally credited with building the first practical motorcycle in 1885.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2000, 631 motorcyclists were saved by wearing their helmet.

Motorcycles and scooters are, on average, about twice as fuel efficient as cars.

Up to eight motorbikes can fit in the same parking space occupied by one car.

Kawasaki also makes spaceships.

The first rider to ever go over 300 mph was Don Vesco in 1975, on a 1496cc Yamaha-engined streamliner.

MV Agusta is currently producing the F4 1078 RR 312. 312kph being the recorded top speed at the Salt Flats in Utah in 2007.The RR312 reached a recorded top speed of 195, but since speeds are averaged, it’s recorded top speed is 194mph, or metric, 312kph.

The fastest motorcycle is the Dodge Tomahawk, a prototype with an unusual design, featuring the 500 hp (373 kW) 8.3 L V10 engine from the Dodge Viper.(Picture: theRed Bull Bike)

Harley-Davidson built push-bikes between 1917 and 1923. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle, built in 1903, used a tomato can for a carburettor.

When Valentino Rossi was five, his dad Graziano built him a go-cart to discourage him from getting into bikes.

By now you must have realized why the unusual works. Below is a bunch of interesting, unusual motorcycle facts and some awesome imagery for your eyes only. As with all our posts, if you have an unusual bike and an image to share, do add the link in the comments section.

The Unusual Gallery

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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The Amazing Side Car

I have been fascinated with Sidecars on Motorcycles forever. One of my uncles (Jentu T) had a Scooter with a sidecar and he use to take us on rides to Chowpatty (beach in South Mumbai).

As you know, we recently bought a Motorbike; we were very keen on getting one with a sidecar but on doing some R&D found that sidecars are illegal. Absolutely no idea when and why this happened! I still see a lot of scooters and motorbikes with these amazing, retro-looking sidecars. I asked around and some folks mentioned that you need special permission from the Mumbai RTO to get sidecars; others say the bikes you see on the road are old or illegal; new bikes are just not given permission to attach a sidecar to their bikes. Pity! Would have loved to own one.

Even if we can’t own one, we can definitely share some interesting facts and images of amazing looking sidecars 🙂 . A sidecar motorcycle is a three-wheeled vehicle with the side wheel not directly aligned with the rear motorcycle wheel, and is usually powered by the rear wheel only. This is different from a motor tricycle (trike), where both rear wheels are powered and share a common axle. P.V. Mokharov of the Soviet Union or H.P. Baughn of Great Britain seems to have to been the first to employ a driven sidecar wheel in 1929. In India, the sidecars got really popular in the early 70’s; the primary reason for this was it was a cheap way for a small family to travel. As we moved decades, cars started getting cheaper and sidecars moved out.

Over the years, sidecars were quite popular; they have also been used by armed forces, police and the Army. During WWII, German troops used many BMW and Zundapp sidecar motorcycles. They are hugely popular in sports where multiple disciplines of Motorcycle racing have used them and still use them.; Motocross, Enduro, Grasstrack, Trial, road racing and Speedway with sidecar classes. The sport has followers in Europe, United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The races are categorized as Formula One sidecars.

If you enjoy a good sidecar check our gallery below. Also Motorcycle shows and rallies are a great way to catch glimpses of sidecars; the Legendary Sturgis rally sees insane sidecars on display. Personally, I do hope sidecars come back in style – for one I can’t wait to get one on my Motorcycle and take the lovely Mrs for a long ride……….

The Amazing SIde Car Show

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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Avengers Harley Connection

I have never been a big fan of Captain America, but his motorcycle – that is a completely different story. Captain America’s most recognizable vehicle, is a custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Little known comic fact – Captain America while living in Brooklyn Heights stored the motorcycle in a service garage. He often kept his motorcycle in his van and took it wherever he travelled; if you have seen some television episodes and old movies, you are sure to catch this scene.

In recent times, Harley-Davidson collaborated with Marvel Studios to create five motorcycles for Captain America: The First Avenger film, which traces Captain America’s origins as a World War II era Super Hero who rode a military motorcycle as a means of transportation. The Motor Company coordinated the modification of the current day Harley-Davidson Cross Bones model to resemble an original 1942 WLA Army motorcycle. The Motor Company also worked with Marvel Studios to recreate additional parts, such as an ammunition box and leather gun scabbard, to ensure the motorcycles looked as authentic as possible.

Personally I was totally floored by the detailing on the Bike in the First Avengers movie, meant to be a modern interpretation of Harley-Davidson’s classic WLA military motorcycle. Captain America’s custom machine started life as a stock Harley-Davidson Cross Bones model. Fitting, as the Cross Bones, with its spring-mounted solo saddle and springer fork, is arguably the most period-correct platform in Harley-Davidson’s current line from which to begin. Check the video below featuring some crazy concept work on the bike and commentary by the crew.

The Captain’s bike has also inspired another Bike which is part of movie history; this bike was featured in the iconic chopper movie, Easy Rider. The bike shown is not a replica; it is one of two identical choppers originally built by Cliff Vaughn for use in the movie. This is the one that was wrecked at the end of the film. The other was reportedly stolen. After the filming, the wrecked bike was procured by actor Dan Haggerty, who began rebuilding it but never finished it. It was then sold, the restoration being completed by Dave Ohrt. The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, has graciously loaned it to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, where it is currently on display. This example of the Captain America bike is a 1951 Harley- Davidson FL. The frame was chromed, but is otherwise virtually stock, so is the engine. Added were extended forks, extended handlebars, upswept fishtail mufflers, gas tank and tall sissy bar, all of which currently defines the chopper.

As with our profile on the Hulk and bike/gear, checkout Captain America’s gallery below. Interestingly, you only need a Brown Leather Jacket and a Bowl shaped Helmet to replicate Chris Evan’s look in the movie. We hope to see a lot more of crazy bikes in the upcoming sequel of the movie.

The Captain America Bike/Gear Gallery

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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The Casual Biker

The dictionary definition of Casual is “Occurring by Chance” how do I associate with this? I am a motorcycle enthusiast by chance.

To be very honest, I was not convinced about buying a bike, but my brother’s enthusiasm got the better of me and we went and bought the Bajaj Avenger. I did not even know how to ride a bike when we first got it; after a good week’s delay, I found some time to go and learn how to ride it. I was familiar with riding a bicycle and understood the way the clutch interacts with the gear and accelerator; this due to driving cars, so riding came easy to me. On the very first day, I managed to take the bike around the street where we live and back home without falling off it. From there, it has been about 2 months now and have been riding the bike on weekends; that is also if I wake up or am not lazing around. My brother, on the other hand, takes it for a spin every single day.

I consider myself a Casual Biker. I love owning a bike, but riding it is not the number one priority, not like I don’t like riding, I enjoy it as much as the next guy,  but I ride only when I absolutely feel like it. I don’t claim to be a biker or out of the Hell’s Angels – my lifestyle hardly reflects that. But since owning a bike, a lot has changed. For one, my outlook to people who own bikes, I always use to be scared of people riding like maniacs. After riding the bike, I am even more scared – personally I ride at about 60 kms and it is pure bliss, open roads in the morning, no traffic and so on. I forgot to mention I only ride in the morning. I have started appreciating the Discovery Turbo channel much more and now appreciate the work people do while they customize these monsters. My lifelong aspiration to own a Ninja and a Harley has also increased dramatically.

I am sure there are a lot people like me out there. These are folks who want to own a Motorcycle and also enjoy the luxury of riding, not speed demons that keep going “I love the speed” (trust me on Indian roads if you love speed you will only reach your death faster). A couple of things you should know in case you are Casual Biker – first get a bike that you are comfortable with and is low maintenance, just because the guy next door has an Enfield or Harley does not mean you have to get one. Trust me, from all the stories I have heard those bikes are planets where maintenance is concerned. Find people who have similar interests – more casual riders; you will be able to relate to them and they will speak to you about their rides in a language you understand. Trust me, I have spoken to people who talk like they are engineers and assemble bikes for a living (Good for them I say, but I understand things a little simple).  Visit the local Chop Shop, you will definitely find something you will like to add to your bike; minor customizations on the bike are awesome, low risk and give you another reason to ride. I don’t know why, but the day we get our bike modified, the urge to ride is much more. Finally, keep a good mechanic’s number stored on your phone; you never know when you may need to use it. Find a route that you are comfortable with and ride there, learn the turns and bumps, trust me it is very different from driving a car.

If you have never ridden a motorcycle, but have a casual mindset towards it, go ahead and rent a bike or buy one. It is definitely not a disappointing experience; as a Casual Biker, you will enjoy all the luxuries a hardcore biker would, but it will be more staggered and more by chance…

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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Your Bike is You

The kind of bike you own dictates your personallity. So how does this work? Let’s take a step back to understand the basics – categories & owners – to put things into perspective.

Bike Types

Bike Types –

1) Racer 2) Cruisers 3) Dirt / Off Road 4) Custom

Racer

Category 1 clearly is for the adrenaline junkie who craves the rush. Speed is what drives this animals… Most often the kind of bikes you see people in this category riding through crowded & open streets are the Kawasaki Ninjas, Repsol Honda’s, KTM Duke, Aprilla, etc. These bikes more often than not, are in the over 300, 500 and above cc category & are clearly marketed with a “need for speed” message considering you will see them in Moto Gp’s, Super bike categories etc

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The Cruiser

Laid back, enjoying life, chilling with friends, not really a thrill seeker but more of the kind who appreciates the sweetness of doing nothing is the defination for the community which falls into category 2. Harley Davidson, some versions of BMW, Triumph, Bajaj Avenger, etc. are bikes which appeal to psyche of these people. Clearly the agenda for these riders is to go on long rides alone or with friends, have comfortable machines, take things slow and steady which is also defined by their ride.

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The Dirt Bike

Living life on the edge, the thrill of speed and the adreniline rush of living life by the second is what drives people who own Scramblers. These guys will be seen navigating through congested traffic at high speeds, doing wheelies, etc. across open roads, trying to pickup their bikes on full throttle as soon as the signal lights turn green. Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, etc. are companies producing these bikes

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The Custom Bike

Clearly a combination of all of the above and add to that the need to personalize, style and stand out amongst the crowd is what gets people to opt for these bikes. You know the guys wants people to  believe that the bike is an extention of his / her personallity… an ordinary bike has a custom, paint job, multiple accesories, tweaks, etc. Chop Shops & Bike Builders across the world build these customs, some popular ones being Orange County, Jesse James, Choppers Inc, Paul Junior Design, Rajputhana Customs to name a few.

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We personally believe we fall into category 2 and a bit in 4 and the proof for the same is our customized Cruiser  Bajaj Avenger 🙂

What category do you fall into?

Our Bike

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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The Chop Shop

Now the interesting stuff, as you guys must have read we got the bike a “Bajaj Avenger” after decent amount of effort and drama.

Action Time!!!

To make it look cool we got a very cool retro looking visor added to it J also the same made us feel severely cool!!!

Post all this & going through multiple online sites and watching every possible Biker Build Off show on Youtube Mihir & I decided to get our bike accessorized… For the same we went through probably every online site like ebay, mouthshut, bikezdotcom, xkmphdotcom etc, though all of them had loads to offer but without touch and feel of the product we weren’t too sure about next steps.

Love Handles!!!

This is when we stumbled upon the Diagonalley for bikes the same happened accidently when one day I had gone to meet the bike dealer for my registration papers and while walking out of his shop I happened to see shops lined up in a lane selling bike accessories. Immediately I walked through the lane quickly browsed shops and told Mihir about the same, post 24 hours of contemplation we decided to go put our bike under the screwdriver.

Went to the lane with Mihir the next day evening and scouted the whole place (will be previewing “the diagonalley of bikes in articles to come) post visiting multiple stores and checking out accessories we zeroed in on “Jayesh Scooters” where in Mr. Jayesh Shah the owner showed us some sick products for the bike at a decently reasonable price.

At this point we were like kids in a candy store where in we went and bought –

Put your best foot forward...

1) Steel Chrome Handle Grips

2) Dragon Claw Side Stand

3) Front & Back Foot Rests

4) Saddle Bags

5) Chrome Covers for Indicator Lights

Paid Rs 5000/- for all of this which was a steal, Mr Jayesh Shah then got a mechanic to fix the bike up!!! 2 Mechanics Guddu & Azgar suddenly to my shock started opening the bike apart & quite brutally at which point Mr Shah assured me they know what they are doing and i shouldn’t worry J

Took 3 full hours though post that the bike looked totally awesome!!!

Black Beauty!!!

Also to check out more amazing photo’s of the bike being customized check out the “Photos” section on the blog 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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