Glenn Charles

AERIAL | TRAVEL | LIFE-STYLE

Photographer/Videographer specializing in Life Style, Travel, and Aerial Imagery.  FAA 107 Certified for sUAS flight operations throughout the US.  Fully insured.  Videography work is limited to Aerial productions.

Based in Maine (May-December) and SWFL (Jan - April). Available for travel year round.

Filtering by Category: Ramblings

Slowing Down

 

Stumptown Coffee, Snow Peak Drip, Porlex Grinder -- Leica M240 + 50 Lux

It is easy to get caught up in all that exists around us.  The rush of day to day life can overtake us in the blink of an eye. I know that for me, the switch to Leica has enabled me to slow down even more with my photography; to become even more contemplative in what I am trying to accomplish.  The simplicity of the range finder and manual focus lenses just lends itself to slowing down.

Applying the same principals to other aspects of my life is paramount to long term peacefulness.  Recently I found myself making coffee in the ho-hum bulk way of a big drip machine.  The coffee, even with fresh grounds, just never tastes as good as it does when I brew it one cup at a time. 

Yesterday I received my little kit from Stumptown Roasters that included the travel Porlex Grinder; a travel drip kit from Snow Peak; a small ceramic cup; and a bag of their lovely beans.  Learning to slow down in all facets of life is good, but especially with your morning cup of coffee....

 
 
 

Pisgah and the Spearfish

I am currently down in Brevard NC putting the new Salsa Spearfish through its paces.  This is an amazing place to ride, photograph and enjoy good local brews.  I feel like I have just found a hidden gem on the east coast.  With miles and miles of forest roads and single track it is definitely a mountain bike playground unlike anything else I have found on the East Coast. 

The Hub, located right at the mouth of the Pisgah on the Davidson River, is an absolutely fantastic base camp.  The shop staff is super friendly, willing to help with digesting the unfathomable amount of riding options.  The shop is fully staffed with bikes and all the kit you could need as well as a cleaning station outside.  Inside they have a  little pub setup where you can grab a nice draft brew from one of the local breweries.  I have made it a practice of stopping post ride and enjoying a nice cold Pisgah Pale Ale.

The Fish, well what can I say, truly a home run by Salsa.  This is one of the nicest and most fun bikes I have ever ridden.  It climbs like a billy goat and flies down the single track in effortless fasion.  I am super stoked to be taking this bike to Arizona for the Coconino Loop in a couple of weeks.  There is no doubt that it will make for a fantastic bikepacking experience.  Loads of travel when necessary and yet rigid enough to make the flats an efficient and comfortable experience.  More on that trip in a week or so.

I will update my Photo Essays site with a full story but for now, here are a few teaser images from my first week.

A bit of color

No matter what is going on in my life, an opportunity to get out on the bike is guaranteed to clear my head and my soul.  Yesterday I put down the Monochrome and grabbed the little Nikon AW1 for our afternoon/evening ride.  Unseasonably warm temps made for a wonderful ride along the back roads and the rough shoreline of the Bold Coast. 

The AW1 is not a bad camera, with some nice features, but some of the 'usability' decisions that Nikon made, largely for underwater use, can make it a frustrating camera at times.  As with all things, it is about tradeoffs; does the camera and its capabilities out weigh any issues, whether those be IQ or Useability related.  Still, for just taking snapshots in all types of conditions, it is a nice little camera.  Because of its weather and shock proofing, I am able to carry the camera on the Black Rapid sling as I ride and simply swing it around when the shot is at hand.  I have a review coming on that strap setup which I really enjoy for active pursuits.

Twists and Turns

 

My life has taken a bit of an unexpected turn the past two months -- Something that I will write about when the time is right, but for now, is all consuming.  In the meantime, my riding and writing is definitely taking a back seat to the issues that need to be dealt with.  While going through this life event, I continue to explore my environment in B&W, just at a slower and much less adventurous pace.  The adventure will be back, but for now it takes a back seat to more pressing issues of life.

I do have a couple of items that I will be writing about in the next week or so during down time, including my thoughts on the state of the Mirrorless market (Olympus v. Fuji while Nikon and Canon are asleep at the wheel).  I have a brief review on how I use a L bracket combined with the RRS mini plate and a Black Rapid (Kurve, Metro, Sport) strap to carry my cameras in certain situations. Lastly, I have some thoughts on B&W photography as a means of enhancing your color vision. 

I am optimistic that my much desired 2014 Salsa Ti Fargo will arrive soon and the review on that can commence along with the unveiling of my SUL kit from Scott, the master mind at Porcelain Rocket (1.5 pounds for an entire bikepacking setup...).  I am still on the fence with regards to gearing the Fargo, a toss up between going with a Rohloff or XX1.  Your thoughts are appreciated.


 

An ode to TMAX

It was my favorite film to shoot during 'those' days.  I don't know why, maybe the grain structure or the big dark contrast, or the way the blacks could really block up on you adding to that intense contrast .... I may actually never know, but in any event the TMAX look very much influenced the way I see B&W. 

With B&W I can focus on blacks and whites and shades of gray, structure, form, shapes and subtleties.  It becomes easier for me to tell the view exactly what it was that I saw and therefore, hopefully, easier for them to see what I saw. These 4 images from yesterday, developed in SEP using the TMAX filter and some of my own adjustments, were captured during my winter ride. 

I brought the trusty Trangia with just enough denatured alcohol to warm up my Snow Peak TI pots and make a lovely cup of tea.  It wasn't cold, but instead raw from the moisture in the air.  Having a cup of tea as I sat overlooking the water was a fitting way to end the day.

Slowing Down

Click through and read the text...

The camera, a week in my hands, and I am in love.  Their are warts for sure, but all in all it is a joy to use. I can't remember having said this about any camera in recent memory.  I ran across an old ad for the Leica M4, and the words, while not totally accurate for today's modern M, certainly rung true to my ears. 

More than anything, the camera makes you focus, slow down, and think.  None of which are a bad thing unless you are a sports photographer, in which case, fire away (no disrespect intended as I love shooting sports as well).  With the Monochrome, I am challenged to see and think my way through an image or through a scene.  Simply pointing and shooting is no longer possible.

I am totally taken back to the days of shooting chrome where I spent all of my time looking for shapes and lines and evaluating colors and luminance, working all the while to think in terms of zones...  For some, in this modern age, that is just too much work.  For me, short of the focusing issues I am working through, it is a godsend. Their is an indescribable Organic feel to the camera.  Its weight, form and function, all feel like a camera.  I don't have to touch the menus and when looking through the view finder, I am simply presented with my subject, the shutter speed, an indication if I am below my 'auto iso' preset (in the form of a flashing shutter speed) and a small dot that indicates I have locked my exposure.  Nothing more is needed.  If I blow out the highlights, well, it was my fault, not the camera.

There is nothing else there, nothing else to confuse or mess with my mind.  I am simply focused on the task at hand -- capturing the image that my mind has already seen unfolding in front of me.  The camera, well, it feels like a camera and acts like a camera.  I can see where for some, it is too minimalist, but for me, not so much.

These past few days have been challenging on a very personal front, and I found the Monochrome to be the perfect tool for the job.  Unobtrusive, relatively quiet, and capable of performing in a variety of conditions.  I will share some of those images tomorrow, but for now, I sit, drink a glass of wine, and contemplate how lucky a man I am.

ISO 320, f/1,7 -- Handheld

Trip Planning - Where to begin

I have every intention of really detailing this topic, as I think it is what causes the biggest issue for people wanting to go out on some form of Adventure, big or small.  Right now, I need to make it through Labor Day weekend and then I can really begin sharing some details on what I am doing and what my thought process is for the choices I make. 

However, I will start things off with this.  I start every trip with the following key items and then I begin the process of iterating each one on their own.  After each set is done, I then step back and look at where I can eliminate any redundancy in an effort to simplifly my kit and reduce the need to carry extraneous gear.  So, where do you begin? 

  • Mode of Transport
  • Shelter  
  • Cook
  • Sleep System
  • Element Protection, including moving and stationary
  • Tools
  • Electronics

To me, these are the biggest components of a trip, and the most critical.  There are always outliers that must be considered, but starting with these will allow you to begin the process of choosing gear and making key tradeoff decisions. As a teaser for some of my decisions, here is a little gallery of past choices just to get the discussion going.  Next week, I will discuss Shelter and Cook as it applies to the Lost Coast Bikepacking trip. 

Rethinking Everything

Once again I find myself contemplating my life -- who I am, what I am, what I want to do and who I want to be.  It seems to be somewhat of an annual right of passage for me, an attempt on my part to continually grow as a human being, to seek out new meaning in my life. I find myself dreaming of places to travel and cultures to explore, constantly wondering how I can capture and share the beauty and peace that comes from exploration on a bike.

One of my friends in the paddling world asked me the other day if I was now lost to the cycling world.  I told him no, but in reality I don't think that is true.  The art of two wheeled transport has been a part of my life for a very long time, it was simply lost for a bit, stuck in the attic so to speak while other things in my life took priority. It was never lost, just shelved for a bit of time.

I was lucky that kayaking helped to bring my desire to explore back to the forefront of my life.  The bike simply came out of the attic and is now at the center of my life.  Their is just something so very magical about traveling by bike. It can be the simplicity of running errands on a little Hooligan or a multi day trip on the Fargo. Heading into the wilds of Winter Alaska on a Mukluk or bombing down,some knew trail on a Spearfish.

The bike simply offers an unlimited palette for exploration and human connection...

I spend way too much time thinking of where to go next. Now back to dreaming, plotting and scheming, and of course that little bit about figuring out who and what I am.

I found this video today, it is striking in its beauty and simplicity.  I hope you enjoy: 

day 0 -- Angst rules the roost

My stomach is in knots, turning, rolling. A mixture of pain and wanting to puke. I have not felt this sense of angst in quite awhile. The final prep details always kill me. For whatever reason this time feels worse. I am walking through the Mall and. Feel this sense of disconctedness with everything. People, shops, stuff, and more stuff. I fixate on gear that has a purpose, it helps me to achieve a goal. Most of this stuff is just frivolous junk. My stomach hurts and I am having a hard time focusing, hoping that it was just last nights late night pizza that is tearing me up, masquerading as nerves... Only time will tell, for now I gotta push forward. This is it, day zero and I have stuff to do. Oh, my stomach hurts.