Photo Kit: Exploring the world, on two wheels


  • TECH
  • Saturday, 28 Nov 2015

Foldie: Having a foldable bike stored in your car all the time allows you to explore further than either vehicle on its own would normally allow.


I’ve recently discovered that having a very small and portable folding bike that you can easily stow in your car can be quite a life-changing experience.

After doing a bit of research into folding bikes I discovered that there are a plethora of types available, all of which have different ways of folding, some of which are smaller and more portable than others when folded.

I opted for a British-made Brompton folding bike after testing out quite a few – while it’s not cheap, it folds into a very small package that can be easily carried around and it’s small enough to fit into the overhead compartment of a plane, so it even more easily fits into the boot of my car.

Birds: Once you get off the beaten path in Malacca, you'll get to see what life is really like away from the touristy areas.

The primary reason I got it was to avoid the terrible traffic jams in front of my office since the MRT works started in the area – I stay only three kilometres from the office but getting stuck in one of these jams can mean that a short ride in my car takes over an hour.

With the folded bike always ready and waiting in the boot of my car, whenever there’s a jam, I just unfold the bike and ride it home, leaving my car parked in my office parking to be retrieved later (or the next day).

So why am I talking about a bicycle in a photography column?

Well you see, since getting the bicycle, I’ve been taking it out a lot and I found that I’m getting photo opportunities in places I wouldn’t normally be able to access by car alone.

Dry land: This photo taken in Malacca was shot at a lower angle to exaggerate the cracks in the foreground to create a more interesting composition.
Dry land: This photo taken in Malacca was shot at a lower angle to exaggerate the cracks in the foreground to create a more interesting composition.
 

For example, on a recent trip to Malacca a friend and I packed our folding bikes up in the car, drove to the outskirts of town to park in a less congested area, then brought them out to explore the city.

We also took our folding bikes out of the city itself and managed to get some good shots of Malacca from off the beaten path.

Being able to quietly travel around also means that you’re less likely to scare away animals and birds as you’re passing by, so if you’re into shooting photos of that, your chances of success are much higher.

I even took the bike back with me on a recent trip back to my hometown of Jitra in Kedah.

Now, the last time I cycled in my hometown was in my teens and at that time I was afraid to venture out too far from my home since I’m chronically directionally-challenged – that’s just a nice way of saying I get lost very easily, hahaha.

Panorama: This shot was taken while bicycling at Bukit Cahaya in Shah Alam.

Nowadays of course, that fear of getting lost is no more, with our mobile phones packing the very latest in GPS navigation chipsets and maps.

As such on my recent trip home I just stepped out of my house, picked a direction to go and just went out cycling, camera in my backpack.

On these excursions I really got to see a part of my hometown that I’ve honestly never seen before, since I got to travel on small roads that were often inaccessible to cars.

In fact, since getting the bike I’ve been planning various trips both in and outside of Kuala Lumpur with a little bit of bicycle travel worked into those plans.

In case you’re wondering, the difference between getting a full-sized mountain bike and a folding bike is that since the folding bike is so easily stowed into the car, it really allows you to take advantage of this form of multi-modal transport to explore further afield.

On the other hand, with a mountain bike, you’d have to get a bike rack fitted to your car or remove the wheels and try to squeeze it into your car with the seats down.

So yeah, as you can see from the photos I have here, I’ve been to quite a few interesting places on my bike since I got it.

(Tan Kit Hoong (tankh@thestar.com.my) is a journalist who's been an enthusiastic photographer longer than he's been reporting tech news and this fortnightly column allows him to ramble on about cameras and photography)


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