Bicycling with LF : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Last week I was frustrated while trying to photograph w/ LF in a city. The source of frustration was my inability to find *any* parking.

I've heard of many folks who have outlined their techniques for backpacking with LF. Is anyone out there bicycling with LF? Any tips? I could have found lots of parking a mere 10-15 minute bike ride away from where I wanted to shoot.

-- Larry Huppert (, July 15, 2000


Hmmm... On a bicycle I could manage my camera, but the tripod would be awkward to say the least. You could look into a cycle trailer if you were serious about it.

-- David Goldfarb (, July 16, 2000.

Why not put the camera gear in a backpack and attach the tripod to the bike frame with bungee cords. I haven't done it but I have seen it done, so the idea is not original. Just don't fall off the bike. It might get expensive.

-- Doug Paramore (, July 16, 2000.

We use a bike trailer for our kids. Atleast my camera gear wouldn't complain about keeping it's helmut on. You could certainly pack a small studio inside a trailer. Even though a trailer would provide plenty of room, it would be nice to do this without a trailer. The bike and trailer combo have a pretty big footprint when navigating around a city. The trailer also adds about 20 lbs to your hauling weight. Some sort of secure pannier setup would be ideal. I've never felt comfortable bicycling while wearing a (heavy) backpack. I don't think strapping the tripod to the rear rack and having the legs extend beyond the bike would be a problem.

-- Larry Huppert (, July 16, 2000.

I'm getting ready to setup a bike as soon as I find the right one @ the right price. Good exercise and easier to get around. I'm looking to get both a front basket and rear basket (straddles the rear wheel) for the bike. I'll have a friend who sews make a padded case to fit the front basket with a lid and a couple velcro attachments. In back the same thing but open for the tripod and other large stuff. a little weight to balance and off I go. Thing of note; a double bike stand like the type on the small motorcycles which will keep the bike standing straight would be better for stability.

-- Wayne Crider (, July 16, 2000.

I have done this on a regular basis... Instead of a tripod, I purchased a flex arm (Bogen's Articulated Arm) with a Super Clamp. When riding, I have my camera (Linhof Tech III) , lens and film holders in a Domke Bag bungied to my rack on the back of the bike and the super clamp and arm clamped to the seat post also holding the bag. When I'm ready to shoot, I take the super clamp and clamp it to the cross bar of the bike and put my camera on the camera plate that comes with the arm. My bike essentially becomes my tripod and I have been doing this for years. I ride my bike into the woods (mountain bike) and do the shots that many people don't even ever see. It works great and is so portable and rock steady! The Bogen Arm goes for about $100. US and the Bogen Super Clamp is about $30. You can see the Articulated arm in the Calumet Catalogue. It is not the friction arm but the heavier one with the lever that locks everything down in one motion. Alot of my exposures are at about 1-5 sec. if that is any indication how steady it is. If you have questions, email me and I'll take some digital shots of the setup. Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (, July 16, 2000.

Larry, on occasion i ride a mountain bike, with my 8x10, 2 lenses, filters and tripod. I have even gone on some short single-track trails (i have since switched to a full-suspension bike). Riding with 4x5 in the city is totally realistic. The key is to have a good backpack (ie LowePro Trekker). the tripod can be attached to the bike frame. It's no Tour-de-France but it sure beats walking!

Good Luck.

-- Dave Anton (, July 16, 2000.

Larry, this is no sweat. When I was living in Japan in Kamakura (capital under the first Shogunate), the streets were incredibly narrow (built for defensibility and to confuse the enemy), and as I often shot early in the morning at remote temples before work, cycling w/ all my equipment was a necessity. Major streets were sometimes only 15 ft from building to building on the opposite side of the street (no room for curbs or sidewalks). I could carry either a complete medium format system w/ 5 lenses or 4x5 monorail w/ 4 lenses and accessories in my Phototrekker AW with virtually all dividers removed. I used nylon ties w/ fastex buckles and the shoulder carrying strap from the phototrekker AW to jury-rig a shoulder strap for the gitzo 410. Thus, I was able to ride on my road bike to the shot locations (usually 20-25 min by bike), get the shots, and ride back (uphill). The only trick is that the gitzo 410 is so long that you can hit cars/pedestrians (I never did, despite riding w/ gridlock of cars on my right side while dodging school kids on the left). I later switched to a gitzo 340 for the cycling and use the 410 whenever I go by train. I used to road race for a number of years and still ride, so it helps when powering up hills w/ the 4x5 and big gitzo. Just don't think about crashing w/ $20K of equipment on your back, and watch out for train tracks (slippery all the time), and paint and drainage gratings (slippery when wet).

-- James Chow (, July 16, 2000.

As long as it is a reasonable size folder, it will fit in the back-pack. The tripod will hold to your frame slung along the post (I know what we called it as a kid, but can't post that) that runs between your seat and handle bars using shock-cord (thiner than bungy webbed along the whole length). One guy told me he puts the tri-pod on his mountain bike horns. The tri-pod can't be too long though, or your thighs whack it. Also, it seems like you can cover more ground, but you see something and say to yourself, "is this worth un-webbing the tri-pod, putting the head on, un-stuffing the back pack. I'd say for a 10 min bike trip, you'd better throw the camera/tripod over your sholder and march like a soldier for 25 mins -- same time amound and much less hassle. I commute to work with my bike and am totaly commited to cylcing, but most of the time, LF is better for the bus or a hike. I don't think they mix unless you've got a destination in mind too far to walk and too close for the bus -- I choose not to have a car so that is not an option.


-- Dean Lastoria (, July 17, 2000.

Thank you for all the wonderful responses. I knew there were some creative techniques which could be employed.

I was in the bike store the other day, and saw this single wheel cargo carrier called the YAK made by a company called "BOB". It looked pretty wild. Unlike the child trailers, this thing was narrow (appeared to be the width of a backpack) and very light (about 12 lbs). It looked like it would fit a lightwave multiformat case, a tripod, and a second smaller camera case. Has anyone tried one of these?

-- Larry Huppert (, July 18, 2000.

This thread has got me thinking I should be hauling my gear on my bike.

Larry: I did a search on BOB. Here is their website:

Here is a review I found:

Their COZ trailer looks interesting too.

-- Brad Evans (, July 19, 2000.

I bought a Yak BOB trailer a few years ago, with the intention of using it to carry my LF equipment. It arrived the day before I was due to go camping for a weekend. I built it up, and went for a few miles ride with it unladen - no problem, but I felt a bit conspicuos, and I seem to remember that it rattled a fair bit.

On reaching home, I loaded my LF gear, all contained within my Lowe Pro SuperTrecker (the big one!). It weighed about 60pounds, as far as I can remember. I cycled across a flat field, and the front-end of the bike was shimmy-ing like crazy. Even on the smooth, I never felt in control. My bike is a steel-framed mountain bike. It's a fairly heavy frame in that it's no super-lightweight racer (no suspension, rigid forks). At a stand-still, the bike seemed to be flexing. You could 'park' the combo by moving the bike around 90degrees to the trailer and leaning the trailer over, but moving it around was a nightmare.

In the end, I decided against taking the camera with me, sent the trailer back to the importer, and ended up going for my trip with just the camping gear loaded on the bike in panniers on a Blackburn rear rack. The camping gear weighed about the same as the LF equipment, and there was no sign of a wobble.

I've seen other people using BOBs, and they seem to be getting on okay. Maybe mine was a bad one. I've read reports of people taking them off-road, but I'd need to try again before buying one.

I've read about other trailers (I think Vitarelli, or something), but these have two larger wheels with a low carrying platform. Obviously they'd be no good for cycling single-track, but for on-road use, I think they'd be much better.

I'd be interested in hearing experiences from other people.

-- David Nash (, July 19, 2000.

David - what you describe doesn't sound very inviting. The sales person at the store was a non-automobile owner, and used his YAK for all sorts of hauling tasks. He described them as very smooth and stable. He is also a MF photographer, and uses his YAK on photo expeditions. The store had a YAK built-up. It would be interesting as a test to pack-up gear, and take it for a test ride. The aspect of the YAK that bothers me is the space it takes up while storing or transporting it. It doesn't really (easily) knock down at all. On older versions, the pivoting folk attaching section could rotate into the body of the YAK to make it shorter. The newer versions have added stiffening members to the body of the YAK which now prevents the rotation of that section.

The other well regarded trailer I found doing some internet research is from a company called CycleTote. Their setup is much wider and uses two standard size wheels. It appears to have a much larger capacity than the YAK. It's still fairly light. It can also be adapted to carry children. Doesn't look like you'd want to take the CycleTote off-road, and it might be too large for city use.

-- Larry Huppert (, July 19, 2000.

Hi Larry,

I regularly ride with my 4x5. I am a mt biker. I just put on my regular backpack of camera gear including tripod and umbrella attached to the pack and go. I have taken the gear on rides as long as 15 miles. I'm usually more tired than my friends without cameras, but they always admire my photographs and are patient with me when I want to stop. Obviously, I don't take the gear on very technical rides or I would end up in a heap. I would think that a street bike would be difficult with its very narrow tires and the additional weight of the camera gear. Some sort of a hybrid mt bike/street bike would probably be best for around town. The bottom line is its no big deal on a bike. By the way, I'm no spring chicken (I'm 51).

-- Paul Mongillo (, July 20, 2000.

I tried a BOB Yak loaded with 50lbs of photo equipment. This is a great way to transport LF equipment while photographing in the city. Trailer tracks nicely, and it's very easy to weave around things in the city. When going on the flats, you pretty much forget it's there. The bike I had it attached to (short wheelbase, upright, lightweight road bike) was hardly the ideal bike for hauling stuff. Once I get my heavy duty bike back together, it will probably be even easier. It only part requiring practice was keeping the trailer balanced when stopped. If it starts to go over, it's difficult to wrestle it back into position.

-- Larry Huppert (, July 28, 2000.

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