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Old 07-03-2010, 04:34 PM   #1
dave6253 OP
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The Art of the Ride Report - Planning, Tips, Opinions, Discussion

Do you want to learn how to make your Ride Reports better? I do.

Regardless of how pretentious the title of this thread is, I'm no expert. I am a huge fan of Ride Reports and have written a few short ones. In an effort to improve my abilities I have studied what seems to work and what doesn't. I've asked myself, what makes a Ride Report really good and what skills can I improve upon to make my reports more interesting to readers?

I've found that other inmates also want to learn. I frequently get questions from inmates on this subject both in my reports and by PM in response to my reports. Last week an inmate told me he was planning a big trip this fall and really wanted to learn how to document it. While I like to answer these questions I wished there was a thread somewhere to discuss these subjects more in depth than in an impromptu reply.

I plan to write about several subjects based on my observations, experience and the questions I've received. I encourage anyone wishing to do so to jump in with their own advice or questions. I'm sure there any many differrent opinions. I welcome them all, just keep it civil.

These are the subjects I'm considering of so far:

Rule 1; Bring the Passion
Planning and Practice
Basic Photography
Do I need an expensive DSLR?
How do you get those moving shots?
Post-Processing Photos
Writing Skills
Videography
Sharing GPS Tracks
Creating Route Maps w/ Bing or Google Maps



Rule 1: Bring the Passion

Most of us are on this forum because we are passionate about motorcycle travel. Yet some ride reporters are better at expressing that passion in their reports. If you simply post a few average snapshots and a short blurb about where you went, your report will likely not generate much response. If on the other hand you are able to express your passion for motorcycling the readers will likely pick up on this.

Most reports are made up of some storytelling/details of the trip and photographs. The best reports generally have great writing AND good photographs. Many are also starting to include video and at least one inmate has included sound (tsiklonaut). I say generally because some of the absolute best reports have great writing and bad photos (example, Vermin) or great photos and almost no story (example, Frank likes to ride). These two reports demonstrate that being really good at one skill can overcome the lack of the others. Both of these reports reveal a passion for motorcycle travel and makes the reader remember why they love to ride. Is there any doubt when reading a larryboy report that he means it when he says "I would sell my soul to feel this passion".? My personal favorite report that has it ALL: Angola, it's not like they said.

I read alot of comments from inmates that they prefer reports from locations they want to ride, on the type of terrain they prefer, and on the exact make and model of bike they prefer. If this is true then why do reports like this or this go absolutely viral? Personality, Writing, and Passion. Improve your writing and/or photography and readers will enjoy your report regardless of trip duration, terrain, or motorcycle model.

Try to express your passion for motorcycle travel a little better in your next report.


I placed this thread in Trip Planning because the Ride Report is something we should plan for before the big ride.


Planning and Practice

Ride Reports require some forethought. There's alot to think about. What equipment to bring, cameras, video recorders, notebooks, voice recorders? How am I going to remember the details of each day? How often should you plan to stop for photos? What sort of photos do I need to tell the story?

I would really recommend practicing by writing a few short reports before you take off on your first long trip. This is especially true if you plan to report from the road (Something I don't even want to consider). Writing a ride report is rewarding, but is much time-consuming work.

Someday I'm gonna take off on a long adventerous journey. I will be prepared to tell the story well, because I've practiced on my little 3-10 day rides.

I am routinely thinking of the Ride Report while out on the ride. I am constantly wondering how to describe what I just experienced and Oh, I really need to get a photo of that for the report. I would be the worst riding partner, because I stop so often for photos. You can never come home with too many pics, but try telling the story when you rode 500 miles and took 3 photos. You'd better have some good writing skills. Out here in the West the scenery probably changed entirely 500 times in that 500 miles.



I realized my creative writing skills are never going to be great. Therefore I have worked hard recently to learn how to improve my photographs. I am not, and never will be, a professional photographer. The hard work has paid off and I've started getting the most feedback regarding the subject of photography. Next up I'll try to explain some simple tips to improve your shots for documenting the ride.

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Old 07-03-2010, 04:59 PM   #2
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Sweet thread

Having written a few reports myself and tried to make them better each time I know how much effort and hard work it can be, having said that I know this thread is going to take a BUNCH of work. Thank you very much for doing something like this, if should help a lot of people myself included.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:01 PM   #3
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Dave,
This could become a good thread. I understand your interest.
You have Passion first on your long list.
Without passion the emotion will never come through to others.
You mentioned larryboy and some of his stuff. What you read with larryboy is he himself, and that's rare.
Correct spaling isn't even needed, if the person can expose their expeience to others in a real and raw manner - what it really is.
Some riders enjoy writing, while many others feel like it's a trip to the dentist.
Truthful experiences, as seen thru that rider's mind, is what I enjoy. Self promotion and obvious exaggeration is...obvious.
As far as writing styles go, the campfire method, telling a good story to others at a campfire, seems to work well. Just letting it out as you would tell your good tale to somebody.

For some, it may have been a dark and stormy night.....but for one soul it could've been sucking the last juices from a can of Vienna sausages while living under a small tarp during a relentless downpour. I want to know if he cut his tongue on the lip of the can, and it if was regular or cajun flavored.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:05 PM   #4
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Thanks header. Yes I'm afraid it may become lots of work, but I'm glad to hear someone is interested. I'm hoping to learn some from you guys as well.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave6253
Thanks header. Yes I'm afraid it may become lots of work, but I'm glad to hear someone is interested. I'm hoping to learn some from you guys as well.
Your welcome, I doubt I can help much right now but if you would like to see a different take on a ride report take a look at my most recent trip.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=582630

I wanted to try something different and I think it turned out ok but nothing great.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by header
Your welcome, I doubt I can help much right now but if you would like to see a different take on a ride report take a look at my most recent trip.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=582630

I wanted to try something different and I think it turned out ok but nothing great.
Now that's using your head header. Creative Writing! I missed this one. I'll have to consume the rest later today.


Okay, Lone Rider is here, I don't have to teach the photography section anymore.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dave6253


Okay, Lone Rider is here, I don't have to teach the photography section anymore.
Alright, lets see it then
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:24 PM   #8
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Another writing style I enjoy is the straight facts, ger er done, what happened style.
While Jeff Munn may not tell you how he felt when while experiencing a case of loose bowels in some weird place, his writings come through very clear.
Stuff you can take to the bank, and very useful.
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Old 07-03-2010, 06:54 PM   #9
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First Impressions

Ride Reports is a busy thread. There are tons of reports to read. No one can read them all. Believe me, I try. (Well okay, except for Gadget Boy) I usually try to make a determination early on whether or not a report is worth my time.

How do you get your report noticed? A unique or catchy report name is a start. Just make sure your report lives up to the name. I remember one report that went viral based on the title alone. 15 pages later when the crappy report actually started, many of us were disappointed. It was a mess. This happens alot when writers start their reports before the ride and the details of the planned ride sound good. I don't have to worry about this because I'm not creative enough to think up a catchy title.

I always do my reports after the fact. I like to select a few of my favorite photos from the trip and include them in the first post as "Teaser Photos". I try to select photos that are attention grabbing and maybe show the bike and terrain. This lets the reader know the report is one worth subscribing to. Rarely is the first day of the ride exciting enough to grab everyones' attention.

On my last report I only felt the need to use two "Teaser Photos":

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Old 07-03-2010, 08:21 PM   #10
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Ride vs. Stop

Remember that old ad campaign for basketball shoes? They would show some BB Player doing some superhuman feat then claim, "It's the shoes"! Wasn't it NIKE? The reality is the shoes probably made almost no difference.

Well, I have worked HARD to improve my photographs. I still have much to learn. Now I get comments and questions about how great my CAMERA is. Everyone wants to know, What kinda camera is that? I have news for you. It wasn't about the SHOES and it's not about the camera. It's a result of my desire to take better photographs and my willingness to learn. I actually take those questions and comments about the camera as a compliment, but wanted to point out the distinction here. You probably don't need a new camera.

Most modern point-n-shoot cameras can take excellent photos, AUTOMATICALLY. Especially in daylight when most of our rides take place. You don't need to become a professional photographer with professional gear. It really comes down to pointing the camera in the right direction. This is called composition. Google the term "Rule of Thirds". Following the rule of thirds can greatly improve your pics. My point-n-shoot camera will display a tic-tac-toe grid on the screen to assist you composing the shot based on the rule of thirds. See if your camera has this feature.

There are far too many reports where the photos do a better job of documenting the stops, and not the rides. Maybe we should call them stop reports? Photos of gas stations, restaurants, and motels have their place, but if that's all you've got it becomes a stop report. Don't forget to include photos of the ride, the roads, the trails, the scenery, your bike, the people you meet, and anything else that tells the story of the motorcycle journey. This is one reason I've started shooting while on the move, but that's another subject. Not everyone wants to handle a camera while riding. Be more willing to stop for a quick photo. Leaving the camera where you can quickly access it and snap a shot without dismounting helps. A couple weeks ago my bike needed a jump start from a nearby camper. I forgot to get a photo of the actual event and had to settle for a shot of the jumper cables after the fact. On the same ride I spent half a day riding in a snow storm. I failed to get any photos of the snowy roads... in the AFTERNOON... in ARIZONA... in JUNE! Who's gonna believe me now?

There are many online tutorials, books, forums, and other information that you should seek out to learn more about photography. Here are some of my favorite sites:

http://motojournalism.blogspot.com/ I highly recommend Antontrax's eBook
www.dgrin.com A site similar to advrider for photographers.
www.dpreview.com Camera reviews, forums, news
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave6253
Most modern point-n-shoot cameras can take excellent photos, AUTOMATICALLY. Especially in daylight when most of our rides take place. You don't need to become a professional photographer with professional gear. It really comes down to pointing the camera in the right direction.
Raoul Duke did a nice ride report to Alaska. Stunning photos. I contacted him. What camera did you use? He replied he carried a nice DSLR and a Canon point-and-shoot. The DSLR stayed in the tank bag: too bulky and too difficult to get out for spur of the moment pics. The Canon took virtually all of his stunning photos.

To be honest, I do appreciate fine photography in ride reports. I love a good story and those epic rides. That said, I appreciate the first timer, the guy/gal who is not afraid to post up a ride report along side of Metaljockey. The ride report with someone's first bike and a trip to some state park. It's all part of the Awakening. The discovery of motos and motojournalism.

Probably the best thing you are saying and has been said by Antontrax and others, is just use whatever camera you have and think about how you point it and how you set it. The key thing to keep pushing is to keep encouraging folks just to take the pics and post them up, I wish they knew how much we (or at least I) appreciate their efforts and their get-off-your-ass-and-get-out-there chutzpah.

Another thing: in the end, ride reports aren't really for other people. They all fade away. The cool thing is that you can go back and re-read them, and realize how much you've grown. To do a ride report, you have to travel. And in the end, those are the days you remember.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:20 AM   #12
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Thanks for the great thread - lucky timing for me!

On Wednesday, BigWan and I are leaving for a 5-6 week, multi-state (9?) ride and I could really use some ride report inspiration.

I don't have much experience, but here are two humble recommendations for ride reporters:
1) keep a old fashioned pen and paper journal. I couldn't have remembered all the details without my trusty journal. Every night, I wrote down where we were, where we had gone, how many miles we rode, and as many details about the day as I could. I also drew something - usually the floorplan of our motel room (drawings of campsites work, too). I find that drawing helps etch things into my brain. It makes me remember not only what I'm drawing, but also the things around me. Tons of memories and details come flooding back when I see an old drawing. Make little notes about your neighbors, the weather, the view... all those things jog your memory as well. And, remember -the crappier the day, the more fun it is to re-live later!

2) once you start posting your report, use a program like Appleworks or Word to compose the entry, then cut and paste the final version into the "reply to thread" box. There is nothing more frustrating (heartbreaking!) than wasting hours writing a post and then having it lost in the black void.
I didn't figure this one out until I had lost several posts


Thanks, dave6253 - I'm going to try and absorb as much of this thread as I can before we leave. I'm not a natural photographer. It's just not my thing. I'd much rather enjoy the ride and take it all in - without having to look through the lens (especially when we're blasting through the dirt). But, once the ride is over and we're home again, I always wish I had taken more photos. We just dropped the 990 for the first time (snow and mud) and I totally blew my chance for a photo because I wasn't thinking "ride report." damn.

(*edited - too much talky-talky)

P.S. Tricepilot - love this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tricepilot
Another thing: in the end, ride reports aren't really for other people. They all fade away. The cool thing is that you can go back and re-read them, and realize how much you've grown. To do a ride report, you have to travel. And in the end, those are the days you remember.

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Old 07-04-2010, 10:07 AM   #13
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Great comments everyone! Your post was definitely not a hijack Little Wan. I was hoping to encourage discussion just like this. I sure hope you do an RR. Your trip sounds great.


EDIT: LittleWan did write a Ride Report and it is WONDERFUL! The Summer of Stupid: 7400 Miles of 2up - OBCDR, CDT, TAT West and more...
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:17 PM   #14
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Well said Tricepilot.

I write my reports mostly for myself. I get to relive the journey.

I noticed when Antontrax broke his SLR the quality of his pics didn't decline.

I have carried a camera while fighting forest fires, thru Vietnam, on the dash of my rally car, and now on my cycle. Have that camera at the ready, not buried in luggage.

I'm still learning this digi stuff, but I can take so many pics. It's just nuts. I'm shooting hundreds a day sometimes. I'm getting good at dynamite stops and third gear take-offs.
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricepilot
"... I appreciate the first timer, the guy/gal who is not afraid to post up a ride report along side of Metaljockey. The ride report with someone's first bike and a trip to some state park. It's all part of the Awakening. The discovery of motos and motojournalism.
Excellent point!

Having lived in, and traveled throughout, Alaska for over 50 years I'm afraid that I have grown a little accustomed to the scenes that present themselves up here virtually endlessly. But when experiencing them through the photos and narration of a first-timer it is almost like being a new arrival myself. There is no need for professional journalism in those ride reports. The innocence and naivete of the writer convey more of the experience than flowery wording.
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