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Old 12-30-2010, 09:10 PM   #1
chevaliernoir OP
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6 month in south America


After crossing Africa with Aurel in the last 5 month, I'm now riding alone in South America. The plan is more or less to cross Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru Equador and Colombia.

The web site that contains the adventures in AFrica continues for this part of the trip. I will put anyway the articles also here, in order to have discussion and comments between adventure riders!

I will update this post with direct link to articles. Sorry my english is not so good and I'm more practicing the spanish at the moment!
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chevaliernoir screwed with this post 12-30-2010 at 09:26 PM
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:13 PM   #2
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Loïc : Just out of Buenos Aires, I want to do some long steps to see the country, and because I really miss even scrolling landscapes and to sleep in a place that does not look like where I woke up that day.
Direction of Uruguay, a small country wedged between gigantic Argentina, Brazil and Atlantic Ocean.
Colonia de Sacramento, a beautiful seaside town.

The tourist office to tell me that there is a municipal campground murky behind the football field, a nicer campsite about twenty km of. This is an opportunity to visit this village and almost everything is closed. Obviously it's the off season, and even in the campsite, I am the only camper.
The opportunity is too good to eat directly with the couple who own the campground. They are adorable until two friends come to play cards, and there I see right away that it is getting serious and have more time for me. In life, everything is a matter of priority, and the card game with neighbors, is sacred. As they are right! I'll do another ride on the beach ...

I notice that to the best tourist location of this village, there is a small pavilion. I was expecting to discover a market of trinkets and postcards, and even, at best, a tourist office, but no, it's a small library. To see that the best place to do business is taken by a cultural activity, it makes me pretty happy and it makes me want to know this country better.
The next day, towards the capital, Montevideo. As I am not fond of big cities, I did spend a few hours.

As the bike is loaded with my bag, I try to find a place where I can leave the bike safely. There, a series of motorcycles were lined, so I added a line. In front of the motorcycle, there is a window open with people who talk loudly from the inside. I ask if I can leave the bike here. They smile and told me that yes, of course. I do not understand the reason for their smile, but hey, I'll do my little turn off a light heart.
Finally the old city enchants me and is super quiet. (It must be the time for siesta).
Saturday is the day that there are musicians to the "fish market", a place full of restaurants. Cool! Precisely because I love fish and I had my meat in Argentina, it'll be a good opportunity.

But no, it was great place for fisherman's name, and it's still meat that everybody eats. The fish is on the menu but not into the plates.

Good with a steak in the belly I go see the bike. There are strange people running around ... with a paramilitar looking.

I was actually just outside thepolice station, struts and I do not realize!
Well, Nancy and her family waiting for me to Minas, a good hundred kilometers, therefore abridge the discussions and I hit the road.

I even found time to have a little girl with whom I share a good reading ...

... and we discuss of my next destinations to see if I could go out of the beaten path. Nancy suggested that I should go to the small village where his family lives. why not! She did not go long. So I suggest: "If you find a helmet, I bring you on the motorcycle," and half an hour later, she had a helmet in hand.

So en route to the entire south coast. The weather is very variable, and the first real stop will be in very remote areas, a little piece of paradise, after 25km of pistes.

The place is not officially open to the public, but since the gate was open and that there is, it is welcome nonetheless.

It is on the banks of the Laguna Negra, which is aptly named because of its water more than greyish. The color is due to the mud in suspension, while the surrounding area is sand that welcomes to take a nap in the sun.
Fernando, the owner, is not kind of expensive. But as we are here, we are welcome, and we walk away with pieces of meat grilled on the same evening on the coals ...

We continue to Cabo Polonio, but a terrible storm prevent us to do. As against this, go eat at Chuy, with the city border into Brazil.

This city has the distinction of being a really straddles the border, while the border post is located after the town. To the right of the road is Brazil, and has left, the Uruguay!

(humm... this looks again as a picture without any interest!)
In short, we can move from Brazilian side of the city without going through customs and then we'll go eat at a Brazilian restaurant before heading back to Cebollati, a small village at the end of 100km of gravel road, the only way to get there .

Nice people, friendly, not expansive, however. But twice, when I leave, I found my shoulders caught between strong hands, to be told in a tone sollenel "mi casa es tu casa". (My house and your house). There was a rare voice and strength in depth in her eyes. Well I think this kind of small golden moments of life, it touches me more than the most beautiful monument or landscape.

Here, a few small details again:
Before leaving, I receive a gift of a small wooden board or has been painted by hand, of course, the emblem of the village school. So, instead of dragging it in my bag, I'll show it on the bike and take a picture of the 4 corners of the latin america, while returning the photos to school. And so here I am ambassador of the School of Cebollati!

The Uruguayans are not particularly expensis, unlike their Brazilian neighbors, it seems. Right, here are 2 packs of cigarettes: the left comes from Uruguay and the right of Brazil. The cultural difference is startling!

So I resumed the road anyway to enjoy the beautiful weather that seems to come back. Treinta y tres, Melo, Tacuarembo, Salto ...
and here I am again in Argentina for new adventures and new friends!
My time in Uruguay in Numbers:
1685km in total, including 140km of gravel road
5 days on the road and one day of rest
350km / day on the road
longer step: 435km
2 nights in camping, 1 night in the wild, 3 nights invited by locals

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chevaliernoir screwed with this post 12-30-2010 at 09:21 PM
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:31 PM   #3
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Great stuff! Damn if we had cigarettes in packs like that here in the U.S., I'd start smoking again.
- Mark

The road to enlightenment is not paved.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:31 AM   #4
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Your riding partner has a thread here too.. maybe we should combine the two so we can enjoy it all in one place... I was mesmerized by your African portion of the adventure! And now enjoying this
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by AZ_ADV_RIDER View Post
Great stuff! Damn if we had cigarettes in packs like that here in the U.S., I'd start smoking again.

Don't go by it... that was an odd example. The other side of that box has the real story. Brazilian cigarette packages have those same labels as the Uruguayans. Brazil was the second country in the world, and the first in the Americas to adopt this type of mandatory labeling. Check these sites:

And it is coming to the US as well:

Whenever we are riding, we are an ambassador to our sport

I'd rather be riding!

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Old 12-31-2010, 09:53 AM   #6
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Fantastic. Thank you.
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Old 01-01-2011, 09:34 AM   #7
chevaliernoir OP
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Originally Posted by Gadget Boy View Post
Your riding partner has a thread here too.. maybe we should combine the two so we can enjoy it all in one place... I was mesmerized by your African portion of the adventure! And now enjoying this
We split the threads and the web sites (I use now, and he uses ) because we are going more or less at the same places, but at different time. At the end, we will meet somewhere in the mountains, but it would be confused if we mix them, are they are separate adventures. That´s the reason of this new thread!

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Old 01-01-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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"Missiones" is the North East region of Argentina. I had not planned to put the wheels there, but eventually, leaving Uruguay, why not visit this part?
The steps are as long distances in Argentina are just as important. Before arriving at Mercedes, I see a small chapel and a coffee. That looks pretty calm for a break.

But looking closer ...

The chapel is in honor of San la Muerte "(or "Saint Death"), a saint that is venerated and who watches over the people.

It is especially thank him for the favors granted (often with the gift of a bottle of whiskey to thank the saint for having allowed to buy a new car!)
So I´m back on the road after being convinced that Mr. Saint Death is watching over me. So much the better for it 110km of dirt road ahead of me.

The thousands of miles of trails in Namibia allow me to feel confident and move forward at a good speed...
I will see a tradesman to me resolder GPS support who does not like the vibrations of the track. On the one hand, he holds the workpiece, the other electrode holder, and as there remains no hand free to hold a helmet, eye wrinkles simply to weld!

I'll take just a few cloudy to see cousins in the forest ...

I resume the journey north without really knowing what to expect. I was warned that the road is sand (I do not like) and there is very little traffic ...

Finally the rains of yesterday have made the heavy sand, and staying in the footsteps of the two cars passed in the night, it is doable. That said, I am not displeased to find the tar!
Misiones is a region of Argentina where there was a large number of Jesuit missions evangelizing the Guarani. I step in San Ignacio to visit one of them ...

Everyone does something for the community as needed and competent, independently of real incomes. Well, I guess it would often result in "I, the missionary, I pray thee, and thou, the Guarani, you work in the fields for me" , but good. Still, it seems that evangelism had nothing he does a steamroller as I imagined, and it was rather a mixture of Christian religion and tradition and culture that prevailed Guarani.

I take the road to Puerto Iguacu and I met the violent tropical storms ...

Normally we come to see the Iguacu Falls, but the rain, it does not tell me anything. I'll take the day here just to check my shoes (which I aired by putting them outside before the storm, below a gutter ...) are well sealed: A liter of water that entered the interior does not appear outside.

Yes, but it is a pitty to come to Iguacu Falls without going to see them. Then I have a brilliant idea: since the day the light is bad, let's go to see them at night, especially since it is the full moon.
The sky cleared and the show was at once beautiful and romantic ...

After I put this in his eyes, I hit the road to the south, but by changing the way history to discover something else.

Still a lot of miles in perspective. I pass the bar of 60.000km, and as far, so good!

To sleep in the reserve Mburucaya is a few tens of kilometers of trails that lie ahead.

Again there was a lot of sand, but wet.

Traction is good, and it does not stick to the tires ...

There was one who was lounging in the sun and a 4x4 was visibly crushed. Is there an amateur that can identify the beast?

I found a nice place and is unwittingly flee him who was there before me.

An armadillo or greets me the account I pitch my tent.

It is not very wild but disappear with the arrival of the night.

Another friend turned me around while I prepare the meal:

My other neighbors are more peaceful

The next day I come back so that road in reverse. The snake seen the day before disappears ...

I feel sometimes to see the life in Kodachrome

And then comes the moment of the terrible discovery: the rear tire is more worn out than I thought. The steel structure is not only visible, but gradually breaks. And I'm 800km from Buenos Aires where a new tire waits for me. No chance to find a good size tire on the road. I even thought to put a car tire used for troubleshooting, but a tire of 18 " would be impossible to find or too large surely. What to do?

Without much conviction, I say that the principal is to not worn out more the tire. I still have a roll of Duct tape!

So I make a trial smoothly without much conviction. 50km later, the tape has held up, it just seems to melt in a mix of glue and plastic. It's not pretty, but it protects. Driving at 80km / h, it holds well, and I just put 1 or 2 thicknesses of adhesive every 100km.

It amuses employees of service stations, so that the cashier asks it to be photographed with the bike and repaired!

I do like that the last 800 km to finally arrive in Buenos Aires safe and sound! PHEW!

This small loop in the northeastern Argentine figures:
traveled 3400km in total, including 330km of dirt
Average of 470km / step
8 days on the bike and 2 rest days
3 nights camping, 1 night in the wild, 3 nights in a dormitory, 1 night hosted by local.
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:40 AM   #9
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I spent quite a bit of time yesterday and most of this morning reading your website from start to finish. Amazing! Thanks so much for all the work and time to share with us, your trip. I call it an education on the real happenings of the world.

A '00 KLR 650 40,000 miles, A '07 1250S 74,000 , A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 78,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:10 PM   #10
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1001 uses for duct tape!! c'est génial

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Old 01-02-2011, 03:23 PM   #11
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Really enjoying the ride report & pictures.

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Old 01-02-2011, 08:01 PM   #12
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I would like to present you Giovani.
I saw him while he was working on his machine tool in a small workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

When I point my nose and asked to enter his room, just to see him working and feel the hot cutting oil, he not only let me going in but proudly show me the machine on which he works. I even more welcome as I am French. And why he loves as the French? Because his lathe is a H.ERNAULT-BATIGNOLLES from France.

This lathe is his jewel, his pride. "It dates from 1960 and still works as the first day" Oh, there's nothing in his voice of Italian exuberance where he has however his origins, but it illuminates his words by sparks in his eyes. And as he sees I also vibrates, it's a real fireworks when he give me an overview of other machines in this tight space limitations.

He is proud of his machine and his work, but in no way denies the qualities of the mass industrial production, and standardization. More than 70 years old, he just don't ask more questions about profitability of a business. In fact when I asked him how he finds his job, he replied: "A job? Oh, long ago that I am retired and I no longer work!" He invents, creats, manufacturs, fabricates parts for his customers, because he likes to see the parts to swhape as he manipulates the pace, and he delights to see people not only satisfied with his work, but simply happier when they leave the workshop with a piece of shiny metal in hand. That is far from air-conditioned offices where the corporate culture was invented to support white-collar lack of meaning in their work!I asked him to resume his work ... (Well, his "activity" as he doesn't work anymore) and he explains that he has to tapped an axis with a left hand thread.

... and then installing the cutter in front of me, he stops suddenly, looks up with a little smile, and explained that his tool is too big to enter the cavity tapping. His eyes are pointed at me, but I see he does not look at me. He looks for possible solutions to the problem while smiling. The difficulty or even failure, are clearly not perceived as a bad time, but as a fantastic chance to boost his creativity. His expertise is not only create documents, but also create solutions. An intense moment that makes him to vibrate. It proves to me that the speech supported by Pirsing in his famous "Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is not just a theory and everyday life of some people.

From my engineer memory, I do not remember ever having seen a smile in the eyes of my colleagues to announce a new problem or a new goal crazy ...
The place is clearly in the colors of the bike:

"When you ride a motorcycle, they say that the fairings are in the body.

Logically the engine is the soul "
Guillermo is his son, and runs in 600 Supersport! And he takes in hand the workshop under the guidance of his father. Because here cutting speeds depends of the noise of a carbide bur on the metal., You cannot invent it. Here, no chart or theory. This kind of knowledge does not come from a classroom. Inevitably, the current flows both among ourselves and with his father. We take the opportunity to weld a holding part of GPS, each glad to finally through it's, cross our activities. And here I am proud to wear the sticker "Krosti45" on the bike now!

A big thank you and Guillermo Guiovani !
This article is dedicated to all those who work with their hands and not waiting for braids and public recognition to illuminate the dark corners of their workshop in the light of their expertise.

"Because he has hands, the man is the most intelligent animals" - Anaxagore
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:17 AM   #13
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"Patagonia". This word was a dream for a long time.
It inspires me big spaces. And about large areas, I got them!
There is only one paved road from end to end which allows to cross Argentina. It's the famous Road Number 3: "La ruta 3" .

Given the distances (from Argentina north to south is as large as the United States from east to west) I plan to use this road a little way, then branching off into the Andes by hundreds of miles of gravel road. Because honestly, this road number 3 is especially boring. Hundreds of miles straight, with a gas station (and nothing else) every 100 miles.

So I try to escape, when possible, and follow the coast instead. The opportunity to spend a night with Claudia and Mariano, close to the ocean. I made pancakes, they prepared an asado, and we drank a fine Argentinian wine, sharing our visions of life... Thank you both for your welcome!
The next day, I'm received in a familly living in the house they are building, recommended by a cousin. It's still a very warm welcome offered to me. Well, there was nevertheless a slump when I arrived with my bottle of wine in one hand, beer in the other : "It's nice, but you're going to drink them by yourself, because we are not drinking alcohol ". Fortunately the brother ate with us and helped me a lot.
I feel that even when their house is finished, there will still no key in the door. Here, everyone is welcome, and friends spend all the time to share a mate, take a shower, or simply because they feels good. Card game with children, photo album, prayer thanking God for the meal and demand him to take care of the passing stranger (!), simple and very good healthy meal ... I was happy to pitch my tent in the middle of a neighborhood of houses under construction!

Thank you Cristian and Adriana!
For the long distance traveler, gas stations are always moments of meetings. 100 miles before Puerto Madryn, I hear a voice telling to me, in perfect French: "Good morning Sir". That Mr. Hernan, Argentin who loves to speak French. He lives 150 miles from here, and delivers the service station of Welsh cakes he makes. He gives me his phone number so I can call him if I need anything.

And a week later, in Trelew, I sent him a quick phone call to go greet him and taste her famous cake. I found myself dining at home with his wife Isabelle and I ended up spending four days in Trelew! We had time to share many things together! Thank you my friend!

But if I stayed here so long, it is also because the water pump shaft seal showed signs of weakness. Each time, it works only 30,000 km, then the water goes into the oil. On the next photo, we see that the "mayonnaise" is formed at that point.

Fortunately I discovered that at the door of the excellent Tecnojet workshop . They are brand new KTM dealers, but they have no bike, or parts, or orange picture at the wall or even key ring at the colors of the brand. But the passion of Adrian and his team is there! It was a pleasure work with you guys! Thank you for the help!

Especially in dismantling the bike, I discovered that the top screw that holds the rear shock was broken!

To check that all is well before hitting the road, I returned to see my friends the penguins, this time at Punta Tumbo. Yep, I can not get enough. I hope you too!

The eggs were hatched last month and the young are still in the nest with their mother, until the male went fishing provide the food.

And when the father arrives too late (probably hanging out at the pub with his mates), babies are dying ... and birds come to eat them, under the resigned eyes of the mother ...

Unless she cries of sadness?

About penguins (or more accurately Magellanic penguins), I launched a major petition to Darwin heirs, so that the penguins finally have arms long enough to reach into their pockets ;o)

As there is nothing exciting on the ruta 3 (pronounced "ruta tres"), I go out in the evening to find a campsite and enjoy the very long days (next week will be summer) to take trips on the excellent dirt roards on the seaside ..

... and I find again a colony of thousands of penguins ... which these two seem determined to meet me.

The bike works perfectly, so I'm ready to ride again ... when I discover a fork oil seal is to change. Damned! It will wait. The week before I lost my wallet ... it looks like I jinxed, but yet the morale remains excellent!

It´s precisely from that moment that things go wrong as the ruta 3 : I was told that this road has reputation to have wind. Aches in the arms, back pain .... I must adapt my equipment! I started by modifiing my helmet removing the visor and taping the elastic holding the mask.
It is great progress.
The wind is not constant as what we had in Namibia, but made of bursts that succeed and push the bike violently. I'm riding straight lines with the bikeon one side.
Anyway, once on the way, there is not a shelter, not a mound, not a sign that can be used as windbreaks to stop. And maintaining the bike stopped, both feet on the ground is just as tiring than riding.
The worst is the wind coming from the left: it keeps the bike leaning to the left and we really feel that rely on the wind. Comes a truck in front, and as it cuts the wind for a second, there is nothing left to hold the bike that wants only two things : falling, and rushing toward the truck that comes in front . Creepy. Then they clenched teeth (or buttocks, it depends) for the 150km to the next station.
This allowed me anyway once a small exploit of modern physics: I took a serious turn by leaning on the "wrong" side. I regretted not having a camera to capture the moment!
Yes, but there with the sand flying, I see less and less ....

... and I'm glad when the police tells me with big gesture (impossible to talk, because of the noise of the storm) that the road is closed from this point because the wind is really strong, and all traffic is stopped in this Zonne Patagonia. I gotta go take shelter in the previous station.
But "no traffic", it means also "no tanker" and therefore "no restocking in fuel." In addition, there is a strike carrier gas and very few stations are stocked these days ... Here I am trapped in a station, then.
The resort "shelter" is full of trucks and cars waiting to find the essence and the reopening of the road. Trucks arrive with broken headlights, and 4x4 with their windshields cracked because of flying rocks. It was indeed time to go to shelters.

The atmosphere in the station resembles a novel Steffen King or a bad disaster movie. All typical characters characters are in the lobby of the station: the cashier, the kind-of cowboy, the pretty ingenue, the police officer, the stranger (me!), the kids who run, the crying baby, the shrew hysteria, the old wise couple, and one with a head of heroes in white shirt which logically should kiss the beautiful before the end... Just the veteran of a overseas war is missing. Oh yes, there is also the other, the biker. Leather and long hair, we are logically at the same table. Martin lives in Tierra del Fuego, not far from Ushuaia, and just travel around Argentina in previous weeks riding his chopper 200cc Motomell!
By the evening, the wind decreased and we escaped together on our bikes by a small road to go camping in a small village by the sea. I cook pasta for two, he shares his sandwich, I split my last Welsh cake, he released his bottle of "odd" craft.
See you in a few days in Rio Grande, not far from Ushuaia, amigo!

Some statistics for this part of the journey, from Buenos Aires to Rio Gallego, for the curious:

3885km including 200km of dirt road
8 day trips of 460km average
88 days on the road, 7 days of rest or visit or mechanical
7 hosted by locals, 5 nights in a dorm, 2 nights camping, 1 night camping

Rio Gallego is (almost) the end of Route 3 is also the southern tip of the Americas. But before going further, in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, I'll go for a ride in the glaciers of the Andes ... this will be for the next episode ... if the wind is in the right direction, anyway.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:16 AM   #14
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Hi there,

this is a great adventure! I was chatting with Aurel before leaving and it is great to see that so far you made it...very well.

Your pictures are just great, I understand from your website that you are a photographer also...and you can tell. I have a question for you: when you take close poirtrat/macro what lens do you use?


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Old 01-04-2011, 02:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dr LC8 View Post
Your pictures are just great, I understand from your website that you are a photographer also...and you can tell. I have a question for you: when you take close poirtrat/macro what lens do you use?
thank you for your comment.
taking pictures for such kind of trip or around his house is really different. Here I need something small, I don t want to use many lenses because of the risk of dust, and because i don t want to try to impress the people, and because of the weight.
So I use here only one standard lens. In France it's a different story.

about the focal length for close portraits, the "tradition" tells someting between 90m and 105mm (for 24x36 format, so 60 to 75mm for APS sensor)
I think this "tradition" presented by some photographers as a rule, comes from the studios, where you cannot go at 10m from your model. Outdord, you usually can.
My recomendation (at least what I try to do) for portrait is to be as far as you cam from your model. 3 reasons for that :
1 / the nose and the ears, for example, will be more or less at the same distance from the camera, so they will appear at the same scale. If you are at 1m from your model, the ears will be about 10% further than the nose, so the face will not have the correct proportions.
2 / if you are far from the model, you will use a telephoto, and then catch omly a small part of the background. It will become more difficult to recognize, and you have to make it blur, in any case. to be far helps.
3 / Even if the model knows that you take the photo, he/she/it will feel much more confortable if you are far away, whatever the deodorant you use.
4 / I use a lot the integrated flash, not as main sourse of light, but it helps to bring at least a light in the eyes of the model.

OK, so let's go far from the model. Then as you are far, you have to use a tele lens. take the maximum you have. what will make the nice portrait is not to use a good lens, but to be well located.

In real life for this trip, I had a 16-85 mounted. I broke it before christmas, and bought a 18-70. You see, nothing exceptional.

About being far away, of course a 135 or 200mm would be better, but they are heavy when good quality, or the construction is weak whereas I need a sturdy tool. The trick, at least for posting on internet, is to not hesitate to crop the picture. There is no need of 5M pixels or more to share pictures on a blog! But if you have plenty of pixels, and if they have a good quality, then you can crop a lot, and show pictures exactly as if they where taken by a 200mm.

The last point is of course the aperture. Here there is no secret : open to the maximum. And the best lens for portrait has a great aperture.
So I use the 18-70, with 1/4.5 aperture.

The problem when using big aperture, is that you use high speed to compensate. It becomes a problem when you want to use the flash at the same time because the synchroX is usually quite low. By the way, it's funny to see that in time of fim camera the sync-X was a main criteria, and now, nobody speak about it!

I hope it answers to the question.

as a post about photo is nothing without picture, here is a pic I took with a 70mm only, at f/4.5 :
Le Chevalier Noir
One thing is sure : Nothing will happen as planned

chevaliernoir screwed with this post 01-04-2011 at 03:10 PM
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