Tag Archive: photoblog


Last Tuesday, I found myself up in Clifton Park while running some errands. I had wanted to stop by Menneto Powersports for a few weeks, but just hadn’t had the time to get there. Since I was in the area, I popped in to see the Victory motorcycles they had in stock, and to talk to them about possibly taking one (or some) out for a test ride.

We were only in the dealership for a few minutes when John came over and struck up a conversation with us. He was very nice, and within a few minutes of telling him why I was there, he was offering us a test ride. I declined because I wasn’t properly dressed to ride, but promised I would be back the next day to take him up on his offer.

While we were there, John told us all about the bikes Victory had to offer and what made them great bikes. He truly believes in what he sells. That is a dream job to me. Having something that you believe in makes selling it a breeze. He had us sit on a few bikes and get a feel for them, telling us the features and benefits of each bike we sat on.

On our way to our weekly ride on Wednesday, we stopped back in to see John again. He was ready for us and asked what i wanted to ride. He said that he had three Victorys available for demo and I was welcome to ride one or all three. Fantastic! Sign me up! We didn’t have time to do all three, so I agreed to take one out, and when I got back, if we had time, I would take out another.

The first bike I rode was the 2010 Victory Vegas (red & white in the distance). I liked the seating position and the footpeg locations. They fit my 5’7″ frame very well. The ride was smooth and the power was adequate for the 100 inch motor. Victory doesn’t give specs on horsepower, but I found a few spots on the web that say it’s around 85hp.

When I got back with the Vegas, John came right out and got the Vegas Jackpot ready. This one was a 2008 demo and had a Stage 1 kit and a pipe added to it. The pipe gave it a tiny bit more volume over stock, but wasn’t loud by any means. Another big difference with this bike was the 250mm rear tire. It threw me off a little moving through the parking lot, as it functions quite differently than the 180mm tires I am used to.

After I got it out on the road, the tire wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I just had to remember that it wasn’t a 180 and take that into consideration in the corners. After a little bit, I had forgotten all about it.

The extra punch from the Stage 1 kit and the pipe upgrade was a nice improvement. The bike had a little more get up and go and it sounded a little better too. I really enjoyed riding it.

If you’re looking for a Victory, be sure to stop up and see John Pamper at Menneto’s on Route 146 in Clifton Park. They are practically giving these things away. The 2011s will be here any day and they are making room. I can’t wait to try out the new ones. I hope to try the Vision and the new Cross Country. Be sure to look for my review on them in the next few weeks.

**Photo by Rose**

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The folks at Spider Camera Holster were kind enough to send me a Spider Pro System to try out.  At first, I must admit that I was a little nervous to hang my dSLR off my belt and walk around with it swinging, but it proved to be quite a nice piece of equipment.

Last week, I put it to use at the University of Albany athletic fields.  The New York Giants hold training camp here in August and I decided I would go down and practice my sports photography while trying out the Spider Pro System.

As I arrived at the athletic fields, I grabbed the heavy duty belt and clipped it on.  My first thoughts were that the material and the and the buckle were both very heavy duty and made me feel a little better about hanging my camera from it.  I then noticed that the clip that closed the belt not only had two finger releases to open it, but also a third release that wasn’t going to let the belt slip open and fall to the ground.

Spider Belt

The main part of the unit was a base called the Spider Pro Plate.  This plate comes with a built-in Allen wrench for attaching it to your camera.  When you are done with it, simply slide it right into the plate until you need it again.  It’s a great design idea!  The plate has a Spider Pin attachment that connects your camera to the belt.

Spider Plate

Spider Pin

The Spider Pro Holster Box allows you to slide the Spider pin into it and lock it into place, assuring your camera wont pop out.  There is a small latch you can flip that locks your camera into the Spider Pro for safety.  Once in there, it will stay put and wont come out.  Releasing the lock is just as simple.  Just flip the latch the opposite way, and your camera comes right out.

Spider Pro

I really enjoyed testing this product.  It was a very useful tool in the field.  If I needed to free up my hands to talk to someone or set up a shot, all I had to do was clip the camera into the Spider Holster and I was free to do what I needed to without having to set the camera down on the ground or back in my camera bag.  I would highly recommend adding the Spider Holster to your collection of photo gear.

The Spider Camera holster sells for $109.99.

***Images courtesy of Spider Holster***

Last night, I caught the season premiere of American Chopper Senior vs. Junior on TLC. I don’t know what it is about this show, but it’s like a train wreck. I can’t stop watching it. I don’t know why you would want to air your dirty laundry out there on TV, but people eat it up. And I guess it wouldn’t be reality TV if there was no drama.

In the new series, they pit father against son, as they both compete to see who can build the best bikes. It should be interesting, as Paul Sr. doesn’t do much building and Paul Jr., who has a great eye for design, came and went as he pleased and held up a lot of bike builds.

I am pretty excited about this show, as it will really expose the people who make the bike builds happen. I have always liked Rick a lot. He is an incredible fabricator, and seems like an all around good guy. Vinnie is coming back to work with Paulie, with fears about the abuse he took when he worked with OCC in the past. Both of these guys are amazing bike builders, and I think they kept this company going. If it weren’t for them, I am sure quite a few bikes would never have been completed.

It will be cool to see how things progress as the series goes on. I imagine there will be some pretty cool bikes that come out of this, and hope that it doesn’t end up being the predictable ‘father and son make up and re-unite” scenario at the end. That would be a huge let down.

What do you think of the show? Who’s side will you be on – Junior or Senior? Love it or hate it?

Rose and I hopped on the FJR and headed up to MAX BMW in Troy yesterday. I emailed Ben last week asking him if I could demo some BMWs and write about them on the blog. He emailed back telling me to come on up and try them out. I’ve never been on a BMW, so this was pretty exciting to me. Before last night, I had no idea what all the hype was about the BMW motorcycle. What I did know is that BMW riders seemed very serious about their motorcycles and riding them. I have a much better understanding of them now. Here is how my trip to Max played out.

We arrived at the dealership around 4:30 and there were a good 20 plus bikes in the parking lot and another 10 or 12 parked out front that were demo bikes. As we got off the bike and were taking our jackets off, a car pulled up with a Papa John’s sign on the roof. We walked in the front door and start looking at the bikes. It was really busy in there, so we make our way over to an employee and asked for Steve or Craig. Ben told me in his email to look for Craig or Steve. I was directed to Craig and introduced myself and Rose. Craig was not only more than happy to help us, he immediately made us feel like part of the family. I started by telling him about my emails with Ben, and he asked which bike I would like to ride. I told him I would be happy to ride any that he would let me ride and then mentioned that we came on the FJR. Craig pointed out the K1300GT and began telling us about the bike.

The best part is that this bike has many features that are similar to those that the FJR has. The motor is the same size, and also an inline 4 on this model. It has a power windshield like the FJR and heated grips. There were a few things that the FJR didn’t have though. Like a heated rider and passenger seat, Traction control (ASC), Electronic Suspension Adjustment and cruise control. The horsepower was also a little better, 160hp compared to the Yamaha’s 140hp.

After showing us the bike, Craig welcomed us to have some pizza and a soda while he copied my license and grabbed the release form. In the meantime, we started talking to some guys that sat down at his desk to eat. The guys we met were awesome! They were in town for the Rally that MAX BMW is holding this weekend up in Pownal, VT. They came in all the way from Green Bay, Wisconsin, via Boston and Niagara Falls. These guys aren’t afraid to get out and ride!

Craig came back with the key and told me to take it for a ride, explaining the demo route that they use. He told me to ride it as many times as I liked to get a feel for the bike. Rose and I hopped on and off we went. I did the first lap at a slower speed to get used to the bike and to get familiar with the road.

When we got back to the main road and had to go left to the dealership or right to do it again, I was about to ask Rose if she wanted to go again. Before I could get the sentence out, she said “Let’s go again”. She was like a kid at an amusement park. And who was I to disappoint her? We hit the route again, this time much faster and more aggressively.

This bike loves to be laid over. I went into a corner and did my usual lean, and I could feel a huge difference over the Yamaha. The bike went over so easily. It has a great amount of power and it was just plain old fun to ride. After the second loop, we took the bike back, as it was after 5 and MAX closes at 6.

We got back to the dealership and I took a few pics of the bike to show the similarities. In many ways, these bikes are very similar. Craig met us outside and asked how we liked it. We chatted with him for a bit and he welcomed me to try out another bike. Noting the time, I didn’t want to keep them there after closing, so I declined, stating I would love to come back and try more bikes out in the future. Craig happily obliged and welcomed me to come back.

We went inside to look at some of the other bikes and met the guys from Green Bay again. You can’t find much nicer people than these guys. We started chatting with them and next thing you know. it’s 7pm. We’re still in the dealership, and they are still selling and servicing bikes. That really impressed me. The guys from Green Bay were here getting oil changes and one was getting a new tire. They had come down from the site in Pownal where MAX is holding their BMW RA National Rally. They have maps at the dealership if you want to go.

I can’t say enough about how well I was treated at MAX BMW. And it wasn’t just me. Everyone that walked in the door while we were there was treated the exact same way. The guys and gals at MAX are a class act. I highly recommend stopping by and checking out these bikes. Just bring your checkbook, because if you ride one of these bikes, you’re going to want to take one home!

Here are some specs from BMW’s web site. See ya soon!

K 1300 GT: Pricing, Options and Accessories

Base MSRP: $19,150

Premium Package: $22,595

* Xenon Light

* ESA II

* Heated Seats

* Heated Grips

* Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM)

* Cruise Control

* On Board Computer

* ASC (Traction Control)

Options

* Xenon Light: $500

* ESA II: $900

* Heated Seat: $350

* Heated Grips: $300

* Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM): $250

* Cruise Control: $450

* On Board Computer: $295

* Anti-Theft Alarm: $395

* ASC: $400

* Low Seat (31.5 – 32.3 inches): n/c

*Actual price determined by dealer. Price excludes taxes, license, options and $495 in destination/handling charges. Prices and specifications subject to change without notice.

Yesterday, I went to the Lia Car Show in Schenectady.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of cars that were on display there.  Not only were there some amazing classics, but there were also a couple high-end sports cars.  Here are some of the pictures I took at the show.

See ya soon!

The great folks over at LowePro have granted my wish and sent me two bags to compare for my next review.  I am really excited about this review because they are not only two totally different bags, but the are not backpacks.  I have always tried out the backpacks until now, and this will give me a chance to expand my horizons and share another option with you.  Here’s what they sent me;

LowePro Classified 160AW – This bag is a shoulder bag that will handle a DSLR with a 70-200mm lens, 1-2 extra lenses and a flash.

LowePro Outback 300AW – This bag is dubbed a ‘beltpack’.  It will hold the same camera and lens as the Classified, but also has room for 3-4 lenses and a flash.

I am off to try them both out and will have a report for you in a few weeks!  See ya soon!

The first pepper to start growing in the garden!

Over the past few weeks, I have posted information about my garden.  I decided that instead of posting heights and counts, I would write about what I have learned about gardening in my first attempt.

I was a little nervous starting this venture, as I had never so much as grown a single food-producing plant in my life.  Sure, I’ve kept the Christmas cactus and a few other household plants alive, but they were bought at a store and all the hard work was already done.  All I had to do was water them.  No big deal, right?  Here’s what I learned…

-Zucchini plants take over a garden.  We got this tiny plant from Hewitts and it couldn’t have been more than 6 inches long with one leaf.  Now, it is a massive, 3 foot round, 3 foot tall monster covering a strawberry plant and a banana pepper plant.  Next time, I will give it a very large area to grow in and make sure none of the smaller plants get shaded out.

-Tomato plants get HUGE!  I gave them about a foot and a half in between, but they still have grown so big that I can barely walk between them.  They are also almost up to my chest in height.  Next year, I will plant them about three feet apart so I can walk between them to pick the tomatoes when they are ripe.

-I also need to put some type of weed control down.  Not a chemical, but maybe weed cloth.  I have kept up with the weeds for the most part, but some have grown a little more than I would like.

-I need to work on a compost pile.  I was told that the pile will help to enrich the soil and make it much more fertile.

-Putting something down (grass clippings, leaves) around the base of the plants will help keep the moisture in the ground for the plants.

The first zucchini from the garden

So far, the garden has been a success.  I have harvested two large zucchini, a grape tomato and a cherry tomato.  There are two small sweet peppers starting to grow as well.  A lot of the other tomatoes have started to grow, but aren’t quite ripe yet.  One thing is for sure – I am going to have tomatoes out the wazoo pretty soon!  Guess I better learn a little bit about canning!

Here is the text of the first post I have made on the Times Union Biker Blog.  This entry can be found here.  Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Rose Winters

Over the last few months, I have been talking with Mike Huber about blogging for the Times Union. I first met him in March at the Media 2010: How Blogs Shape The New Conversation conference at St. Rose. I have since been to a few other Times Union sponsored events we would always end up talking about creating a biker blog.

I wanted to write this blog for two main reasons. 1) To help raise awareness of motorcycles on the roads. 2) To share my love for the open road with other bikers. I have recently had a few friends involved in serious motorcycle accidents, one unavoidable and one because of someone’s carelessness behind the wheel.

I would also like to shed a little light on the stereotype that bikers are “bad people.” Sure, there are bad apples here and there, but for the most part, bikers are the most kind, charitable people you will ever meet.

Some of the regular readers may already know me from my interactions on many of the current Times Union blogs. For those that may not know me, I am (obviously) an avid motorcycle rider. I have been riding for ten years and really enjoy being out “in the wind” on the bike any chance I can get.

I am also a photographer. My love for photography is just as strong as my passion for motorcycles. That’s why I created the Capital Region Photography Meetup Group. The initials of this group (TCRPMG) make up the username I have been using on the blogs and on Twitter.

Now that you know a little about me, let’s find out a little about you. What do you know about motorcycles? Do you ride them? Do you have family that rides?

Last night, a few members of the TCRPMG went to Washington Park to apply what they had learned in the Camera Basics 101 course led by John Iannelli.  I think it was a huge success.  While we were there, I couldn’t help but grab this shot of the statue in the fountain and the amazing sky he was facing.

From where I was standing, it looked like he was yelling to the heavens, perhaps asking for rain.  The texture of the sky made it even more appealing.  I was really happy that I had been there at that exact time.

At the meetup, we discussed how light affects how your image comes out.  We also discussed shutter speed and aperture.  The main components when used together can make some really amazing shots.

We found a nice flower and took pictures of it, with the goal of having a sharply focused main subject with a blurred background (bokeh effect).  It was a great exercise and I think the members really enjoyed learning how this effect was accomplished.