A year ago, as an epidemic travel photographer, I started riding a bicycle with me on a tripod in the morning, shooting them as if they were magazine assignments.
It started as a simple task to try to see the acquaintance with fresh eyes. It soon became a home-grown celebration.
I live in a faded seaside town called St Leonards on Sussex on the south coast of England. If you have not heard of it, you are in good company. It’s not on anyone’s list of known English beauty spots. Indeed, most of my riding passes through flat coastal swamps or coastal promenades.
Of course there is a story here. After all, this is England. The lonely swamps I walk on are mostly where William the Conqueror died in 1066. He landed his men. Otherwise, except for the pursuit of smugglers, this part of the coast took centuries before the Victors lowered the railways from London.
Then, over the course of a few horrible decades, St. Leonards մյուս the other nearby seaside towns became famous bucket ահ shovel vacation spots, England’s own Costa del Sol, that is, up to budget airfare և real The Costa del Sol in Spain seduced the crowd, plunging the area into a long, not-so-huge fall.
As for me, I am transplanting. I moved here from Australia. After the abolition of the beginning of its stay in England, it presupposed a kind of shaky acquaintance. Ordinary shops, getaway places, nooks and crannies, rough at the ends, but with not so inconvenient entrance to Gatwick իթ Heathrow ռ flights to more interesting places.
But a year of exploring St. Leonards and its environs, with the camera in hand, chasing the light has changed that. It brought home the truth that you do not need to board a plane, go to the far side of the world to feel a journey or a romance of difference. If you look, it is waiting for you on the doorstep.
You do not have to go far. Really, I could not. With the various blockades imposed on us over the past year, staying away from your place of residence was either discouraged or outright illegal. All of these images are within a 10 mile radius of where I live, most of them much closer.
I plan my outings և I leave every morning long before dawn to be where I want to be in time to catch the first light. In summer, it can mean leaving home at 3 in the morning. In winter, the starlight is cold, the frost under my wheels, and from time to time the snowflakes roll under the flashlight.
I ride my bike with everything I need, I work completely alone. I am a photographer in the photos, a cyclist. That part got a little accustomed. I have never been comfortable in front of the camera. As a journalist, I have always said that I have a great face for radio տպ to print the perfect sound. But it is necessary when the devil drives. With social exclusion demands and a zero budget, I’m all I got.
These images, however, are not meant to be about me. They are designed to represent a cyclist on the landscape, anyone, anytime.
Creating these images required not only a new way of visualizing, but also a whole new set of photographic skills. The first question most people ask is how do I use the shutter when I ride my bike a hundred yards? Simple. I use what is called an intervalometer, a programmable timer that allows me to pre-set the delay I need, and then disconnect the camera from the selected range. It’s easy. Anyone can take a selfie.
Putting you on the scene artistically is a much more complicated proposition. It requires a mess of crazy details, most of which you never think about until you start doing it և look critically at the result. Everything matters, from the veil of light and shadow, to the collection of lanterns, to the body language of your bicycle. You have to be an actor, a director, a local scout, a gaffer, a key holder, even a wardrobe assistant. I always wear a spare shirt or two different colors to make sure I can work with any background.
Moreover, you have to perform all these roles in real time, in a fast-changing light, in an uncontrollable environment where cars, pedestrians, dog walkers, horses, cyclists, runners can do. – get out of nowhere. It can be very frustrating, but at the same time, it’s intensely satisfying when everything comes together.
It is also addictive. Over the past year, I have become an in-depth student of local geography, not just the layout of cities, the architecture, the outlines of the landscape, but when և where the light shines as the seasons evolve. I know the tables of the wave, like old salt, I trace back to the phases of the moon. I developed the villager’s view of the weather. I can tell at a glance when I walk out my door, those mornings when the waking fog rises miles on the swamp. I anticipate my departure with the same joy I felt on the way to the airport. And when I jump out on the street, the world becomes bigger again, as it was in my childhood. Rich in detail, mature to discovery.
When I get home, a few hours later, seeing the sunrise, I still feel a few miles under the wheels on the outskirts of Sussex, I feel as if was places, seen: things, to travel in the great old sense of the word.
And when the traveling photographer, I bring pictures of where I have been.
Roff Smith is a British writer and photographer. You can follow her daily travels on Instagram: @roffsmith:,