I don’t know when it started as it suddenly crept up on me. I didn’t think I was anything more than a regular casual rider who just enjoyed the weekend get together with his fellow cyclists. And then I realised, as I uploaded my ride onto Strava and routinely flicked through the collection of images that I had taken that morning that there were more of me than the scenery, the coffee breaks or the rest of the group. Yes indeed, I was a Cycling Selfie Addict (CSA).
Being a recognised CSA isn’t easy. To get your regular fix you must first perfect the art of removing your mobile phone from your jersey pocket, and whilst that itself sounds really straight forward, try doing it when you are wearing a gilet. Add to that the complication of your phone being inside a waterproof bag or case and you’ll understand that performing such manoeuvres whilst cycling along at a speed in the late teens is right up there with some of that Cirque Soleil stuff reserved only for well trained acrobats in Las Vegas. It doesn’t end there. Having the phone in your hand is clearly an advantage if you want to take a cycling selfie but with that same hand you must glide your thumb beyond it’s natural movement to both slide up your photo icon and simultaneously switch the camera to selfie mode. Sometimes I wonder if even Danny Macaskill would be stupid enough to try it on some of the roads that exist around here.
The new version of iOS 10 that came out this week has gone some way to helping CSAs. The selfie button for the camera is now immediately next to the photo button and you now no longer need to slide the phone down your hand as you reach out to the top right of the screen. I can only assume that in the depths of Apple’s development labs lies a team of CSA’s and that’s reassuring for future software developments. I would like it to detect that I am moving at over 5mph and to automatically enter the camera into selfie mode. I’ll email that to the team at Cupertino and I’ll let you know how I get on.
Getting a direct hit for a selfie isn’t easy and I know how other junkies must suffer as they search for that vein or in this case vain. By definition, the only subject matter for the photograph should be the photographer himself, but in order to achieve the maximum amount of likes and comments on Instagram it’s vital that an element of background interest be added, if only to frame the beauty of the rider further. A country road is always a good safe bet as is a rolling field, hedge or even golden sunset of course for those looking for more finesse.
Composition takes a huge amount of practice and it should not be underestimated by the amateur rider. A direct shot can reflect the camera into the cycling glasses and the phone being held too high can cut out the background altogether. Worse is the phone being held at an angle below 80 degrees as this could bring about unwanted snot and boggies as distracting foreground interest and I’ve personally lost quite a few social media followers in the early days due to this.
Holding the arm out at maximum length is easy for anyone, but doing so on a bike so that the arm is not included in the photograph is the final tool you must add to your box.
So, before you go out on your next ride, I recommend you practice the selfie on your turbo trainer or on the bike at the local gym and that way we can all enjoy faultless photos of your helmet, glasses and gapped open mouth for many rides to come.