Michael ONeill Photographer Writer Motorcyclist Adventurer
Motorcycle Touring Adventure Photographer Writer Author
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Photos From The Road

PHOTOS FROM THE ROAD

Welcome to my personal motorcycle, travel and adventure gallery. My hope is that photographers, travelers, motorcyclists and adventurers of all types may find something to enjoy here. If you enjoy the images I know you will love the back stories behind them. To that end I recommend you pick up a copy of my book: “Road Work: Images and Insights of a Modern Day Explorer”, an autobiographical travelogue filled with life lessons learned and timely social commentary; which will be educational and inspirational to photographers, motorcyclists, travelers and anyone who wishes to get more out of life.


In this section of my web site I display some of the photographic images I have created during my recent travels around The United States and Canada. I’m sad to say “recent” because I didn’t always travel with a camera. For many decades I chose to leave my gear at home and just enjoy the ride. I was a professional photographer who devoted his entire working life to creating images for other people, so when I managed to escape for some “me time” the last thing I wanted to think about was carrying camera gear and taking pictures. This will always be a big regret of mine as there were so many beautiful destinations visited…so many wonderful memories made…that were never recorded and preserved. That has all changed now. I rarely leave my home, even for a short local trip, without a camera in my possession. You just never know when a photo opportunity will present itself. Often they exist for just a few fleeting moments and one should always be prepared when they arise. I offer the following image as a perfect example of the serendipitous nature of photographic capture. This picture was taken a mere 1/2 mile from my home while I was returning from a quick errand to the local grocery store. A rogue storm had just crossed over Long Island, NY and the sun emerged behind the dissipating storm clouds. This entire “light show” existed for just a short minute or two, but the camera by my side enabled me to capture the scene before it was gone forever. It reinforced a belief I’ve held for some time now: “Get it before it gets away”.


Storm Clouds and Sunbeams at Asharoken Beach Northport NY Nature and Travel Photography


I am often asked for my professional opinion regarding the best cameras, lenses and photographic gear for given photographic pursuits. My stock answer is “The best camera for ANY given scenario is the one you have with you when opportunity knocks”. Sure, some disciplines of photography do require a formidable inventory of specialized equipment…none of which will help you if they’re not at your disposal when an extraordinary scene unfolds before you.


I have been a devout user of Nikon camera gear for four decades. Though much of my early professional work during the film era was effected with medium format single lens reflex cameras or large format view cameras, I’d always owned a good inventory of Nikon 35MM camera bodies and lenses as well. In 2001 I transitioned fully from film to the world of digital imaging and used Nikon’s top-of-the-line “flagship” DSLR camera bodies for the next 15 years or so. I have since made the move completely to mirrorless cameras and naturally have stayed loyal to the Nikon brand. In my educated opinion they have historically offered the finest cameras and lenses for professional use and their newest mirrorless cameras, and dedicated lens options, are second to none.


Traveling by motorcycle presents its own set of challenges. My gear has to be rugged…able to withstand the physical abuse that motorcycle travel can inflict upon sophisticated camera gear. Furthermore my gear must be compact. Storage space on a motorcycle is quite limited and most often I travel with just a single camera body and a single lens; which demands that my gear must be reliable and versatile. My choice these days is normally the Nikon Z6II mirrorless camera fitted with the 24-200MM Z-Mount zoom lens; a lens I affectionately call “The Streetsweeper” for its ability to cover nearly every photographic situation I encounter. For those few select professional photographic projects I take on these days I’ll often use the higher resolution Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera body and some of the many other Nikkor lenses I own, but most of my travel photography is trusted to the aforementioned Z6II combo. Even in this world of true high performance digital imaging a tripod is still a necessary piece of equipment for serious photographic artists. For motorcycle travel one offering stands out from all the rest. The Peak Design carbon fiber travel tripod has no equal in terms of size and weight; and has withstood many thousands of miles of harsh motorcycle travel without any problems whatsoever.


No discussion of motorcycle travel would be complete without discussion of the primary piece of gear: the motorcycle itself. I’ll start by stating one of my main beliefs about riding:

“It's not about the bike...it's about the ride”

Too many “bikers” these days identify so much with a particular motorcycle brand and have lost touch with the very essence of being “In The Wind”. I could care less what you ride…so long as you ride. In more than 40 years on two wheels I have pretty much owned them all: British bikes, Japanese bikes, six different Harley-Davidsons and currently a BMW. I’ve logged some 200,000 miles behind the bars of large, heavyweight touring bikes, having owned three different Electra-Glide models since 1997 (and renting numerous others in “Fly and Ride” adventures all over the country. I’ve also owned an H-D Springer Softail model customized to replicate the great chopper style of the 50’s as well as a Dyna Wide Glide model, built with a more contemporary chopper mentality. I once owned a hard core, hard tail, fat-tired, large cubic inch modern chopper which was extremely beautiful to look at, but was an absolute death trap to ride. I’m glad that one is gone and that I didn’t hurt myself when it was under me! I also had one of the coolest H-D Sportsters that ever rolled down the road; customized in a European cafe-racer style. My mount today is a fine BMW sport touring motorcycle. More than a quarter million miles in the saddle has taught me that there is no such thing as the perfect motorcycle; but my BMW is the perfect motorcycle for me at this stage in my life…fast, nimble, technologically advanced and capable of traversing thousands of miles in relative comfort. It reminds me of why I fell in love with motorcycles so many years ago.


Only those people that ride truly understand the experience. You don’t just see the sights around you…you feel them. Every change in temperature is felt. You are often overcome by the overwhelming fragrance of things like wild flowers and fresh cut grass. The inconvenience of riding in inclement weather is just part of the game; and it makes you a better person, in so many ways, simply by overcoming the challenges. The ultimate rewards of two-wheeled travel are those that will never be experienced or understood by those that travel in a car or on a tour bus.


I’ve been asked if I have a retirement plan. I do. I plan to ride my motorcycle(s) and to make photographs for myself these days. Man with a plan. I intend to revisit some of the wonderful places I’ve traveled to over the years, and to venture to new places I’ve yet to experience. I intend to reunite with dear old friends and make a whole bunch of new ones. I plan to document my travels by continuing to add new pictures to this gallery on a regular basis. I truly hope you enjoy the images you see here and I welcome you to ‘ride along’ with me as I continue to tour this great North American continent of ours.