Feature Friday: Keith Spangler
We first came across Keith Spangler, retired U.S. Coast Guard Photojournalist, as he was on a solo bicycle tour from Corpus Christi, Texas to Clearwater, Florida. That was an interesting topic on its own, but Keith mentioned that he was carrying a Platypod Max with him for the entire trip that was routed through five states along the Gulf of Mexico and scheduled to take 30 days, covering 1,400 miles. We wanted to know more, so we kept in touch.
In-between stops and spotty WiFi, Keith kept us posted on his progress, sending us pictures and updates along the way — “Hi. I’ve been riding; only have WiFi when I find it,” he wrote us in an email late last month. “I’m carrying the Platypod Max as my tripod for support. Making images on the road in the heat and 100-degree heat index has been challenging, but I’m making some … What is nice about the Max while riding on a loaded touring is that it stores nicely in my panniers (bags).”
He wrote us about his tripod challenges on trips like this one.
“Traveling by bicycle certainly limits what is packed and carried. As a bicycle traveler and photographer, I was looking for an alternative to a full-sized tripod to support my DSLR in documenting my solo bicycle tour along the Gulf of Mexico. Well, the Platypod Max proved to be that alternative. This compact and versatile camera support system found its home nestled amongst 45 pounds of my essential touring gear that was carried in four saddle bags. The Platypod’s size and design allowed it to travel effortlessly inside the bags or hanging from the rear bicycle rack.”
Keith recalled past trips with full-sized tripods. “Having traveled with a full-sized tripod in past bicycle tours, I can say that the Platypod Max proved to be a very competitive option for making stable and interesting images,” he explained. “The Platypod’s quick setup and take down allowed magic to be captured whether in camp or along the hot dusty roadside.”
A look at Keith’s Dreamstime account reveals the cyclist’s myriad journeys across the nation. From glowing sunsets to icy-blue skies, Keith captures his travels beautifully.
As Keith returned home — his trek completed — we reached out with a few questions about the journey:
What do you do now and how did you get into photography? I am retired twice, once from 20 years service in the U.S. Coast Guard and once from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Photojournalism and Public Relations were my career in the service.
What was your favorite photo location during your trip and why? No real favorite single location. I was moving everyday, so it was more about seeing the opportunities as they presented themselves.
What was your gear set-up?
Nikon D7200 with a 16mm - 85mm
Nikon 10mm Lens
Nikon remote trigger
What were some of your biggest challenges during your trip? Probably the biggest challenge was the excessive heat index that filled the first several days of the tour. I also need to mention, which I failed to mention in my write up, was the destruction in the Panhandle of Florida caused by Hurricane Michael. Coastal towns like Panama City and Mexico City were wiped from the face of the Earth or heavily damaged. The destruction blocked more than 150 miles of my original route, and I was forced to drive around the area some 200 miles to resume my route south.
Traveling solo by bicycle and documenting yourself is challenging on its own. Stopping to set up pictures that show life on the road can use up valuable time and take extraordinary effort. With heat indexes well over 100 degrees, the Gulf of Mexico made shooting images from the side of the road a challenging thought.
What has your overall experience with Platypod been? The advantage of the Platypod was its size and weight for me a bicycle Traveler. Setup was quick and easy. I also attached the Platypod to the rear rack to do a video from the road. It was stable and held the camera securely to the rack.
Favorite takeaway from your photography journey (and trip!) this year? The people I met along my 30-day journey was the highlight each day. Many were strangers who opened their homes to me or simply offered words of encouragement. I learned that kindness was still alive and well - regardless of what the news reports.
Each Friday, we feature the work and stories of our fans and followers on social media. We especially love to post stories of Platypod users and their experiences with the product. If you are interested in being featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.