The Mission

The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.

Friday, 29 April 2016


Apart from getting the car ready, obtaining visas, having various jabs, booking flights and sundry other housekeeping matters we have to think about how to keep a record of this monumental trip.

There's this blog of course - about which more another time - and there will also be a photographic record, but that isn't as easy as it sounds.

The reality on a rally is that both driver and navigator are busy nearly all the time. The event is time driven so stopping at the side of the road to take a few snaps is rarely an option. We are also there to enjoy the moment - not to spend all our time recording the moment.

On the other hand 35 days spent on one of life's great adventures without keeping some photographic record doesn't seem quite right.

The ERA has photographer Gerard Brown in tow on its events and he does a great job because he knows just where to stand to capture the cars at dramatic moments.  I've bought several of his pictures of Rhubarb and Custard. They are expensive but really high quality so I think worth the money.

The ERA also makes a video of the event but this is less satisfactory because with over 100 cars it isn't possible to give everyone equal screen time.  Basically the more oddball characters make better TV as does anyone who has broken down, crashed etc. If you are having a more straightforward rally then you won't feature much, although of course the video acts as a reminder of the feel of the thing.

I did think about bringing a drone along to take aerial shots of the car but my drone is quite bulky and the mini ones take very poor quality pictures.  I was also a bit concerned about flying it in Russia and being arrested as a spy.

So here's what I've decided to do.

  • I'm going to bring along my Nikon SLR fitted with a 28-200mm Nikon lens. This lens is is off-the-scale amazing (see the picture at the top of this post). The camera is light and simple to use.
  • We've fitted the rollover bar of the car with a Go Pro on a Feiyu Tech  gimble so that it holds steady as we are driving along.  The Go Pro can be operated from my iPhone. We also have a remote control so that in theory we can pan and tilt the camera from the cockpit.  I have to admit that in practice this is difficult when you are also trying to navigate.
  • I've got a second Feiyu Tech gimble on a selfie stick so that I can put the iPhone out of the car window and shoot video as we drive along.  These gimbles are pretty amazing at correcting the movement of the car or your arm  but of course they do need to be kept charged. 
One problem is that video fills up the iPhone memory quite quickly and so I've bought a PhotoFast i-FlashDrive Max 128 GB USB 3.0 flash-drive.  This tiny gadget is driven by an iPhone app that can be used to transfer files including video files from the iPhone to the flash-drive without needing a computer or any other device. Having backed up to the flash-drive you can then delete the video from the iPhone to create more storage space.

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