In 1958 my older brother was delivering orders for a local pharmacy on an Italian Vespa motor scooter. At the time, I thought that Arthur’s Vespa was the most wonderful machine that I had ever seen and vowed that when I grew up I would have one of my own.
As we well know, life often gets in the way of vows, and dreams are often put on the back burner to be chewed over later when there is time. Since those early days I have owned numerous Honda and BSA motorcycles, all of them lots of fun and very fast, but I have never owned a scooter or a Vespa, until now.
Last month we took the ferry to Vancouver to look at three used Vespas for sale, one in Richmond and two in Surrey. The Richmond Vespa was in excellent condition with low mileage, crash bars, front and rear chrome carry-all racks, so we bought it.
I followed the Ford Explorer all the way home with highway speeds as high as 100 kilometres an hour downhill and as low as 80 kms going up hills. It was the most fun that I have had on two wheels.
So by now you are asking yourself “why is he talking about Vespa scooters when this is supposed to be a photographic column”? The answer is freedom—freedom to travel anywhere on the Vespa Virgin (VV) with my camera slung across my chest looking for that photographic opportunity, the freedom to not worry about parking spaces or the price of fuel.
The VV and I have travelled to Harbour Quay, Victoria Quay, around Sproat Lake, our local airport, the far end of Beaver Creek road, the far end of Cherry Creek road taking photographs.
So far on my VV travels I have been using just one lens, the Sigma 10~20 mm fisheye lens (the lens is so wide that I have to step back so that my feet will not show) with incredible results. Playing with depth of field and using the ISO to get the proper aperture have resulted in excellent photographs.
The photograph of the sea walk at Victoria Quay was taken with the extreme wide angle lens set to the maximum width, 10mm, the ISO was 200, the aperture was f 13, the speed of the lens was 1/160 of a sec.
Of course, I used a lens shade on the lens and the camera was hand-held. Good shot but I really wanted to use the Widelux film camera to shoot Port Alberni, and I will as soon as I can figure out how to transport a tripod on the Vespa without scratching the scooter.
The Widelux uses 35mm film, has a 25mm wide angle lens that rotates, and uses two pieces of film to shoot creating a panorama scene. The photos taken with the Widelux are breathtaking.
If you see me around town on my Vespa loaded down with photographic paraphernalia, wave.
Any questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see me online at www.silverstonephotos.com.
Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port