5 Frames Pedalling to York with a Voigtlander Vito II – Sam Knight

Travelling by bicycle has long been something I enjoy. Why though had I decided on a bicycle trip to York? A long time cycling friend of mine moved to Edinburgh a few years ago and we’d worked out that halfway between his house and mine was York! A weekend bike ride of 210 miles each would mean a proper catch-up over a decent meal and a few (too many) beers.

The bicycle and the camera work well together, it’s easy to stop when you’ve spotted an interesting subject to shoot; something that’s harder when travelling by car: plus you can still travel a decent distance in a day by bicycle with relative ease.

If you keep things fairly simple, cameras are easy to carry. For my ride to York I decided on my 1954 Voigtlander Vito II 35mm folding camera which has a Color-Skopar 1:3.5/50

It seems to be a perennial favourite more often to be found with a film inside than not. This time I chose to load it with Kentmere 400  as I was to have differing weather conditions over the course of the ride, plus I’m a real fan of budget emulsions! I absolutely love the small size and pocketability of this camera.

As part of my obsession I’ve spent countless hours absorbing information from online sites and the ‘YouTube university’. The most important thing I’ve learned is how to apply the rules of, sunny 16 to their full potential. Something which is often overlooked. I never manage to pack light for any cycling trip but I was determined that my camera gear would be minimal, hence forfeiting the light meter in favour of trusting my own perception of light levels.

My route followed as much of the national cycle network as was sensible, a significant portion of this is ‘off road’, often on repurposed former railway lines or following minor roads, almost guaranteeing picturesque scenes, villages and interesting landscapes along the way.

Just a few miles from my home I stopped to take a photo of numbers 28 and 29 High Street, stunning grade II listed properties in the village of Whitchurch, many is the time I’d driven past and thought about stopping but couldn’t easily find a safe parking spot.

Numbers 28 and 29, High Street, Whitchurch.

My lunch stop on the first day ended up being at a cycle shop belonging to another friend I’d not seen for a while. I took the opportunity to catch a photo of him outside his mecca for delinquent bicycle riders.

Chris Cooper, Friend and Proprietor, Velo Haus, Northampton.

On route toward Melton Mowbray outside Northampton I got to cycle 20 miles along a former railway line, happily a short section of this is being used as a preservation line. Giving me an opportunity to shoot as if the camera was brand new and I’d slipped back to the 1950’s

Carriages patiently waiting to be coupled to the train.

Day one had been a long day of 95 miles on legs that hadn’t pedalled very far in a while, oddly though on day two I’d been riding faster: possibly at times through fear!

Recovering roadside, 36 miles still to ride.

What was my favourite part of the ride? The arrival is always fantastic, arriving in York was fabulous. So much so that I completely forgot to shoot any pictures with the camera (I switched to my Fujica 605n SLR the next day: my wife having brought it up with her, in readiness for our exploration of the city; before we returning home in the comfort of her car)!

In terms of lasting memories though, I’d say Leicestershire was the surprise county for me. The gently rolling landscape and large open fields, between pretty little villages that are quiet and unspoilt by the encroachment of excessive modernity.

Gaulby church, Lincolnshire

I loved the experience of documenting my ride on film. I’ll always have a film camera on any cycle trip, and I hope that for many years to come it’s the little Voigtlander Vito II.

More of my photography here: https://www.instagram.com/samsoutdoorlife  https://flic.kr/ps/2ckpMb




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7 thoughts on “5 Frames Pedalling to York with a Voigtlander Vito II – Sam Knight”

  1. I was gifted a Voigtlander II a couple of years ago that is immaculate. I love the rendition it gives and so much so I bought an excellent copy Voigtlander iii.

    There’s quite a few variations on the model II and I’ve not seen one like mine that appears to have a factory fitted cold shoe. It was in the family of a Greek person since new that gave it to my dad to hand onto me.one camera I’ll not sell.

    Good to see someone else using it. Lovely photos

    1. Oddly I’ve not yet shot colour film in mine..that’s something I really must do. I love the process of shooting this little camera. Sometime it takes time to fall in love with a camera, with this one it was almost instantaneous. How you came to own yours is a great story. Definitely a camera to treasure.

  2. “The bicycle and the camera work well together, it’s easy to stop when you’ve spotted an interesting subject to shoot; something that’s harder when travelling by car: plus you can still travel a decent distance in a day by bicycle with relative ease.”

    This. So much this.

    And like you, I try to keep my film cameras fairly simple on a bike tour–I aim for small, but good. I usually end up taking two, one for color, one for black and white.

    1. It’s so easy to get carried away with choosing camera’s, I’m currently on a trip to the isle of Skye, managed to narrow it down to 2 SLRs, 1 pinhole and 1 folder (6×9)..oh and a double 8 movie cam. Total fail on Travelling light this time!

      1. I’ve definitely brought “too many” cameras on a few trips, but those were trips by car. When I don’t have that luxury I try to pack relatively light. I just did a trip using planes and trains, and actually took an SLR this time! But it’s a pretty small one, and I limited my lenses: A 50mm f/1.7 prime and a 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom.

  3. I’ve had my Vito II for 5 or 6 years, and it remains a favorite – slips in a pocket, easy to use and takes great photos. I’m envious of your bicycle trip through that part England ????

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