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How to use Strava as a photographer

May 1, 2019

Strava has changed riding, running, and pretty much every other endurance sport forever. As a training tool, a social network for athletes and even the competition for KOM’s/QOM’s has shifted the way athletes are using technology as a part of their training.

I use Strava not only to keep track of my training to ensure I’m fit enough to keep up with the athletes I’m shooting with, but also to keep track of things like altitude gained and descended and routes for feature stories I’ve written.

However, it was only recently while location scouting for a MTB shoot at Nerang National forest that I realized the full extent Strava’s utility for photographers.

Strava KOM hunter

For those who may not be familiar with Strava, one of the main draws to the platform is the ‘segments’ where whoever has the fastest time on a particular stretch of road or trail is awarded the KOM/QOM. The majority of these are out of reach for us mere mortals, and former world tour pro cyclist Phil Gaimon has embarked to be the worst at retiring and steal many of them from dopers.

Just about everywhere you go be it a trail, road, or mountaintop there is more than likely a corresponding geotagged segment which can be viewed and can be ‘starred’ in the Strava app.

Through a feature called Strava Live Segments, these starred segments can then be synced with your enabled watch or head unit and you’ll get an alert as you approach the segment and again when you start it – you will need a Strava Summit subscription for this feature to work.

Why are you telling me this?

There is nothing worse than spending time location scouting, only to forget about a banger spot you found and ride right past it. While I always keep a list with a photo of each spot I’ve picked on my phone sometimes you’ll miss one, and not remember it until you get to the trailhead.

At Nerang in particular, there are hundreds of trails the majority of which are not marked. On a ride, you will come across four-way trail junctions, that h look almost identical, and after riding there for over a year I still get lost sometimes. Being that’s its a forest and you’re traveling at speed, it’s also pretty easy to miss landmarks that let you know you’re close to the spot that you want to shoot – maybe I’m just forgetful, who knows.

Using Strava Live Segments provided you’ve got phone service when you stop to take a couple of test shots you can essentially geotag each spot as you go. Then, on your shoot, your computer will light up and let you know you’re approaching your next spot.

But wait there’s more, you can also build routes in Strava too either from past activities i.e. the ride you went on to scout or from scratch. This is particularly useful for large trail networks where it’s quite easy to get lost or unfamiliar places. Many of the head units and watches allow for these routes to be synced with the device and will give show your route.

It’s worth noting that routes in Strava won’t offer turn by turn directions, only a breadcrumb trail for you’re to follow if you’re after turn by turn directions you’ll need to create a route in Komoots.

How do you to set this up?

First, you’ll need a Strava Summit account, next you’ll need a compatible device.

There are quite a lot of devices that support this functionality not and for the most part, it’s a simple as enabling Strava sync in your devices companion app, starring segments, and making sure to sync your device before you head out. Then, you will automatically get notifications not only as you approach, and get to the start of your saved segments.

Have you got another useful Strava trick? Are there any other apps or devices you’ve found useful for your photography? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! Heck, now with Strava’s Athlete Posts you can hit me up on Strava too!

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