The 49th State, The Last Frontier, a vast expanse of mountains, lakes, forests, glaciers, rivers and seas. Following a clockwise route that took in Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali NP, Fairbanks, Wrangell-St. Elias NP, Valdez, Seward, Kenai Fjords NP, Homer and Katmai NP, this three week roadtrip barely tickled the surface of this spectacularly beautiful region but created memories that will last a lifetime.
There's a unique timeless quality to black and white images of the American landscape, one that harks back to the incomparable work of photographers William Henry Jackson and Ansel Adams. Some of this set were shot on traditional film (on a Leica R6.2), others converted from digital colour. (Credit where it's due: the best conversions were carried out by digital wizard Kevin Green - http://www.freelancebloke.com/).
Ghost towns tell the story of America's West, the communities that sprang up where the ground offered up its riches in the form of gold, silver, copper, lead or zinc. Worked out mines - and the towns that grew up alongside them - were simply abandoned as people moved on, leaving behind a slowly decaying but extraordinarily beautiful legacy.
Some are boarded up stores, abandoned after business ran dry; some are remnants of remote communities that a road passed by; some are solitary homesteads, lonely and unloved. Whatever the story, there are few sights more poignant than the slowly decaying shell of a place someone once lived.
Nothing more immediately says American road trip than the sight of a fading 1950s or 60s motel sign. These wonderfully evocative examples of roadside architecture reflect the golden years of American travel and their melancholic deterioration announces the passing of an era.
Described as America's "best idea", the concept behind today's National Park Service has been protecting and preserving America's most spectacular scenery for more than 100 years. Indeed, the first 12 parks - starting with Yellowstone (1872), Sequoia and Yosemite (both 1890) - predate the NPS itself, which was formed in 1916. Encompassing deserts, mountains, plains, forests, seas, historic sites and more, these are places of exquisite beauty, landscapes that are instantly recognisable even to those not fortunate enough to have actually experienced them in person.
From state routes and dirt roads to scenic byways and national parks, this is a collection of some of my favourite road views from the last 15 years or so. These images, even more than the destinations that link them, summarize the reason we hit the road at every possible opportunity.
The appeal of the roadtrip lies in the sense of adventure, the excitement of not knowing what lies beyond the horizon, the anticipation of experiencing views and landscapes unseen. For me, the visual shorthand for this is the sight of a straight, empty road disappearing towards a vanishing point to create a vista of wonderful symmetry.
Down the road - there's nothing I enjoy more than cresting the brow of a hill, exiting a long sweeping bend, or simply recognizing that special moment when a road reveals its full wonder, and there's something special about capturing these scenes in black and white. Together with its colour cousin, this collection comes as close as any to summing up why we road trip.
Once a westward artery offering escape from the desperation of the dust bowl years, today a 2,451 mile-long tourist destination, Route 66 offers the complete American experience, from downtown Chicago, across the plains and deserts of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, to California's Pacific shoreline.
The world fell in love with America in the late 50s / early 60s and these years were defined as much by the auto industry as they were by its music. Rock & roll and teenage rebellion may be long distant memories but the era lives on in the evocative form of these rusting, timeless Fords, Chevrolets, Dodges, and Buicks.
The South West is home to some of America's greatest landscapes and most dramatic scenery, and Utah's National and State Parks are its crowning glory. From the majesty of Zion and sheer madness of Bryce to the stunning rock formations of places like Goblin Valley, Goosenecks and Grand Staircase-Escalante, it's a state that captures the heart and the imagination. And these natural wonders are only part of Utah's appeal; the coming together of the railroad, the opening up of the West by Mormon pioneers, and the history of its indigenous people (Ute, Paiute, Goshute, Shoshone, and Navajo) ... it's a place that reveals something new every time.
A collection of galleries drawn from some of my personal favourite photos over the last 15 or so years, including ghost towns, motels, evocative signage, endless road views, Route 66, rusting cars, National Parks, black and white studies, abandoned places and more.
I started off using a 35 mm film Leica SLR, progressed to a combination of this (primarily for B/W work) and DSLR Canons, and in 2020 invested in a Canon R6, the latest mirrorless technology. Sadly, the necessary restrictions caused by Covid mean I’ve yet to put this new camera through its paces in a road trip environment but let’s hope we are all able to resume normal service at some point in the not too distant future.