As I finish my preparations for another epic road trip adventure it gives me a great excuse to share with you my passion for what has to be one of the finest locations for photography on the planet; The Wild West of the USA. The high deserts of Arizona, the Canyons of Utah and the rock formations of Nevada deliver a spectacular backdrop while Route 66 and small town America provide us with a texture and cultural heritage to be cherished and immortalised on camera.
I first visited Arizona in 2012, I had just bought my X-Pro1 and the there primes it launched with and together with Aaron, my step son we boarded a plane for Chicago the start point of the historic Route 66. We rented a Dodge Challenger at the airport and set off on our epic road trip to LA.
Strong use of vivid colour is the American way and the depth of colour in signage and vehicles is reflected in the earth tones in the deserts too. In 2012 we wound our way through the Southern States way out West crossing the Mississippi at St Louis. Arizona was my favourite State on the Route 66 and in May last year I’ll led a road trip adventure that started in Las Vegas and ended in Wyoming having gone through canyons, deserts and mountains.
In June I’m back. This time though Martin Hill, my co tutor and I are doing an 8 day adventure that involves less driving and more photography. We will load up our convoy of 5 SUVs at the airport in Las Vegas before heading out on an 8 day round trip. Joining us will be twelve photographers, two models and Julie, our tour administrator. My choice of camera for this trip is my GFX. I want to capture details like never before. I’m used to seeing my work printed at sizes well over a meter wide for exhibition and this time the prints will be breathtaking. Martin Hill is an expert with using flash on location and we will be packing the wonderful Godox Witsro AD600BM and AD200 flash heads for this years trip. They partner perfectly with the Fuji X series and GFX cameras unleashing their true potential. Julie my wife and expert photographer will be touring with us to provide vital admin support and to capture the remarkable scenery no doubt. That will leave Martin and I to concentrate on the photography guidance. We are both very giving people and freely share our skills with our fellow adventurers. We will each have six of the photographers at each location and swap over often so that everyone gets to shoot everything.
We will venture deep into Navajo Nation land to the spectacular Coal Mine canyon and blue Canyon areas. We have purchased full production filming permits which grant us vehicle access for our convoy of 5 SUVs and full copyright release for the pictures we shoot. These locations are hard to find as they are off road down unmarked tracks and are effectively in the middle of nowhere. Coal Mine canyon borders a time zone and that confused our satellite navigation equipment last year but this year we are better prepared as we have all the correct map coordinates.
Antelope Canyon is a very cool location for photography and we made sure we booked a dedicated photography tour more than 6 months in advance to be sure of making it. happen on our trip. A tripod is absolutely necessary for this super location. Last year I used the X-T2 (prototype that I was testing) with a 14mm XF f/2.8 prime lens. I used the lens at f/14 for the best possible detail and depth of field. This meant I was often shooting at 4 seconds using ISO 200. The results were spectacular.
We are journeying in June this year because it will be a perfect climate to shoot in. At an altitude of over 7000ft the Grand Canyon rim and the painted desert are remarkable wilderness locations to shoot at. They are cool yet arid. Our journey will take us to the spectacular Monument Valley. Martin and I will be your guides as we journey through this dramatic wilderness. We will be going off road into the most wonderful ‘blue earth’ locations too so that we can shoot some figure in the landscape shots. Martin and I will be on hand to explain the lighting direction options and the essence of great composition.
Throughout the heartland of America sit abandoned cars, frontier posts and disused highways. I love the tones and textures these places provide. There are pictures to be had just about everywhere. The old Route 66 was partly built by prisoner chain gangs and was continually updated and rerouted before being replaced by the interstate i40. It all started back in 1926 and so much of the history is still visible in a slowly decaying state. It’s the crumbling texture that delivers the charm. An old cafe makes a simple subject to capture. Learning how to isolate the subject and create a striking composition is one of the topics Martin and I will be discussing with the group as we go.
We carry all our provisions for each day’s shooting in the SUVs; bottled water, walkie talkies, first aid kits and a tow rope 😉 All the photographers on this adventure work together to rig and de-rig the flash kits giving us the freedom to be creative wherever we find ourselves.
Join us in June for a photographers road trip of a lifetime. Bring your Fujifilm X camera, a tripod, an open mind and a warm heart. Let’s have some creative fun in the sun together. Pop 6th – 13th of June in your diary and visit this page for all the information including prices, tour map and itinerary. At the time of writing two places remain and non shooting partners are welcome at a reduced rate.