Road Trip

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by david_munson, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. I'm in the preliminary stages of planning a road trip in the summer of 2004. I know it's a long way off, but I figure it can't hurt to start planning now, especially since I've got to start saving now... Right now, I'm just feeling out ideas for a possible midpoint destination somewhere in the US or Canada. I'll probably be starting out in Missouri, though I may have to swing through Ohio to pick up a friend. The limits I'm setting myself are no more than 30 days or 10,000 miles driving. When I say I'm going on a road trip, I mean a loooong road trip.
    <p>
    Given the chance to go on a road trip anywhere in a 5,000 mile radius of Columbia, Missouri, where would you go? The one idea I've had so far is Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. Are there any particular spots in North America that you think would make an appropriate goal for a LF road trip? Any suggestions in terms of locations, logistics, traveling long distances shooting LF, and any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Why not follow Lewis and Clark? 2004 is just about 200 years since
    their trip.
     
  3. Follow the coast road (US Highway#1)...Or travel the national road
    (route 40). (What would be a similar highway in Canada???) <p>
    Never put your tires on a highway with more than 2 lanes, never eat a
    meal at a McSomethings, never drive over 50mph, stop at least 1 time
    every hour, 200 miles a day maximum, drive around any city over 5,000
    people, avoid all national parks, and don't be too shy to stop and
    say hello! <p>
    Do the Walker Evans and James Agee, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men",
    type of tour... I think too many people travel too fast to get to the
    "GOOD SPOTS" (national parks), and never take the time to see the
    Americas. <p> Well Dave I guess that's about my 6cents worth... -Dave
     
  4. Dave,

    <p>

    I don't know which is more important to you - the journey or the
    photos - but my in experience I have found it best to drive to a spot
    with many subject types, or one you particularly like, and spend as
    much time at that spot as possible. Really get to know the area, and
    your best photos will come after you've been there a while. Take the
    scenic route there and a different one back of course, but remember
    that using a large format camera when your driving is probably
    illegal in most states (ie you can't take photos while you're in the
    driver's seat).

    <p>

    Wouldn't you like to be the one who says "You should have been here
    last week - the weather/foliage/wildlife/girls were magnificent!",
    rather than the person being told? By staying in the one area, you
    increase your chance of catching the conditions you want and knowing
    where to go in that area when those conditions arise.

    <p>

    Of course, this is all invalid if the road trip is the important part!

    <p>

    Good luck,

    <p>

    Graeme
     
  5. David:

    <p>

    I would try to avoid a "destination-based" trip. Instead, focus on a
    specific type of subject matter or, more broadly, some type of concept
    or theme. Then let the concept drive your destination. At the end of
    your trip you will hopefully end up with a more coherent body of work.

    <p>

    You could also try something random, such as a series of dart tosses
    at a map. (How would John Cage have planned a road trip?)

    <p>

    Finally, you might try depicting the road itself or documenting your
    relationship to it. This approach has been taken by a number of
    photographers and, with a lttle research, you can look at plenty of
    inspirational material in advance of your trip.

    <p>

    ................................
     
  6. Lots of good suggestions- thanks much. I like the idea of
    avoiding "destination based" road trip as well, but we'll need some
    place to stop along the way to call my mother and tell her we
    got "there" ok. I'll just make it up as I go. The trip itself is
    pretty important, but the photos are too. One of my favorite places
    to take pictures I've ever been is the Sangre De Christo range, so
    perhaps that would be a good general area to go. Thanks again for
    the suggestions.
     
  7. Tops on my list are Yoho National Park and the Pacific Northwest
    (Olympic Mountain range and Vancouver Island). The mountains in Yoho
    are by far the most spectacular I have ever seen. The only problem
    will be not using up all of your film. They will surely give you
    wide angle lens a workout. The old growth forests of the Pacific
    Northwest are equally amazing but require a completely different way
    of seeing. You frequently cannot see the forest for the trees. The
    pictures that you take here will be less obvious and require more
    work but will be worth it. I thought Carmannah Valley on the coast
    of Vancouver Island was particularly good. Either place is awe
    inspiring. As for the eastern part of the continent there are alot
    of 'nice' places but nothing that really knocks my socks off.
     
  8. David,

    <p>

    I've driven alone on two-lane roads to all fifty states, and one of my
    favorite places in America is the Sandhills of Nebraska. This is
    ranchland, privately owned but accessible to you if you politely ask
    permission of the owners. Or there is good shooting to be done from
    the roads and state parks. The Sandhills are a huge tract of grass-
    covered dunes that cover a quarter of the state. There are numerous
    small ponds with interesting birds, and treeless vistas of rolling
    yellow hills (or green, depending on the rainfall that year). Even if
    you don't stop to photograph, the drive out Route 2 through this area
    is wonderful-- long swooping curves, very little traffic. You can stay
    in the town of Alliance which has several motels.

    <p>

    Ask your fellow Columbian, William Least Heat-Moon, about the
    underappreciated glories of the prairie grasslands. Better yet, read
    his book PrairyErth before you go. And definitely read his book Blue
    Highways, now. It will help you plan your trip.
     
  9. If you decide to come down this way (the Sangre de Cristos), send me a
    note. I've been here since '75 and can make suggestions etc. One
    thing to think about is that right across the Rio Grande from the
    Sangre de Christos is what is known as the Valles Caldera, a huge
    tract of land high up in the Jemez Mountains which was just now
    acquired by the federal gov't after years of negotiation and legal
    wrangling. It is about the most virginal virgin alpine forest in the
    West. As of now, the only access is by pre-arranged tours, but it
    will open up some by 2004. I think there's a website. -jeff buckels
    (albuquerque nm)
     
  10. Head over to New England and then go up to Nova Scotia and Prince
    Edward Island.
     
  11. You must have already read Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" and know
    that just posing the question stirs the wanderlust in the rest of us
    that can't go! If you land in Central Nevada, you can use my darkroom
    to change filmholders and I'll point you towards the Ancient
    Bristlecones and Death Valley. Weston's "California and the West"
    will be a fun read as you plan. Best of luck! J
     
  12. Yellowknife is a looooooooooong way away. Pretty cool place though
    (figuratively and litterally). I was there briefly in November about
    5 or 6 years ago. The Northern Lights were fantastic, the local
    architechture ecclectic and the people warm and inviting...

    <p>

    but I would not want to drive there. And I don't remember it being a
    particularily stunning place to photograph. Though I did not go there
    as a photographer and I was there when it was snowy and when there
    was not a whole lot of daylight to work with.

    <p>

    Be aware that part of the road (there is only one main hwy going in
    and out of town that I could find in any atlas) may be unpaved and
    open only seasonally. Much of the road leading there is in the middle
    of nowhere. You may want to invest in a personal emergency beakon or
    a HAM radio in case you get into trouble.

    <p>

    You might get more scenery per driven mile by starting the trip
    inland and exploring the different mountain ranges, and plains in
    Montana, Alberta and BC (I particularily love the Kootneys and the
    Okanagan Valley). Working your way to the West Coast of Vancouver
    Island in British Columbia. Be sure to stop in Catherdral Grove and
    explore some of the protected old growth forest near Tofino. Continue
    down to San Francisco along the Washington/Oregon/California Coast
    and come back via Yellowstone, Nevada, Utah, Colorado.

    <p>

    Hmmmmmmm.... now you've got me thinking of a road trip...

    <p>

    Good Luck. I'm turning green as I type this!!!!
     
  13. David,

    <p>

    I've done your type of trip three times in the past 8 years. Always
    planning for the next time out. The wife thinks I'm completely crazy.
    I go for 15 - 20 days. Gotta make a living too, ya know. I go totally
    solo. Can't be with others when I'm making photos. My time's mine and
    mother nature's. Each time I go I learn more about myself than the
    places I've been. What I'm capable of and what I'm not.
    I'm assuming that your a scenic LF guy. Me too. I've found that the
    journey really is the whole idea. Destinations are just points on a
    map. I've also found more and better images as I'm traveling without
    any ideas of what kind of picture I want. Many times images jump out
    ahead of me.
    So, here's "Steve's Law":
    1. Follow the road
    2. Follow the road less travelled. HHHHHMMMMMMM Poetry
    3. Look behind you once in a while, the view is different.
    4. Don't always follow the road.
    5. Make your own road.
    6. Take breadcrumbs (sometimes you gotta get back to #1 above.)
    7. Take 2 exposures of all subjects. But develope only 1. Hold the
    second exposure as insurance. B & W 4x5 film's cheap compared to
    driving thousands of miles and loosing that 1 neg to bad processing.

    <p>

    BWT my personnal fav's are slot canyons in AZ, coastlines in N. CA,
    OR and WA. Death Valley sand dunes at dusk.

    <p>

    Best of luck. Let me know how it goes.

    <p>

    -Steve
     
  14. Dave,

    <p>

    The one thing I always fall prey to when I'm on a trip with a
    destination is my tendency to rush by places that appeal to me
    in some way without stopping, because I'm so "destination-bound".

    <p>

    I second the recommendations above regarding the Pacific Northwest and
    also the observation that "seeing" those old growth forests
    photographically speaking can require a different sort of eye.

    <p>

    Good luck,

    <p>

    Robb Reed
     
  15. David: That website is www.vallescaldera.com. -jeff buckels
     
  16. So much good advice- this is why I love this forum!
     
  17. Yup! We be awsome.
     
  18. Given the time of the year, I would stay in the North West. It's
    too hot/humid further south/east.
    Others have suggested avoiding the national parks, but as you know I
    am partial to them, and would take a road following Lake Superior,
    the South Dakota Black hills, the Colorado Rockies, Yellowstone,
    the North Pacific Coast from CA to WA, returning through Glacier NP
    and the Canadian Rockies. If you time the trip right, you can be
    at the peak of the wildflowers on most of your itinerary.
    At this time of the year, I would
    photograph in the morning, then drive to the next destination during
    mid-day, photograph in the evening, camp and go to sleep early.
    It helps if you have a
    vehicle you can sleep in because it's much easier to crash anywhere.
     
  19. I also crash when I'm sleeping in the vehicle...........
     
  20. David, go to AAA and get the road maps of the states you will be
    driving in. Then look for the scenic by-ways as the most interesting
    roads to travel. Never plan to be at a certain place at a certain
    time. Get on the road but only use the maps in the case of
    emergency. If you don't plan a route, you will never be lost and
    what you see will always be fresh. Some of the best sights I have
    seen have been on roadways that I decided to drive to see where I
    would end up. Good luck and happy shooting. Pat.
     

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