Route 66 ~ Signs of the times

This is my visual record of the fading elegance and colourful flavour of roadside America along the old route 66. These were all taken hand-held using the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm lenses. I used a polariser on the lenses at times but apart from that they are as shot. These are processed from RAW files. I used Fuji Velvia mode in camera and I replicated the look of the in camera jpegs using a custom preset in Adobe Lightroom.

01. The mother road

02. The first of several giants on the 66 route. This one in Illinois.

03. The Polka Dot Inn.

04.

05.

06. The genuine article. A fully working Wurlitzer. I chose Del Shannon, Runaway.

07.

08.

09. Our first encounter with an abandoned gas station.

10. The price of the last delivery was 40 cents per gallon.

11. As we journeyed through Illinois far more faded history was at the roadside like this old pump at Funks Grove.

12. Hot dog giant in Atlanta Illinois.

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17. An old route 66 truck.

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26. One of the many historic bridges on the 66. This one is at Devils Elbow in Missouri. The bikers bar is well worth a visit there too :)

27.

28. A dream home for someone...

29. In need of renovation and a little dusty on closer inspection.

30. The place to sit at sundown with a glass of old No. 9 and J.J.Cale on the gramophone.

31.

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33. The sun is so harsh the paint never survives but the steel does in this bone dry climate.

34.

35. I like the bullet holes in the windscreen. They aren't the fake stick on ones we get here!

36.

37.

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39. Beautiful lines and a great colour scheme on the Chevvy.

40.

41. This is typical the route 66. Not a car in sight (apart from our black Dodge Challenger).

42.

43.

44. I love this old house. Just need to fix the shingles and move in.

45. Some of the best Deco and Nouveau architecture has been saved and renovated.

46. Unfortunately the U Drop Inn was closed otherwise we would have done.

47. The Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. It was hot here. There was a constant blast at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37C)

48. Perhaps with hindsight it was not a great business decision to put this garage in the middle of nowhere.

49.

50.

51.

52. Classic Art Deco.

53.

54.

55. This is nearly art.

56.

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60.

61.

62.

63.

64. The narrowest motel on route 66?

65.

66. It's like a scene from a movie.

67. Our entertainment for the evening.

68. The next night it was "Granny's Closet'. ISO 1000, 1/80th at f/2

69.

70.

71.

72.

73.

74. The view was not that great.

75. Rivets on the side of a tender.

76.

77. Mr D's for breakfast.

78.

79.

80.

81. Ex world leaders mail boxes.

83.

84.

85.

86. A typical view on the 66.

87.

That is a small selection of what there is to see on the 66. If I was to do the journey again I’d spend more time in Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona is amazing! The scenery is spectacular. The subject of another blog post perhaps along with Chicago. On this holiday we spent 3 days in California driving Route 1 up the Pacific coast from LA to San Francisco, a few days in the big cities and 10 days driving Route 66. If we stopped on the 66 every time we saw something interesting it would have taken us 15 days or so. The 66 carves through vast plains and desert on a seemingly never-ending journey. Other times it winds its way through mountains or rocky ravines.

This was principly a holiday not a shoot fest and I didn’t want to take an SLR and all the stuff that goes with it. So I took the Fuji X-Pro1 and it went everywhere. In the bars at night, to breakfast etc. The Fuji is a carry anywhere camera and it fitted in my Think Tank Retrospective 5 bag perfectly even with the 3 lenses and filters. I use a Retrospective 7 for my Fuji kit at workshops because I can also fit my X100, a Speedlight or two and my iPad in it.

The X-Pro1, Is it any good? It’s fantastic! There is so much negative stuff about this camera from pixel peepers and boffins out there on the forums and blogs, just ignore it. This camera and it’s lenses are superb. Please feel free to comment these pictures.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

32 thoughts on “Route 66 ~ Signs of the times

  1. Wonderful snapshot of a wonderful part of America. I’ve done the route myself but sadly sans camera – you have caught some lovely shots and actually brought back some memories for me too.

  2. Did you eat at the BIG TEXAN STEAK RANCH in Amarillo, TX? Home of the 72 oz steak… If so, I bet you got great pics inside that joint!

  3. Hi Damian,

    Thanks for replying to my tweet so quickly!

    As i said, i’m in the process of planning a Route 66 trip/journey. I have been for a while, but it’s look ever increasingly likely that later this year, early next year it will become something i can finally do.

    I was just hoping to get a bit more info about your route, where you stayed during your journey, how big the stints were of driving, etc? If you can give an indication on costs too that would be even better!

    Your pics are really very good and tell a great story of the journey. The captions to the images are really helpful to plan for some interesting stops.

    Each time i see a photo story on the 66, it’s always great to see each person’s interpretation of it as they are always rather different.

    If you have any other tips or advice to a budding 66 traveller then that would also be appreciated!

    Kind Regards,

    Chris Sharps

    P.S. Are you going to be doing a similar style post with your images from the Pacific Coast Highway? I’d be really interested to see the images from that drive too.

  4. Hwy 1, Arizona, Canyonland, Route 66 – every time I visit the USA, I don´t wanna go back… great pictures Damien, I love No. 66 (No. 66 on the route 66 – only a blond hair girl in a petticoat is missing ;) and of course No. 71 and 72. Enjoy!

  5. Great trip entry and wonderful images. I would love to do a similar trip except I would be heading the opposite direction. The route fascinates me. Thanks for posting these, something to look forward to doing sometime.

  6. Great stuff! I enjoyed your images and I hope to get a long enough holiday sometime to make the drive myself. I’ve been following your experiences with the X-Pro1 with interest. I’m seriously considering replacing my 5D rig with one. Can you tell what RAW converter you are using? There is a lot of complaining out there about Adobe’s implementation in Camera Raw. Are you using Silkypix or something else?

  7. Thanks Kevin, As you can tell I’m beginning to love my Fuji X-Pro1. It has been a challenge at times but now I’m settled in. Thanks for the advance advice and help you gave me. I really appreciate the time you share so freely.

    Best regards,

    Damien.

  8. Hi Murray,

    Thank you, yes indeed some locations were crying out as portrait shoot sites. Anyway it was a holiday and a mighty fine one at that. Thanks for your continues support and interest in my persuits. Best regards,

    Damien.

  9. Hi Steve,

    We were going to but by Texas we were steaked out. It’s all ribs, wings, steaks and burgers in the US. We even found buffalo wings in one diner. I didn’t know they have wings. We passed the Big Texan at about 3pm anyway.

    We had a great trip. Did you manage the 72oz challenge?

    Cheers, Damien.

  10. Hi Chris,

    As you will have seen by now the PCH shots are here. In the UK we are particularly blessed with fine coastline and I’d say the PCH is on a par with Pembrokeshire or Cornwall. I think if I were to do the trip again I’d not drive the PCH but I’d spend time in Nappa Valley or Yosemite and the other state parks in California. Better still venture into Colorado and Utah to visit sigths like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley etc. We took a helicopter over the Grand Canyon ant it was worth every penny. We went with Papilon airways and paid an upgrade for the front seats.

    Anyway lets get back to the 66. The generally accepted way to drive the 66 is from Chicago to Los Angeles. I don’t know why but certainly the one way drop off fee for our car at Chicago was way cheaper than the equivelent at LA. We paid $250 surcharge to leave the hire car some 2300 miles away. Not a bad rate I thought. Everything in LA is more expensive so it makes sence to hire your car in Chicago.

    We took ten and a half days to drive the 66 and we could easily have taken 15 days. The more time you allow the more stops you make. It’s as simple as that. 10 days is enough for a first trip then like us you can start to plan a revisit the places that fascinate you. We are all different and this is only my opinion. Aaron and I found the endless flat wheet fields of Ilinois a bit dull to look at as we crossed the state but the small towns are immaculate and full of wonderful people. Arizona has a landscape to excite but we found the Arizona towns were less interesting.

    Our intention was to stay in the cities but we soon realised a $100 motel in the city was the same as a $50 small town motel plus the small town motels were usually adjasent to fun bars with locals rather than other tourists to talk to and drink with. We stayed in St James, Miami, and Clinton to name a few. Clinton should be avoided unless you are a tough type. I asked a local where the nearest bar or restaurant was and he just laughed. “There is one bar next to the gun shop but I’d not go near it as the fighting is occasionally punctuated with drinking” So we went to an out of town ‘chain’ eatery for a ribs and skins type meal with soda as they were not allowed to serve alcahol. On the plus side our motel was just $30 for the 2 of us but came with cockroaches. I don’t mind having the odd experience so we were okay. Our hotel in San Fran was $235 for the night so we experienced the full range of what America had to offer.

    West of the Mississippi the landscape gets more varied and interesting. We used a 4G AT&T sim ($20 on a pre paid credit card) and Google maps on an iPad3 to navigate the route. Forget Tom Tom ours was rubbish even with the £40 map. There is 4G nearly everywhere, even in the deserts!

    This is THE website you need: http://www.historic66.com/

    The reviews for motels on Trip Advisor were way out. Not something I’ve found in other countries.

    Have a great trip.

    Best regards, Damien.

  11. Thank you Radmila, You would be a great traveling companion for a road trip :). I can’t wait for our next shooting adventure together.

    See you soon.

    Damien x

  12. Thank you Alan. I mention in a previous comment why we drove Illinois to California but I guess anyway is good.

    Have a good trip when you go.

    Damien.

  13. Hi M. Connell,

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m using Adobe Lightroom 4.1 to convert my Fuji X-Pro1 files. I’m a photographer and appreciate the control of tones in my work that Lightroom gives me. There are many forum posts out there by people who take pictures out of their bedroom window and study pixel detail. Their findings are irrelevent to photographers. I love the output that the Fuji Adobe combo gives me and it makes fabulous prints too. On a note about replacing an SLR. The Fuji is different, it would be like replacing a Range Rover with an Alfa Romeo. Both able to drive the highway but the Range Rover has a greater versatility. The Alpha gets let out at junctions and is more eco friendly too. Don’t expect the Fuji to do everything an SLR can do. I only use a small capability of my SLRs (I don’t shoot sport, action or reportage) so I am happy to let the Fuji take over completely.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

  14. Stunning set Damien. Absolutely love the colours, locations, scenery – just superb. The derelict cars and buildings take on a new life bathed in that stunning light. Looks like the X-Pro did a spectacular job as well. Now the RAWs can be processed, I am loving the camera even more. It really is superb.

    Thanks for the images and narrative. Really enjoyed it.

  15. Love the photographs – so vibrant and full of life. I love America – totally addicted to road trips – you’ve captured the way I see those mom & pops places off the beaten track. So in love….

  16. Thanks for sharing the trip.

    Hopefully myself, a camera and a classic ’60s Corvette roadster will make it down that way one day soon. That would be a trip of a lifetime for me.

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