On the road in the USA with a Fujifilm X-Pro1 ~ part 2

Jun 6, 2012 | Location | 26 comments

01. Chicago at dusk. Fuji X-Pro1, 18mm lens, ISO 250, 1/60th second at f/2.8

The response on social media and within the comments section of my first road trip blog post has been fabulous so I thought I’d follow it up with some other stories and genres that I captured while in the USA in May. I’m starting with our first journey of the holiday on Route 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I’ll come back to Chicago later

02. Our car in California was this Mustang. Bright is good apparently.

I know nothing about the politics of the USA but I do know that California is expensive. We paid $6 for a bottle of Bud in California and $2 a bottle in other states. Petrol or ‘gas’ prices varied by as much too. This mattered because we filled the tank every day of our trip. Most of the time gas was below $3.50 per US gallon but occasionally it was $6.50 a US gallon for no apparent reason. Don’t let the details put you off because the places we went to and the people we met are amazing.

03. A grab shot at a remembrance service for a fallen comrade on the pier at Pismo Beach. 18mm lens with a polariser.

04. I reaffirmed my love of colour on this trip. The colours of California like the sounds bring happiness to my soul.

05. For Camera fans...

06. The X-Pro1 is not quite a sports or action camera. This is as good as I can get with the 60mm lens :)

07. Colour so vibrant, garish and somehow harmonious. Fabulous.

08. Breakfast? No thanks, not my flavour.

09. I'll spare you the majority of my attempt at beach landscapes but suffice to say the resolution and clarity of the 18mm lens is superb. That's Route 1 winding along the edge of the cliffs in the distance.

10. I saw this dog and it reminded me of my friend and fellow photographer Martin Osbourne's latest project 'Dogs in Cars'. His are real pieces of art, mine picture is a snap that I took in Clint Eastwood's home town, as everyone reminded us.

11. We decided to have dinner at Clint's place but he did a 'no show'.

12. So I photographed his piano player instead while we were waiting to be seated. 35mm lens, ISO 1250, 1/60th second at f/1.4. Fast primes make easy work of dark interiors. They don't sort out mixed lighting though so monochrome it is ;)

13. San Francisco was our destination in California. This frame it a tight crop from a shot taken with the 60mm lens.

We didn’t have much time in San Fran but we did take in a night (dusk) tour of Alcatraz. It was well worth a visit and exceeded my expectations in just about every way.

14. The Rock.



17. I love the carefully placed seagulls in this shot.

18. The dining hall. 18mm lens, ISO 200, 1/160th second at f/2.


20. ISO 2000, 1/30th second at f/2

21. The audio tour was narrated by former inmates and warders and that made it all the more special.

22. 'Broadway' 18mm lens, ISO 3200, 1/30th at f/2


24. San Francisco a short swim away - perhaps.

25. The bridge. This is where a zoom would help. The framing is rubbish but I like the colour of the smog.


27. One of my first visions of Chicago was this advert on the CTA from the airport into town.

28. Chicago embraces the now with fabulous art commissions and architecture.

29. Chicago has a rhythm, a heartbeat that reverberates through the bustling streets. I just love the detail and pattern in the Santa Fe building. Chicago rewards visitors who look up.


31. A mother and child transfixed by the ever changing face in the distant pillar of this art installation.

32. The reflection in a piece of reflective sculpture.

33. A wider view from the beer garden. How civilised.

34. Then things got interesting.


36. The rumble of the CTA on the 'Loop' through downtown is a wonderful soundtrack. I have photographer friends in Chicago that I want to spend time with. Time is something we had little of on this trip, so I'll be back. Street portrait workshops in Chicago will be amazing fun.

37. This is just how I imagined a big city to be like when I was a child.



40. Did I mention that I love rivets.

41. I don't remember much about dinner other than I photographed the guy who cooked it for us. ISO 3200, 1/30th second at f/2.8 One great thing about the X-Pro1 is I took it everywhere. I'd never have taken an SLR to dinner net alone had the cheek to try and use it in the restaurant. The little Fuji is not threatening at all.

42. After dinner the twilight reminded me of my love affair with colour photography.

43. It soon became clear why the streets were emptying. The 'Occupy' rally and riots were moments away.

44. We waved, took a few shots and were gone. 60mm lens, ISO 3200, 1/60th second at f/2.8

45. The next couple of days we drove through Oklahoma en route to St Louis.

46. The steps under the arch with Aaron my travelling companion at the top of them.

47. Wow is all I can say about this beautiful object. It is truly amazing. If you ever wind your way up the Mississippi to St Louis or drive the 66 you must take time out to feel the immense presence this sculpture instills in you.

48. This sculpture cries out to be photographed from every angle. I just lay on the grass looked up and Skyped home. 4G is amazing. A $20 iPad sim gave us 3Gb of AT&T's finest wifi that lasted the whole trip.




52. The bars at night were interesting places. We preferred to stay in the smaller towns with one motel and a couple of bars. Usually the motel was $40 or so for both of us and the beer came in pitchers for $6.

53. This is my kind of photography, engaging and intimate. By the way, the Fuji X-Pro1 performed superbly in the lowest of light to capture this pin sharp sequence wide open at f/1.4



56. ISO 5000, 1/140th second at f/1.4

57. Meet our waitress Amber Waller. Amber has a presence and personality that shines through the mist of the karaoke bar we found ourselves in. Amber will be a star one day, mark my words:) ISO 2000, 1/50th second at f/1.4

58. The karaoke bar soon became a sing along bar. I thought about having a go at American Pie but thought better of it. ISO 2500, 1/50th f/1.4

59. Pop, Americans love pop. This is just part of the fizzy orange section in one shop. Notice the Freaky Dog Soda on the middle shelf of this fridge.

60. We stopped to let this chappie cross the road and we heard what sounded like kittens meowing.

61. Indeed we were correct as somehow we had two small kittens under the hood of our Dodge Challenger. They must have crawled in the night before at 'Clinton' some 20 miles back down the 66. Well, meet Ginger with her little lad. Ginger stopped to help us rescue the said kittens and soon rustled up a couple of mechanics to help us take the front of the Dodge apart to get at them. Ginger gets in and out of her car through the window. I can only assume the door is stuck. I thought it worth a mention. Oh, the kittens were saved and ran off in the direction of the snake.

62. After a request for more car shots on the previous post here is our slightly dirty Dodge.

63. And another shot of the car from a vantage point part the way up a hill I decided to climb. The 66 is a bit worn out here and has needed interesting repairs. This part of the road is near Oatman in Arizona.

65. Arizona is like no other place on earth.

66. Here is proof the Fuji X-Pro1 is a perfectly good wildlife camera. :)

67. Another part of the incredible painted desert.

68. That's Flagstaff at some 40 miles in the distance. It seems the road crew had a bit of fun here.

69. This big hole is Meteor Crater. I did a sweep panorama of it using the Fuji and I shot individual frames too to stitch later in Photoshop. The sweep panorama is rubbish the Photoshop stitch is fabulous. This hole is a mile across and those are people on a small jetty on the right hand side.

70. From Flagstaff to Sedona the scenery is sublime, lush yet rugged.



73. I love to photograph dead trees.




77. The Grand Canyon doesn't disappoint.


79. Another dead tree.


I want to go back. I will go back, but for now fabulous memories will suffice. If you’ve got this far thanks for your patience. Please feel free to comment.


  1. Martin Hill

    Really lovely set of images D loved to have been on that trip! From a fine art view love 48 would fit perfectly over any fireplace.

    • damien

      Hi Martin,

      If the opportunity arises for you it would be a pleasure to do a road trip with you. I can think of no better companion :) Cheers, Damien.

  2. Andrea Marcou

    Fabulous, marvellous and a joy to look at. Thank you for sharing.

    • damien

      Thank you Andrea :)

  3. Peter Schnickmann

    Absolutely great pictures ! I will be on a similar trip in August on a BMW bike, will take my Nikon D800, however. Best thing about the Fuji may be that it “disappears” compared to a big DSLR… It’s with you all the time and you get more “situation shots”…..

    Cheers Peter

    • damien

      Hi Peter,

      That’s exactly the reason I didn’t take my Nikon or Canon kits. The Fuji tucks away and you hardly know you have it on you, but you have and that is what matters. I never travel with an SLR now, The lenses are so vast and heavy for one thing and then to really make the most of any extra detail from the D800 you might need a tripod too. I just cranked the Fuji up to 5000 ISO if needed. The D800 is a mighty fine bit of kit though and I’d love one in my studio.

      Enjoy your trip, Damien.

  4. Nathan Jones

    Damien, fantastic shots. This set and the previous set soo make me want to drive Route 66. Just have to wait until the kids grow up.

    Number 58 looks like an ad.

    I never managed to get good shots of the Grand Canyon, the place is just so vast I could never find a way to get that across.

    Enjoy Venice, a truly wonderful place. If I may be so bold as to share a couple of shots with you from my trip there in April..

    • damien

      Hi Nathan, Thanks for your kind words :)

  5. Kyle Whitney

    wonderful write up and excellent images here Damien. It reminds me of some of the exciting and different (to me) things I got to experience in England when I was there for your workshop last year. 10 days was not enough and I need to return, for longer this time… I am happy you got to see some of the smaller towns, lots of character in those places which shows in your photographs. Thanks for posting these images and I am glad you enjoyed your visit. :)

    • damien

      Thanks Kyle,

      Travel and experiencing the world is so important to me. I love variety and it makes for great pictures. Thank you for your compliments, Damien.

  6. visionQg

    I want to go back. I will go back” very interesting story attached pro pictures, i enjoy it very much, thanks to share with and hope to see the next……good luck from beijing

    • damien

      Thank you Vision Qg

  7. Richard Hart

    California has the highest density of states in the US and is the world’s 5th largest economy! hence the prices! A lot of people live in small communities in the middle of nowhere as it is cheaper. People live in Lancaster where there is nothing interesting at all and commute 90 miles to LA on a daily basis!

    I remember driving on the i5 and the sat nav said next turn in 300miles. Yes that was a turn in the road! we passed 150miles of orange groves!

    California is certainly the home of “the great outdoors” and everywhere with little development is a feast for the eyes. There is spectacular scenery and PCH1 is one of the best ways to see it!

    I took a month to drive around Europe before moving to California and realised that you need to spend 3 nights in each location to appreciate it rather than always driving.

    Damien, did you get to see Hearst Castle?

    My brother, a fond traveller has a theory that you should stay a short while and leave a place wanting to go back for more.

    • damien

      Hi Richard,

      Wise words indeed. It’s good that we like different things. I did see Hearst Castle but we thought it a bit of a strange tourist trap to say the least. I’m motivated by visual delights and the soul and spirit of everyday people. There is something for everyone in the USA. I’d rather live on country ranch and be on my porch at sundown than live in a city tower block. Such opportunities and variety. That’s what struck me.

      I’ll be going back.



  8. Marie Man

    Great images on both blogposts Damien – did a huge trip back in ’99 and this just makes me want to go back even more! Best way to see America is by car, to stay in the small towns as you did and see the America that stretches out between the big cities and landmarks x

    • damien

      Thanks Marie,

      You are so right. I’m off to Venice next. I’m loving the journey planning nearly as much as the trips themselves. Venice is a recce for workshops so it’s not all play.

      See you soon,

      Damien. x

  9. Shannon Lery

    I love your photos. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip like that.

    • damien

      Thank you for your compliments Shannon :)

  10. Wedding Photographer Swansea

    Amazing once again……im pining for such a trip. Im really impressed with the camera too….or maybe its just in the right hands ;).

    • damien

      Thanks again Wedding Photographer from Swansea. Yes it is a trip worth doing and yes the camera is amazing. All I did was point it and press the button at the right moment :))

      Cheers, Damien.

  11. Alex Harrison

    Lovely photos Damien. I enjoyed reading this even more than the last one! Your night and portrait shots are just fab! When I finished Uni I did a solo trip to the USA, flying into Chicago…it is an amazing city. My abiding memory from my first drive out of the city was getting lost on the way to Indiana, and narrowly avoiding a deer which ran in front of me on a back road!

    I’m sure you have great memories. I can’t wait to go back either, next time with my wife and daughter!

    • damien

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond. Memories like ours are so important. Over time the stresses of previous moments become the foundations of wisdom. Keep up the travelling, I’m going back with my daughter next time too. Aaron, my travelling companyon this time on the trip is my step son.

      Best regards,


  12. Jeremy

    Sounds like you had a great time, I enjoyed the images and the story of your trip. Thanks for sharing.

    • damien

      Thanks Jeremy,

      Not long now :)

      Best regards, Damien.

  13. Jon S6

    awesome, I did it in March in a red Mustang

    • damien

      Hi Jon,

      We might have had the same car :)

      Cheers, Damien.


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