Wild Wild West ~ USA Adventure 2016

Jun 15, 2016 | Flash, Fujifilm X, Location, Travel | 24 comments

Part 1: The vista and landscapes of Americas mid West.

A year ago I had a vision of a road trip adventure in America that explored the brown bit (looking at the USA on Google Earth) that runs North to South from Montana to Arizona. Well last month I made it happen and here are a few frames that I shot on the journey.

Kit: Fuji X, 14, 16, 23, 35, 50-140, 100-400

Models: Arielle Jammy Fox, Chantelle

01.

01. Arielle Jammy Fox wears a dress I bought from a factory in China via Ebay. It was made for this trip and when it arrived I liked it so much I had another one made in green. You’ll see that one later in the set. The location of this shot is on private land in the Navajo Nation. All filming/ photography permits were bought in advance of the trip.

02. Chantelle in the high desert of Arizona. Bottom left, a few of the crew; Fernando, Jim Martin and Doug.

02. Top: Chantelle in the high desert of Arizona. Bottom left: A few of the crew; Fernando, Jim, Martin and Doug.

03. A secluded canyon on private land was our location for these striking shots.

03. A secluded canyon on privately owned Navajo Nation land was our location for these striking shots. We had the place to ourselves and we saw nobody else for the two hours or so that we were shooting here.

04. Arielle atop a ridge in the canyon

04. Arielle atop a ridge in another part of the canyon.

04. The Grand Canyon is really impressive. I've been there before and it still took my breath away.

05. The Grand Canyon is the best known, the most crowded and is really impressive. I’ve been there before a few years back and it still took my breath away when I got a first glimpse of this vast landscape from the South rim.

06. The Grand Canyon in the foreground with the desert beyond.

06. The Grand Canyon is in the foreground with the desert beyond.

07. The high deserts of Arizona are colourful and dramatic. At an altitude of 5000ft the air is sometimes cool but dry.

07. The high deserts of Arizona are both colourful and dramatic. At an altitude of 5000ft – 6000ft the air is sometimes cool but dry. There was still snow lingering in the shady crevices of the canyon rim.

Canyons like this can be hard to find despite their beauty so I did plenty of research ahead of our trip to get accurate coordinates from Google Earth. Even with this information our SAT Navs often got confused with the frequent time zone changes we were making.

08. Canyons like this one in Arizona can be hard to find despite their beauty so I did plenty of research ahead of our trip to get accurate coordinates from Google Earth. Even armed with this information our Sat Navs often got confused with the frequent time zone changes we were driving through.

09. Monument Valley has the wow factor too. We got there just as the afternoon light peaked.

09. Monument Valley has the wow factor too. We got there just as the afternoon light peaked.

10. Left: Snake river viewpoint after sundown taken with the 14mm lens. Right: The afterglow and the full moon shot with the 100-400mm lens.

10. Left: Snake river viewpoint after sundown taken with the 14mm lens. Right: The afterglow and the full moon shot with the 100-400mm lens.

11. The light in Arizona was very changeable, like the weather. I used a Quadra ELB to light Arielle in the high wilderness near Sedona.

11. The light in Arizona was very changeable, like the weather. I used a Quadra ELB to light Arielle in the high wilderness near Sedona.

12. One minute we had hot sun and the next a hail storm. This gave us dramatic skies from time to time.

12. One minute we had burning hot sun and the next a hail storm. This gave us dramatic skies to work with from time to time.

13. Sedona views. The afterglow from Airport Messa, Cathedral rock in the afternoon light and Oak Creek.

13. Sedona views: The afterglow from Airport Messa, Cathedral rock in afternoon light and a branch lodged in Oak Creek.

14. Many of our locations were accessed via off road tracks. The lack of vegetation left us feeling very exposed.

14. Many of our locations were accessed via off road tracks. The lack of vegetation left us feeling very exposed.

15. Nearly every corner you turn in the Wild West delivers a stunning view.

15. Nearly every corner you turn in the Wild West delivers a stunning view.

16. Antelope Canyon was a must see while we were in the area.

16. Antelope Canyon was a must see while we were in the area.

17. Although it's been very well photographed the possibilities for unique images are endless. It's a pleasure and a privilege to be among this abstract natural beauty carved from the sandstone by flash floods.

17. Although this canyon has been very well photographed the possibilities for unique images are endless. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be among this abstract natural beauty carved from the sandstone by flash floods.

18. I have enough images to print that I could paper the spare room of our house.

18. I have enough images of Antelope Canyon to print, that I could wallpaper the spare room of our house. (All images are at f/11 with the camera on a tripod) I used a Sirui carbon 5 section tripod with my Fuji kit and it worked well.

19. The setting sun in a wilderness area by Lake Powell gave us a unique opportunity for some dress shots.

19. The setting sun in a wilderness area by Lake Powell gave us a unique opportunity for some dress shots.

20. This green dress worn by Arielle was my second purchase from the factory in China.

20. This green dress worn by Arielle was my second purchase from the factory in China.

22. The expanse of dramatic landscape is seemingly endless but you have to venture off road to find it.

22. The expanse of dramatic landscape is seemingly endless but you have to venture off road to find it.

23. Arielle gave us a masterclass in posing for figure in the landscape.

23. Arielle gave us a masterclass in posing for figure in the landscape.

26. Chantelle hopped up on this rock for a fun shot while some of our group were still photographing Horseshoe bend in the Colorado.

26. Chantelle hopped up on this rock for a fun shot while some of our group were still photographing the Colorado river in Horseshoe bend.

27. Horseshoe bend taken with the 14mm lens with my camera on a monopod held aloft using the self timer. There was no way I was going to get that close to the edge.

27. I took this shot of Horseshoe bend using the XF 14mm lens on my camera that was firmly attached to a monopod held aloft and the camera was triggered using the 10 second self timer. There was no way I was going to get that close to the edge.

28. More hail storms passed through as we reached Bryce Canyon. Can you spot the horses on the trail in the bottom shot?

28. More hail storms passed through as we reached Bryce Canyon. Can you spot the horses on the trail in the bottom shot?

29. Arches National Park was well worth a visit. We were nearly rocked out but this was a great location to spend a few hours.

29. Arches National Park was well worth a visit. We were nearly rocked out by this point but this was a really great location to spend a few hours.

30. The landscape photography opportunities are endless here.

30. The landscape photography opportunities are endless here.

31. Martin my buddy and fellow leader poised for action.

31. Martin my buddy and fellow leader poised for action.

32. A short stroll up and over a hill got us to this aptly named, Delicate Arch.

32. A short stroll up and over a hill got us to this aptly named, Delicate Arch.

33. The Tetons in the distance across the plains.

33. The Tetons in the distance across the plains.

Part 2: The Wild Wild West adventure.

As we drove 3000 miles through America from Nevada to Montana via Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming we shot at locations set in the present and some set firmly in the past. This was a varied photoshoot adventure that encompassed all kinds of genres. So much could have gone wrong but it didn’t. All 5 SUVs made it to the destination in one piece and each of the occupants too. Here’s the flip side of our adventure…

34. Arielle at a coral in Arizona.

34. Arielle at a coral in Arizona. The air was so full of an ultra soft, fine dust the clouds really were that colour.

35. Nothing quite prepares you for what lies around here. Rattle snakes, scorpions and the occasional victim of the harsh conditions.

35. Nothing quite prepares you for what lies around here. Rattle snakes, scorpions and the occasional victim of the harsh arid conditions.

36. Ella's Frontier.

36. Ella’s Frontier.

37. Arielle in one of the shacks of a time nearly forgotten that still line the old route 66.

37. Arielle in one of the shacks of a time nearly forgotten that still line the old route 66.

38. This urban exploration is right up my street and will feature more prominently in next years adventure.

38. This urban exploration is right up my street and will feature more prominently in next years adventure.

39. Looking back on a time lost to the winds of change.

39. Looking back on a time lost to the winds of change.

40. Another ghost town and another adventure.

40. Another ghost town and another adventure.

41. The textures here are wonderful, the places deserted.

41. The textures here are wonderful, the places deserted.

42.

42. Arielle in the shack.

43. A frontage town off the main highway makes a great shoot location.

43. A frontage town off the main highway makes a great shoot location.

44. The high noon day sun can be so rewarding to work with.

44. The high sun at noon can be so rewarding to work with.

45. I love this sweet shoot spot.

45. I love this sweet shoot spot.

46. Arielle is cool and looks quite at home in Utah.

46. Arielle is cool and looks quite at home in Utah.

47. Beyond the railroad crossing is another ghost town that we failed to find. We did see snakes though so not all was lost.

47. Beyond the distant railroad crossing and several miles into the mining area is another ghost town that we failed to find. We did see snakes though so not all was lost.

48. The cattle were out to pasture so it was down time for our cowgirl Arielle.

48. The cattle were out to pasture so it was down time for our cowgirl Arielle.

49.

49. Contemplating the moment or checking out the big ants all around. I can’t remember which.

50. I love the tilting screen on the Fuji X-T cameras. Especially when shooting from low angle through the grass.

50. I love the tilting screen on the Fuji X-T cameras. Especially when shooting from low angle through the grass.

51. A few of the crew shooting Arielle while the others were with Martin and Chantelle.

51. A few of the crew shooting Arielle while the others were with Martin and Chantelle.

52. Rustic beauty.

52. Rustic beauty.

53. I love the authentic heritage to be found throughout the West.

53. I love the authentic heritage to be found throughout the West if you know where to look.

54. Hills, plains, cattle and the country way of life.

54. Hills, plains, cattle and the country way of life.

55. Chantelle in an abandoned cottage doorway.

55. Chantelle in an abandoned cottage doorway.

56. Simple natural light beauty shots.

56. Simple natural light beauty shots.

57. Radient Chantelle.

57. Radient Chantelle.

58 A high key scene in a ghost town setting.

58 A high key scene in a ghost town setting.

59. A splash of Quadra ELB added to the look.

59. A splash of Quadra ELB added to the look.

60. Beautiful tones on this old caravan made the perfect backdrop for Chantelle.

60. Beautiful tones on this old caravan made the perfect backdrop for Chantelle.

61. Fun and a natural look.

61. Fun and a natural look.

62. Arielle behind the chapel and out of the sun.

62. Arielle behind the chapel and out of the sun.

63.

63. This Wild West adventure would not be complete without a wagon shot or two.

64. The doctor's waggon.

64. The doctor’s waggon.

65. Hot pink fashion.

65. The covered wagon makes a great backdrop for Chantelle.

66. It was on route 66 that we found this car showroom. A perfect location for a shoot.

66. It was on route 66 that we found this car showroom. A perfect location for a shoot.

67.

67. This Skyliner has style and is yours fully restored and ready to roll for just $30000.

68.

68. This chopped rat rod is loud and proud. It has a big bore Chevvy with Holley carbs. 10 seconds for ¼ mile is the target for this bad boy.

69. Other cars await their turn to be loved again.

69. Other cars await their turn to be loved again.

70. The 50's chrome resonates with me. I just love this flamboyant style.

70. The 50’s chrome resonates with me. I just love this flamboyant style.

71. Arielle likes this run around.

71. It’s hard to work out what colour the paint was on some of the old cars we found on our travels.

72. This Ford was looked after by the cat.

72. This Ford was looked after by the cat.

73. All along the 66 there are tributes to the past but none more so than in Arizona where the legendary 66 lives on.

73. All along the 66 there are tributes to the past but none more so than in Arizona where the legendary 66 lives on.

74. Arielle and I love American school busses so when this photo opportunity arose we jumped at the chance to shoot it.

74. Arielle and I love American school buses so when this photo opportunity arose we jumped at the chance to shoot it. I created a leading diagonal, some negative space and directed Arielle to sit on the ground. It’s a bit unconventional for a girl and a bus shot but that’s how I roll.

75. Too cool for school.

75. Too cool for school.

Yes, there will be another USA Wild Wild West adventure in 2017. This year’s trip completed my research and now I know what is needed to make this amazing adventure even better. Thanks for getting this far. Please feel free to comment below. Please don’t ask for specific location details but feel free to ask about anything else that springs to mind.

24 Comments

  1. IVO H

    No words!!!! WOW!!!!!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Ivo H :)

      Reply
  2. Steinar Knai

    Damien did you find that the trip was a bit long, about right or too short. I know the route and I feel that I would have gone tired of rocks and desert after three or four days. I admire your guts because this must have been a tiring trip. Lots of nice travel photos of course, but still.

    Reply
    • damienlovegrove

      The trip was a perfect length and I can’t wait to go back next year. I did route 66 a few years back so I know what a 3K mile road trip adventure feels like. I will make a few changes to the itinerary next year because there were places we wanted to shoot at for longer and others that weren’t worth the detour. Not everyone has the stamina for this kind of trip so I’ll be selecting travelling companions carefully.

      Reply
  3. Gordon Baxter

    Fabulosa!

    Reply
  4. fauland photography

    Knowing the area quite well (I travelled through the US-midwest several times in past years for various projects) I was just closing my eyes after seeing your stunning images and was right back there !!! THANK YOU …

    Reply
    • damienlovegrove

      Thank you for your kind words. Stay inspired, Damien.

      Reply
  5. Susie

    Amazing! I really wanted to go on this photo tour. So sad I wasn’t able to.

    Reply
  6. Frank

    Just another day for the wonderful creativity of Damien. Fantastic photos.

    Reply
  7. Edgars

    Damien, great post! I just buy X-Pro2! My travel report will be from Georgia!

    Reply
  8. Sally-Anne Prout

    Wow, stunning imagery, always love your work. I’m thinking of converting to Fuji, kinda makes sense, love the depth of Colour it produces. Beautiful

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Sally-Anne, The Fuji colours are wonderful but the ones you see here are a result of a certain amount of post processing. When you change camera system do ensure the picture shooting process is exciting and motivating. That’s why I made the switch to Fuji. The excellent colours are an added bonus :)

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply
  9. Robb Quinn

    Damien, these are incredible. May I ask a question, have you ever felt limited by Fuji not having HSS during these daytime shots?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks Robb, I just use ND filters if I want a shallow depth of field. There is no loss of flash output with that system. Some HSS systems use the tail on the flash burn rather than the initial pulse and this cuts the effective output with reference to the ambient light. Fuji are releasing a HSS flash gun very soon so whatever tech is needed will be implemented in firmware updates no doubt. Let’s wait and see what the Fuji system delivers. The X100, X100s and X100T cameras are still king of the hill with their in lens shutter and no HSS will compete with them. Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  10. Peter Martin

    Simply stunning, again…..

    Reply
    • Damien

      Cheers Peter. Life has been one long photoshoot adventure for me over the past month. I’m just getting to grips with all the editing and blogging now. Thank you for your kind words and continued support. Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  11. Dade Freeman

    Stunning imagery. Looks like you had a lot of fun :)

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks Dade. It was a real adventure, with ups and downs, discoveries and plenty of laughter :)

      Reply

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