Feature Story

Footloose from Santa Barbara to Manzanar to San Jose - a visual diary

Road Marker 20, 3-8-2010 (Soledad, Ca)
Afterthought - 2-28-2010 (Santa Barbara, Ca)
Afterthought - 3-4-2010 (Lone Pine, Ca)
Road Marker 13, 3-4-2010 (Alabama Hills)
Road Marker 9, 3-3-2010 (Lone Pine, Ca)
Afterthought - 3-2-2010 (off Hwy 395 near Grant, Ca)
Afterthought - 3-3-2010 (Lone Pine, Ca)
Road Marker 21 last of series, 3-8-2010 (Perry, Ca)
Road Marker 15, 3-5-2010 (Mojave, Ca)
Road Marker 3, 3-1-2010 (Mountain Mesa, Ca)
Road Marker 5, 3-2-2010 (CA Route 178 near Canebrake)

From February 25 to March 8 I had the good fortune of taking a road trip through some of the most photogenic parts of California.

Having been born and raised in Europe, the idea of road trips has always fascinated me as a uniquely American phenomenon, and a powerful way for foreign-born people like me to connect to the land and the culture with the help of their camera. That tradition dates back, of course, at least as far back as my compatriot Robert Frank whose "The Americans" is probably the iconic body of photographic work from an American road trip.

The superb images of British-born photographer Simon Kossoff taken during his own road trips through the American heartland, prodded me further to just do it.

I selected the destination point - the Eastern Sierras - because of the wonderful images of that region taken by another great photographer who shows work on JPG, Chris Whitney, and his description of "the ideal photo trip". Chris was kind enough to also provide much valuable advice about getting there, where to stay and eat, and what to shoot. Thank you Chris!

This is a selection of some of my favorite images among those I took each day as a visual diary. Some were posted from my laptop during the trip (Road Markers) and some on my return (Afterthoughts). All were shot with a Panasonic LX3 in square format, and geo-tagged using a Jobo GPS unit.

A separate body of images focusing entirely on landscapes, and shot with a Canon 40D is posted on Aamora.

Equipment used on this trip: Panasonic Lumix LX3, Canon 40D with Sigma 18 -200 lens, Jobo Photo GPS, Kodak B/W one-time-use cameras. Processing: MacBook Air, Adobe Lightroom Beta 3.2, Photoshop CS3

Itinerary: I started from Santa Barbara, where I was visiting my son who attends college there. From Santa Barbara I drove South on Highway 101 to Ventura, then East on Hwy 126 to Highway 5, and North from there to Bakersfield. At Bakersfield, I started heading off the main thoroughfares, taking route 178 along the Kern River valley, and stopping for the night in the (very) small town of Mountain Mesa, on the shores of Lake Isabella. The next day I continued on 178 through some of the most varied and spectacular landscapes I have ever seen, crossing Walker pass and reaching Highway 395, where I headed North to Lone Pine. I spent close to 3 days in Lone Pine photographing the town, the amazing Alabama Hills area on its outskirts, and going as far North as the site of the WWII Japanese internment camp of Manzanar. My return route took me back to Santa Barbara, stopping for the night in the town of Mojave. Another night in Santa Barbara, then up the coast on Highway 1 through the town of Cayucos, then East on Highway 46 and back home to the SF Bay Area through San Miguel and the agricultural towns that line the 101.

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15 responses

  • Mal Stewart

    Mal Stewart gave props (28 Mar 2010):

    I like your story Alexis...skirted some of those areas myself in '07. Sounds like a trip I may have to follow up on one day when I'm back over there. Beautiful country I have to say. It's unbelievable that there is so many amazing places for us photographers to explore. You think you've seen it all..... and just one tiny town proves you absolutely wrong. I love it. "Keep on truckin" as they say ..........Top images also by the way !

  • daus adrian

    daus adrian gave props (28 Mar 2010):

    great story.. wish I was there.. :)

  • Jim Hart

    Jim Hart said (29 Mar 2010):

    fantastic images, one and all

  • Simon Kossoff

    Simon Kossoff (Deleted) said (29 Mar 2010):

    Fantastic story and stunning images - every one! I am touched that my pics gave you the final prod and I am blown away by your results.. Incredible!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (30 Mar 2010):

    I always been a fan of square format. These collection of photographs and the accompanying essay is truly amazing and hope that jpg select it to be published. My vote for you, Alexis.

  • claudia luthi

    claudia luthi gave props (8 Apr 2010):

    sooooo excellent, as always, Alexis! as a huge fan of road trips I can absolutely relate to your irresistible words and images! My vote, of coyrse.

  • Didi Witchard

    Didi Witchard gave props (16 Apr 2010):

    my vote Alexis! congrats on your road trip and very insipiringly beatiful photos

  • Pascal Fellonneau

    Pascal Fellonneau said (25 Apr 2010):

    Tu es vraiment trop fort

  • Cristina Cocullo

    Cristina Cocullo gave props (10 May 2010):

    My vote! I really would love to see it published! Great photography!

  • Devin Hayes

    Devin Hayes gave props (19 Jul 2010):

    Perfect everything.. Great story/photos Alexis

  • Al Stiegman

    Al Stiegman   gave props (28 Jul 2010):

    Great sotry Alexis, love the images.

  • Nicolette de Joncaire

    Nicolette de Joncaire   gave props (31 Jul 2010):

    Magnifique série. My vote

  • Chloe Sandoval

    Chloe Sandoval said (1 Aug 2010):

    I hope I could do the same thing in the near future. I love your wonderful adventure and the photos are great. You have my vote.

  • Michael Risenhoover

    Michael Risenhoover (Deleted) gave props (3 Aug 2010):

    Awesome story and wonderful images Alexis!

  • Meggie Schwendemann

    Meggie Schwendemann gave props (4 Aug 2010):

    Yes wonderful images !!! Rad :)

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