TIPS FOR LOCATING GREAT PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH

Historically posts have covered my photography experiences at specific destinations.  Many of these destinations have included well known iconic places.  Today, instead, we are going to take a look at how I go about locating great places to photograph, in particular the lesser known destinations.

This week I begin my trip from Tucson, Az and Jacksonville, Fla and have decided to research great places to photograph close to the Interstate 10 route. Having allocated about a month to complete the trip east, I should be able to visit a number of places. 

My Route:

Yes, that is quite a bit of country to research as you can see from the above map.  However, I will be breaking my research into 200 mile segments since that coincides with the distance I normally drive when towing a trailer. I have not decided if I will take the northern or southern route between El Paso and Alabama yet. It will depend on weather conditions and what I decide to photograph.

Before I begin my route planning, let me refer new readers to Tip 2 of the following blog post: 10 Tips for Planning Photography Trips.

My First Stop Is Deming, New Mexico. 

It is 216 miles from Tucson and has an Escapee RV park with reasonable prices. 

Using the tools I mention in 10 Tips for Planning Photography Trips, I typically research places to photograph within an hour and a half driving radius of where I camp.  I call this process spoking, just like a bicycle spoke.  

Deming Spoke List:

Silver City 

  •  A Mission
  •  City of Rocks State Park between Demming and Silver City
  •  Gila Cliff Dwelling- (High on my photo list but over 2 hours so it’s too far for this trip) 
  •  Overall downtown architecture

Las Cruces 

  • Mesilla for architecture
  • Organ Mountains for landscapes.
  • White Sands National Park is just a little northeast of Las Cruces.

The area around Deming definitely offers plenty of photo opportunities. But is this the right time to photograph any of these places? Here is where research becomes important in not only identifying great places to photograph but also knowing the right time of year to photograph particular destinations.

My Research Process

Be sure to check out Great Apps for Landscape and Travel Photography Planning where I review a list of great apps I used when researching places to photograph.  Today, for purposes of brevity, I will only go through my process for researching the Organ Mountains. 

Researching pictures of Organ Mountain

 Google Earth with a look at Rabbit Ears in Organ Mountains.

Next I determine it is a sunrise to morning shot that appears to be best photographed when the sun is in the southern sky. I may need to do more research to confirm this.  

Photopills:

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I use Photopills for photo planning, and have no affiliation with the company.  The app is wonderful but can be a bit overwhelming so start with the Planner before incorporating it’s other functions to avoid frustration.

Using the Photopills planner, I look at the sun angle this time of year on the Organ Mountains and in particular Rabbit Ears.

Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise and Moonset Angles from the Photopills App:

 

Looking at the location of Rabbit Ears on Google Earth and the angle of sunrise from Photopills, I decide this is a good time to photograph Rabbit Ears so it is added to my list of stops along my route.

Continuing East:

Now it’s time to hook up the trailer and drive another 200 miles east which will take me through the city of El Paso.  By the way I hate driving through El Paso, especially towing a trailer!   My trailer may be small but it sure seems big on it’s tight crowded interstates and would rather be in the wilderness.

A picture of a Lance travel trailer at Gooseneck State Park

 

El Paso

I already know of the following two places I want to photograph: 

  • The Socorro Mission
  • House of Sugar

I repeat the above processes for these and other locations as I head east to explore some great photography places 

Thanks for joining me on another Road Trip Friday.  (well it’s Sunday but we will pretend).

Update May 5, 2020

When I wrote this post my plans were to begin my trip east.  However, a few weeks before I wrote this post, I had badly injured my right foot, particularly my fourth toe.  The pain when driving, walking or trying to sleep was excruciating.  So I delayed my trip for what I expected to be a day and went to an urgent care center for an X-rayed.  The pain had me concerned about my ability to drive 2000 miles.

 I was in for quite a shock.  The doctor who looked at my X-ray told me not to even walk on the foot without crutches and to see an orthopedic surgeon immediately. In fact she got me in to a doctor within 2 hours. My toe had a complete diagonal break over the bottom half with a fracture extending into bones in the foot as well as soft tissue injuries to the foot and she cautioned me that I was likely to need surgery.  

After meeting with the orthopedic surgeon, the doctor decided to put a soft cast on my foot for 4 weeks to see if it would heal.  During that time I was told to do nothing, no driving, no walking, or anything except what was absolutely necessary to avoid surgery.  Complete healing would take over 8 weeks or longer.

Needless to say I did not leave when scheduled.  Then just as I was able to hit the road, Covid 19 reared it’s ugly head.  I was trying to make a mad dash to Florida but only made it to Texas when the shelter in place order came.  I secured a monthly site at a Texas RV park and have been here ever since.  Sadly, I will have to save all my  I- 10 photo stops for another trip as 2020 just has not been a great year so far for any of us.  Thankfully, my foot has healed and I am in a safe place so I should not complain. Still I badly miss traveling the open road with my camera.

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