Road Trip Photography – some lessons to learn

Road Trip Photography – The Joys of Road-tripping

Ah – the lure of the road… Pack the car – key in ignition, fire her up. Get back on the road and genuinely slow down to see the sights as you pass. (Ignoring the honking horns and fists being waved from the ute behind). Find somewhere to stay – unpack and unwind at leisure in new ‘plush’ surroundings. Explore. And then rinse and repeat for just as long as you can. So exactly where will you be that evening, and what time you will arrive are likely secondary to the endorphin rush of the whole shebang. Never forget – the luxury of the roadside accommodation.

And then there is the Road Trip Photography vs Landscape Photography side of it. Us critters need to use the best light – that’d be oh-so-conveniently locked-in one hour before and after dawn and dusk. Just when you are feeling your best. No distractions from nice warm bed or interest in what’s left in your glass then, eh? Oh, and plan and do your location homework..

And must remember it’s a holiday – me and Mrs B. Well-earned I might say. Well, of course I would.


Let’s tell the tale of Day 1…

We left Berowra early – but not too early so it wasn’t rushed. Nice warm bed and all that. We hit the F3 going north in a deluge, and were planning on Denman/Merriwa/Dunedoo all as probables with Jerrys Plains and Sandy Hollow as possibles. We arrived at Denman. Nice Main St – a couple of funky options – petrol bowser in the pavements and a huge cactus growing by the servo. Yes you did read that right – a bowser set on the pavement. Coffee service was delayed so I walked back to the car (sigh –‘always carry a camera’ says who?) and grabbed a few shots. The sunlight came and (mainly) went behind clouds. Largely non-descript clouds that don’t pay the rent in photographic sales.

Hmm, flat-ish terrain then followed us on the road, and it was all very nice. However, at no point did I feel the need to stop the car and jump out to quickly ‘grab the shot’. (any photographer’s partners, will I assume, be sighing and pulling their hair out when reading and relating to this). Note this point.

Merriwa we knew had an Art Trail silo (was really nice) – and no matter how nice the pies were for lunch, that was it for captivating photo options. Landscape, urban, or otherwise. We found nothing else.

The Art-Trail silo at Merriwa – well worth a detour…

So – onward from lunch. No real wins thus far. Jerrys Plains had been a drive-though. We knew Dunedoo also had an Art Silo.

I finally hit gold in Dunedoo, not at the Silo, but I found an old deserted motel. Lovely clouds, and a pleasant way to spend half an hour wandering around, camera in hand, Mrs B in the car catching up on some texts.

Deserted Motel – Dunedoo. Not actually the sort of image I will put on my web-store but I do really enjoy capturing scenes like these.

And then the terrain really got flatter as we approached Dubbo. No disrespect to Dubbo, but I suspect less landscape photographers retire there than say, to Byron Bay or Broken Hill. We were looking forward to the unpack, unwind at leisure (see paragraph 1!) and all that.

Ah, a nice cup of coffee, sit down, and then I suggested a walk around to wear off some of the sitting down we had done all day. We opened the motel door – to

A most magnificent burning sunset sky!

Can’t beat that for a sky, eh? And how about that foreground…. This one might not sell too well

OK – now at this point I realised just how a good old-fashioned road trip (with or without partner/family) can play out. I was:-

  • In the middle of town. I hadn’t really got my bearings due to a slower than expected drive and Google maps always under-stating journey times
  • The surrounding terrain was flat-as. I had seen no landmarks on the way in
  • In a word, stuck

Laugh or cry? Laugh of course…. I grabbed the camera (against my own advice I didn’t bother with the tripod ) and went for a walk toward the local park with Mrs B. The best shot I got was of the motel, just leaving the grounds. By the time I got to the park (200 yards away) the colour was fading – and there were few trees to provide any good image components.

So here you go, five minutes of panic later, and this was the ‘hero’ shot


My, dinner was good tho, eh? (didn’t take any photos then either)


There is no moral to this tale. No real learnings. I have stopped every 15 minutes or so on other roads. Patience is the landscape photographers greatest asset.


Thanks for reading this far

Andrew Barnes – the Travel Photographer / Road Trip Photography

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