I recently embarked on an epic road trip across New Mexico, Arizona, and California - an adventure that felt like something that Thelma and Louise would have approved of. I’ve always been fascinated by the landscape in this part of the United States and dreamed of photographing it. The desert inspires me; I love seeing the soft colours and detailed textures that can emerge and thrive in such harsh and unforgiving conditions. Some people perceive this part of the country as bleak, but I see it as a blank canvas full of possibilities.
I took along the Leica CL on my journey. It’s the perfect camera for travel because it doesn’t make you choose between documenting moments and being present for them. So often, camera equipment takes time and effort to set up. But the CL is compact and incredibly easy to use, which allows me to shoot in a very relaxed manner and still get high-quality photos. What impressed me the most was how beautifully it captured colour. The desert has such a unique palette, and I was pleased by the CL’s ability to capture the delicate hues of desert sunrises and sunsets. It also worked well in the harsh and often unforgiving midday light.
One of the highlights of the trip was a stop at Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border. I initially worried that the valleys and sandstone towers that looked so regal in photos would not live up to my expectations. I was wrong; they are even more majestic in person. Another memorable detour took place in Oatman, Arizona, a former mining village along Route 66 that today has a population of just 128. I wandered ghostly streets that looked like something out of a Western film, lined with saloons and even a lonely post office. Joshua Tree National Park in California felt similarly eerie with its peculiar flora and desolate plains that stretched on for miles.
Road trips have always been my preferred mode of travel. I love being in control of when and where I stop, and of having the freedom to shoot at my own pace. The CL was small enough to comfortably wear around my neck while driving. And as soon as something sparked my interest, I was able to pull over, jump out of the car, and snap a picture. It was an important reminder to me that photography doesn't always have to be challenging. It should be fun. And sometimes, the best pictures happen when you're enjoying the magic of the moment.
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