Just like the old days...

 Some favorites from the past month of shooting the Fridays Rainshadow project. 

As the desert heats up I find myself heading out later in the day and shooting after the sun goes down. Just like the old days..




Work a little quicker...


Its some time ago now when I stopped 'waiting' for the light here in the USA and here's why.

After driving around all day looking for things to photograph you are tired and loosing motivation- You set up and wait for the light by which time you have usually changed your mind about the shot- Then light arrives and is not what you thought so now you are in a right mood and you have wasted a whole day- Or, you turn around for a moment to check that stray dog is not going to bite you and when you turn back the magnificent light has vanished and you have wasted a whole day.

Chasing the light may be a little more stressful, but its often a lot more rewarding. All you need to do it work a little quicker...


Nowt there..

Sadly no poppies this year in the Antelope Valley sadly due to lack of rain and snow. But still a beautiful place to visit, peaceful and still (although often very windy).

The quest continues...


What remains.

 It had been five months since I photographed parts of the Bobcat fire aftermath and I was intrigued to see how the landscaped now looked.  

Sadly, despite the grey ash now replaced with small flowers and grasses due to the irony of now fertile ground, the trees and shrubs were very much still black and very dead. For some reason I thought the trees may somehow survive and blossom once again.  (Something I have seen happen with Joshua trees. )

It seems fitting, given the name, that the once lush green area around the Devils Punch Bowel in the Mojave now resembles a hellish looking landscape of burnt black trees. 

I felt pretty sad during my time there, but felt it important to record what was in front of me. 

April 2021


Hundreds of years a go a man made a box with a hole in it...


Memories of an Unblinking Eye.

 Its been a real joy doing night visions on film again and a real throwback to the early 2000's and my first book Night Vision- Intimacies of an unblinking eye..

Due to the lack of sensitivity from film exposures are much longer. But in those minutes, rather than seconds with digital, more things can happen and with that comes a greater sense of achievement. 

This diner in Victorville CA was a real treat and shot just before they opened.



Just add Water.


Just Add Water.

To the viewer it may seem that I just wander around with a big camera taking pictures (my wife's words).  But behind the image/s there is always a story of how each image, or an entire project, came about.  

The idea of Fridays Rainshadow came about completely by chance after a mountain drive and rediscovering a film camera  I had not used for 15 years. After what could be described as a desert epiphany, I began to research the Mojave Desert and discovered all kinds of interesting places, and areas I wanted to visit. As the project grew, so did my research and knowledge about this unique area.

As I told the tax man, as part of my research I was intrigued to watch, Just Add Water. A delightful film set in Trona, a place located in the Searles Valley in the greater Mojave area, on the fringes of Death Valley. Having been to Trona several times in the past, usually on my way back from Death Valley, I knew it only as a place you drove through, or stopped for gas. So I was interested to see how the film depicted the area. My memories of Trona were all but forgotten before watching the film, but before the end I was all set on making the 3 hour drive out there a few days later. 

What I couldn't get out of my mind was how badly the town of Trona was depicted. Surely the place could not be as bad as it looked in the movie. I certainly did not remember it being that bad... Well my friends, maybe a year of covid changed things, but,  I can say without a long afternoon shadow of a doubt, that Trona is actually worse than you can imagine. This place makes the Salton Sea look like it did before the flood (you might have to research that). 

I have always been fascinated by these places. But it does not come without an air of sadness that people choose, or have no choice, to live this way. Its so different from anything I know. But looking past the car wrecks and burnt out houses, the people I met were happy, content and loved living there. 

As the light faded and I hit the road, I saw the surrounding Death Valley in all its glory. And then I realized why you would choose to live there....



More dawn raids..


Another cold dawn raid in the desert, although caught slightly off guard by the clocks going forward (who knew). 
I often get fooled into thinking that setting out early in the AM means there will be no one around, but I couldn't be more wrong. 'What on earth are they doing over there!' I ask myself, but of course they probably say the same of me. Apparently everyone likes a burger at four in the morning...

I had intended to check out the scrap yard below after capturing part of it in my profiterole vision last week. Unsure what I would find, I was  pleasantly surprised to find a joyous scene behind the big fence.  Struggling to get some height,  the owner very kindly let me stand on his forklift (his idea, not mine..) Thankfully no bones were broken, but I did rip a hole in my Abecrombie and Fitch jacket of 20 years, which was annoying...


Places strange and quite.


The diversity of the Mojave continues to inspire me, this time heading east.



When I first started photographing the desert I often wondered why people would live out there. 

There you are driving along a dusty road with nothing but the odd Tumble Weed crossing your path. In the distance you see some kind of homestead with a rusty truck parked out front and perhaps a small water tank and a scabby dog. As you draw closer its still difficult to tell if someone actually lives there. Is is abandoned? is it accessible? Is it dangerous? (see dog) And then you see the signs. Any kind of Keep Out signage and I just keep going. I have no desire to trespass on someones property, even in the middle of nowhere. But that's not to say I won't peek through the fence. This particular homestead was interesting due to the threats of being shot (which of course is not legal in the state of California and I am certainly no threat.). But just looking got me chased down as I left in my little car. 

I should add that I would not blame anyone for questioning me. I mean a 6'1 baldy white man with a big camera in the middle of nowhere is not something you see everyday.. But its always the same:

Angry Person:

 "What the @<)%^& are you doing on my property"  etc, etc. (not on property)

Me (sounding like Hugh Grant): 

"Well hello. I'm just doing a few photographs out here in the desert"

Not so Angry Person:

"What for?"


"Well we don't have anything like this in England where we are from.... "

Friendly Person:

"Oh, I'm sorry about that. You have a nice day..."

Thankfully no one shot and I went on my merry way.

                                                            STAY OUT STAY ALIVE



The Long Road...


Mojave. January 2021
 I spoke with my best old friend this week who has been documenting our home town for many years. We began our photography journey together, both just 'strange' young boys with cameras exploring back streets and the oddities a small town brings. We both applied for the same college, that extra A Level got me in, but sadly my friend was left to continue his hometown quest while I took to the northern coast and beyond...

                                                                                Paul Reid. Cumbria, 2021

After a little reminiscing my good friend told me he was pretty much done with his project which spans more than 25 years.  I think if I had stayed I would probably of done the same thing...



 Another fine morning in the Rainshadow finding hidden things past forgotten. 

Sometimes there's just too much to photograph...


Straight and narrow is the way...



Another insightful exploration of the Mojave early AM.  

I drove around for two hours in the dark only finding something to photograph once there was some light. 

Even with GPS its tricky finding your way in the desert darkness due to not having any reference points, just blackness.


 I am a traveler passing through the earth, as all my fathers were....

Beach Towel. North Shores 2008/09


Crossroads at dawn...

 Another AM outing this week with a drive through the dark, cold desert. Originally I had a gas station planned for my shot (thinking I could find it my memory) but got completely disorientated in the void and ended up at this cross roads (below). The dawn was breaking and it seemed like a good idea....



Long night images..


Managed to get out and do some night (very early morning) and early light shots which is something I have not done on film for a long long time. 

I had forgotten how much more involved film is under not so ideal circumstances, and lets not forget the long exposure times... I also came to the conclusion that a panoramic mounted on a tripod is basically a long large format camera...


Up and up..

Friday's Rainshadow continues with a trip up into the mountains. 

Just when I thought I had finished with an area, I found more interesting content. 

Despite it being 50 degrees difference in temperature it was well worth the effort.


 Just beautiful light and a natural landscape. 

A few editions to my Fridays Rainshadow series.

Joshua Tree 2020