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Cultural Mirages

Route 66 and the Mojave Desert - A Photography Workshop

Friday-Sunday, February 6-8, 2015

Click here to view images from a prior workshop

The Trip: Yes, yes - stay home. Sit on your couch, watch your television television. Limp along, during the first days of 2015, in the slow lane of your life. Or grab your photo gear and your sense of adventure, and travel with us to a melange of fascinating locations along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. 


Transportation: Private vehicles, carpooling where possible.

Accommodations: Instructors are staying at the Sleep Inn, in Barstow, California. Participants may stay anywhere - there are many motels in Barstow - however, the Sleep Inn (formerly the Holiday Inn Express) is clean, the rooms are comfortable, there is a meeting room, and breakfast is included both mornings. If you plan on staying with the instructors, check with Dave first, as we are working on a group rate. Note: instructors will arrive in Barstow by 2 p.m.

Trip difficulty: None, conducted at a photographer's pace. While we will have to do a bit of walking, most of our photography can be accomplished just yards from the car, along Route 66 and adjacent roads we'll travel over.

Contact Dave Wyman if you need help with travel arrangements/transportation to Barstow.

Trip Instructors:

Ken Rockwell is a talented photographer as well as the creator of his well-known web site, Ken's website is an amazing and constantly evolving compendium of thoughtful and thought provoking essays (some would say controversial), photography galleries, Photoshop lessons and detailed test reports about camera equipment. Ken is engineer by training, he has an artistic eye, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge and definite opinions about photography. He has fully embraced digital photography, and is equally adept with 35mm, medium and large format cameras. He's conducted photo tours for many years.

Dave Wyman has conducted photography tours and workshops since 1982. His photographs and articles have appeared in various publications, including Backpacker, Cross-Country, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, and Sierra magazines. Dave, who lives in Los Angeles, is the author and photographer of two pictorial guidebooks, Backroads of Southern California and Backroads of Northern California. He's conducted workshops to Route 66 each winter for many years.

The desert is littered with the haunting presence of failed dreams and lives filled and unfulfilled. Our photography field sessions, centered along old Route 66 east of Barstow, will include the detritus of human incursions in the harsh, desert environment, from sleepy or even abandoned communities (and their attendant architectural details), to junked cars and tin cans. Maybe we'll photograph a two-legged desert rat or tow, and of course there are those sun-blasted highways leading into the past as well as the present. reflect


Meanwhile, the natural scene is home to volcanic craters, mountain vistas, unexpected pools of water, and bizarre salt flats. Over the course of our weekend, we will explore a landscape that exists as much in the mind as it does in any physical sense, a landscape that we will transfer into digital and  film images. The instructors will probably haul along their beloved medium format film cameras, as well DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and digicams.

Participants are invited to bring digital, 35mm and medium format cameras, too, and color or black and white film. Photographers of all levels will benefit from this hands-on learning experience in travel, nature and documentary photography.

What Image Quest Photography Will Provide:
- Instructors
- Guided field sessions to a variety of public and private locations
- One group meal, snacks
- Evening sessions (bring some of your own images to share)
- Help with carpooling
- Driving instructions, maps
- A chance to share your photos with the group online after the trip ends

What You Need To Bring:
- Clothing for warm and cool conditions, including hats for sun and cool temperatures
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Money for meals (first dinner, Friday night, is included)
- A sense of adventure
- Camera equipment (see below)

What We Will Explore Along Route 66:
Exposure techniques
- Creative composition, including when and how to break the rules
- What to carry in a nature and travel photographer's camera bag
- Lens selection, including zooms and close-up gear
- The truth about tripods
- "Must Have" filters and useful accessories

Weather: Should be mild, but be prepared for warm and cool temperatures, and although we'll be in the desert part of the time, even rain. Dramatic weather, if it comes, can enhance photography, and if rain comes, we won't cancel the trip.

The Itinerary: We tweak the itinerary each year, depending on weather, group dynamics, etc. And a good itinerary is like a good light meter - just a starting point. This year, our group will meet in Barstow on Friday afternoon; arrive by 2 p.m. for introductions and some late-light photography. We will stay in a comfortable motel in Barstow, California, and we will head out that evening for some night photography (neon lights and whatever else we find). On Saturday, between Barstow and the little community of Amboy to the east, we'll photograph abandoned buildings, junked cars, old gas pumps, bizarre salt works, rail yards, neon signs, a crater (including lava tubes) and the desert landscape, and we may have special access to locations on private property. On Sunday, after a morning session a few miles from our motel, visit the Route 66 Museum, and then we'll head west to photograph lots of locations along Route 66, including the whimsical "bottle farm," where we will officially end the trip, about noon. At that point you can follow Ken and Dave down toward the lowlands and back toward Los Angeles, or head east if you're returning home in via Las Vegas, which is about 2.5 hours away from the bottle farm).

Camera Equipment: This is the trip to bring it all along - super wide angle lenses, telephoto optics, filters galore, CF or SD cards, three kinds of film and at least two camera formats. Digital or film cameras (35mm and medium format) are all welcome. However, if the truth be told, a basic digital or 35mm camera with one lens will work just fine during most of this photography workshop. Two filters for aficionados: the polarizer, and the 81A or 81B warming filter (the latter more for film photographers) will allow saturation of colors and keep a blue tone out of photographs made in the shade or under cloudy skies.

Bring enough CF or SD cards for digital cameras, as well as a battery charger; some cameras require more than one battery to last through a day, some survive on a single battery. Make sure you have enough battery power.

Film Considerations: If you're into the true spirit of Route 66, you might want to bring a film camera. Bring any sort of film, color or black and white, print or transparency. The lower the ISO, from as 25 to 100 with slide film, 200 to 400 with print film, the better the color saturation and image sharpness.

Higher speed films, such as ISO 200 to 400, allow you to more easily hand hold your camera. Faster films, to a slight degree, do not as accurately record color or hold image sharpness as slowspeed films. 

Tripods: Good for low-light photography, including our night sessions (weather permitting), and early morning and early evening, as well as any indoor locations where we might find ourselves. Tripods are also a way to ensure the sharpest possible images from our cameras.


Bring Your Own Photographs: If you like, bring your own photographs for critique, or simply to be enjoyed by the group. 

If you have digital images, you can bring them on a CD and we'll show them on a digital projector or a computer monitor.  Or show them on your own laptop. If you have prints you would like to share, bring them.

About our accommodations: Dave is setting aside rooms for our group at the Sleep Inn Motel (formerly the Holiday Inn Express) in Barstow. Contact Dave if you'd like to stay with him and Ken.


Note: this will be a hands-on experience. There aren't any classroom sessions. Participants, Ken, Dave and Richard will be able to spend some significant time together over the course of our travels along Route 66, and we will  all learn from each other. When we are indoors, usually at the end of a day, we'll probably pull out the laptops, or an external monitor or digital projector, and look and talk about photographs. Above all, though, the emphasis is on making artistic, meaningful and contemplative photographs. And on this trip there is the ability to make photographs from dawn until well past dark, from the time when the first rays of the sun touch the landscape until we've explored ways to photograph the neon that lights up the darkness.

Meals: We'll enjoy one groupo meal and be around places to eat at meal times in some enjoyable and memorable locations.

Cost: $375. Deposit: $100 will hold a space. Full payment is due by January 15.

: $100 charge. No refund if you cancel two weeks or less, prior to the departure date, unless another person signs up. 

How to register: Send payment to Image Quest, 1164 Alvira Street, Los Angeles, CA 90035. Or you can use the services of, should you prefer to register via the Internet (if you need help using paypal, contact Dave Wyman) - make sure space on the trip is still available before using paypal.

Contact Dave Wyman with any questions.


At the Bone Yard

The photographs appearing on this webpage were made on Image Quest photography workshops.

The Image Quest Home Page 

Barstow "Mother Road" Route 66 Museum

Email Dave


Shot Count Totals by Participants - 2014 Route 66 Workshop