Photography at 75mph

We’ve all seen it: your friend takes a plane ride over some scenic area, then posts 39 photos from the plane. That’s right, 39 photos of the plane’s wing, with the only difference in each being the cloud formation. Long road trips have the potential for this same situation: 39 photos of the road, the dotted white line, and some “interesting” element off in the distance.

But there’s not a lot to do when you’re driving half way across the country, just you and two dogs. I had books on tape, my iPod and music CDs, but my mind was still getting bored. Plus, I was wondering what I could have to show and blog about from the three-day drive. There’s the challenge — what pictures can you make while driving at 75 miles per hour?

It was fun and challenging — and, of course, a bit dangerous. Texting, using the phone, eating, taking pictures — all of them fall into the same category: Driving While Stupid.

Ignoring that little fact, I went for the challenge. Of course, at 75mph I missed a lot of neat moments because they come up on you so quickly. But hopefully you’ll find a shot or two here that you like.

Beyond the obvious one, here are some of the challenges of shooting while driving:
• Try to shoot through an open window, for fewer obstructions.
• Vary your shots — don’t always shoot through the windshield.
• Use a telephoto zoom lens. It’s effective for closers shots and for overalls/scenics.
• Avoid shooting through a tinted window, if possible.
• Keep your windshield as clean as you can. Bug guts make for ugly spots in your images.
• You can’t critically control most things: framing, telephone poles, timing.

Without further ado, the view from Interstate 40.

Just so beautiful.

A rural scene in Oklahoma.


There's a lot of big sky country in these United States. Oklahoma.

Getting scenes like this is tough because objects closer to the road go past you at a fast speed than things in the distance.

Love the old car, too bad about that telephone pole.

mountain storm

I think I drove into this storm, which was thankfully brief. In Albuquerque.

storage bin

I have no idea what this is, I've never seen a building of this shape before. West of Albuquerque, near Arizona.


We hit the road early out of Albuquerque, so the morning light on the red earth was beautiful. The only thing interrupting the view was, of course, a casino (left).

rock formation

I love the red rocks and earth of the Southwest. West of Albuquerque.

One of the fun things of doing this is that you don't always see all the details of the seen. Trains are signs of the Old West, so it's funny to see Hyundai box cars in this scene. In Arizona, east of Flagstaff.


7 responses to “Photography at 75mph

  1. I love this game. Each time I drive back to Denver, my 20D sits shotgun. Here’s my favorite:


    Great shots!

  2. You have a wonderful eye for photography. Always enjoy your pictures thanks for sharing!

  3. I’ve traveled that I-40 corridor many times… by train.

    Taking picture aboard an Amtrak passenger train can be difficult with their windows. Usually dirty, sometimes even scratched.

    I have to put my camera as close to the window as I can to try and aim through where blemishes are few, and to avoid picking up the camera’s reflection.

    Also I am limited to one direction to photograph, unless I am downstairs where the entrances are and can aim in the other direction.

    If I’m fortunate to have access to the rear of the the train I can at least shoot backwards. But no matter what, never ever forward.

    Gallup to Burlington

  4. As a fellow interstate traveller, I have to express my appreciation. You really captured a lot of the essence of big and rural spaces in America. Love it. Though, with my trip, I was headed in the other direction (towards Georgia) so my views were less desert, more Appalachian.

  5. Neat photos, Karen! How’d the pups do on the long car ride?

  6. pseudoscholar

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Tony, I love that shot, I can see why it’s a favorite.

  7. pseudoscholar

    Elle, they were great. The second day was the easiest — they slept most of the day. The hard part is that it’s so freakin’ hot. By midday the asphalt is too hot for their feet. They’re getting along great with my mom, too.

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