Twenty years ago, I began a voyage to photograph the American landscape with high-resolution panoramic cameras. I used several cameras for this project, including the Fuji G617, the V-Pan 617 Mark III and more recently, high resolution Canon digital cameras and an advanced panoramic device called the Seitz VR-Drive.
This epic journey has taken me all around North America. During that time I visited many historic sites and most of our magnificent cities. It has been an opportunity to learn about many remarkable locations and people. For example, I was able to travel a remote section of the Oregon Trail in Idaho. That night I camped along the trail with no sign of civilization in any direction. I also traveled the length of old Route 66 from LA to Chicago and then turned around and followed it back to California.
I met people from all walks of life and listened to their stories.
Visiting the source of the Missouri River in Montana, I reached down to taste the cold, crystal clear water, as Meriwether Lewis had done two hundred years earlier. A few months later, I found his final resting place along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee.
I spent a great deal of time in 1999, 2000 and 2001 photographing Washington DC and the skyline of my hometown, New York City. In early July of 2001, I focused the image of the World Trade Center on the ground glass of my camera for the last time. The light that afternoon was cold and dismal. As I waited for the light to improve, I thought, "I wonder how long these buildings will survive?" My next thought was, "Well, the Empire State Building was built in 1931 and it's still here, so I am sure the World Trade Center will be here long after I am gone." Sadly, I could not have been more wrong.
The light never did improve that evening, so I did not make a photograph. As the light faded, I packed up my gear and decided to head back to Oregon. I hope to return to photograph the new Freedom Tower, once it is completed.
There have been many moving moments during this long journey. However, the wonderful people I met along the way have been the greatest source of inspiration throughout my travels.
I shall end this little story with a quote often attributed to Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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I wish you the best with your own dreams, photography and adventures of discovery.