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Tanguy et Mathis, two photography enthusiasts present their United States adventure!
Since our early
youth we have dreamt of the American West landscapes and at the end of 2019, with support from Quechua, we lived
an experience rich in encounters and full of pitfalls.
Both photography enthusiasts, we took on the challenge of the wintry
conditions in an environment generally explored by photographers in summer.
For two student engineers, you would think that such a trip would be planned out to the minute but that wasn't our case.
We obviously had an overall route in mind and places we didn't want to miss but the rest of our daily scheduling was done day to day depending on our encounters and the weather conditions.
This is exactly the experience we were looking for: take in as much of the place as possible and be guided by the discoveries made along the way.
Despite the weather conditions, the van experience seemed obvious to us as it would give us the flexibility to change route and be close to nature.
Of course, it goes without saying that living in a van of less than 2 sqm and nights of under -13°C is not relaxing but it's part of the American West experience.
The equipment provided by Quechua made the road trip at this time of year perfectly bearable so we could take advantage of the extreme weather in places for our photos.
The aim of the trip was to visit the iconic city of San Francisco before crossing the Californian national parks and arriving in
Los Angeles for our return flight to France.
We planned on taking a detour through the Sierra Nevadamountain range, the wonders of the Nevada desert andUtah and of course the Grand Canyon.
The winter period proved to have a double advantage:
On the one hand, the parks we visited weren’t busy, landmarks were nearly deserted even during the day, and access roads to
hikes and viewing points weren’t jammed.
On the other, the landscape was dramatically different to the post cards we are used to seeing.
What is more impressive that a sunrise over the iconic view of Monument Valley in the snow?
Badwater Basin, the lowest point below sea level, is dry for most of the year due to the extreme temperatures in Death Valley.
By going in December, we were able to capture it with a thin, endless layer of a few centimetres of water.
This was an ideal spot to photograph and we could play with the basin's reflection in our photos.
Throughout our adventures, we met photographers who, like us, had come to capture the American West, as well as Americans
familiar with these places.
In Sequoia national park, we spent an hour walking in the snow to reach a tunnel made by the sequoia itself that had fallen on the track.
On site we came across a couple of local hikers who told us they felt like they were rediscovering the place and that thewinter completely changes the look of the parks.
Of course the trip wasn’t relaxing at all.
Sunrises and sunsets are the perfect times for the best conditions for landscape photography.
This is how our days went: we would watch the sunrise in an iconic location then hit the road to continue on our journey to reach the next spot by sunset.
Once night had fallen, we looked for a nearby location for the sunrise next morning or park the van and we made the trip at this intense and sustained pace.
It was at the end of the trip, in the Mojave desert after an amazing sunset, that we ventured to unpack the tent and sleep under the stars.
Passionate about video as well as photos, we took the
time to film the highlights of this adventure.
Rhythmic music, beautiful colours and creative transitions and you have this great video :)
Even before departure we knew that this experience would be
great and memorable for both of us: the choice of timing combined with the desire to experience a road trip meant that we made the most of our photographic trip.
But it was just a few weeks later when we realised
the opportunity that we’d had to experience this adventure at that
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, neither of us
expected to be stuck in France without being able to go
travelling again for such a long time.
We became aware that our recent trip was the greatest taste of freedom and
adventure that we could hope for before such a crisis.
We can't wait to cross the American highways again!
Photo credits Mathis Decroux & Tanguy Kerhuel