Saturday, March 6, 2010

Drive By Time Travel

It’s inevitable. As anyone who fancies himself a photographer traverses the nation’s roads, countless photos will whiz by at 85 (wait…no…) 65 MPH. Despite my rather stubborn attachment to film, I feel it should be noted that this is where digital photography really gets the gold star. If I see something that I want to attempt to snap from the car window, there’s nothing lost if it doesn’t turn out. More importantly, otherwise missed opportunities wind up getting captured, where I may not have risked the cost of film and processing otherwise.

During a last-minute decision to head over to Phoenix, there were several instances where the long stretches of California and Arizona highways struck me as so incongruous with the stereotypical idea some may have of these places. I don’t imagine I’m alone in the vision of the endless megalopolises of California and Arizona. Here however, less than one hour outside of Phoenix (which seems to double in size every time I visit), I found myself clicking window-shot after window-shot of what seems like another place and time altogether. Super-cities aside, it does remind me that I do in fact live in the Old West.

The open spaces and crude fencing blur the usually distinct line between the modern life we know today and the drastically different world of less than 100 years ago. The two times, places and mindsets meld together seamlessly here. While the modern truck and graffiti do a little to keep the shot from being out a scene right out of 1910, the speed implied by the barbed wire fence is what completes the connection between then and now. The speeds at which we so casually travel everyday were nearly unimaginable such a short time ago, and yet for all of the advances like this, we find that some things are best left unchanged. It’s almost as if to say, “all your advancements do is complicate an older way that worked just fine. We had it right the first time.”

Of course, given the choice, I suppose I’d rather make these trips with Starbucks, Fiji water and Wireless Data coverage pretty much the whole way. Perhaps, it’s good to remember that simple ideas and the complexities of modern life are really just meant to complement each other. When the world starts to overwhelm, the old west is just a cell phone call’s time away.
travel time farm rural tractor truck graffitti california arizona phoenis modern life old and new tm t m cleland photograpy

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  1. Dear TM,
    Thank you for stumbling across my BLOG and making a comment. Much appreciated. I have now visited your BLOG and things have resonated with me. The contrast between modern and old profoundly experienced outside the big cities, in your latest post. This is something also experieinced here in rural/outback Australia.
    I wish you well with your BLOG!

  2. Many thanks and best to you as well, Kathryn.