Eye Scene: Photographer, Ryuichi Oshimoto Travels with Sigma Camera & Lenses
Title Photo: A white church and the surrounding palm trees.
A scenic view that can been seen on a coastline, a town located 40 miles south to Mexico, this was Ajo in Arizona. Ajo means garlic in Spanish.
From California, I drove east on Interstate Route 10 and 30 miles before reaching Phoenix, Arizona, I get onto State Road 85 and head south. The first time driving on this road, the land was fairly flat all across. Beyond Interstate Highway 8, there was a roofed structure and a sign reading 32 miles until Ajo and 71 miles until Mexico. I walked under the tin roof and surveyed the vast land and sky where the US Air Force practiced bombing. Sonoran Desert, part of southern Arizona, is also part of the National Wildlife Refuge in conjunction with the US Air Force National Historic Site.
The tin roofed structure that looked like a bus stop or a gift stand, stood alone in the desert.
I see an RV in the background. In order to escape the freezing winter months, many reside in warm southern Arizona for longer term stays.
The map and message carved into the metal plate was difficult to read with the sun reflecting off of it.
The two rusty poles supporting the sign were more well-built than necessary and I felt this land was special.
Lowering the saturation, the presence of the rusty pole and the colorless metal plates were increased.
Camera:DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec, Aperture: f11.0, Focal length:24.2mm
On this day, the clouds flowed through the vast sky. Using the built-in flash, I hid in the shadows of the sign and focused onto the approaching city.
Running south on State Road 85 and arriving in Ajo, the vacant roads began to fill up with gas stations and motels. I decided to stay at the second motel I saw. I was attracted to the green paint on the motel walls because it seems soothing against the dry land. After paying and receiving the key, I headed to Plaza, as recommended by the young woman at the front desk. Plaza was in the outskirts of the town, but it was only a quick run there. There were two beautiful white churches in the town square.
Beyond the palm tree, the blinding white church can be seen.
The white church was beautiful, but the street sign also had a distinct presence.
From the Plaza past the white church, I headed southwest over a hill and after seeing an abandoned copper mine, I went south on Route 85 and onto Darby Well Road.
The copper mine known as New Corneria was once the third biggest in the nation.
The naturally made looking crater called the Open Pit is 1.5 miles in diameter and 1100 ft deep.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm
I wondered whether this equipment hung over Route 85 was the remnant from the abandoned copper mine.
The fisheye lens was used to envelop the massive landscape and turned to monochrome.
Entering the dirt road, the landscape seemed like a state park. I see a few large RVs parked near the cacti in the Sonora desert. As I took a break, a elderly couple who had been here in the desert for a few days came up to me and let me know about a beautiful cemetery.
Commonly seen in Mexico, this is the only area in America where the Organ Pipe Cactus can be seen.
A friendly elderly couple walks through the desert.
On the unknown land, the two taught me the joy of communicating with other travelers.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm
When I arrived, there was a family with their young child who was visiting. As I was leaving, the young father said, “Excuse me! Could you please shut the gate when you leave?” So as I was told, I shut the lockless gate and left the cemetery.
In the cemetery surrounded by cactus, there were many white tombstones.
Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:16.6mm
The dirt road looped around and eventually became a paved road and by the time I returned to the town, the sunset was close by.
Walking around behind the Plaza, I saw the simple life of the residents of this town.
From a distance, I used the large aperture telephoto zoom lens to capture this shot from an outsider’s point of view.
The white church that was dazzling during the day, was greeting the sunset.
Lowering the saturation, an end of the day at this quiet town was represented.
When the pitch-black sky started to slowly turn red in the eastern direction, I saw the bright lights of the Border Patrol vehicle from the other side of the road. I passed through the checkpoint without being stopped. I went to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to greet the sunrise. Driving south on State Road 85, I headed to Lukerville, a community by the Mexican border. In the early morning, there were barely any cars going to Mexico or the US and the gift shops were still closed. I went to buy coffee at the only opened gas station.
Traveling without a passport, I couldn’t go to Mexico, so I turned around and headed north toward the business center in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. More than half of the cars passing by were Border Patrols. After watching a movie about the Sonora Desert environment by myself at the business center, I headed northbound and passed through two checkpoints. At the checkpoint, I was asked simple questions like where I was from and what reason I was visiting for. I informed them that I was there to take photographs and pointed my camera on the passenger seat.
Mexico is on the other side of the fence. Mexico’s blue skies were no different than Arizona’s sky.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm
Arriving at the visitor center, the park ranger was about to hoist the American flag up.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100,White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 24.2mm
After leaving the National Monument, I arrived at a small community called Why and ate at the restaurant there. When I asked the waitress about the origin of the town name, she claims that the road connecting the east of Tuscan and the road leading to the border of south of Mexico is split into the shape of a “Y”, but in truth she was not sure and laughed it off.
The Mexican cuisine I enjoyed at the community, Why, near the Mexican border.
Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec, Aperture:f8.0, Focal length: 16.6mm
Returning to Ajo, instead of driving back on State Road 85, I drove north on a local road on the outskirts of town. Among the dry land with little greenery, I saw a golf course so I stopped by. In the restaurant at the golf course, laughter from a cheerful group of elderly people echoed throughout. The place seemed like a happy retirement home that complemented well with the blue skies in southern Arizona.
Returning to Ajo, the gates to a sign-less factory attracted me.
Using the EF-140 DG external flash to tone down the background, a mysterious factory was represented.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec, Aperture: f10., Focal length:24.2mm
A rustic golf course.
Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100,White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 16.6mm
At the exit of the parking lot at the driving range, there was a sign that read, “Adios Amigo.”
Without returning to the center of the city, I said goodbye to Ajo, a town near Mexico, and headed north.
The poles supporting the sign were painted green and made to look like cacti.
Using the large aperture lens to photograph the white wooden sign, it created a textural surface that photographed realistically.
All artwork on this page was processed from RAW data (X3F) with Sigma PhotoPro software. After processing, some selected images were imported into retouching software to remove dust. This photo essay is currently running on Sigma Japan’s site and it is published here two months later.