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11.30.2011

Eye Scene: Photographer, Ryuichi Oshimoto Travels with Sigma Camera & Lenses

Large tractor trailers bustle about the Interstate Freeway 40 (I-40) on my left and the BNSF Railway runs across my right. I drove in between the two on a narrow road, heading in the western direction. There was little traffic on this local road, situated 20 miles east from Tucumcari, New Mexico. There was no indication or evidence that this road was once known as the Mother Road of Route 66. Camera: SD1 + 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec,Aperture: f8.0 Focal length: 40mm

Starting from the southeastern area of New Mexico, I drive north on US Highway 285 and enter the city of Roswell. Glancing at the trinkets and toys at the UFO museums and shops, I realize this is the city of Roswell, famous for its UFO incidents. I wasn’t uninterested in UFOs, but without stopping, I stayed on the highway and enter Country Road 20. Driving along on the endless grassy field, if a UFO decided to descend from the gray skies there would be no place to hide and suddenly longing for human contact, I stepped on the gas.

County Road branched off of Highway 285. Feeling as though I was being monitored from above, I rushed to get to the next destination. Pointing the compact digital camera in front of me, my emotions were carved into the photograph. Camera: DP2x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/600 sec, Aperture: f10.0 Focal length:24.2mm

Driving north for 40 miles on County Road, I arrive at Fort Sumner and I slowly drove east on the town’s biggest road, Sumner Avenue. On an old motel terrace, an elderly man in a white cowboy hat sitting in a big chair watches me while I drive by. Behind the run down gas station, I hear children playing. I only saw one car pass by me on County Road and although the town seemed deserted, I could still feel the presence of people.

The welcome sign was a nice greeting when arriving at Fort Sumner. Taking a shot of the tilted sign, the camera captured the thick cloud and damp air. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/800 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 85mm

The tire wheels shines brightly among the crumbling gas station. Opening up the aperture, the background was blurred beautifully and the presence of the wheel was naturally emphasized. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec,Aperture: f4.0, Focal length: 85mm

At a corner of an intersection, a street sign lies on the ground in front of a gas station. When did it fall and when will be fixed? No immediate action was necessary in this town. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM,Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance:daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec, Aperture: f8.0,Focal length: 26mm

I decided to schedule my plan of action according to the list of interest points written on the sign, but I had to leave the car to see it. Increasing the saturation and contrast, the inconspicuous sign under the cloud skies was emphasized. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 26mm

Heading southeast on Sumner Avenue, the road merges onto Billy the Kid Drive, which eventually leads to Fort Sumner Park. Even I was familiar with the Billy the Kid name. A museum about the outlaws of the western frontier was built there. I wanted to stop by, but Fort Sumner Park was in my line of sight. The parking lot was empty and when I entered the magnificent Bosque Redondo Memorial building, it was almost closing time. On the Bosque Redondo Memorial website it stated, “The Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner State Monument solemnly remembers the dark days of suffering from 1863 to 1868 when the US military persecuted and imprisoned 9500 Navajo (the Dine) and 500 Mescalero Apache (the N’de) on a reservation known as Bosque Redondo at For Sumner, New Mexico- an area that encompasses 1600 square miles (over one million acres.)” This past May, I visited the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona. While I was there, I found out that the military had forced the Navajo tribe to relocate to Bosque Redondo. I had no concrete plans when heading north of New Mexico, but I wondered if walking on the red land of Bosque Redondo had lured me here.

A park ranger informed me when the Pecos River flooded, any physical evidence of the Bosque Redondo concentration washed away. Suppressing the sad past events and the flood, the river flow was gentle. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 17mm

This 1600 square mile area was once the concentration camp. There are no traces of it anymore. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f6.3, Focal length: 23mm

Looking closely at the Bosque Redondo land, there were ants busily moving about. The macro lens captured every detail of the ants and the various small rocks. Camera: SD1 Lens: MACRO 70mm F2.8 EX DG, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 70mm

After walking around the Bosque Redondo Memorial, I stopped by the Billy the Kid museum, but it was just closing. The man working the register at the gift shop said, “Billy the Kid’s tombstone has been stolen so many times that it’s now fenced in. It’s right around the back, so you can take a look.” I unexpectedly went to visit the outlaw’s gravesite.

On July 14, 1881, at 21 years old, Bill the Kid was shot in a home near his grave. Since the tombstone was stolen a few times, it was now surrounded by an iron grating. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec,Aperture: f4.0, Focal length: 85mm

From Fort Sumner, I drove east on Highway 60 and then north on a local road.

Along Highway 60 near Fort Sumner, abandoned houses scattered across. With some tweaking these houses could be restored to livable conditions. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 38mm

Driving through the vast landscape, rain droplets began to fall. Changing to monochrome, the photograph encapsulated the slow moving moment. Camera: SD1 Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 8mm

The evening light from the western skies leak through the clouds on agricultural land in New Mexico. Camera: SD1 Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed:1/320 sec, Aperture: f2.8, Focal length: 200mm

Staying on the local road, I passed I-40 and arrive in the city of Tucumcari. The area was already dark and I stayed at the first motel I saw. The next morning, I left before the sun rose. Going north on First Avenue, I come across the intersection of Route 66/Tucumcari Blvd. On the boulevard, there was a line of old motels and antiquated signs. I regretted staying at a major motel chain and not driving all the way here.

A cloud covered morning. The clouds partially parted on the eastern horizon and the light seeped onto Route 66. Camera: SD1 Lens:50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/30 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm

The moment the sun showed its face on the eastern horizon before hiding in the clouds again. Camera: DP2x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm

When the sun hid, it became a depressing rain-mixed day. An antique car sat in front of a popular motel. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/60 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 25mm

While driving west on Route 66, I see an old faded pick up truck. I parked the car on the shoulder and as I pointed the lens toward the subject, another car parked behind me. A personable man in his forties popped his head out the window and said, “A man who used to travel around this area became sick one day and abandoned the truck here. I thought you might be interested in the story since you were taking photos of it.” He left with a smile after.

After hearing the story about the truck, I changed my perspective and pressed the shutter extra times. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/30 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 21mm

Heading west from Tucumcari, Route 66 comes to an end and I-40 begins. Driving on the local roads for some time, it was hard to keep up with the cars on the freeway. Exiting the freeway, Route 66 began again and I continue west.

Route 66 ran under the congest I-40. Tall trucks may not be able to go through the underpass. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm

I drove on Route 66 a number of times. This sign was the most memorable. Using the large aperture standard lens, the image was burned on the sensor. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 50mm

A cemetery placed between Route 66 and I-40. I wonder who is managing this place. Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/160 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:16.6mm

A sign indicating Route 66 stands in Newkirk. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f4.5, Focal length: 50mm

Rain started to fall in the area where many old cars were parked in Cuervo. I pressed the shutter from inside the car. Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 30mm

Past the small village of Cuervo, the road thought to be Route 66, was closed down by a gate. I headed west on I-40 again and exit the freeway at Santa Rosa. State Road 156 running east was the original Route 66 as stated in a guidebook, so I decided to go back east on the road.

State Road 156 was one long straight road with a mix of drizzle. There was no indication that this was the former mother road. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 85mm

My original plan was to go on a relaxing drive through the local roads of New Mexico, but out of the blue I was on the Mother Road (the former Route 66.) Since the route has been changed many times and closed in 1985, accurately following Route 66 is impossible. However seeking Route 66 from Chicago to LA on local roads is something I would like to do once.

*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.

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