• Kevin Blackburn

RT50 Lessons learned on a test run

The new Taco befor the wrap along RT 50 on a day trip in WVa.

Ok, so there will be any number of these styles of BLOG posts where they are more on the technical or lessons learned from a functional standpoint; this is just the first.

Back in October 2019, I did a test run of sorts for this project. I had a lot of technical questions on camera mounts for the car working from the car day after day using the drone how to record my thoughts for later posts and a possible book and so forth, and so on, all this masked the real reason for the trip! After many years of corporate B2B photography, can I still be a journalist? I wasn't sure I had what it takes, could I see something or someone interesting or exciting and approach it or them and start and conversation and create images to tell a story. Good news is I convinced myself I do here are a few of the more technical lessons learned.

  1. Test runs of a project this size are ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA!

  2. If I do this right, I really can self-fund it. I am accepting donations and will not turn down any help. This project and the idea of a six week straight through shot will not work for the budget, nor will it work for the story I want to capture. I am going to need to revisit places and people in different seasons to get the work I want.

  3. I have to be 100% focused on RT50 when I head out to work on the project. I can not fit in commercial gigs along the way I guess this is my ADHD, or it is the artsy-fartsy side of me that gets into the mood- mode as they say and commercial work pulls me out of the mood or mode

  4. I want to shoot it as much as possible in B&W. Why? for a few reasons one it helps me create better images without the distraction of color. I am using mirrorless cameras so I can see in B&W as I shoot. Also, for the viewers taking color out, I feel B&W helps people dig deeper into the work when they are looking at it. Plus, it just seems to fit the project to me.

  5. I need to reprogram my brain to remember to shoot not only video and interviews but B-Roll as a Still shooter for over 20 years this will take some effort.

  6. I am going to as much as I can avoid the significant metropolitan areas to photograph. I know this seems like I am only doing half the project, but wait, there's more. The list of significant hubs is as follows, Ocean City, Washington DC, Winchester, Parkersburg, Cincinnati, St Louis, Kansa City, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Lake Taho, Carson City, and into Sacramento. Now I am sure I missed a few significant towns but here's the thing. On my test trip, I found that I could cover more ground and meet more people in more rural areas. Also, I grew up in primarily rural areas my entire life, so it is to some degree what I know. But most importantly, the large cities well each of them is a story of their own, and I think that is precisely what I will do after the major RT 50 project is completed or at least 80% there.

  7. I am going to camp or stay in mom and pop hotels as much as I can part of it is cost part of it is giving back on a very local level part of it is I think it is more interesting.

  8. I need a new ride. I knew this, and yet I did not plan for it. I hoped the old 2009 Nissan Muran with well over 200K mile on it could make the trip but no such luck thanks to a hit and run driver in GA on I-85. I now have a brand spanking new 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro four-door for the project and a huge car payment to boot hence the camping to save money this being a self-funded trip and all.

  9. The project is not going to be easy, but the fact is I am almost 46, and I have had a blessed career so far, and I need and want this so damit I am going to find a way to make it happen.

  10. I have been on RT50 for commercial work and other personal travels in the past, and I will include images from these trips if I think they fit IE Shots from ST Louis from 2008.

  11. Yeah, so it has been done. There are a few books out there and travel guides to RT50, but they are not what I am creating Heck back in 1996 Time magazine put a group of photographers and writers on a Bus for three weeks and sent them across RT50. Good story but still not what I am after, and the fact is the first and foremost reason for this project is it is for me. I need this for my creative soul. And as the saying goes, it's all been done but not by me and not my way!

  12. This idea started in 2011 in 2012 I thought it would be cool to do it on an election year when I thought I saw a window in 2016 to start the project I decided I did not want to do it during an election year because I did not want it to become about the election. So now, in 2020, an Election year, I have the time and the plan and some money to finally start the project. Well it is up to me to not make it about the election!

I am sure there will be more stay tuned.

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