Ghosts in the Wilderness – Abandoned America & Great Plains

Ghosts in the Wilderness – Abandoned America & Great Plains

Just returned from an absolute stunning and amazing photo workshop with UK based Aspect2i to Montana & North Dakota. This has been probably the most exiting, mind blowing workshop I ever attended. It has been an amazing group of attendees together with our leaders Paul Gallagher and Michael Pilkington.

  • This is what you can really call a road trip: we covered 1720 miles = 2768km in 9 days
  • We travelled in two big 4×4 GMC trucks (with a lovely burbling V8). We were 7 photographers + Paul and Michael
  • The Great Plains I always found fascinating (despite never having been there before) especially how to capture the vastness in a photo
  • Even better on Day 1 (after arriving the previous evening) it all started with heavy snowfalls. We got several more across the next days. Temperatures most in the -15°C to -25°C. Having heavy snow fall across several days it felt often more like my Aspect2i Hokkaido trip in 2018 when we also had blizzards for several days. So I am still wondering how to group the pictures.
  • But it has been really the locals who left a strong impression on me. While shooting often besides a road locals would stop to ask if one is ok or any help is needed or simply interested in a chat why we would shoot old abandoned school or church building or other building.  You would never get this here in Germany someone stopping if one needs help. Speaking in diners/petrol stations or sport bars to the locals gave each of us unique insights. Villages only existing with 4 remaining old men, a farmer who has no TV since 60+ years and probably spoke to us more than in the last couple of months altogether, farms ranging from 7000 to 50.000 acres, talking with the old local school teacher who knew all the “younger” locals. The I had a long conversation with a group of 3 oil drillers and an engineer from the railroad company working on emergencies being on the road regularly for 1-2 weeks etc pp. Their honest interest if someone needs help, curiosity, warmth has been really an amazing experience. An Colorado based business man traveling confirmed this calling it: David this have been the real Americans….
  • Two churches unfortunately no longer existed and were only a pile of rubble

Some initial photos with just some initial processing. Photos definitely still need some fine tuning, especially regarding the toning/colour temperature.  While traveling the Great Plains I thought I would also like to try and capture the scale. So it is a mix of being in a snow storm, big scale landscape and abandoned houses.
Having seen some emails in my job inbox there might be not much time during the next weeks. So here we go with a first selection.

To enlarge a picture simply click on it.

The following pictures were taken on the road side where we saw a beautiful line of gnarly trees, could have been Hokkaido as well



But we also had some blue skies!

There were also some more modern buildings, not the ghosts we were after but now only a few men are needed to operate those grain elevators…

There are 6 comments

  1. Viveca Koh

    So many terrific images here David, I have lots of favourites but especially appreciate the very minimalist captures of this vast and beautiful landscape. Not easy to capture the sense of scale as you mention, but I think you’ve done so well. I also love the very delicate colours, some barely there but just hinting at their presence, plus the close-up details of various elements with their fascinating textures. I’ll really look forward to seeing more of your images whenever work allows you to process some more.

  2. admin

    Thanks Viveca for your kind words and feedback! Much appreciated! Still figuring out 1 or 2 different approaches on the look and feel I like to give to some unprocessed ones (where there is blue sky)… want to continue with the space/airiness. Less see where this gets me…

  3. Martin Addison

    These are really beautiful images David, they bring back so many great memories of our trip. They are processed beautifully to bring out the feeling of what it was like to be there in the cold weather. I haven’t looked at my photos yet, but if they will be as impressive as yours I will be well pleased. So many gorgeous images.

  4. admin

    Thanks Martin, James and Edi for your kind feedback! There are plenty of additional lost places/ tree shots. Need to see when I have time to work on this, might take a bit as work crazyness has taken over fully at the moment.
    Best David

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