From Long Island to Los Angeles: A Travelogue

BY Taylor Rebhan

Shinola gave photographer Danny Moulton a cache of travel goods for his cross-country move from Long Island to Los Angeles. Here, he shares the stories behind his snaps—and how to capture the most from your own adventures.


It’s a stunning vista. And a reminder that so much of what we love about photography is viewed through those off-the-beaten path, pull-the-car-over moments.

Front and center, the eerie blue glow of photoluminescent pigment radiates against dunes and sandstone bathed in moonlit shadows. Above, a milky swath of galaxy cuts through Utah’s midnight sky, punctuated by dazzling pinpoints of starlight.

These photos take hours of planning and precision to compose, right?

Quite the opposite. If there’s one thing photographer Danny Moulton knows, it’s this: The perfect picture rarely, if ever, follows a perfect plan.

For Moulton, this iconic shot started when his desert Airbnb fell through.

“It was probably one of the creepiest experiences I’ve ever had,” he laughs during a recent conversation. “A dirt road leads to a dirt road that leads to this ranch. There’s no cell service, it’s pitch black, there’s all these broken-down structures, this dog starts barking and chasing my car, and the sand is so thick I’m wondering if I’m going to get stuck.”

Moulton was on the final leg of his cross-country trip from Long Island to his new home in Los Angeles. Along the way, he had picked up a package of travel essentials from Shinola. After photographing his way through farmland, plains, and dunes, he was alone in the desert wondering where he was going to sleep for the night.

“The owner finally showed up and said it hadn’t been cleaned. I said, ‘you know what, forget about it.’”

Moulton hopped back in his car and retraced his steps to a visitor’s center at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park outside Kanab, Utah. There, he met a mother and son on a reunion camping trip. “They were the kindest people I’ve ever met. They had reserved two camping spots and said, ‘use this other one.’” He pitched his contingency tent and tried to settle in.

But it wasn’t long before his mind turned back to his craft.

“’It’s 12 a.m.,’” he thought to himself. “‘Should I go back to the dunes with the watch that glows in the dark?’” He knew it was a far-out idea, but decided to do it.

He grabbed his camera and the Shinola White Hurricane and headed into the dark desert. Working quickly (“I don’t know what kind of animals roam these dunes at night!”), he grabbed a rock, set the scene, and got the shot.

“I took two or three photos.
It wasn’t a comp, just a single image. A ten, twenty second exposure. The lume and the
stars worked perfectly.”
Picture perfectly.


From dusty country roads to endless green farmland to warm pink sand vistas, Moulton captured the incredible breadth of what the United States has to offer those who hit the road. Along the way, he reflected on the truth of Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken philosophy. “As much as I tried to plan what I wanted to shoot, I just couldn’t do it because I hadn’t experienced that land or those sights before,” he explained.

For aspiring travelers looking to document their adventures, Moulton encourages a spirit of simply asking why not? “I tried to get mood-boards going with all the popular locations, but a lot of the standout photos came from these places that not many people really even talk about, which was so beautiful.”


Another one of those moments came when Moulton decided to abandon a Point A to Point B road trip mentality and check out some of the trains that dotted the rural American countryside. This was a solo trip, so to capture a Shinola Traveler Duffel in action, Moulton would need to sling it over his own shoulder and model himself. Capturing his train-hopping moment took a literal leap of faith.

“I set the camera on a continuous shooting mode and ran up to the train. I’m climbing on the side of these trains like a western movie. I’m hopping back and forth, hoping that I get that perfect in-the-moment shot.”

The energy and verve in Moulton’s photographs reveal a truth about travel and adventure.

The stories you remember most

are the ones you least expected

—so be prepared. And have an

open mind.

Next up for Moulton? An underwater camera housing rig that he’s hoping will open up a whole new world.

We can’t wait to see it.

See more of Moulton’s work at www.dannymoulton.com, and follow him on Instagram at @dannyoutside.

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