I could have chosen more mainstream places to visit and shoot on this last trip to California (first trip in 40 yrs). However, I remember being in complete awe when I saw a few shots of the area by a photographer I follow. I had to ask “where is this?” He was quite surprised that I was so oblivious of the existence of such a place…. Let me explain (for those who, as I, have no idea), in a nut shell Salton Sea is a bit of an environmental disaster. Through a series of events involving water flowing into the lake that shouldn’t have and then agriculture and government creating more issues for the area…. Has led to this body of water in Southern California to be extremely Saline… More saline than Salt Lake… but at one point folks thought this would make a great place to vacation, getaway from the city and such. Investors put a chunk of money into the area, marinas, subdivisions, the whole schmear… alas, the water ran out… mass fish and wildlife die offs caused people to dump and run… leaving behind… so much of everything. As the lake has continued to contract, fewer and fewer people reside in the area. Now, a ghost town… ghost lake, with a few eccentric, rugged individuals and families keeping the lights on.
Perfect opportunity for me to take pictures! We left Palm Springs late afternoon… and I questioned whether we would have enough evening light to take pictures but I wouldn’t be deterred by a mere lack of light. We first ended up in Salton City, not much there, save wasted streets and vacant subdivisions with a few burned out houses… it wasn’t what I had expected (ahhhh we must remember to limit our expectations lest we be faced with disappointment). With the sun already tucking behind the mountains we decided Bombay Beach would yield what I was looking for - only 45 mins away… You know as well as I that a sunset waits for no one and certainly not for 45 minutes. But we were here and I wasn’t going home empty handed. We got to Bombay Beach with the last glows of sunlight. Ever confident of my Nikon, RAW files and my tripod, I hoisted my pint sized model onto the decrepit ramparts of the marina…(working on a project- sneak peak that ) With wind flowing over us, I began to snap away. Knowing I would have to tease the light out of these files. We continued over to the remains of boats and ships… ghostly, in the now dark. We dusted up a few local kids hanging out but I didn’t fear the eerie darkness. When shutter speeds reached 3 seconds I decided to pack it in… leaving the rest for another day, another year perhaps another decade….
Our Lessons: Even if you do some research on an area… do a little bit more. Reduce expectations but have a clear idea of where you are headed.
Lastly, tripods are awesome… don’t just carry them around.