The Salton Sea Excursion

Today I am going out to the Salton Sea for the first time since moving to CA.  There is so much history, lore, myth and legend about this once wonderful California destination.  It's not what it was 30 years ago and has become a shrine of decay to days gone by.  There are so many stories about the Salton Sea that I don't need to go into them here since this is a photography blog and not a history blog.  But, in short, the Salton Sea is a man-made lake in Southern California just south of Coachella, Palm Desert and Palm Springs.  From LA, it's about a 3 hour drive.  I have been wanting to get out here for a number of years after seeing some incredible images of the Salton Sea from the '80's and a documentary on the sea made in 2004.  The decay and abandonment seen here remind me how precious life is and also reminds me of a different time in history.  Unfortunately, most of the are around the Salton Sea is completely abandoned, neglected, decaying or, at the least, already dead.

An abandoned trailer at the Salton Sea

What's the purpose of going here, you ask?  Well, I don't really know.  I just like things that are weird, strange, historical, unique and interesting and this place has it all.  I am not sure what to expect but I am taking a break from my recent shoots to have some Seth (me) time.  I am loading up my Mamiya RZ67, along with 6 rolls of film and a couple of lens.  I did buy a 25A Red Filter to use on my film (only using B&W film) so I can pull out the sky and make it as dark as possible.  I am taking my Neutral Density filter as well so I can shoot here during the midday and into early evening.  I am also taking my new Fujifilm 210 Instax camera for some fun shots.  I had to get this camera because it reminds me so much of the first camera I ever had (Polaroid One Step).  I love shooting film but grow weary of having to develop my own B&W film.  I have become spoiled and lazy with digital camera technology.  I don't have to slow down, compose a shot or think about anything before I press the shutter release (I do pay attention but I am using this analogy to talk about how easy and lazy digital has made a lot of photographers).

Here's the stuff I bought at Freestyle Photo for my trip. Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo.

In fact, if anyone new photographer asks me for advice about getting started then one of the first things I tell them to do is to get a film camera and learn from shooting slowly.  Film forces you to slow down because every release of the shutter costs money.  Unlike digital, the only costs are up front with the camera, batteries and CF or SD cards.  Once you have those then every subsequent exposure is free.  Film doesn't afford us this luxury.  Every time you release the shutter you incur costs associated with film, developing, scanning and cataloging.  Film just forces you to slow down.  So, I am taking an opportunity like my Salton Sea excursion to slow down, scout, explore and shoot with no preconceived agenda.  Two of my friends are going with me to shoot as well so hopefully we can find some great moments to shoot and see at this historical but dilapidated site in SoCal.  I think it's a good idea to slow down and focus on seeing what's around you that may make an interesting image.  After all, good photography requires us to "see" on a regular basis and remember any monkey can push a shutter release button.

This abandoned motel has since been razed and no longer exists in Salton City

Once I get the images developed and if they're good or interesting enough then I will post them here for you to see. SH

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