Drive Through The Salton Sea
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By Hilly Collective
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Saturday March 25 - Sunday March 26th 2017:


Quick photo / road trip to PALM DESERT & SALTON SEA:

DAY ONE... I experimented with some double exposures on the Mamiya 7II, which is a medium format film camera. Medium format is a film size that is substantially larger than the familiar 35mm. A roll of 120 film shoots ten frames with the Mamiya and the negative is 6x7, which resembles a large boxy rectangle. The Mamiya 7II has a double exposure switch on the back that allows you to shoot multiple pictures on a single frame. Its really fun to experiment with double exposures as you never really know  what you'll get. When shooting two frames on one, it’s good to stop down one stop on the first shot to prevent overexposure. The favorite shot from DAY ONE was a double exposure of some palm trees and the surface of the pool. I primarily shoot black & white film, maybe because I see things in black & white. This trip I thought some color would be good in the desert. It’s funny how different films have different personalities!  For the desert landscape, I choose to shoot color film specifically Fuji Pro 400H. This film has a faithful color tone & soft contrast.


DAY TWO... I packed up and headed East on Highway 10… destination, Salvation Mountain, which  is located in Slab City, 75 miles East of Palm Desert. The minimal baron landscape and empty desert are great backdrops for shooting and exploring. From the 10 East you take Hwy 86 to Hwy 111. Hwy 111 is a two lane Highway that divides two landscapes... the desert on one side and the sea on the other. The freight trains pulling brightly colored shipping containers are a nice contrast with the monochrome desert. On the other side of the Hwy, the remnants of abandoned retail space, mostly liquor stores, seem to blend into the cracked landscape of The Salton Sea. Nothing seems to survive here except the Ski Inn Bar at Bombay Beach. Its been in business since the 1960's and is the lowest elevation Bar in the Western Hemisphere. They proudly announce that fact on the outside of the Bar. Bombay Beach is as dead as the fish that lay at 240ft below sea level. Riding through Bombay Beach, I came across a guy who was riding an old BMX bike, towing a small sail boat. I had to stop and talk to this dude. I think I startled him because the liter of coke he was carrying on the back of his boat fell off when I approached, and it started spraying everywhere! His name is Dave, and he was the only living soul I saw in Bombay Beach. He is a simple man that seemed to be very content living off the grid. Dave was riding to the north end of the Salton Sea, where he was planning on hanging in his boat for a couple days. His journey may have been a little different than mine, but we both seemed to be enjoying the solitude & peace that you can find in the desert. The ride from Bombay Beach to Salvation Mt. is roughly 30 min. Salvation Mt is a colorful oasis at the entrance of Slab City, a place used by recreational vehicles and squatters. It’s name originated from concrete slabs that remained from the abandoned Marine barracks. Salvation Mt is surreal... it feels like you are in the board game Candy Land. It's a happy colorful shrine, hand made with plaster and who know what else. You find encouraging Bible verses quoted all over the landscape, giving Glory to God Almighty. I'd like to take another trip out to Slab City, to visit and photograph the squatters who call this place home.


Thanks for reading!


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