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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 8:58 PM
tmnt mask tmnt mask is offline
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High desert/Low desert desolation

the california high desert is strewn with small towns in remote areas that pinned their hopes on the mineral industry but inevitably gave out to the harsh desert conditions. some are abandoned and some are just hanging on by thread like the one i took photos of below. Trona is a company town named after the mineral there (trona) located on the dry searles lake.

this is a typical scene in trona where junkyards line the highway


one of the two main facilities where industry minerals are mined and extracted. its the sole employer in town and the only reason people still live there




















you can smell the brine coming in from the highway. it was a cool 60 degrees when I went, but I can't imagine being here in the summer where temps exceed 110F, combined with the stench from the dry lake and all the sulfur, borax and soda ash from the plants
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 8:59 PM
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the next morning i drove out to the pinnacles, a unique set of geologic formations 10 miles outside of trona.









the sheer emptiness of the desert is probably what I enjoy most about driving out there




more examples of abandonment in california in lucerne valley and barstow, 70 miles south of trona




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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 9:00 PM
tmnt mask tmnt mask is offline
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After trona--in the high desert--I went down to the equally desolate Salton Sea--in the low desert. the differences between the high and low desert are really only apparent to ecologists, physical geographers and geologists. it looks the exact to any other observer including myself. the transition of the high to low desert occurs at the very lovely joshua tree national park:



after i took the pic above i accidently knocked over my tripod and broke my GND filter so I had to make HDR pics which I dont like doing. if you google image search for HDR images you see a lot of overstylized pics to the point where they dont even look real. i generally hate that kind of photography but i think these came out alright. some you cant even tell they are hdr


not hdr


but hdr or no hdr, the colors were rich. no enhancement here, the sunsets out here are truly brilliant


at this point about 12 cars had pulled over to take shots of the sky colors. one guy felt the need to put on U2's Joshua Tree as this was happening. normally i'd roll my eyes at this, but I was happy at least some people were enjoying nature and reveling in it in their own way.


and thats not to mention the fantastic star show joshua tree puts on at night. joshua tree is a mecca for southern californian star gazers. im' still figuring out how to take night shots so I didn't get a lot of pics of the sky at night.


sunrises are not to be outdone either. cholla cacti:


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Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 9:02 PM
tmnt mask tmnt mask is offline
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Lake Tahoe is California's second biggest lake and easily its most well known, a famous picturesque ski resort in the sierras. California has a bigger, lesser known lake out in the colorado desert--the salton sea. the salton sea is an environmental disaster, ringed with completely failed resort towns. the sea was created in the early 1900s when the colorado river overflowed and broke through mismanaged irrigation routes filling up the salton sink with water in the course of two years. a salt mining operation that existed in the sink before the flood caused the newly formed sea to be polluted and much more saline than the ocean.



Because its fed by agricultural runoff, the sea rises as falls unpredictably. this doomed the planned resort towns throughout the 50s. the abandonment is flooded at the shore, and the infrastructure and homes covered in brine


the sea is ringed with these dead fish




irrigation and agriculture make up the population around the salton sea


these are from neighboring Slab City






one of several abandoned resort towns on the sea, Salton Sea Beach


bombay beach




if you look at a map of salton city you'll see a sizeable street grid. in reality these were just surveyed. the sea was already a failure before many of the streets were finished being built




salton sea was a bad investment from the start. I visited this place before, in the middle of august. It truly is a hell hole in the summer. the air temps here go up to 110 F in the summer. the humidity from the sea makes these towns unbearable. if the stifling heat isn't enough, the brine from the sea gives off a terrible odor. imagine being in a bathroom where a hot shower had been running for an hour, and combine that feeling with the smell of a homeless man and you sum up the conditions at salton sea in the summer.


still, salton sea supports abundant bird wildlife as its a major stop on many flyways for birds, so the sea has become an environmental cause as there have been attempts to desalinize it, though much hasn't been accomplished yet
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Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 9:17 PM
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Very interesting thread and a big WOW for the pics
Thanks for sharing
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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 11:05 PM
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Fantastic photos. Spooky, but beautiful. Thanks for posting.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 1:27 AM
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Wow, what a thread! Very cool. Nice avatar, btw. I'm a big Jenny Saville fan myself.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 5:24 AM
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Great pics.
I remember driving through the general area on I-10 and I-40. It was June and about 115 degrees. It's super-harsh country.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 7:57 AM
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Wow! AMAZING photos! Very fascinating places. Thanks for interesting, informative captures aswell. I love the photo with sunrise+cacti.

"Prayers changes things" - that's just heartbreaking in this context...

BTW, I agree with you on the HDR. But your pics turned out great, not artificially looking.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 10:25 AM
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Love this!!
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 3:40 AM
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Absolutely beautiful photos tmnt mask... Welcome to the forum! Wow, I love the high and low deserts of Southern CA and the few abandoned towns scattered throughout them. This has got to be one of my favorite threads. Thanks for the narrative too.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 11:32 AM
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Great photos!
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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 2:44 PM
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great pics, thanks. yeah, the overdone HDR look, i don't like it either. but subtle HDR, i do like.

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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 9:05 PM
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Nice pics. I'm pretty familiar with some of those places, you definitely did them justice.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 10:08 PM
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Fascinating photographs. Thanks for the background information. When I visited the Salton Sea ten or so years ago, it was in much better shape. My friends and I camped near the shoreline for a couple of nights and had no issues with foul odors, dead fish, etc. Apparently, it has really deteriorated since then. It saddens me to see the condition it's in.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2009, 12:24 AM
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Awesome, and creepy photos (at least some of them), though not as creepy as your avatar.
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