Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Out West: The Salton Sea

Let me start by saying this, the Salton Sea was a mistake, an accident, an ecological mishap. It's a floodplain, that in 1905 flooded and never dried up. This is because in the early 1900's they dug irrigation canals to divert water from the Colorado River, and when the river swelled and flooded after an above average rain fall the floodplain flooded creating the largest lake in California. This seemed all well and good for a while. In fact hordes of people flocked to the lake in the middle of the desert to enjoy all sorts of recreational activities. They vacationed here, they built summer homes and resorts here, they made a life around what was advertised as a miracle but was actually a time bomb.

It didn't take long for the lake which had no outflows, to fill up with saline deposits from the Colorado River. This led to a salt content higher than that of the Pacific Ocean. To make matters worse, agricultural run off was also filling the lake with pesticides. The fish didn't stand a chance. They died off in the millions, leaving the banks littered with rotting fish carcasses. The lake had become toxic, and the tourists had left. People abandoned their summer homes and RV's. The Salton Sea and it's dozens of resorts, motels, and beach side communities were left to decay in the desert sun.

This is what compelled to me to visit this place. It was six or seven years ago when I first saw photos from the Salton Sea, and I'd been dying to see it for myself ever since. I shot as many photos as I could but none of them can even begin to describe what the Salton Sea is really like. Being here is a surreal experience, one that I'm anxious to return to. 

I have so many photos from here, including dozens of 35mm and 120 film photos, so look for a Salton Sea film post sometime next week.

Photos taken with Canon TL QL, 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.5, using Kodak Gold 200, and Fujicolor Superia 200 film.

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