Ghostly Spirits – Salton Sea

Ghosts- Fish Out Of Water
Ghostly Spirits – Fish Out Of Water

I have finally finished processing my Fish Out Of Water series. This series represents my impressions when visiting the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea is a complicated place. It is not entirely man-made and not entirely natural. As the Salton Sink, it would fill and evaporate about every 400 years (they believe). In 1905, the perfect combination of nature and man, a wet winter and broken agricultural canal, flooded the area and created today’s Salton Sea. In the 50’s this area was to be the next playground oasis in the desert. However the sea continued to evaporate, salt concentrations increased, and nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff  caused huge summer algae blooms. These conditions led to a annual summer tilapia die off which pretty much put a kibash on the summer water fun.

When visiting the sea, you cannot escape the sight of dead fish at various states of decay. At the northern ends the fish are mummified and nearly whole. As you move south there is more decay. Ghostly Spirits is from an area in the middle where fish get covered with mud and slowly dissolve. Here, however, they appear to be crawling out of the earth.

What to make of Bodie?

The Cain House Past
The Cain House Past by I Nancy, on Flickr

There are advantages and disadvantages of being married to a raving railroad fanatic. The advantages is that he loves an adventure and anything involving trains and railroad history. The disadvantage is that, even when you are on an Eastern Sierras fall color trip, the historic gold-rush town of Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, is one of the first stops on the trip. Go to Bodie, go directly to Bodie, do not stop and take pictures of the flaming mountain scapes on Conway Summit, do not dally in the yellow and orange Aspen forests or creekside on the many canyons and creeksides, do not collect 200 photographs.

But the weather was incredibly photography friendly for our afternoon jaunt to Bodie and my husband drove the dirt roads which, though shaken and rattled, our trusty silver Prius managed just fine.

As I walked the streets I started my visioning process, a process I learned through the writings of David DuChemin’s Within The Frame series. David talks about creating a mental checklist of all the things you feel and observe at your photographic location. Bodie is an odd town and a microcosm of California’s gold-rush history. One of the largest and most successful gold mining towns in California. At it’s height, around 1880, it had a population of ten thousand people, hundreds of saloons, and was renowned for its lawlessness. It is a town of bitter winter cold and dramatic summer heat. The boom was short lived and began a stead decline from 1881. In 1932 a fire, fabled to be started by 2 1/2 year old “Bodie Bill“, destroyed over 90% of the town.

It was cloudy enough to provide that big softbox-in-the-sky effect but with just enough patches of blue texture to capture dramatic patterns. The builds have an undisturbed patina and in a state of “arrested decay”. I wanted to capture the notion of Bodie still inhabited with each building alive telling the stories of its dramatic past. With a wide-angle lens, and some judicious HDR,  here is my approach to breath life into these structures so that they can tell us their story in their own words.

No Sermons Lately
No Sermons Lately by I Nancy, on Flickr

Woodie Showcase – Time warp

Woodie Showcase
Woodie Showcase by I Nancy, on Flickr

Life doesn’t always give me opportunities to shoot street photography, sometimes I have to settle for car shows or nature.

This image was taken at the Santa Barbara Southern California Woodie show and as I continue to look at this image, I think I want to go back for more. These vehicles have so much character. Here I wanted to take you back in time. You are in the back seat, necking if you will, but something is not right. What are all these woodies doing staring back at. You are caught in a time warp.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

There are always surprises lurking in your past photos. This image taken December 2010.

This was from a sunset outing in the Alabama Hills with my good friends Jerry Koenig, Connie Wade and Mike Sugar. The light was quite low and I was a bit worried about being able to capture the images I wanted. When I think back, however, this is the perfect lighting for this location.

Over and over we hear the admonition to look for good light. What is good light? I had always thought of good light as interesting light, and interesting light was something that created highlights and shadows. In this situation, however, the good light was flat light. The rocks themselves provided all the texture I needed and the sky, well, talk about a gift. Previously, I have only been at this location during dawn and after dawn. At dawn you are fixated on pointing your camera west-ward to get just the right light on the lower Alabama Hills and the Eastern side of the Sierras, like the image below. However, once the sun is up, as you can already see in this image, the shadows begin to form and, with nothing to diffuse them, they create problematic obstacles in this rocky landscape. This image above, however, was taken after the sun went down. It turns out, all  I needed was the contrast of the rocks to the sky to make this area sing.

Lone Pine Peak

Ready to Ride

Ready To Ride
Ready To Ride by I Nancy, on Flickr

In mid January my buddies and I set out for Death Valley. Between Los Angeles and Death Valley are the Trona Pinnacles and between Trona and Death Valley is ghost town of Ballarat. In the 1960s, Charles Manson and the “Manson Family” of killers moved into a ranch south of Ballarat and this truck is said to be theirs.

In contrast to my images in Keeler, where I choose to illustrate the decay with gritty B&W, here I chose to amplify the character of this town with wide angle and gaudy HDR. It was a beautiful day with a scrim of clouds. This truck called to me as I spent most of the time we visited here working to capture its unique character.

A Parting Glance at Camp Keeler

Camp Keeler #14
Camp Keeler #14 by I Nancy, on Flickr

A final glance back at the derelict Keeler Camp. I’ve created a set of 14 images which hold together in theme and processing which you can visit on my Flickr site. I hope to visit again and get some new angles and different season. Perhaps a spring-time visit will bring green grasses and wildflowers to the scene?

Some more images of other parts of Keeler will be heading up soon.