Exploring the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain



Caitlin on still water

Another from the archives, but a worthwhile one because it was one of my first model exploration shoots. Alex and I piled in his car, along with our lovely model Caitlin, and drove the three plus hours out to the Salton Sea, where none of us had ever been. It drew me because I continue to be fascinated by the intersection of past and present and Salton Sea has many areas that are almost completely abandoned.

For those that don’t know, the Salton Sea was a hot spot in the 1950s. It was basically another equivalent to Palm Springs, but full of boating activities. However, because of increasing salinity and pollution levels in the lake (due to a number of factors, including agricultural runoff), the lake became more and more of a hostile environment. Fish died out and people virtually abandoned all of their vacation homes as they couldn’t be sold. Now, those that live out there likely do so for the complete isolation and solitude. If you’d like to read more about the history of the Salton Sea check out this article.

So, for us, the idea was to shoot Caitlin in late 50s/early 60s garb in one of these abandoned houses by Bombay Beach. What first hits you is the smell. It’s rotten, baking fish. There’s really no nice way to put it. It doesn’t smell good and, obviously, the closer that you get to the shore, the worse it is. But, you do get used to it. Which, honestly, I’m not sure is a good or a bad thing.

We shot for about an hour and a half in the heat, moving from building to building, and Caitlin was a fantastic sport. Afterwards, we had to take a trip to the wonderfully weird salvation mountain. Located near Niland, CA and built by a local resident, Leonard Knight over the course of about 28 years, Salvation Mountain is an offering of sorts to God. It is folk art in its purest point and absolutely worth a visit.

Below are some images captured on the adventure.

#SaltonSea #SalvationMountain #Adventure

Barcsay photography logo-3.png

All images © Katherine Barcsay