Bombay Beach California Photo Tour

Bombay Beach California Photo Tour

Unlike any other beach

A place long past its hey day, Bombay Beach, for the curiosity seeker, can still hold a lot of interest. The beach itself looks like the wasted remnants of a beautiful sandy beach. Even the rock jetties and wooden posts have fallen into an eerie decay. It feels like a place that has suffered a horror, and that feeling is tangible to the visitor. Stride away from the water and come across a ghost ship, a mysterious cube suspended within a cube, and other assorted random forgotten things made into art or just forgotten memory. Bombay Beach is no longer a vacation destination, but definitely a place to seek out, experience, and then get out before one becomes part of the lost landscape.

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Abandoned Coffee Bus in the New Mexico Desert

Abandoned Coffee Bus in the New Mexico Desert

If it was open I would have gotten a hot cocoa!

I spent three hours roaming the desert in Socorro County, New Mexico on a rural land shoot. I had five properties to get to criss crossing along a 7 mile path. My very last stop was back at the first stop, where I returned to get some sunset and twilight photos of the property. On the drive in I noticed this funky colored school bus up on a small hill. After I got the shots I needed for my client, I trekked a bit across the desert and up the hill to see if I could get a decent photo of the bus. It looks to be not so long ago abandoned from the quality of the signs still, but there are shrubs growing under and around it already.

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Lake Valley Ghost Town New Mexico

Lake Valley Ghost Town New Mexico

When I heard of this ghost town near Hillsboro, New Mexico I was quite excited.  Exploring haikyo in Japan (and even here in the U.S.) was the source of some of my greatest adventures.  All of these past places were just forgotten and open for exploring.  Lake Valley Ghost Town, however, had an admission gate and a museum!  Despite this it was still interesting to see an old safe lying open in the desert, wagon wheels leaning against fences, and to listen for old voices.  It was useful having actual signs describing what each place was in a past life, even if it took a lot of mystery and imagination away.

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New Mexico True Quarai Mission Ruins

New Mexico True Quarai Mission Ruins

I have spent a lot of time in Torrance County, New Mexico lately, mostly out at rural land properties.  Recently, I had time to do a little exploring and I saw that Quarai Mission Ruins were on the way to a land photo shoot.  Near the town of Mountainair, and part of Salina Pueblo Missions National Monument, the Quaria Mission Ruins remain the most intact.  Approaching them on foot from the small parking lot, visitor center and museum, one does not expect the towering opening once passing through its main doorway.  I marveled at all the stones and was told by the ranger on duty they were not quarried, there were enough just lying around on the ground to make that great structure!  

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Photography Tip - search your archives for photos you make like now

Abandoned train car in Tampa, Florida - Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 200 1/2500thI have been going through my photography archives from the past three years looking for images to update my various portfolios with.  While looking for specific types of photos, I also found random photos that I had never edited, never given any attention to before, that for some reason now catch my eye (see above train photo).  This gave me the idea for . . . 

Photography Tip -- go through your photo archives to find hidden gems & to see how your photography tastes have changed


Not only may you find that what you think is an interesting photograph has changed, but if you have greatly improved your digital photo editing skills like I have over the past few years, you may find that you can save a photo that previously was left for the scrapheap.  

Go through your archives this week and see if you find a forgotten photo that you now really like or even love.  Post a link to it in the comments below! 

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  • Rainbow Springs Zoo Haikyo Ruins

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mounted

    A recent trip to Rainbow Springs proved to be very fun, and also very fruitful for photography (waterfall, landscapes).  The most unexpected find of the day was a zoo haikyo.  In our excitement to go swim in the cool waters of the spring and escape the monumental Florida heat, we totally missed the posters at the entrance showing the history or the springs.  Now they exist only as a swimming hole and a gift shop.  However, when the springs first opened in 1934 it was an entertainment complex as well, complete with a monorail and the aforementioned zoo!  All of that closed in 1973.  We saw no trace of a monorail, not that we knew to look for one at a time.  The zoo haikyo was baffling to us as well, since we were just walking through the forest looking for the waterfalls, and all of a sudden cages and iron bars.

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mountedAt first it was even hard to tell the place was a zoo.  Around a corner a small sign saying this place was a zoo confirmed it.  I do not think many modern zoos construct the cages out of such natural elements like stone as they did in 1934, but then again, not that I frequent zoos as I view them as prisons, but I guess modern zoos have mostly done away with barred cages or confined areas.

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/5th tripod mountedThankfully these cages will house no more animals, and have not for a long, long time.  So long in fact that tall trees have sprouted right in front of a former viewing area.  As one often wonders with haikyo, why were these structures even left behind?  Could not the stones walls be used for something else?  Perhaps the owners wanted to preserve the historical heritage of the springs.

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/2 tripod mountedBeyond the regular cages, further into the woods, things got a bit creepy, if not scary.  I of course, having an active imagination, believe in monsters, and if it were not for some companions with me to go in first, I do not know if I would have squeezed through the outer fencing and walls to enter the above dark, dilapidated structure.  The 1/2 second exposure makes things look a good bit brighter than they were, and on top of that mosquitoes and horse flies were swarming around.  I tried to sacrifice my body to get some shots, but I did rush nevertheless.  

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 seconds tripod mountedNow, it is darn useful to explore haikyo when some of your companions are civil engineers!  For example, he told me that the brighter stuff on the ground in the photo above, which kind of looks like light green moss, is actually asbestos!  I really wanted to get a photograph of this, and had to really sacrifice the body as we were swarmed with insects, to get the shot I wanted I had to shorten the tripod to just two feet off the ground, and to expose things the camera need 1.6 seconds, a seeming eternity to hold perfectly still while holding the shutter down and you dare not look down at what is biting your ankles.

    Despite all that, it was really fun and definitely a cherry on top of one of my best days back in Florida.  Plus, my civil engineer friend has now caught the haikyo bug and wants to go out exploring more soon.  His wife is also one and has to inspect places deep in the countryside and has found haikyo for us to check out next.  I will wear pants for sure and long sleeves too!

    Cement Plant Haikyo at Day and Dawn

    The sun only very briefly showed itself during its rise over this haikyo cement plant.

    I woke up at 7am Christmas morning, not to open up presents, but to rush off to photograph a cement plant haikyo!  After having an entire photography exhibition of urban exploring images I made in Japan at a gallery here in Saint Petersburg, I was getting anxious to photograph one for real (I had visited two other haikyo briefly) in sunny Florida.  As my luck would have it, the sun was only out for a brief few minutes before it rose back up into heavy overcast.  Fortunately, I stopped by this haikyo the previous evening also and caught the last vestiges of sunlight in a few quick shots.  This is something else I had been wanting to do for awhile--photograph a location at different times of day.

    I was hoping to have more blue sky urban exploring images like this one, but Florida's weather has been very poor this December.

    While visiting my Mom over Thanksgiving, I happened to notice a decaying driveway with a meager bar gate leading into the woods.  I stored it in my mental archives as a possible haikyo location to check out on my next visit.  At that time I thought it might be a housing subdivision that never got completed, so I was a little surprised to find a cement plant behind the tree line.  

    Some of the plant's product was stacked into neat walls that reminded me of ancient Rome.

    I was not alone on my late afternoon visit.  Kiki came with me.  I could not let her wonder off alone so I had to keep one hand on her leash leaving only one to hold my Nikon D300 for shots like the above one.  I tried to get Kiki to follow me up the conveyer belt seen in the above photo, but the metal mesh type ramp was not something Kiki, though quite brave, was willing to traverse.  However, when I went back by myself at sunrise the next day, I made the steep stroll to its summit and realized it was definitely no place for a dog!

    It was fun to walk up alongside that conveyor belt, not scary like it was climbing the steep ladder to the point from which I made this photo.

    This cement plant in my estimation has not been closed down for that many years, maybe only 3 or so.  There was really only one building with an interior, but that was locked up tight as a drum and I did not feel breaking in was prudent to just photograph the few desks and filing cabinets I could see through the locked door's window.  Thus, there was not a high level of decay to photograph.

    I do not know if I would have climbed the metal rung ladder to the top of this tower if it did not have the pictured cage safely enclosing it.

    What did excite me about this haikyo though, as young as it was, is that it meant I could break one of the main rules of urban exploring, which is, "do not climb anything."  There were a couple towers and two high conveyor belt ramps to climb.  The photo above was taken after I climbed a three tiered vertical metal rung ladder jutting from the exterior of the tower.  Only the bottom two rungs had any rust on them at all.  Plus the protective cage around the rungs made me feel pretty safe, though it was a bit of a tight squeeze with my Lowepro backpack on and another small shoulder bag dangling in front of me.  I doubt anyone larger than me could have fit with a backpack on.  The vertical climb up the rungs was something I am not physically accustomed to doing only a short 20 minutes after first waking up either.  I was in a race though because I knew the bit of sunlight peaking through would soon vanish as the sun rose into the overcast morning sky.  

    Top: roof of the highest tower Bottom: entrance to the highest conveyor belt, never even thought to take the fast way down!

    After climbing the tallest rung ladder, I went right to the ramp to the highest conveyor belt.  It definitely took some physical exertion to get my increasingly large carcass and all my camera gear to the tops of both places.  I always like having a view though.

    These railings showed the greatest level of decay of anything at the cement plant haikyo.

    Once I got off the top tower, the sun was gone and it was a very grey morning.  Back on the ground there was also little left around the plant itself other than the towers and various silos.

    Got to have shades & a BBQ grill if it's Florida!

    However, I did find signs that this was definitely a true Florida based cement plant.  Safety equipment included the usual orange vest and hardhat, but also another definite necessity for Florida, a good pair of dark sunglasses.  It also would not be any kind of Florida outdoor space without a BBQ grill either!  

    I did not climb these towers as they were showing more signs of decay than the others.

    This cement plant was more of an architectural haikyo rather than an exploring haikyo as the majority I have been too were.  Thus, it did not feel as personal as there were no dark corridors to walk down with surprises around corners.  Nothing to open up and look inside of.  

    I guess cement blocks slid down these conveyor belts, but I did not carry one to the top to find out.

    Still, it was good to walk around a place that no one has for years and to at least make the effort of rising at dawn to try and find some unique light, though unfortunately this time there was none.  If anyone knows of any other haikyo or abandoned buildings, factories, farms, etc, in Florida please let me know in the comments below.