My first trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert

Desert landscape

I remember going to California a long long long time ago when I was a grade school kid. We came to see the Space Shuttle Discovery land and see Universal Studios and stuff. I remember when we went out into the desert, I was scared to leave the car because somebody had pre-loaded with me about the horrors of being out in the desert. I think there was something about my tongue drying out and stuff. A silly kid thing.

I had tried to really see the desert before when I went to see Joshua Tree, but that turned out to be quite the disaster, which is an altogether separate story.

So, some amount of time later, we borrowed a friend's condo in San Diego and I had asked her about where I could see some nice desert. And she told us to go and see the Anza-Borrego desert. We programmed it into the rental car GPS and ended up taking the Yaqui Pass route into the park and the Montezuma Valley route back.

The problem, of course, is that we underestimated the time it would take to get there, so I wasn't able to spend much time there. The visitor's center was closed, so I just got some infrared shots and some mountain shots and watched the sun fall below the mountains and that was it.

I got one color shot that I'm rather fond of, just because it communicates the emptiness of the desert and the way that the plants are strewn across the landscape. Before I went on the trip, I was realizing that I wasn't taking enough time to really set up and compose the shots. I had also heard an Ansel Adams quote where he said something long the lines of "Oh, a wide angle lens. Yeah, you use that to emphasize the foreground" and realized that was something that I just hadn't understood yet.

I also shot infrared film in the desert, which was quite fun. I wanted to see how it would look and what would go white. It turns out that a lot of the desert plants, even though they aren't green, turned white in infrared, which puts lie to the idea that you can simulate infrared photography in Photoshop:

Anza-Borrego in IR

I ended up with a lot of regrets -- images that I had tried to take, but that just didn't come out -- so I knew I had to come back. We almost did a dire stupid, where we realized that we were in the middle of the desert and were out of gas.... but thankfully, there's gas in Borrego Springs and it was still selling gas. And I left knowing that clearly there MUST be more to see there. But I did have fun on my trip and it was beautiful.


This was not very long before my ill fated adventure into the muck with my RB67, and why I was happy to buy a new back instead of using the old one. I had a bunch of decent shots that were ruined because I forgot the darkside and it turned out that the fogging I'd see once in a while came from when I didn't have a darkside in the camera. I lost a LOT of San Diego pictures for that reason.

I knew that the next time I was there, I'd have to spend longer in the desert and drive around some more and research things so more.

I was also told about the Imperial Sand Dunes, which I have yet to go out far enough to see.

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