The Infinity Pool of California

The Infinity Pool of California

California’s natural infinity pool.

The remains of a pier, Bombay Beach.

The Salton Sea – California’s largest lake

This lake is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California’s Imperial Valley, and is about 226 ft (69 m) below sea level. The deepest area of the sea is 5 ft (1.5 m) higher than the lowest point of Death Valley. The sea is fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo rivers, as well as agricultural runoff drainage systems and creeks.

It’s this agricultural runoff and drainage, along with the high salinity of the rivers, that make this water rather putrid. Tons of tilapia wash up on shore, and the water has a peculiar odor.

The lake hasn’t been around for long, though. The Salton Sea as we know it began in1905, when heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell, pouring over headgates for the Alamo Canal, gushing down the New River and Alamo Rivers, rushing over an Imperial Valley dike, and carrying the entire volume of the Colorado River to create the Salton Sea in two years.

The Salton Sea, however, has no outflow, so all the salt, all the runoff, and all the drainage stays in this salt-encrusted water.

Geek Talk  This is a long exposure shot taken with the Nikon D90 and Tokina 11-16mm f2/8 lens and a B+W ND1.8 filter, keeping the shutter open for several seconds at f/22 to create the milky effect from the water. Shortly after I took this photo, while switching lens, one of the legs of my Feisol tripod suddenly shortened after it had been standing for five minutes, sending my camera plunging lens-first into the sand. Nothing appears permanently damaged, but it took a long time to brush the sand out of the lens, filters, and camera.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, Tokina AT-X 116 Pro DX AF 11-16mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon

You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like).

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!


Featured Photo: Mystic Pier

Mystic Pier, Ventura (black and white)

This mystic pier photo is an early morning photo of the Ventura Pier in Caifornia.  Opening the shutter for a long time gives the ocean water a beautiful ethereal misty sort of feel, which I really love.

Ventura Pier, Nikon D90, 11-16mm f2/8 Tokina, f/22, 6 second exposure using B+W 1.8 ND filter. – at Ventura Pier, California

Featured Photo: Ventura Pier And the Passage of Time

Ventura Pier, California - Long Exposure (color)

I woke up early Monday morning and decided that I’d take some long exposure photos of the Ventura Pier.

I felt like I was at the beach for an hour, but I was there for almost three. The process of doing long time exposures seems to blur time. Michael Kenna mentions something that I believe has something to do with this quality.

“Getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it’s the act of photographing. It’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what’s going on around you. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” I love this quote so much that I devoted a blog post to it a few months ago.  It really summarizes how I feel about photography.

This photo was taken with my trusty old 18-200mm lens, a lens I call my “walkabout” lens. Perfect for travel due to its flexibility. The camera was just above the shade of the pier, so I stood in front of the camera, blocking the sunlight from  the lens. Let this be a lesson to you never to forget your lens hood – my folly is your gain! 😀

The glow of the water is from the morning sun, but the long exposure gives it a mystical quality.  It is not “Photoshopped” in any way except for some of the usual contrast and sharpening.  The cool otherworldly look is solely due to the long exposure!

Ventura Pier, Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens, f/29, 10 second exposure, two Tifffen 0.9 ND filters – at Ventura Pier, California.

Featured Photo – The Dreamy Pacific (Long Exposure Photo)

I’ve gotten a few questions about how I shot the main featured photo on the top, so it’s this week’s Featured Photo!

Northern California

I took this photo in the Lost Coast, the most isolated stretch of coastline on the West Coast of the United States. I love the rugged coastline here, and feel like I have the entire beach to myself.

This is probably one of the most difficult photos I’ve taken.  It was cold and windy, whipping the ocean spray onshore.  I had some issues with condensation and salt water spray, but managed okay by covering the camera with a plastic bag until it was time to shoot. Adding to the difficulty was that the beach was not sandy, but instead filled with rocks, so because of the strong wind, I jammed the Feisol Travel Tripod hard into the rocks to try and secure it, and then hung my camera bag on the hook provided in the middle.

I took this photo before sunrise using a 30-second exposure to achieve the ethereal, misty look from the movement of the ocean water. I think this look is beautiful. To try and minimize camera shake, I fired the camera using the Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord. I still managed to get a few spots of saltwater on the lens despite my best efforts, so I cloned them out as best I could.

I used a couple of Tiffen 72mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filters, a colorless filter that reduces the light entering the lens.  I did this to enable me to keep the shutter open longer to achieve the ethereal effect from the moving water.  And related to this, some of you may notice that I’m using a really small aperture.  Why?  Two reasons. One is that, once again, it lets in less light, which allows me to keep the shutter open longer, creating a more ethereal feel.  The other is that I have a larger depth of field, the range of distance in which things are in focus.  Or, to put it another way, more of the photo is sharper than if I had used a wide aperture.


Equipment:  Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens, Feisol Travel CT-3441S Rapid 4-Section Carbon Traveler Tripod (I’m actually using the CT-3441T, which is extra tall), Tiffen 72mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter