Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

November 6, 2016, in the desert of southern California

with 34 comments

Dunes along Interstate 8: one take at abstraction

Dunes along Interstate 8: a more minimalist take at abstraction

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2018 at 4:37 AM

34 Responses

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  1. I was surprised to read that even though the Salton Sea is higher in salinity than the Pacific, it’s less than the Great Lakes. It appears you have an adult and juvenile Herring Gulls, in case you were wondering. 😀


    November 6, 2018 at 7:43 AM

    • Thanks for identifying the gulls. I figured you’d probably know.

      Your statement about salinity puzzles me. How could the Salton Sea have less salinity than the Great Lakes, which are fresh water?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 6, 2018 at 8:22 AM

  2. That can’t be right about the salinity levels. The Salton Sea’s salinity is listed in various places as 44 ppt (parts per thousand), while Lake Michigan varies between .05 and .60 ppt. This map of ocean salinity, while older data, is interesting both for the data and for the way it was gathered.

    I’m especially fond of the last photo. I’m sure I mentioned in the past the experience of flying along the African coast where the Sahara meets the water. It looked remarkably similar. On the other hand, I’m intrigued by the faint flow of cloud or sand above the dune in that last photo. I think it must be cloud, but it certainly resembles blowing sand.

    Despite the absence of grasses, the dunes in the second photo remind me of the flow of the Flint Hills prairie.


    November 6, 2018 at 8:53 AM

    • I haven’t heard back from Shannon yet, but it suddenly occurred to me that she probably meant the Great Salt Lake, which is indeed considerably saltier than the Salton Sea.

      I added the last photograph as a last thought, so to speak, to have an even more abstract view than in the first dunes picture. It also does more with the wispy clouds, a fainter trace of which appears in the first dunes image, especially in the upper left. And yes, the wispiness is all due to clouds. At Monahans Sandhills in west Texas I managed to capture blowing sand,


      but not in southern California.

      That must have been a great sight, the Sahara meeting the ocean. Did you manage to get any pictures of it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 6, 2018 at 9:35 AM

  3. Love your dune abstracts, Steve. Gorgeous!

    Jane Lurie

    November 6, 2018 at 11:40 AM

    • Abstractions are so much fun. In this case my challenge was finding places not messed up by dune buggies. The two places shown here are practically the only unspoiled ones I found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 6, 2018 at 11:47 AM

  4. The dunes’ shapes, curves and textures, and nice tawny color are very handsome.
    I think for many years, you had to use two different salinity levels for the Great Salt Lake, depending on which side of the Southern Pacific RR causeway you were on. I remember my relatives in Utah mentioned a time, when the water level was unusually high, and the lake was actually threatening a busy highway, and they had to punch a hole in the causeway, to drain some of the water from one half to the other. I believe the RR line now installed a bridge in the middle, so the water can pass from one side to the other, and I imagine, the salinity has more-or-less equalized.

    Robert Parker

    November 6, 2018 at 6:29 PM

  5. Nicely done!


    November 7, 2018 at 1:10 PM

  6. That happens to be one of the places that I had considered buying a winter home. It is one of the more affordable places in California. However, homes can not be left uninhabited for too long.


    November 7, 2018 at 10:24 PM

    • Where in particular were you considering?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 8, 2018 at 8:05 AM

      • Bombay Beach


        November 8, 2018 at 10:10 PM

        • Based on what you’d said about not leaving homes inhabited for too long, Bombay Beach came to my mind. I think you did well by not buying a place there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 9, 2018 at 12:28 AM

          • It is not a good place to invest either . . . not that I care about that part.


            November 9, 2018 at 2:11 AM

            • We drove around in Bombay Beach briefly and found it pretty run down.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 9, 2018 at 7:24 AM

              • Yes, it is quite abandoned. Although I rather like ghost towns while they are still dying, they are really bad places to invest in real estate, not only because they are so worthless, but because of the unavoidable deterioration (and likely vandalism) that happens when no one is there to prevent it. Trona is even worse. Some of the homes have fireplaces, but there are no trees. When firewood is needed, it is just taken from neighboring homes that are being dismantled for such purposes.


                November 10, 2018 at 5:31 PM

                • We found Bombay Beach pretty creepy and didn’t stay for long. If I’d been after some surrealistic photographs, I could’ve taken plenty.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 10, 2018 at 8:30 PM

                • Believe it or not, Trona is worse. I just love it there.


                  November 10, 2018 at 10:32 PM

                • As the French say, Chacun à son goût, Each to his own taste.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 11, 2018 at 6:47 AM

                • Like so many of my friends and colleagues say, “Ick!”


                  November 11, 2018 at 7:50 AM

                • Now I’ve learned that trona is a mineral. Wikipedia says that “it is mined as the primary source of sodium carbonate in the United States, where it has replaced the Solvay process used in most of the rest of the world for sodium carbonate production.” It also notes: “A number of Hollywood films have been shot in the surrounding desert (particularly around the Trona Pinnacles), including Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Planet of the Apes. In the 2000s, the town itself served as the setting for three films, Trona (2004), Just Add Water (2008) and Lost Lake (2012).”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 11, 2018 at 8:01 AM

                • Yes, it is quite . . . ‘scenic’, in a ‘special’ sort of way.


                  November 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM

  7. Great shots … just waiting to see the camel 🙂


    November 11, 2018 at 11:57 PM

  8. I thought you might be interested in this traveling ‘mud puddle’ near the Salton Sea.


    November 12, 2018 at 8:46 AM

    • Thanks for the link. That’s a strange phenomenon, and a reminder of how many things geologists still haven’t figured out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2018 at 11:43 AM

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