The Salt Mines


Western Salt Works, Chula Vista California

In November of 1996 while driving around California on a magazine assignment I came across the Western Salt Works at the southern end of San Diego Bay. From the beginning I’d been interested in what writer Bram Dijkstra called cathedrals in the landscape – magnificent ruins left from another time that litter the backroads and deserts of California. Western Salt was a perfect example: a working anachronism in use continuously since 1871.

Clean fall light was breaking across the clapboard face of the factory as I pulled to the side of Bay Boulevard. A traveling carnival was breaking down Halloween attractions across the street. In the distance, a bank of clouds was quietly receding over the Pacific and the only sounds were the metallic clangs of the carnies and the rush of unseen cars driving in the distance – it was a moment out of time – it could have been 1996, 1956 or 1926.

In the back of my Jeep I’d packed a Toyo Omega G 4X5 with a couple dozen sheets of Kodak TMX – good professional-grade B&W film. I shot the street elevation using a 210mm Fuji f/5.6 on a single sheet of film – no back-up – at 1/8th of a second, f/22.5 using a R25 red filter (negative was a little thin). I was also using the straight-ahead style belonging to my early photography heroes Walker Evans and Edward Weston.

About John Durant

Professional photographer in California
This entry was posted in American Photographic Artists, Architectural Photography, B&W negative film, Chula Vista, Color negative film, color transparencies, desert, f/64, Film, Ilford FP4, John Durant Photography, Kodak P3200, Kodak Plus-X, Kodak T-Max, Kodak Tri-X, Salton Sea, San Diego, Uncategorized, Vintage cameras, Western Salt Works and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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