The Calm

The Calm on Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, b+w ND 10-stop, 19mm, f/22, iso 100, 124sec // buy print)

I’m dedicating this photo to my buddy Chris DeAngelis, who let me borrow his 10-stop B+W filter and made all of this possible. He loaned it to me a few times at Bombay Beach, while Rick Young loaned me his over on the west side of the Salton Sea. Thank you guys.

Yes, I’m getting my own. Soon.

Normally if you are by water and pull out a 10-stop, you are hoping to pull off a long enough exposure so that the water becomes a misty looking cloud-like substance hugging rocks, sand, piers, whatever.

But when the body of water you are shooting is already about as calm as glass…the filter enhances that stillness and creates a beautiful, almost mirror-like reflection.

This is an abandoned, calcium-laiden old pier extending out from Bombay Beach. The entire beach area makes for one of the spookiest, weirdest places I’ve ever been. If it hadn’t been for the people I was with, the other tourists and even some photographers shooting models with beauty dishes amongst some trashed buildings, I’d have been pretty frightened about being here solo.

I may have said this on Monday’s blog post, but the Salton Sea is a lesson in contradictions. The water was so still, the horizon so smooth, the clouds blended into the water and you felt like you were in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until you looked down at the fish carcasses or heard the occasional mysterious bubbling from the deep. Or you’d spot these beautiful, white pelicans glancing across the water’s surface as they flew by, which made you think about the dead bird laying between all the rotting fish you saw a bit ago.

I had a few people, like Heath O’Fee or Rick, tell me what the place was like before arriving, but you really have no idea until you are standing there yourself.


  • Heath O’Fee

    Love it. LOVE IT.

  • Mike Watrous

    Awesome Mike!

  • Brian Furbush

    Dig it dude – really slick reflection, and I love how the clouds just blend right into the water.

  • Rick Louie

    Wow, like it leads into nothingness! It just goes on forever! Love it!

  • Eden

    Stunning work Mike!

  • Len Saltiel

    That 10-stop is made for images like these Mike. Wonderfully composed and captured.

  • Chris DeAngelis

    You beat me to it with this shot, but I love it man! Totally dig the processing. Glad you put my 10-stop to good use and next time you better have your own otherwise I won’t return your UV filter 😉

  • Bryan Hellman

    That’s awesome! Great composition. I definitely have to go there someday.

  • Jesse


  • Jimi Jones

    Totally awesome image, man. The reflections are killer!

  • Curt Fleenor

    Man that water just goes forever the pylons just seem to float. Very cool!

  • murphyz

    Stunning shot, it looks like you could skate on out to the horizon.

  • John Sotiriou

    Great composition. I love the lighting!

  • Rick Young

    Killer shot Mike.

  • Karen Jackson

    All I can say is … I can’t breathe … this is so beautiful!

  • Chuck Mitchell

    Great shot! I’m making the road trip from Houston to Vegas next month and the Salton Sea is going to be a must!!!

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  • A.Barlow

    Very cool shot man. Love the soft pastel colors in it.

  • Edith Levy

    Absolutely love this. Just stunning.

  • Jaime H.

    This is stunning!!! Love the feel …

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  • Rich Williams

    Finally got around to this after checking out Heath’s version. Both are solid, but I love the texture in the foreground of your image. Nicely done, Mike.