How not to plan a photo trip
Just a trip report.
So I took Friday off work, and after dropping my son off at school I headed east for the day to Tumco, a ghost town in the extreme southeastern corner of California (it's about 25 miles out of Yuma). This would be fairly unremarkable if it weren't late July with a predicted high for Yuma of 109 F (43 C).
I've spent a lot of time at Tumco and know the site pretty well. There's a parking area, from which you can hike in about 1/4-1/2 mile across open alluvial fan to a set of rusty old cyanide vats, which provide some shade and shelter from the wind. It turns out that a 1/4-1/2 mile walk, when you're carrying a TLR, a full 9x12 plate camera kit, a goofy old 120 box camera, a DSLR and some lenses, a pile of film in a cooler, and well over a gallon of water, *and* it's 109 F out with no shelter, is, um, kind of long. I ended up just making a base camp behind the cyanide vats and spending the day there---I'd take a camera, walk around for two or three minutes within a few tens of meters of the spot taking pictures, then retreat to my little patch of shade and drink water for half an hour before moving again.
Shooting the plate camera was really rough, because I had to carry that much more equipment to the spot, then stick my head under a heavy black cloth and stand there in the sun trying to focus before my brain actually melted! In the end I only shot three of the six holders I'd taken; the Rolleiflex did most of the work for reasons of convenience.
I'd originally meant to stay till sunset and get the light, but I just didn't have the tenacity; about 3:30 PM I decided I'd had it and dredged myself back over that sunblasted stretch of alluvium to the car. Took the long way home, through the southern edge of the Chocolate Mountains and the northern Algodones Dunes, burning a few more rolls on the way. By the time I stopped for dinner in Brawley it was down to 102 F and that felt pretty mild.
The attached images are just quick-and-dirty negative scans, from the one roll I've had time to develop and scan. It's Rollei Ortho 25, shot at EI 50 and developed in Diafine, so these are very high-contrast negs (the scanner tends to tame that a bit). The roll from the box camera is hanging in the shower now and also looks pretty promising.
Don't plan your trips like this, by the way. I'm an ol' desert rat and have developed pretty good skills for being stupid and prudent at the same time, but really, people die out there. (One of the nice things about Tumco is that it has cellular coverage, albeit dodgy.) I need to do this again in better weather for the job.