In the same vein of human developements ravaged by time or nature, there is the old route 66 between Ludlow and Essex, California. You can find old ruins from the history of route 66, plus cool railroad action. there are numerous photo opportunities all along the old route if you keep an eye out.
There is the Amboy crater, an old volcano you can hike into surrounded by great volcanic landscapes. There are also some interesting salt collecting troughs just south of Amboy that stretch out for miles on the floor of a dry lake bed.

For interesting nature photography you can try Joshua Tree national monument, and farther south is the Anza Borego area.