LightBox Photographic Gallery

Otherworld: The Salton Sea • Jody Miller

“A mistake. That’s what the Salton Sea is to most Californians. An early 20th century dam that held back the Colorado River failed in 1904 and the ensuing flood created the current sea, filling an ancient dry lake bed near the Mexican border in the southeastern corner of California. From a distance, it is a beautiful sight. There was a short heyday of recreational use and development during the 1950s and 1960s, due to its proximity to Palm Springs. That started to change as evaporation and increased salinity started to kill off fish by the millions, creating a toxic stench, and the area became a wasteland practically overnight. By the 1970s, only vultures could be seen wandering around the empty marinas at the shoreline. Every summer, algae bloom and increased salinity kill off fish by the millions and on several occasions thousands of sea birds have also died as a result of eating contaminated dead fish. Some say within years the Sea will dry up completely, leaving a toxic dust bowl that will blow into populated areas, and destroy an important habitat for the hundreds of species of birds, many endangered, that winter there every year. “My experience of the Sea has been personally overwhelming,” Jody says, “I’ve been making visits to the Sea for the last ten years now. I see it as an area of great distress but also great beauty and life that is worth the effort and expense of preservation. With these photographs I hope to convey some of that wonder and reverence I feel for both the majesty and melancholy of this unique corner of the desert, and to reaffirm the pressing need to restore and protect this singular and spectacular inland Sea.” ~ Jody Miller

Aces and Spades Club, 2006
Aces and Spades Club, 2006
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Jody Miller has kept Astoria as her beloved part time home since 2006, sharing her time between Astoria and Los Angeles, where she makes a living as an animator for the ABC television network. The serenity and beauty of Astoria and the North Coast seduced her the minute she first saw it, and that hasn't waned in the years since. This area has inspired much of her landscape and night photography during the last eight years. The North Coast provides a welcome counterpoint to the busy, full, and hectic pace of her life in LA, 120 miles from the Salton Sea.