The LC-A loves the California desert. Vintage film and vintage camera bring out the right feel to a Mojave road trip.
I live in the desert in Southern California. This is the driest and hottest place in North America. The landscape is terrible and awesome, ranging from salty dry lake beds hundreds of feet below sea level to snowy mountains over 10,000 feet. The expansive emptiness takes hold of the imagination. We know this desert even before we visit. We know it from the movies. The desert is home to serial killers, methamphetamine labs, extraterrestrials, dropouts, weirdos, and retirement communities.
The Lomo LC-A is a natural match for this desert. My LC-A is a vintage Soviet copy. There is no ASA scale on the meter, but rather the numbers are in the GOST scale. The LC-A is paired with Kodak TMAX 100, expired in 1999. The film is shot at the lowest GOST number on the camera – 16. Setting the camera to this super slow speed forces the camera to shoot at larger apertures. Much of the magic of the LC-A comes from the poetic optical imperfections in the lens. Shooting at larger apertures brings out the vignetting and distortions.
Most of these images were shot at the Salton Sea, a large salty lake about 150 miles east of San Diego. The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, and lies 226 feet below sea level. The sea was only created in 1905 by a ruptured canal. In the 1950s and 1960s, the sea was a popular vacation spot for those into swimming, water skiing, and sport fishing. Eventually, the sea became too salty to support fish (aside from tilapia), and massive fish die-offs covered the shore with carcasses. The beaches now look like sand, but a closer look reveals the sand to be desiccated and ground up fish scales and bones. Much of the tourist infrastructure is gone, but there are still many remains sitting in mostly empty towns along the sea.
Other photos were taken nearby in Joshua Tree National Park, in the high Mojave desert. Mormon settlers named the trees because their strange human-like silhouettes called to their minds the biblical Joshua, beckoning the Jews to the Promised Land. To my eyes, these strange forms are more nightmarish than angelic.
This desert is haunted, and the LC-A can see it. Sometimes it’s good to head to the mountains on the Palm Springs Tram…
The Lomo LC-A is the camera that started the Lomography movement. With full controls and wide ISO range, this automatic gem is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. Get your own Refurbished LC-A in our Shop!