Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trona Pinnacles

Dear Reader,

I have had the privilege to visit some great locations in my lifetime, but one place that stands out is the Trona Pinnacles. The Pinnacles is located twenty miles east of Ridgecrest, California or about three hours north/east of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. The tufa spires were formed between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago underwater, creating interconnected lakes from Death Valley to Mono Lake. The lake has long since evaporated, leaving topography best described as out of this world. This is what has attracted movie producers to this location, it is the only tufa in the United States, and it looks like an alien landscape.

In November of 2001 I was working on the last photo shoot for Marlboro UK, it was one of my favorite jobs. A small crew, they were photographing locations that one could only find in the western United States. One of the locations was the Trona Pinnacles, a location I knew about, but I never been to before, in fact I did not know the location was in Southern California. Once you get off the main road, the road to the Pinnacles is dirt and rock, I had to drive about five miles per hour so that I did not tear up my motor home, it took me about forty-five minutes to reach our destination. Once I reach the Trona Pinnacles I was blown away, it look like Scotty beam me to another planet, I thought for a second I would have to put on a space suit. The spires looked like volcanic cones some as tall as a skyscraper extending into the blue hot desert sky. It is hard to describe the Pinnacles, because the location is extremely unique, one of a kind, isolated from civilization. Other than one outhouse and a few roads, there are few signs of a human imprint. It was six in the morning as the photographer set up his camera on a tri-pod anticipating an eastern sunrise, it was cold, and I made some of my famous strong coffee to warm up the crew. They only needed one shot, but that shot had to be great, the sun had to hit the spires with the right amount of light and the right hue to work. The photographer shot one image after another, back then digital photography was in the infant stages, therefore professional photographers still used polaroid film to test their shots, and then once they were sure of everything they would use Kodachrome film. If you were on location the film would be FedEx to the nearest professional lab for processing. We were finished by nine in the morning; and we moved north to the town of Trona for the next location.

I have been to the Trona Pinnacles numerous times since that first shoot; I still find this place interesting it is a location perfect for fashion shoots, commercial, music video or feature films. The town of Ridgecrest is about thirty minutes west from the main road; this is a decent size town, with plenty of amenities and lodging for any size crew. For more information you can call the Ridgecrest Field Office at 760-384-5400. If you need a motor home and have any questions about the Trona Pinnacles you can call me Mike Green at 818-317-7099.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Inyokern Airport-A great place to do your next shoot

Dear Reader,

The other day I had a chance to do a photo shoot at the Inyokern Airport, about two and a half hours north east of Los Angeles or about an hour north east of Palmdale. This is a private airport in the middle of the Mojave Desert surrounded by Joshua trees and the Southern Sierra Mountains. A lonely place, unless you are a jackrabbit or a coyote. If you film on runway 18, you will have a great view of the Sierra’s, in winter it is not uncommon for the peaks to be covered in snow, occasionally the snow level drops down to the valley. Don’t fret, by mid-morning all the snow will melt and one will be left with a view of the mountains that will be stunning. Since Inyokern is high desert, in summer temperatures are hot, but not unbearable like one would find in Death Valley about three hours north/east. Since this is a private airport and film friendly there are not the usual restrictions one would find at public airfields. The staff is friendly and very accommodating; they really go out of their way to make sure your specific needs are met.

The town of Ridgecrest is about ten miles east of the airport; there is no shortage of places to lodge your crew. My favorite place to stay is the “Heritage Inn & Suites” (760-446-6543), the rooms are comfortable the pillows are soft; there is restaurant that serves great food. The Hampton Suites Ridgecrest is another great place to stay, or if you are really budget conscious there is the Motel 6, (760-375-6866) with parking across the street for large vehicles, rates are under $40, you can’t get cheaper, the rooms are adequate, cable TV, a table to do your work and a warm shower. My only complaint, the heater does not work well. In terms of food, there are plenty of good restaurants, check out YELP for your favorite food.

Scotty Seymour is the general manager of the Indian Wells Valley Airport District; he is the man you want to contact if you want to shoot at the Inyokern Airport 760-377-5844. Scotty understands the needs of producers and he will go out of his way to make sure you get what you need. If you need an RV and someone who is familiar with the surrounding valley please feel free to call me (Mike Green) at 818 317 7099, I provide local rates for my services and I am a good contact person.