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.