Salton Sea - Kevin Key Photography - San Diego, California
Abandoned Salton Sea Naval Station Moonlit Milky Way Panorama

Abandoned Salton Sea Naval Station Moonlit Milky Way Panorama

The Milky Way and pilings of a decaying pier at the abandoned Salton Sea Naval Station. Foreground illuminated by a 79% moon. I just figured out that it IS possible to shoot the Milky Way even when the moon is fairly bright.

To produce this panoramic image, I shot 24 overlapping vertical frames with my Canon 6D and Sigma 15mm EX DG at 25 sec ISO 3200. I then stitched the images together in Photoshop. This processing of this image took several attempts to get it right. And the Milky Way arch is slightly squared-off due to it being very high in the sky at the time I shot this.

Much of the actual road that leads here is covered in deep sand. The only way to get here is to drive along a wash and be sure to stay on the established path. If you stray too far off the path along the shoreline, you WILL get stuck - sometimes in very soft, sticky, and deep quicksand-like wet clay. You have been warned!

The Salton Sea Naval Station was an auxiliary field to NAS San Diego commissioned in 1942, had a barracks for over 600 men constructed there. It was disestablished in 1946. NAF El Centro then took over the facility using it for parachute tests of the manned space program and other military systems until 1979. There remains little if anything of the former field. The Salton Sea has taken over much of the runway.

In 2001 the United States Bureau of Reclamation used the site to remove salt from the Salton Sea, as high salinity is a major problem facing the inland lake. They used modified snowmaking equipment and mine waste removal vehicles and continued testing for a year; however high energy costs and air quality issues forced the termination of this project.