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SeAAttle Dec 1, 13 4:09 pm

Recommendations for desert photography near San Diego
I may have a free day in San Diego in February and would appreciate suggestions for photography opportunities, especially desert environments. Anza Borrego seems promising but any place farther away would make for a very long day. Will have a rental car but not off road. A personal photo guide with 4WD would be attractive.


exerda Dec 1, 13 6:58 pm

Plenty in Anza Borrego for a day, and it's not too far from San Diego (about 1.5 hours IIRC--been a few years since I drove out that way). I've been once with a 4x4 and once with a passenger car, and got to see plenty. It's not quite the same as, say, Death Valley, Saguaro NP, or red rock country, but it's still pretty. February is a bit early for wildflowers... hmm. I suppose you could go all the way to the Salton Sea or Joshua Tree, but those would indeed make for long days (Joshua Tree being ~2.5-3h from San Diego). Some of the trails do require a high-clearance SUV, but there's plenty more if you can't make it to those areas.

Depending on your route to A-B, there are some interesting places you can stop. I've made the trip with stops and the Inaja Nature Trail in Cleveland National Forest and at Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve; neither are strictly desert environs (more sub-alpine IIRC), though.

flyboy60 Dec 1, 13 8:59 pm

I have to say, it's pretty drab this time of year. Much better in April-May. I just drove through Anza on the way back from Palm Desert last week - if you drive another 45 minutes or to toward Palm Desert via Palms to Pines Highway, the scenery is better presently.

Edit: I just noticed that you're talking about February. Anza Borrego will be better then than it is now.

Gardyloo Dec 1, 13 9:53 pm

Joshua Tree NP is farther but has the advantage of both high and low desert scenery, plus wonderful rock formations.

For example,


SeAAttle Dec 2, 13 2:51 pm

I would love to spend some time in Josha Tree but it's too far for one day. When we lived in Pasadena (many years ago), we camped in JT often and Anza Borrego a couple of times. I found AB much less interesting but it's been a long time. Will check out the other places suggested. Perhaps the wild flowers will be early this year!

Bobster Dec 15, 13 8:52 am

Post processing is important for desert photos. I like the Dan Margulis book called "Photoshop LAB color: the canyon conundrum and other adventures in the most powerful colorspace" but there are other ways to do pretty much the same thing with Lightroom and other editing software.

Try to get some practice before the trip so when you are in the desert you can better visualize what the result will be after post processing.

SeAAttle Dec 15, 13 11:57 am

Thanks. I will check out the book. No travel plans until Feb. so it will be a quite a challenge to practice desert shots here in Seattle!

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