I leave Mojave National Preserve a couple of hours before sunset so that I can grab a bite to eat and find a place to set up for a sunset timelapse. Just south of Baker, I pull off Interstate 15 and park on the off-ramp overlooking the traffic passing below. The sunlight falls across the valley south of Baker with all the epic majesty of a Tolkien tale, so I set up my X-H2s facing east. It seems like a good decision because on the west side of the Zzyzx offramp, I see no shoulder to park on and I don’t want to set up the tripod on one side and watch it from across the street. The evening is getting cold and I’ve had my fill of cold toes and fingers if I’m being honest. As I’m writing this, the joy of realizing that my whole life I have watched this mysteriously named offramp appear, whiz by and shrink in the rear view mirror unexpectedly touches my heart. Not to sound corny but I love exploring. And at my core, it’s a good chunk of who I am. So exploring this odd little offramp, however briefly and which is barely a blip in my memory, satisfies me. One other thought: I suppose I’ve always needed a “reason” to pull over and explore. I see the benefit of unstructured time on this trip, with no agendas and no reasons, just some ideas and the potential to document and maybe to create. I need more of these road/offroad trips in my future.

As the sun falls, the sky takes on cotton candy hues to the south. I walk out onto the road to Zzyzx and snap the photo below, flash on to give the concrete and rails of the overpass and little spark of light. Fun fact: writing this I did a quick internet search and found that you can read more about the fascinating history of Zzyzx here.

Then I look west and find the western sky has all the orange hues and fiery drama; I mean it’s burning up with a movie set sunset of grandiose bombasity, if that is a word. It’s too late to move my tripod. I’m twenty or do minutes into the sunset timelapse. I kick myself for choosing east. I turn on the built-in flash to get a punchy reflection off the interstate sign against the sunset sky. The result inspires me to pose for a selfie.

So here’s the obligatory post-Mojave desert trip selfie! I set the X100v on the concrete support, put on the 10-second timer and manually set the focus on the middle yellow line. I hit the shutter button, jump out into the road and stand right on top of the yellow line for an in-focus self portrait. Boom!

Kodak Portra 400 film recipe.

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