David Zimmerman

Abandoned landscapes

Could it be that everything in this world remains so fundamentally pure that nothing can ever be more than half ruined?

I began photographing California’s Salton Sea in 2006. An eerily beautiful place. A place of epic incongruities. A bird sanctuary where birds die by the thousands. A teeming fishery stinking of dead fish. A recreational mecca abandoned. Paradise and toxic dump. Lovely ugliness – this is the Salton Sea.The Sea finds ways to adapt; dissolving dilapidated docks, swamping abandoned yacht clubs, sinking mans discards and revealing them as the Sea rises and recedes. Barnacles cover old scars as nature reclaims it’s territory.  The shore and land bear witness to man’s haste to conquer. Short sighted schemes; hopes and dreams, abandoned.150 miles east of San Diego lies California’s largest inland body of fresh water.The Salton Sea’s demise began as its supplies of fresh water from the Colorado River were diverted to the booming & thirsty cities of southern California. Due primarily to agricultural runoff, now its primary source of water, the sea and the land for miles around is laden with salts and disease creating an environment from which humans flee and in which wildlife dies.The Salton Sea is at a crossroads. Among the immediate concerns, rising salinity, if continued unchecked, will ultimately make the Sea unable to support existing fish species. Without a plentiful food supply at the Salton Sea, no amount of wetland habitat will sustain the Sea’s current role as a vital stopover for migratory birds in North America. As the already scarce water supplies of the American Southwest are strained to meet the needs of a burgeoning population, we face increasingly difficult decisions on managing our declining wetland habitats and the valuable water that sustains them. In the context of massive habitat loss elsewhere (California has destroyed 95% of it’s wetlands), and the continued escalation in demand for water resources, the future of the Salton Sea is of vital importance for both wildlife and growing human populations.


Archival print on Hahnemuhle rag.

Available sizes
50″ x 35″
Edition of 8

35″ x 26″
Edition of 10

24″ x 20″
Edition of 12