Behind The Shot: Lost At Sea

by | Jun 29, 2016 | Stories & Expeditions | 0 comments

I can’t think of very many pictures I’ve taken that has a more wild story behind it than this one . . .



Lost at Sea
Islas de Todos Santos, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
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9575_JAS_Ensenada-Baja California-Mexico W

Though it’s not the best picture in the world by any stretch of the imagination, I just have to chuckle when I think about the circumstances I was in when I shot it.

I was down in Tijuana, Mexico, last month on the first ever Photography Mission Trips with Lenspiration. The purpose of the Photography Mission Trips is to use our love for photography to help with the general promotional needs of a particular ministry. So, while participating in the regular LifeChange Action missions trip, I was taking pictures of anything and everything we were doing. Things like orphanage visits, staff portraits, ministry center renovations, work projects, office projects . . . you name it, we shot it. With pictures, you can tell stories to the world of the many amazing things that are happening on a day to day basis.


As we had time, we explored the area to experience the Mexican culture and take in the novelty of being in a foreign country. On one such day we drove down to the coastal city of Ensenada.


We enjoyed the day, taking our time driving along the coast, exploring a country ranch, eating pizza and visiting the natural marine geyser La Bufadora. But as late afternoon rolled around, it was time to find a good spot to photograph sunset over the Pacific. There were lots of options, but I figured the end of the Banda peninsula would be a good spot. It seemed like a good place to drive to, too. And there would be plenty of time to enjoy the area during the golden hour before sunset.

Banda pennesula

Well, while it was true that the road did lead to the end of the peninsula, what we didn’t know was that a gate prohibited any cars from driving to the end of the peninsula. The arrow points to about where the gate:

Banda penensula gate

This meant we had to come up with a different plan. First, we could have driven someplace else. But where else on the peninsula would it have been easy to get down to the coast? Secondly, I thought about climbing the road to the top of the mountain there in the middle of the peninsula. But it was one incredibly tall mountain, and it seemed like it would be easier just to walk around it. So that was option three, and that was the option we decided to take! It would mean 2 miles of hiking and precious little time to prepare for the sunset, but the group was up to it and it was certainly was worth a try!

The walk was beautiful!




The mountain soon blocked the setting sun and we hurried along in shadow. Excitement mounted as we rounded a bend that finally let us get a glimpse of the sun nearing the horizon to the west! We wouldn’t have time to get down to the coast, but we should be able to have the rocky plane stretched out below us.

But that’s when we noticed the fence.


It was a tall, military-looking fence and gate that crossed the road right before the last bend in the road. The light was so beautiful, and we had come so far, I couldn’t believe we had come to a dead end. The gate was placed in such a way that it was impossible to even venture out on the rugged ridge that would provide some much needed foreground subject matter.

Banda penensula fence

It really was a truly unfortunate circumstance. There we were, locked out of the dazzling sunset we had walked so far to photograph with no foreground elements to work with other than the iron bars of a massive gate.

But that’s not the end of the story. Because, you see, we did get some pictures. . . .

After standing there a few minutes trying to come up with a plan . . . I don’t know, about plan D or E by now . . . we saw the last thing we expected to see. We had walked alone the entire way. A closed, abandoned road isn’t generally where people are found. The entire place was forlorn and empty. But to our greatest surprise, there came someone walking up the hill toward us on the other side of the gate.

“May we have your permission to pass through this gate, sir?” our translator asked.

“$100 pesos” said the caretaker.

We processed the information for a moment. We could actually get through?! Was it worth paying for it? The caretaker turned and started walking away.

I pulled out my wallet, “$100 pesos.”

At last, our final obstacle had been removed! Was it too late? It would take too much time to continue down the road, so we scrambled out on the ridge of rocks. The sun was behind the clouds at that point, and the only color left was down on the horizon, but I hoped against hope that the sun would pierce through the clouds one more time.


I set up two shots, one looking toward the west, the other looking toward the east. The western setup would be what I would shoot if the sky turned color again. The eastern setup would be for what I would shoot if the sun did peak through, painting the landscape with gold.

My eastern setup:


My western setup:


Neither happened. And so that’s why, despite it not being the best picture in the world, I always have myself a little chuckle when I think about the story behind this shot. It was a fun experience. A wild experience. An experience that most likely will never happen again . . . until next time, of course.

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