My January 2022 Photo of the Month is OH80108, a photo taken along the Wildwood Glen section of Old Highway 80 as a storm came through San Diego County.
I didn’t get out much in January. Save for a couple trips to Walker Preserve and Mission Trails Regional Park, I largely sat the month out and avoided the Omicron surge the only way I know how: alone.
There was one half-hearted attempted to see an old friend, Sunset Cliffs, but when I got there and saw thousands of people with no social distancing and little masking, I said Screw This and drove straight back home.
This month’s image, however, was a brief moment of serendipity. I had spent a couple hours in the Laguna Mountains, expecting our local storm to burn off at Laguna Crest. What I found was that the clouds had made it over and out into the local deserts. While I enjoyed the time and even took a nice quiet nap, I didn’t have any images I hoped for.
Driving home, I started to see the light was changing dramatically as the sun got low. And much to my surprise, there was a lot of water in the air. Not in the form of humidity, but perhaps some level of virga that was just distinct enough to create this eerie glow coming down Interstate 8.
In that moment, I had to find a spot. And because I love photographing Old Highway 80, I knew I was close to the Wildwood Glen stretch near Descanso.
I didn’t have much time. By the time I parked at the end and started walking the old concrete, I found an amazing rainbow behind me. I only had a single prime lens with me, and I composed something that worked well. Still, I wanted more options and was about to head back to the car to grab my entire gear bag. Right then, the setting sun hit another cloud, the rainbow faded before my eyes, and the light was gone.
That’s photography for you. There are amazing moments, sometimes, but they are forever ephemeral, often on time scales of mere seconds.
(While I was writing this post, we had a nice little earthquake, Sunday morning. All the neighbors quickly went outside and said, “Hey, did you feel that?” That was fun.)
As always, I thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.