A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins

In the new book ’Abandoned Southern California,’ Ken Lee makes haunting images of crumbling worlds throughout the region

In his new book, Abandoned Southern California: The Slowing of Time, photographer Ken Lee has captured the ruins of lost civilizations as they melt away in the desert. He captures old jalopies, shacks and cabins, and bits of folk art in the dark of evening, illuminated only by the moon and a single flashlight he uses to “paint” with light. The color-changing LED lamp, is pretty much the only special equipment that Lee brings along on his nighttime excursions to forgotten locales in the rural California.

His long-exposure images have appeared in National Geographic, Omni magazine, and our own publication. The work is mostly solitary, but when Lee meets “explorers, weirdos, partiers, squatters, drunkards, security guards, or police” he just shows them his fantastical works and they usually let him get back to creating his art.

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