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Photography: Excuse me, please – is this seat taken?


This haunting image by photographer Marcus Doyle is taken from his "Salton Sea" series, which forms part of his Thursday by the Sea exhibition, opening at London's Margaret Street Gallery this Tuesday.

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Formed accidentally after a flood in 1905, when water from the Colorado River overflowed into the area, Salton Sea – the largest lake in California – is a shallow, saline rift lake, situated directly on the San Andreas Fault. Such was its allure in the 1950s, it was a bigger tourist hotspot than Yosemite National Park. But, as the sea became polluted with sewage, and its water levels began to fluctuate, to the extent that whole towns were flooded with filthy water, tourists, along with the local population, were driven away.

Inspired by Richard Misrach's photographs of the area, Doyle created this series of images between 2004 and 2005, when he would travel to the waters from Los Angeles every Thursday, fondly referring to his trips as "going to the seaside".

In this series, Doyle, who shoots exclusively on film, has captured the ghostly quality of abandonment and decay in this peculiar, forgotten landscape, yet also hints at a sense of rebirth, thanks to the extraordinary quality of light, which lends his creations a serene, if eerie, atmosphere.

The exhibition will be showing until 2nd January 2013.