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9/11&13/2015 - Francois Swart - As photographers, we are always trying to find our next evasive “best” photo. Being it abstract, landscape, portraiture, photojournalism, etc. Is it possible to discover that next “best” photo in a ghost-town? Maybe, maybe not. All depends on how one sees.

Just off U.S. Highway 395, between Kramer Junction and Ridgecrest, you will find such a ghost town, hiding behind Johannesburg and the Rand Mountains. It is called Randsburg, and named after a mining town in South Africa. The first question I asked myself was: “What is a ghost-town?” The best definition I could find, was by Lambert Florin. He defined it as ‘a shadowy resemblance of its former self’. And that is exactly Randsburg.

My first visit to Randsburg was with our Landscape photography class, on our way to the Sierras. We spent the morning there. I was so intrigued by this dilapidated little town that René (my wife) and I visited again on our return trip back to San Diego. There are so many photo gems to be discovered. From the museum, to the General Store and the Joint, and many, many more!

Do I want to go back? Most certainly, and the next time I hope to stay for a weekend. Why? My next “best” photo is still evading me!

The people are as hospitable as one can expect. At the Joint, the owner’s son refused to let us pay for our sodas when he learned that we were from South Africa. It almost ended in a duel! Fortunately, I could convince him that it wasn’t good for his business. It was on our return visit that I discovered an 1895 stereoscope (complete with photos), at the antique shop, and of course, I am the proud owner now!

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