The winding road from Tijuana

June 25, 2010

By Jorge Duenes

A U.S. border patrol vehicle is seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

Just outside Tijuana there’s a section of the USA-Mexico border wall that follows very irregular terrain and where, attracted by its curves and steep drops, I’ve taken many pictures. It was there that I decided to photograph the Border Patrol making its nighttime rounds along the winding road in the dark.

After two months of waiting for the right weather, I asked my father and brother to drive me to a place on the highway from where I could hike to the spot I had marked on my map.

A U.S. border patrol vehicle is seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

My backpack weighed heavily on me, as I carried two cameras, three lenses, a tripod, binoculars, a tent, jacket, food and drinks. With all of this gear, I walked quickly through the scrub in a region frequented by robbers and illegal migrants. It took me an hour and a half to reach my destination atop a hill some 400 meters high.

I started taking some photos before nightfall, but only around 9 p.m. was it dark enough to begin my mission — to take time lapse photos of the Border Patrol. To keep the shutter open, I used a piece of an aluminum can to jam the button down.

A U.S. border patrol vehicle is seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

I waited the whole night to make a total of 14 photographs of the patrols and their unpredictable movements. Around 3:30 am, a patrol crossed in front of my view from east to west, with enough fog to make the image even more interesting. The majority of the photos were taken with exposures of between five and seven minutes each on my Canon 40D set at ISO 500.

A U.S. border patrol vehicle is seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

On my way back down the hill just after daybreak, I passed just 30 meters from a den of coyotes that howled with my every step, but stopped whenever I did. When I got back into the car my father pointed out a large coyote he saw following me, which was probably the one howling and may have accompanied me throughout the night.

A U.S. border patrol vehicle is seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

The headlights of a U.S. border patrol vehicle are seen from the Mexican side of the border while driving near Otay Mountain on the outskirts of San Diego, California June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

4 comments

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Very nice!

Posted by arturrr | Report as abusive

Nice and very original set of pix, congrats Jorge.

Posted by Tifano | Report as abusive

Beautiful photography!

Posted by jayfro21 | Report as abusive

wooww!!!!beautiful pix, felicidades Jorge

Posted by duenas | Report as abusive