Photographing in the Junkyard
Junkyards are not very pleasant to look at and the items contained within are not either. But if given the opportunity, images captured at one of them can be exceptionally pleasing as well as quite unusual.
Most junkyards are for cars, but there are junkyards that specialize on motorcycles, bicycles, boats, household equipment and so on.
A junkyard is full of memories and each vehicle has its own story to tell; where it was made, the year, how it ended up at the yard.
Because of the sort of subjects found at most junkyards the best photography will usually require some specialized equipment.
A good place to start is to capture images using some colored lighting and best done at night. You will need to secure permission to enter the yard and photograph after hours, but this however should not be difficult, although you may be thought off as a bit eccentric.
Off course there are many quality images that can be taken during the day, especially of rows of junked cars and some colorful samples. But the most splendid shots are usually taken during the night hours.
Using some photographic flood lights and attaching a colored filter you can create effects that seem unreal, especially as the light reflects back from the metal and other parts of the subjects.
You will need a tripod so that the camera sits securely, you need to avoid movement since you will literary be taking night photos. The photos should be close ups to medium to isolate the particular subject and the light source should be aimed directly at the subject for the same reason.
If you want to get even more creative, try using a rotating light source with different colored filters to capture photographs of the same subject with different colors and to create a blending of color hues. Also try isolating small details such as brake lights, emblems, insignia, headlights. Keep in mind to also take shots from various angles.
On many of these vehicles you can also find the names of makers and models, include them in some of your shots to create a "sentimental" attachment of sorts and to document some of the history. It would also be advisable to gather some information regarding each particular subject that you photograph. Having this information can prove useful if the images were to be used in a book production or any other publication.
For photographing the inside of many of these vehicles, you should use a photo flood light but avoid using a colored filter for these, since many have color in them already, unless there is very little detail left, then in which case illuminating the vehicle from the inside and using a different color light for the outside than the one used for the outside makes for great photos. Flash is not recommended for outside or inside details since it will more than likely overpower the subject.
Since many people continue to have a love affair with cars, motorcycles and other motorized vehicles, these photographs could probably be sold to individuals for use in a calendar and for general photographic purposes and publications, as well as in other compositional themes.
Many of the images obtained during this project can be set up as collages; showing various images at various angles and of different perspectives of the same vehicle displayed in one single framed display.
These types of presentation formats are quite popular in office settings, automobile insurance agencies, auto parts stores and car dealerships.
Seldom pursued is to showcase and sell your work at the various art shows that are frequently held in many parts of the country.
Most of these events are sponsored by local municipalities, draw large numbers of people, offer publicity opportunities and the vendor's fees are quite modest.
These venues not only present an avenue for possible sales but allows a photographer to network with other artists as well as a chance to advertise, so bringing along business cards or event better, postcard size samples of your best work presents a golden opportunity that should not be missed.
- Visit to a junk yard to photograph, what else, junk!
Junk yards are full of photographic potential. The first post of the series introduces the junk yard, cars piled high and deep.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez