Inspired by the work of a photographer friend, Tom Ferris (whose fabulous work ranges much more widely than currently represented on his website), I followed a route he and other photographers have trodden before: to the junkyard. My “junkyard” was billed as an antique lot by the owner, while the city considered it an auto sales shop, but both were happy to let me photograph.

Old cars and decrepit structures, especially in the western U.S., are a favorite subject and make up a genre unto themselves, one that seems to fit in particularly well with the landscape here. Though having said that, I think that natural destruction and decay always takes on the local character of place and climate. Having said which, I realize one could say the same of the destruction and decay that occur with human assistance in urban environments. I guess that the way things die is just inherently a part of what we understand by “place.”

Though I made a few descriptive photographs, the one above represents a big step into abstraction. It’s a close-up of a car fender, rotated to be vertical. The lack of context and scale, along with the rotation, make it hard to recognize immediately. I’ve also increased the saturation somewhat in this color version, though I also like it in straight black and white.

The abstraction road must follow a slippery slope, for I soon began getting much closer to the subjects, which were no longer cars, but weathered surfaces of peeling paint and rust. This was no surprise, as many others I knew of had done the same. What was a surprise to me was the world of color possibilities that open up once one decides to leave reality behind and fiddle with that saturation control. Having almost always worked in monochrome, I was blown away by both the strength of the emotional impact of the raw color, and the endless nuances possible. This is the closest I’ve come to appreciating a painter’s choices. To a newcomer, it can be rather overwhelming, but it’s also a blast to play with!


I think I have a whole new voice to find here. Not that my old voice has changed really, it’s more like an alternative voice for saying different things. I’ll probably overdo it a lot as I learn my way, but I’m going to have fun exploring. So give me a peek at the territory ahead. How did you discover color?