Saturday, 12 May 2012

More Postcards from a Junkyard

2011_JunkyardDogs_043While I was constructing my original Junkyard Dog folio, I couldn't help notice the plants that are ever present in the junkyard.

Unlike the automobiles that shelter them, they are able to fight off decay, if only for a while. This fight, destined to be lost, makes for an interesting comparison with the Dogs' fight. The cars and trucks start to decay immediately after being "born". The plants, however, grow and thrive for a while before entropy takes over.

Plants are present everywhere in the junkyard, either in the form of live material or decaying husks. In my original folio, I was focussed on the texture and lines of the Dogs, which meant I had to constantly jockey for a composition that did not include the plants. So I thought I would create a folio that included both the Dogs and the plants that surround them.

In some cases, I chose to highlight how life can spring up amongst the shelter of the rusting hulks. Using a black and white medium allowed me to use high contrast as a tool to illustrate this counterpoint.


In some cases, plants seemed to have the upper hand. It looked like they were pushing aside the old vehicles to claim the yard as their own.


Everywhere I turned I saw plants softening compositions in front of me, a "visual savoury" to add flavour to my photographs.


Not all of what I saw was a contrast between the alive and the inanimate. In many cases, the effect was additive, with the plants' own decay adding to the malaise generated by the Dogs. This was the case with this old truck and the fallen leaves surrounding it and also settled in the empty headlight socket.


You can see all of the photographs in this folio here. You can purchase this folio for your own collection, or as a gift, here.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Postcards from a Junkyard

Junkyard Dogs 2I should first clearly state that junkyards are not to be confused with garbage dumps. Garbage dumps, which are also called tips, landfills, or rubbish dumps, are the final resting places of our daily waste. They came about after we congregated into communities and figured out we needed a common place to toss the things we no longer had a use for.

Junkyards, on the other hand, arose with the advent of the automobile. When we started driving, we started needing cheap parts as the machines wore or became damaged. What is a cheaper source of parts than other vehicles that can no longer function?

Junkyards are also a source of great imagery, as I discovered at a Freeman Patterson / Andre Gallant workshop many years ago. Andre had purchased some old clunkers and had them towed to a nearby field to be used as target practice. I still remember the first assignment: photograph the texture of the rust on the cars!

I never thought any more about Andre's old cars until many years later when a co-worker paid me a back-handed compliment. She said I could "take a picture of garbage and make it look nice". Her commendation gave me the idea to challenge myself to spend some serious time at a junkyard and see what I could see.

I do not know who the inventor of the junkyard is; there was probably more than one person. I suspect that there were a number of enterprising individuals who saw the business opportunity in collecting old cars and trucks and selling off the usable parts before selling the remaining carcass to be melted down and used again.

Junkyard Dogs 4

Junkyards enjoy cult status. There have even been television shows such as Scrapheap Challenge and Junkyard Wars, where the junkyard is central to the theme of the show.

Indeed, the value of the junkyard is high enough that owners of junkyards often employ guard dogs to protect their investment. These dogs have a reputation for being very mean-spirited, but I suspect their bark is worse than their bite. Behind that gruff exterior of the junkyard dog is a puppy just waiting to have its belly rubbed.

Junkyard Dogs 5

I think that the cars and trucks that inhabit the junkyard are the true “junkyard dogs”. Their surfaces, once shiny and smooth, are now textured with rust. Holes puncture their bodies, like some ancient body piercing ritual gone awry. Straight lines are now curved, curved lines are now crooked. All of this gives them a very gruff, mean look.

Junkyard Dogs 3

However, despite this entropic decay, there are bits and pieces of their former glory that peek through this “mean fa├žade” for you to see. There are wonderful geometries, offsets, and textures. These "dogs" really do put you to the test to discover beauty where it lies.

Junkyard Dogs 2

I was quite happy with my time spent amongst these old warriors. So much so that I packaged together a number of the images into a folio. To see the entire folio, go here. If you would like to purchase a copy of the folio, go here.