Thursday, 6 November 2008

Burntout Car in Tysley, Birmingham

I have often dreaded the thought of getting a telephone reporting a found burnt out car and for some reason not being able to go and photograph it. Well this morning it happened for real. About 9:30am I received a call from John the park cleaner about a car found off Cowley Road in Tysley, but I had to take my dog to the vet at 10am I had also arranged to take my dad for an appointment at 11 which meant the earliest I would be there would be 12:30 and by then the car could be towed away. A few years ago you would see burnt out cars left in the position were they were torched but nowadays they are carried away within hours so I was not confident this car would be there when I drove to the park.

The moment when I first see a car is full of anticipation, what condition will it be in is generally the most important concern but for this car I was just relieved to see it still there.

Sadly the arsonists had driven across and ploughed up the ground of the small football pitch. 

The car, a Ford Escort the make and model which traditionally produces some great scorch marks was in perfect condition and in an ideal position in the field which in the limited winter daylight is very helpful because it means there is a better chance of getting good quality sharp pictures.  I had plenty of room to move around the car and point my camera at the best angles, bear in mind that when I’m looking through the lens I aim to capture an image that resembles a landscape (either from outer space or the window of an airplane over a forest or sea or even a seascape below water) and during the manipulation of the image later on my PC I try to dissolve the picture of metal, plastic and glass. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing great markings on a car but that side of the vehicle is in shadow or to too close to a wall/fence and therefore I cant get access. The only problem I encountered here was the choking from the smoke of the still burning tyre.

I had been warned by John to lock my own car and watch my equipment and just be aware of what was going on around me while I worked (the inner city area of Tysley isn’t the best) but the burnout was on the edge of the park far away from the walking paths and Sally was on guard, nobody knows that she is so viscous she would lick them to death.

 Despite the warnings I experienced no problems and I was there photographing until it got dark, its unusual to have so much time to work (because the car would normally be towed away by lunch time) and once I had taken as many photographs using my usual method of lenses and camera settings I utilised the time to experiment not only with other lenses but I changed to my film SLR (Canon AE-1 Program) and used a few roles of film. Under normal circumstances I need to work quick and because of the time constrains I don’t like to use a tripod however, I was able to spend more time setting up the shot. I have often wondered what it would be like having a car in a photography studio with the perfect lighting conditions and being able control the shoot, one day it might happen but this was the closest I have come so far.

Hot of the press is a finished picture

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