McLean’s Auto Wreakers – Putting the Feelers out for Something……. More

I’ve been to McLean’s Auto Wreakers a handful of times before with the photo club. Each time it amazes me just how many cars of every year and make and model can fill acres and acres of land. For those who love rust, this is the place to be. It’s been at least two years since I was last there, when we pulled up, I was completely in awe of how many more vehicles were there.

The yard houses cars dating back to the 1930’s to today. Many of the older cars are settled in a cedar forest with mature trees growing through the hood or trunk. In this particular spot one could sit on the forest floor drinking in cedar aroma while meditating on photography, composing the next image.

Each time I was at McLean’s I vowed to come back with models. I had a vague idea of something I wanted to produce. But I was not able to translate it from mind to camera this time around. That afternoon, however, was a start to a development process; yet another personal project that will involve many more trips to Rockwood.

Initially I booked a male model to partner Amanda, Jeniffer’s niece. Unfortunately, due to health issues he wasn’t able to make it. As a replacement, I asked Jeniffer if her other niece, Vicki would be available. “Vicki had to call all her friends to see if she was available.” Jeniffer told me on the phone the night before. * Sigh * these social butterflies.

As it turned out, there were five of us and equipment packed into a Scion that I thought was much larger than I remember; myself at the helm, Jeniffer, Amanda, Vicky and Rob. Before we reached McLean’s, we stopped at Lowville Bistro for lunch. Although there was a baby shower in full swing, we still enjoyed our meal. I for one was happy to have an opportunity to eat there again. I always love to put a foodie twist into my adventures.

In the end, we didn’t even use the lights we lugged along. We arrived on site at 2pm-ish. The owner wasn’t at home when I knocked on the door. It’s customary to pay John a fee of $5.00 per person, though I paid him $20 for the group. Later, I found John talking to Jeniffer and Amanda a little ways into the yard. He was on a tractor hauling a rusted cabin of a truck. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of that.

As always, I brought some costumes for the girls to wear, but they had supplied their own. The dresses I brought would have been too cold for this day. As it was, they wore velvet cloaks or coats over what they had on. It was -1.

It’s a good challenge to shoot in a place like McLean’s Auto Wreakers. There’s so much that make an image look messy and cluttered. The challenge lies in making the story by simplifying what’s in the environment. Almost like putting blinders on a carriage horse. Someone suggested finding a place in the yard with no trees. I told them there is a spot like this, but the cars are modern and not so very interesting.

Around 4pm we piled back into the Scion and put the heat on full blast so we could un-thaw. Rob and I watched the skyline for the sun, the way it played through the clouds. It was too late by the time we got into another section. Although, there was still enough light, the sun went behind a cloudbank depriving us of a sunset. John said we should have been there yesterday. “The sky was red.” Dang.

At 6pm we packed up and drove home, hitting a much needed Tim Horton’s along the 46. I haven’t driven in and out of the city very often. In fact, I’ve been pushing myself to put in the practice by renting a car to pick up my Mom in Ottawa in the summer, for the January Beach Photo Club yurting trip, and now on my own outing excursions. I realized, the only thing that was stopping me from on location shooting, was my not pushing myself to drive. And here is the result of kicking myself in the ass.

On a Sip and Crit night at Gallery 44, I presented a select few pieces of work from McLean’s to other members. I had great responses. I let them know that these images are just the beginning that I’m trying to work towards something more creative. I based the success of the images by the comments I received. One of the most successful images was Vicki in a green car. I crouched close to the ground and shot up towards her, I was connecting with the model. Another image was Vicki walking into the distance towards the trees. People liked this because it was simplistic. There wasn’t the mess of cars, etc. that was cluttering the space around the model. The third image was Amanda in a truck. This image in particular is concentrating more on the model and less on the vehicle even though you can still see rust and peeling paint.

The point is to tell a story. The point is to have the model feel emotional about what they are doing and the space they are in. Give them a roll to play. Some of the group suggested that the models should not be looking into the camera. “You have to go back there.” Someone said to me. I told them I was and this is not the end. When it gets warmer. And go later in the day to make use of the lights.

Thank you the members of Gallery 44 who were at Sip and Crit that night and gave me wonderful encouragement.