Apparently it’s a Junkyard Out Here

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Biodegradable vs Non-Biodegradable Waste, Angeles National Forest, California Photo of Biodegradable vs Non-Biodegradable Waste, Angeles National Forest, California

Depending on the season and weather conditions, my local area can look beautiful occasionally on the surface. Upon a closer look you will find tree carvings usually of the Boy + Girl variety, you will find a lot of beer cans, and gang graffiti on the granite rocks. Ahh, the drawbacks of having a rugged wilderness area in Los Angeles County. Oh yes!

It’s this type of stuff that I have to deal with every time I go out shooting near my house. As much as I want to shoot only pretty pictures, I want to be honest and won’t make any illusions about what it is like to spend time in the San Gabriel Mountains. Hopefully my pictures will at least make a few people angry enough to positively influence those around them. Making people care about the environment is an uphill battle for sure in this area especially when the average person you see on a trail is a dad with his three young boys wearing sandals and breathing as if oxygen is going out of style, or teenage skinny-dippers in the creek.

I found fall foliage swirling very fast in this creek and used long exposure times to get them blurred. However I couldn’t ignore the fact that a discarded beer can was also in the water. So I took the aluminum can out of the water and set it on the dry leaves. I wanted to do a visual metaphor for the moving leaves representing nature’s cycle of life and the can not going anywhere; which is exactly what non-biodegradable waste does. It stays around forever. Don’t litter.

See more of my environmental photography.


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8 thoughts

  1. Richard,

    I see your point and I see that you want to make a statement. I wouldn’t argue from an artistic point of view though. Artistically it is completely irrelevant if there are beer cans and graffiti. Art is not about the subjects, it is about their representation. I can complain about no color and no lines being present (which is almost never the case), but why should I complain about graffiti? Vivid colors, keen lines, and all for free, even when the light is dull and no “snapshooter’s subject” is available. Not too shabby!

    Whether you get applause from the crowds, that’s another question. For the images on my blog, I can pretty accurately predict which ones will get no comments, and this is OK. They may not mean anything to most viewers, but that does not make them less valuable to me. It’s probably not about the subject at all any more, it’s probably a statement about geometric configurations, even when the things that I bring in relation with each other, are in reality litter. Not all beauty is superficially pretty.

    Andreas

  2. Andreas, I appreciate your chiming in. However, I think you missed the point of the blog post. A wilderness area is meant to be preserved in a relatively natural state. When man opts to deface nature then that is not only disrespectful to the community but criminal behavior here in the U.S. If someone wants to graffiti a wall that they own then that is up to them, but for gods sake don’t F up the planet for everyone else.

    I do agree with you to an extent that there is some artistic merit to graffiti but there is an appropriate time and place for everything. A national forest, it is not. I am a nature-lover, this issue has nothing to do with artistic integrity.

  3. Richard, I perfectly agree with you, but you missed my point. I did not say that the graffiti themselves have artistic merit (some of them do), but what you can make of them in your photography may have.

    It was your half-sentence “As much as I want to shoot only pretty pictures, …” that sparked my comment. My point is, that artistic imagery does not need subjects that are necessarily “pretty” in the widely agreed sense.

    As to the environment, I am completely with you 🙂

    Andreas

  4. Thanks for the clarification Andreas. Yes I do agree that there can be art found potentially in most anything. By the sentence you quoted, I was referring to traditional nature landscape photography which features limited evidence of man in wilderness areas.

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