There were gigantic mountains of various sorted materials at the scrapyard. And one was gleaming. The photography students were being guided through the eerie landscape of Upstate Shredding in Owego, New York, a scene one might easily view as depressing, especially on a damp sunless day. The junkyard was filled with huge mounds of smashed cars, old abandoned appliances, and all the broken used-up detritus of modern human life. So I was drawn to whatever light I could find. As we approached the base of the glittering mountain, I noticed the ground was littered with softly shimmering metals, the remains of cutouts from the tops and bottoms of tin cans. Gold and silver riddled the muddy ground.
It reminded me of the time, as a kid, I discovered lots of quarters dropped in the street. It also brought to mind the line, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” For me, in the midst of all the waste, it was like finding a veritable treasure. I photographed the heck out of it. We all did.
Later, when I surveyed the images I’d shot, the mountain looked like a dark but gaudy pile of garbage under a dull sky. In Photoshop, I turned a picture of the tin-riddled mud upside down, inverted it into a negative, and pumped up the highlights to bring forth a moon.
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