If you told me you had a great photo opportunity that included a burned out cinder block structure, lots of ambient sodium vapor light, and some very prominent spray-painted graffiti, my response wouldn’t reflect much enthusiasm for the subject. I’d be thinking to myself, “Too modern. Sounds ugly and without charm. Talk about a list of things I try to avoid in my choice of subjects–especially the graffiti.”
Except for the occasional boxcar mural (which was probably painted elsewhere), graffiti in the desert usually appears to be the work of a monkey with a spray can–random lines, scrawled initials, or adolescent mad-libs in the form <person you know> is a <body part>. But I felt quite differently when I came across this location on a daylight scouting foray. I thought the graffiti and more modern structure worked together, and I loved the dry wit of the “Home Sweet Home” as a caption for the scene. When I came back that night, the ambient light remained a problem, but I tried to turn it into a strength by adding red-gelled light to the pink cinder block, and lime-green to the empty windows. For me, the lighting combination resulted in a lurid, slightly queasy look for the house that contrasts with the dark blue sky and plays well with the sarcasm of the tagging.
Of course, I know you may not agree. In that case, feel free to complete this mad lib: <photographer’s name> is a <synonym for person who shows poor artistic judgment>.
133 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 18mm; red and lime gelled strobe; lots of xenon flashlight