“What do you see?” by Colleen Parker

The final day of a recent photography workshop was spent at the Gold King Mine Ghost Town outside Jerome, Arizona. The product of a fortuitous gold strike by a copper mining company, the now privately owned hillside ghost “town” of Haynes is home to antiquated buildings and mine equipment, and a wide array of cars, trucks and buses. A few are restored, but in truth this is a very large junkyard! In other words: a treasure trove of fun, inspiration and entertainment for photographers!

Our small group was let loose to clamber about the extensive hillside and hunt for shots. Pandemic limits were still in place, so we had very little company from regular tourists, which was a bonus. For those of us who love abstracts, this place was heaven on a stick! Although the desert sun was hot and very bright, we learned to shield our subjects with our hats and take some shelter in limited shade from the vehicles, always careful to check for… rattlesnakes (!). Yikes. This is how much I love photography!

This image was the crazed and peeling paint on an old truck door. Although I usually seek out bright or striking colors for abstracts, the pattern here appealed to me and I knew I could do something with it. The image came together when I reviewed it at home, and saw that by rotating it slightly, a mountain appeared, with a transition to what looks like roots, and maybe some streaky sky detail above. Not much else was needed, just a slight contrast and clarity boost to enhance the fractal-like detail. Inspirational credit is very much due to the inimitable Art Wolfe, who was our leader for this workshop. His mission was to teach us how to really “see” the world in a different way, and to encourage us to come away with images which are original and intentional. This journey has barely begun for me, but I am finding it immensely satisfying to combine intellectual curiosity, new techniques and the encouragement of like-minded lovers of photographic imaging!

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Intentional close cropping to a small area keeps the image simple and strong. Also, deliberate inclusion of essentially three “layers” of detail encourages viewer engagement and interpretation.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would use a tripod. Although the bright light allowed for fairly high shutter speeds and reasonable depth of field, many of these subjects were curved surfaces and would perhaps have been crisper if the camera were not hand held. Don’t be lazy, carry the tripod 😉

Colleen Parker shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Colleen Parker, Bainbridge Island, Washington State, USA.


Equipment and settings

Sony Alpha 7R IV, 24-105 mm G lens at 105 mm, circular polarizer
f/9.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 200
Basic processing in Lightroom.

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Comments (4):

  1. Stephen

    July 19, 2021 at 19:17

    You are wonderfully talented, Colleen Parker!!!!!!!

    • Colleen

      August 17, 2021 at 03:42

      Awww, thank you Stephen 😌!

  2. Colleen Parker

    August 18, 2021 at 18:00

    Thank you Elvis; much appreciated!


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