Night photography: Junkyard accident panorama

Junkyard accident night panorama -- by Joe Reifer

Junkyard accident night panorama -- by Joe Reifer

My skin is metallic now, no longer an elegant powder blue
My body unhinged and sleeping in the jungle
Of motor block manifolds and metal relics

What was deluxe becomes debris, I never questioned loyalty
But this dead end demolishes the dreams of an open highway

– Adrian Belew, from King Crimson’s “Dig Me”

Here’s the scene. I’m preparing to climb up the side of the Caterpillar dinosaur seen tearing a car in half in this video in order to shoot a 360 degree night panorama of the junkyard. And then out of the silence of the desert night there is a sound. A sound that will haunt me for years. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was a car crash or a plane crash or a close encounter. I got on top of the dinosaur to take a look. The sound turned out to be a high speed head-on collision about a mile away. A strange kind of shock, and then sirens, as police and ambulances quickly rolled to the scene. I setup for the 360 panorama and by the time I was completing the last shots a helicopter appeared in the sky for an airlift. As the helicopter departed, I made the image below. We didn’t see anything in the paper the next day. I was able to track down some of the accident details online: the driver of one car died, the couple in the other car were airlifted to a hospital. I hope they’re OK.

Mojave Desert car accident airlift -- by Joe Reifer

Mojave Desert car accident airlift -- by Joe Reifer


7 thoughts on “Night photography: Junkyard accident panorama”

  1. wow. aside from the sobering story, the pano is really helpful in letting me see what has changed from april. are you going to post the full 360?

  2. That’s one of the coolest pictures you’ve ever taken Joe. That distortion on the crane is just insane and it’s amazing that you were able to get it all to line up so well. Hats off, bub.

    The accident . . . yes . . . the sound was unforgettable. The whole experience really made me feel ghoulishly odd, taking pictures of wrecked cars while that scene was happening just over the fence. That you captured the ambiance of the event in that amazing photograph only gives it even more depth and pathos.

    1. Whoa, many thanks, Uncle T. I’m still processing what happened. Hearing the sound of someone dying while standing in that environment was really heavy.

Comments are closed.