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Paul’s Junkyard @ Twilight – Lancaster, CA

February 17th, 2012 by Stu

Pictured Above: “Swept Away” – Night photography from Troy Paiva – Old yellow school bus at Paul’s Junkyard (Night, 2-minute exposure. Full moon, natural xenon flashlight and red-gelled strobe).

Bet you didn’t know junkyards could be this charming. Well, that’s what happens when you combine a starry California night with the amazing talents of photographer Troy Paiva. We’ve covered Troy’s junkyard exploits before, last time at Pearsonville. This time around, Troy did his rounds at Paul’s Junkyard in the high desert near Lancaster, CA.  As you can tell from the amazing photos displayed here, there were plenty of cool old cars, buses, airplanes, and even tanks, to focus a lens on. What’s interesting about this yard versus others is how many old movie cars and props managed to wind up there. Perhaps it’s the proximity to Hollywood.

Troy actually holds night photography workshops at this junkyard a few times a year in case you’re interested in seeing how it’s done. The next one is just around the corner. Email Troy for more info.

“The Forgotten Spy”

Super-rare Ghia-bodied 1960 Chrysler Imperial Limousine, customized as a prop car for the movie “Lemony Snicket.” Possibly the coolest car interior I’ve ever seen anywhere. That it’s decaying in a junkyard makes it even more insanely cool! Yeah, you really need to sign onto our workshop mailing list so you can shoot here too.

“Interstate 5 by Airliner”

Exotic debris, piled up at Paul’s Junkyard, site of my upcoming night photography and light painting workshop. A totally unique experience in the photography workshop universe, day or night. Night, 4 minute exposure. Full moon, lime-gelled and natural LED flashlight.

“Prague Quad”

Tatra 2-603 II , “Lemony Snicket” movie prop car (it’s on casters!) at Paul’s Junkyard.

Night, 4 minute exposure. Full moon, xenon and red LED flashlights.


Northrop F-5 fighter jet tail section, damaged as a movie prop, tucked away in a cramped corner ofPaul’s Junkyard. Man, there are some insanely good images piling up in the Paul’s Junkyard Workshop pool that deserve to be seen. Night. Five 4-minute exposures stacked, giving 20-minute star trails. Full moon, xenon flashlight and red-gelled strobe and LED flashlight.

“Flank Against the Fence”

1971/72 Mustang at Paul’s Junkyard. Until recently this car was hidden behind a pile of 30′ girders.

I focused the camera on the grille and headlights first. The interior was lit with a green-gelled strobe, the headlights, a natural LED and the red is an LED flashlight reflected off of a white car right behind the camera. This bounced, indirect-lighting technique gives a much softer quality of light. Once I got a good light painted image in the camera, I refocused on ∞ and kicked back while the camera banged out three 7-minute exposures. I stacked ‘em all together in Photoshop for 21-minute star trails and 1′ to ∞ depth of field.

“Cabover Pete”

After sunset at Paul’s Junkyard. The sky didn’t really look like this, it was much darker and less colorful, but the 1 minute exposure allowed the sky to really burn in and saturate. It also gave me just enough time to get a bunch of low power strobe pops off. Lime from the rear, a couple of blues inside the cab and an un-gelled pop from off camera-left to give the scene some mild ambient glow.

“Tripped by Ty Cobb’s Ghost”

This 1959 Chrysler Imperial is a studio prop car from the movie “Cobb.” It’s just a body and interior. There’s no chassis, wheels or driveline. It’s perched on a pile of rickety pipes along the fence at Paul’s junkyard. I set up the camera legs between the pipes and had to climb on them to add the lighting from various angles. The whole pile felt like it was ready to come down. I fell down and smacked my shin hard on a piece of steel getting this shot. They say ‘ol Ty was an ornery cuss . . .

“Me and My Arrow”

A Dodge Ramcharger and Plymouth Arrow in a pile at Paul’s junkyard. The camera was literally resting on the ground to get this shot. I propped the lens to nearly vertical with a towel. My favorite feature on the 60D I’m shooting with now is the swivel screen. I can preview the shot comfortably, from impossible angles like this. No more laying in the dirt! 345 second exposure, single shot under full moon light. Lime, red and purple gelled strobe and flashlight from at least 5 angles. A little cloning of lens flare (from the strobe) and a couple of hot spot reflections. Shot during the workshop in April 2011.

“Mack’s Pulsing Red Nose”

Another rough gem in cold storage along the south fence at Paul’s, this is a late-’30s Mack Fire truck. Purple-gelled strobe on the fence and bounced onto the grille. Yellow-gelled strobe inside the cab from off-camera right. Natural xenon flashlight, towards the camera, down the side of the hood and red spotlight. Snooted red and natural LED on the two lights. The 4-minute exposure allowed the clouds to slither across the sky.

“Pancho Villa”

Paul brought one of his toys out for us to shoot, this beautifully restored 1908 REO Model B. Pretty sure this is the oldest car I’ve ever shot. I’ve been looking at that Policia Federal car, parked at Paul’s, for many nights now and the placement of the REO finally gave me a good context for shooting it. This was an 83 second exposure, just enough time to pop the strobe once from camera right and twice from just out of view, camera left. There’s 3 red pops under the car from the rear and some snooted LED on the logo. I intentionally left the rest of the police car dark so your eye only concentrates on the logo, which leads you into the REO. I burned the distracting row of cars behind the REO to black.

“Hereby Discharged”

Wow, we really had crazy clouds and even some lightning at the Paul’s Junkyard Workshop last weekend! It was an exceptionally surreal trip this time. I’m still processing my pix, but here’s one to get you started.

3-minute exposure with the full moon behind the clouds most of the time. The lack of moonlight meant I had to add my own light. This was four red and three blue 1/4 power strobe pops. I doubled up on the lighting, compositing in a couple of extra bolts from a second exposure. Why does the lightning almost always seem to happen right after you close the lens?

“The Mummies”

A ghoulie goodie for you, uploaded from the road. Shot last night at Paul’s Junkyard. It’s surfpunk band “The Mummies” tour ambulance. Night, 2 minute exposure, full moon, natural and red-gelled flashlight.

“The Unsalted Rim”

Airliner engine nacelle, at Paul’s Junkyard.

“The Howling Raptor”

This was an actual former Sheriff’s bus converted to movie use. It had a huge roll bar installed and then it was barrel-rolled by stunt driver Corey Eubanks (OMG, look at this insane video of the crash!) for the movie “Fast Five.” This bus has probably been eaten by that dinosaur already. Paul’s Junkyard, “Wrecker to the Stars.”

Night. Two, 8-minute exposures, stacked for star trail length. Full moon, red-gelled strobe (multiple pops).

“I Live in a Fuselage”

Airstream and Spartan Imperial Mansion trailers, in storage at Paul’s Junkyard.

Night, 2 minute exposure. Full moon, xenon flashlight, red and purple-gelled strobe.



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