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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Safe Haven, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2008
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09-OCT-2008

Safe Haven, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2008

I found this huge bull elk resting near one a tourist parking lot. Elk prefer this place because they like the taste of the grass, which was originally planted for the US Army horses that grazed at the old Fort Yellowstone here in the early 20th century. The presence of so many tourists does not seem to bother them in the least. I make this incongruous point by waiting for a human to enter the frame neither party takes any notice of each other here.

Leica V-Lux 1
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Phil Douglis11-Jan-2009 23:43
Thanks, Nancy, for pointing out the additional incongruities in this image. I agree -- many visitors to Yellowstone are so consumed with their travel logistics that they ignore the very essence of the natural world that they supposedly came to see in the first place. (See the shot I made just outside the Old Faithful Inn athttp://www.pbase.com/pnd1/image/104717696 ) (Glad to take you "home" -- Helena has a special place in my heart. My wife's aunt and uncle lived there. He was a well-know judge there in the mid-20th century.)
Nancy Good11-Jan-2009 21:01
A couple more incongruities, Phil ... the shock of bright blue and yellow against the earthy color palette of the park; the hard man-made surfaces against the organic textures of elk hide, grass, stone. And though the elk isn't acknowledging the man, we can be very sure he knows the man is there. I've seen many a time in this park when, however, man doesn't have a clue who or what is around him. Having lived 20 years in Helena, Montana, I made it down to Yellowstone quite a few times. The lack of awareness among the majority of visitors as to the "wildness" of this national park treasure shocked me with every visit. Therein lies another incongruity - the fact that visitors flock to the park hoping to experience the wild nature of these amazing surroundings, and then they end up "missing the boat", so to speak, as they treat wild animals like domestic farm stock, while ignoring the deadly dangers of the geothermal features of this enormous volcanic caldera. Thanks for taking me "home" for a while.
:-)
Phil Douglis23-Nov-2008 20:11
I agree -- a pole in the middle of an image is an obvious distraction -- EXCEPT when the point of the image is based on splitting a relationship neatly in half. As you say, neither man nor beast recognizes each other's presence. And that is my message here.
Dave Wyman23-Nov-2008 03:24
Ordinarily I might object, aesthetically, to the pole in the center of the frame. And yet here, it serves as a nice component of the composition, neatly dividing the two species in a spatial sense, even as they evince a complete lack of psychological connection with each other.

Also, both figures are looking out of the frame, often touted at a no-no by those bent on promulgating "rules" for photography. Here, the seemingly misdirected views work in perfect sync with the rest of this incongruous image.
Phil Douglis18-Oct-2008 22:50
Thanks for pointing this out, Tim -- these are wild animals, who live here under national protection. Yet they know how to protect themselves, too. That is why the National Park Service suggests that tourists watch elk from a safe distance -- at least twenty five yards. That may not always be possible -- this man has to get to his car, the elk is sitting there, and life goes on.
Tim May18-Oct-2008 21:42
Yet, this elk has had his antlers cut off several times because of his attacks on cars. The placidity here can change in a moment.
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