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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Forty-Two: Adding meaning to scenic vistas > Castle Rock, Moab, Utah, 2006
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Castle Rock, Moab, Utah, 2006

The great mesas and buttes of the American Southwest are timeless. My sepia vista of Castle Rock, shot from a mountain pass several miles away, makes the scene look as old as the first photographs of it. The distant hills in the far background fade away to white, just as they would in a 19th century image. The scene gradually fades in contrast and detail from front to back, as if we were going back in time to view the scene. I anchored the scene with a strong rock to the right, just as many 19th century photographers did in their own vistas. I rarely apply tints or colors to my images, but in this case, I feel the sepia form ages the content, and makes Castle Rock appear, as it would have looked to those who saw early photographic images of it in the 1800s. I cropped my picture into a long and narrow frame to add a sense of panoramic sweep.

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1/250s f/5.6 at 28.2mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis04-May-2012 20:48
Thanks, Billy, for bringing me back to this image once more -- it has been six years, and the image still stands the test of time, just as I intended it to. It does not surprise me that all four of those who have come to this image so far to leave comments are photographers whose own images have meant very much to me over the years: Jeanine, Ai Li, Marisa, and now you, Billy. All of you have appreciated exactly what I was trying to express here.
Billy Dugger 04-May-2012 14:01
Love your sepia treatment in this one. You remind me thr pioneers trekking westward across the vast continent to reach California.
Phil Douglis02-Dec-2006 22:40
Welcome back to my galleries, Marisa - it has been a long time. And thanks so much for noting the circular path of time here -- we are indeed continuously cycling through the eras represented by these rocks and by the tonalities I've used to present them. I love the way you read this image by pairs, too --past/present, left/right, dark/bright. You always make me see my images on a different level -- in this case, a delicate tracery of rocks providing a pattern of memories through time. Thank you, as always, for seeing so much in my photographs and helping them become ever more substantive as teaching examples. Please return soon, and help me continue to break new ground as an expressive photographer by allowing us to see what I have done through your mind and eye, Marisa.
Guest 02-Dec-2006 22:19
you're right Phil, it's like an old drawing (reminds me of the chinese/japanese art, too). Like a metaphor of the conscious, where we can trace the path that we walked because of the 'rocks' we can find there. Also the way you composed the image is very interesting. I can 'read' it by pairs and as a journey through the past and the present: the left/right direction, the dark/bright tones in the foreground/background...
The concept of time is not a line, it's a circle. Here this concept is magnificently represented. And the sepia tone is the key that allow the the imaginary trip.
Phil Douglis08-Nov-2006 20:46
I was thinking of you as I manipulated this image, Ai Li. We have had this discussion many times. I am a purist. I don't like to see form imposed on an image for aesthetic reasons. I rarely manipulate an image in my post processing, while you have done it more often to your own images. In this case, however, I go beyond aesthetics to enhance the content and extend the meaning of the image by turning it sepia. It does look like an old drawing, as old, perhaps, as the Old American West that still lingers in the collective memory of people all over the world. I knew you would feel this "treatment" creates a moving and meaningful image out of another time. Thank you for this comment.
AL08-Nov-2006 09:52
Oh wow! The sepia tone did give a fantastic aged feel. I'm truly captivated by the depth and the contrast. The faint detail and texture of the distant hills looked like hand sketched, a very old drawing. Good old west!
Phil Douglis01-Nov-2006 18:18
Thanks, Jenene -- I so seldom use effects like this. The danger is that the effect will call attention to itself at the expense of the content. In this case, however, the sepia tone perfectly characterizes the timeless nature of this scene. This image could have been made in 1876 -- the year Custer met doom on The Little Big Horn, and it would have looked exactly the same.
JSWaters01-Nov-2006 17:12
A nostalgic trip back in time for this child of the West. I can remember so many images like this, viewed on trips to museums and libraries. A wonderful way to express a connection to the past, Phil.
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