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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, 2007
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19-FEB-2007

Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, 2007

The Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the United States, 282 feet below sea level. Visitors can walk over a mile out onto the saltpans below. They are dwarfed by the Panamint Mountains in the distance. It is this scale incongruity that tells the story. Although there is a crowd of people in this image, that crowd is vastly diminished by the scale of both the mountains and the valley. Although I made this image with a 200mm lens, I was far enough away from my subjects to retain this scale difference.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/400s f/7.1 at 43.9mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis09-Jul-2008 20:13
Thanks, Cyndy, as always, for your pair of comments on this image. As you know, I have already commented on your version. We both have different stories to tell here, and we use different optical tools to make our points. Mine is all about the immensity of the natural world, and man's puny place in it, while yours is about blistering heat, the essence of Death Valley itself.
Guest 09-Jul-2008 01:29
We did have different interpretations of the same area, didn't we, Phil? When I was there, I wanted to emphasize the vast barreness of the landscape under a sun which nearly burned the retinas with its laser-like light. Here's mine:http://www.pbase.com/image/99848598
Guest 09-Jul-2008 01:13
I believe you did accomplish your objective in this image, Phil. The people at the bottom of the image are nearly flattened by the mountains in the background, which not only fill the frame, but consume it. Mother Nature is indeed an all-powerful entity.
Phil Douglis02-Jul-2007 20:38
An image, Daniel, can only do so much. I don't see this as a hugely emotional picture. But is certainly an expressive one. As for stimulating the intellect, I would suggest that just being able to cause the viewer to think about the staggering scale of the natural world is enough to trigger an internal intellectual dialogue. Could this image go one step further? Yes it could. If we had been able to arrive here at dawn or dusk, the colors would have been strikingly different, abstracting the mountain to a greater degree, and adding an atmosphere or mood that would certainly stimulate the emotions to a greater degree. Keep in mind however, that this entire cyberbook is geared to the interests of travel photographers. And all travel photographers must make comprimises. While a National Geographic photographer can spend weeks at a time here in Death Valley, and with that kind of time, capture the mood of morning or evening light anywhere he or she wishes, most of us must be more selective because of time limitations. This image is a good lesson in scale incongruity. It is not the ultimate in expressive landscape photography, however. That would require the good fortune or the luxury of time to be here when the light itself is more expressive. Hope this helps you to see this cyberbook and its examples in a more pragmatic context, Daniel.
Guest 02-Jul-2007 20:27
While the incongruency in this image certainly illustrates the incredible size of the Panamint Mountains in the distance, from the viewer's perspective, it doesn't really elicit as much emotion or stimulate as much intellectual thought as your previous images. Or is it just me and am I missing something? Somehow I feel like this image can go one step further.
Phil Douglis02-Mar-2007 23:03
Yes, I know how much you liked this place. I agree with you that these could just as well be skaters on a frozen pond. In any event, they are certainly incongrous in terms of scale.
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