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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Ninety-five: Back to the beach -- finding new stories in familiar subjects tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Ninety-five: Back to the beach -- finding new stories in familiar subjects

In the summer of 2015, I returned to a Pacific Ocean beachfront once again, in search of new stories about very familiar subjects.

In Gallery Ninety-One, which I posted in the summer of 2014, I visited Imperial Beach, California for a month to photograph surfers in action, sunbathers, belly-boarders, fishermen, wildlife, street life, examples of public art, and spectacular sunset and dusk scenes. Each of those subjects presented an infinite array of variations and expressive possibilities. In that gallery, I demonstrated a principle I’ve always emphasized in my teaching: it is not what we shoot that is most important to expression. It is how and why we photograph a subject that can make all the difference in its meaning.

In this gallery, I display images made on San Diego’s Mission Beach, twenty miles north of Imperial Beach. These photos continue to prove that it’s not the subject itself that tells the story – it’s our photographic approach to the subject that expresses our ideas. I shot the very same ocean, and very similar subject matter, yet the two places produced pictures that tell entirely different stories.

Last year, Imperial Beach offered a pier to shoot from, bringing me much closer to surfing action. This year, Mission Beach provided a three-mile long ocean-front boardwalk filled with cyclists, skateboarders, runners, and walkers. Once again, I was able to shoot from an oceanfront condo, but this time around, I had a second floor balcony to shoot from. This made “people-photography” easier, since my high vantage point made me far less visible to my subjects.

Once again I was able to photograph for a few hours on each of 27 different days. I varied light conditions by shooting during the morning, the late afternoon, sunset, and dusk. I amassed more than 12,000 images, and edited them down to about 400 keepers. I offer 75 of those images to you in this gallery.

I continue to use a mirrorless lightweight camera to make all these photographs – a compact, weather resistant Fuji XT-1 body, offering both a huge internal viewfinder as well as a flip out LCD screen. A pair of excellent Fuji lightweight lenses offered me a range of focal lengths from 24mm wideangle to 345mm telephoto. Introduced in 2014, the XT-1 remains among Fuji’s flagship cameras. It focuses extremely quickly and it also allows me to make photographs at high sensitivity (ISO) levels without losing much detail.

I present this gallery, as usual, in “blog” style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. By clicking on that large thumbnail, you will see the photograph in its full size, as well as have an opportunity to leave comments, ask questions, and read the comments of others. I hope you will participate in this dialogue. I welcome your impressions, ideas and questions, and I will be delighted to respond.