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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > On the Pan American Highway, Trujillo, Peru
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On the Pan American Highway, Trujillo, Peru

Most incongruous pictures are there for the taking – we just have to be able to appreciate the nature of the incongruity and then make the most of it in our pictures. Every now and then, however, an incongruity will appear in a flash and then disappear. To capture such things in a photo, we must anticipate what could happen before it happens and be ready for it if it does. That’s what happened here. I was sitting in the front seat on the upper deck of a bus traveling along the Pan American Highway, when I noticed what looked like a huge bale of plant material rolling down the highway towards me. I had time to turn on the camera, frame, and shoot at a number of focal lengths. When I looked at the picture I had just made, I was stunned. My viewing screen showed a very well used truck carrying a load that seemed to defy the laws of gravity, and when I magnified the image, I also noticed several people huddling underneath the cargo just behind the cab. Bringing products to market in Latin America can be an adventure in incongruity.

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Phil Douglis24-Aug-2010 17:33
You never know, River King, when an incongruous situation might arise. I try to carry at least one of my three cameras with me whenever I travel. And if I am somehow without one of my cameras, I have a camera in my cell phone, which can always be used in such situations.
Guest 24-Aug-2010 05:34
Phil, you are so right about "we must anticipate what could happen before it happens and be ready for it if it does"... I have regret so many times that I didn't have a camera with me... not only I didn't capture what I saw but also I missed the opportunity to practice. Anyways, back to this picture, this is a stunning picture, it made me to laugh at the first thought because of the funny "expression" the truck has, and that such abnormal scale of weight the truck had to put on. You just demonstrated an awesome example of Incongruity.
Phil Douglis30-Jan-2006 03:20
Michael and Clara -- thanks so much for identifying the product as cornleaves. And for adding the additional incongruity via context for those cornleaves.
Michael White & Clara Bravo 29-Jan-2006 23:27
There is always space for 1 more kilo or 1 more person in Peru.
The load of cornleaves is also incongruous in the desert, 10% of which has been made fertile by irrigation.
Phil Douglis02-Oct-2005 04:00
Glad you picked up on that mountain, Lisbeth. Nice linkage.
Lisbeth Landstrøm01-Oct-2005 21:15
My first thought here was "...then the mountain must come to Muhammed". The truck seems to be a copy of the distant mountain - as it has now swung towards us in a huge swing of a pendulum. For me this effect of the picture adds to the impression of the achievement of the people on the truck - taking a well deserved rest.
Phil Douglis16-Aug-2005 16:14
Good eye, Rob. You pick up details here that I never noticed until now. You prove that a well-expressed image can be a treasure chest of ideas, if we are able to pry it open and truly explore it. You do just that here. Thank you.
Guest 16-Aug-2005 05:14
I live and work in Asia which is a haven of such images. I like the gradients here too, showing not only the slightly over laden truck strugging, but also the overloaded (looking at the springs) of the small utility behind it. The tanker going the other way adds to the scale, making the truck seem really odd, huge and out of place. We have a taxi coming up the rear as well, which seems out of place in the countryside depicted. the incongruities here are endless if one wants to dive in....
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 19:11
Thank you, Mikel, for spotting those additional incongruities here. And you are correct -- the Pan American Highway is the longest continuous highway in the world. The further south you travel on it, the more incongruous the sights become. As least for those of us who do not live in this part of the world.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 17:21
I think that first you have five scale incongruety's here, first of all you have a huge load of something in a small truk, that at it's time has a fiew people underneath that bunch of cargo like if it wold be bount to fall on them, then you also have the blue car behind the truck that seems just ridiculous and for ending the highway, a dubble track road that goes to the horizon but that still seems reletievly small with the truk ocupying a huge part of the image, by the way, the Panam Highway I think it is the largest one in the world, right? On the other hand I have a funny impression of the truck, it makes me think like an Afro-truck like if the cargo were the hair and the rest is easily identifiable.
Phil Douglis01-Dec-2004 23:54
Once again, you go beyond the expected response here Clara, to relate this image to economic success and failure. You are more than a talented photographer. You are also a humanist -- someone who is sensitive to the issues that create incongruities such as this. I salute you for being both.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 23:33
great real life journal photo. it explains how some people make a living, what level of industrialization they enjoy or rather suffer. well framed despite the difficult shooting.
Phil Douglis08-Nov-2004 21:16
I agree.
nut 08-Nov-2004 20:07
And yes, deny the laws of gravity. But it's more in scale incongruity because the background.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 19:30
Glad you saw one of life's lessons here, Nut, as well as the scale incongruity.
nut 06-Nov-2004 07:42
Engine against Newton Laws. I saw some people under the huge thing on the truck and I saw
the long way road here. When I compared all together, I got on more idea about life. Life is
not beautiful. Life is bad sometime and good sometime, heavy some time and light sometime.
But we have no way to escape, we have to make a deal with it and go on.
Phil Douglis02-Jun-2004 19:53
Thanks, Dirk -- one of the great pleasures of photography is anticipating what might happen, and then being able to have it work out beyond your expectations. This was one of those shots.
Guest 02-Jun-2004 14:25
Hi Phil,
Phenomenal image and as always a great story and I agree so much on the anticipating, something I also do often and always such an extra joy if what you where expecting also happened. A big bravo!
Phil Douglis12-Mar-2004 18:58
Good question, Bruce. Timing often involves previsualization. I had this picture more or less in mind long before I shot it. From my seat in the front of the upper deck of a double decker tourist bus, I spotted the incongruous bulk of this truck when it was at least a half mile away, and as the distance between us narrowed, I kept shooting at various focal lengths. This is the shot that worked the best.
Guest 12-Mar-2004 04:37
I've noticed that your sense of timing is phenomenal. How are you ready so quickly, without spending time on adjustments to your camera?
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