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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Sixteen: Story-telling street photography > Heat, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007
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Heat, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007

Phoenix is hot in the spring and hotter in the summer. And this office worker, wearing an ID badge around his neck, shows its effect. I shot this image on a hot day in May from across the street, using a telephoto focal length of about 240mm. I focused and exposed with a spot meter on the highlights of his white shirt in order to prevent burning them out. The image becomes darker as a result, which helps hold detail in the bright sidewalk as well. He covers his eyes with his hand. Does he see the signboard for the Deli that seems to be in his path? Or has he often walked this way before, and no longer needs to closely watch his step? This image asks such questions to the viewers, as well as expressing the effect of the climate on those who walk this street.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/640s f/8.0 at 50.9mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis21-May-2007 04:28
I see that this simple image asks you many questions, Ceci, which was my intention. Expressive photographs do not explain, they query. They do not describe the subject. Rather, they attempt to interpret it. You a wonderful job of negotiating the mysteries of a Phoenix street scene here -- right down to hearing the silence of the scene. Thank you.
Guest 21-May-2007 04:10
This is such an intimate moment, you have "eavesdropped" on someone who might just be wiping the cobwebs from his brain, or flicking off an irritating gnat, or trying to banish a headache, or is overwhelmed by things that the viewer cannot know about; or who had a momentary itch on his brow. Any of these things might have made the picture, giving him the appearance of being far away and certainly a bit melancholy. His trajectory does not seem to me to be in the path of the sign (which echoes his bent legs), but given the foreshortening of the lens, this is questionable. It all adds up to quite a complex scene, for all its simplicity. Given the dark opening, the silence of this shot, the wall behind him being repaired, I find myself wishing that whatever his "problems" might be, they were eased later on in the day, or perhaps the week. Lots of mysterious emotion here, Phil! Well done!
Phil Douglis17-May-2007 05:44
Thaks, Aloha, for working so hard to understand the nature of street photography. What you see here is reality caught in the moment, but the simple uncluttered context offered by the interplay of light and shadow and the sign is just as important as this moment in time. One of the great challenges of street photography is simplification. The street is littered with many signs, and cars are constantly passing between my camera and my subjects. I had to find a simple section of shadowed wall and bright sidewalk, and then wait for people to pass through this section. I had no control over their behavior. And so I photographed many people over a course of ten minutes. This was the only one that told a coherent story. As HCB said, you have to milk the cow a lot in order to get a bit of cheese.
Aloha Diao Lavina17-May-2007 03:32
More and more I understand how street photography has to be about catching the moment. I like the captured moment here, the man wiping sweat off his eyelid. Also wonderful here is the lighting on both the man and the sign--beautiful.
Phil Douglis13-May-2007 05:46
I saw disorientaton, probably due from walking out of a dark, cool building into the bright, hot sunlight. But that's because I had additionial context -- I saw him come out of his office building and stagger into the sun. He well might have conflicted thoughts about going to lunch. And he may be already exhausted after taking twenty steps in the heat. You are right -- he seems oblivious to the external realities. As you imply, he may well have already fled to a cooler place in his head.
JSWaters13-May-2007 03:23
I empathize with this man - he is absorbed in conflicted thought. His body language screams exhaustion and a kind of hopelessness. I get the impression he's not seeing anything but the images in his head.
Phil Douglis11-May-2007 17:25
I rarely if ever use a tripod, Alina. I never use flash, either. I want to be as invisible as possible.
Alina11-May-2007 08:39
You can see a lot of details on his shirt. Did you use a tripod?
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