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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Thirty Eight: The camera as time machine: linking the past to the present tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Thirty Eight: The camera as time machine: linking the past to the present

In Gallery Seven (“Making time count”), I demonstrate the ability of the still camera to lift a particular moment out of time, removing it from its context to express an idea. By stopping action, or in some cases extending it with blur to express motion, we can tell a visual story that our own eyes, which see continuously, can’t observe.

We can also use a camera as a “time machine.” With it, we can explore the past, linking it to the present, while at the same time preserving it for the future. Our images can interpret the past by viewing it within the context of the present day. In a sense, we are putting the camera to work as a visual historian, expressing the story of another time within a context of our own choosing.

In this gallery, I demonstrate how I use the camera as a “time machine,” starting with 20 images made over a three-day period in Northern Arizona. My subject is a small portion of a long abandoned highway that once connected Chicago to Los Angeles – the legendary US Route 66. I don’t shoot the old road itself. Instead, I photograph places and things associated with this road. I explore the things that time has left behind, expressing them as abstract, incongruous and humane symbols of the past, and hopefully creating present day meaning in the process. I’ve selected most of these images from my archive of digital travel articles posted at:

I hope to add additional images to this gallery that I will make while on future trips -- images that will bring other historical subjects out of the past, and into the present.

This gallery is presented in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.