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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Forty One: Ruins and wrecks: photographing the rusted, busted past tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Forty One: Ruins and wrecks: photographing the rusted, busted past

As we travel, we often come upon ruins and abandoned things and places -- the residue of another time. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. We can view the rusted, busted past with irony and perspective. Our images of it can recall broken dreams and humble lives. They can also slash grandiose visions down to size. The small details of shattered things often can tell stories of those who built them, lived in them, drove them and perhaps even destroyed them. There are many wonderful ways to approach ruins and wrecks with our cameras. We can photograph them as incongruities, abstract them so that what is now ugly may become beautiful again, and we can also tell the human stories that may still haunt them. I’ve done a bit of all of this in this gallery.

Many of these images were made on my second visit to what is probably the most fascinating ghost town in the US: Bodie State Historic Park, California. I’ve already devoted an entire gallery to the fruits of my first visit there back in 2004, a gallery focused on expressing a “sense of place.” There is so much more to say about Bodie, and through Bodie, about all of us. That’s why I’ve gone back for another long look. As I noted the first time around, “Bodie is the last great mining ghost town of the old west -- a town of nearly 500 structures, creaking, bending and breaking in the blustery winds of the High Sierra. Some of them are now more than 125 years old, yet they still exist out there near the California-Nevada border, preserved as a California State Historic Park in a state of “arrested decay.” Between the Civil War and World War II, Bodie – one of the most murderous towns in the old west -- produced close to $100 million in gold and silver. When its mines finally shut down forever in the 1940s, the town withered and died. Only five per cent of what once was Bodie still remains. But what a five per cent that is!”

I present this gallery 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.