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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Eight: Light and shadow shape meaning > Union Station, Los Angeles, California, 2012
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Union Station, Los Angeles, California, 2012
16-AUG-2012

Union Station, Los Angeles, California, 2012

The last of the great railway stations, the Union Station in Los Angeles opened in 1939 and has been serving California travelers for more than 60 years. Its spectacular “Streamline Moderne” style has remained intact through the years, serving Amtrak customers as well as commuter, subway, and bus passengers. I focus here on a sole traveler entering the vast waiting room late in the afternoon. As she stepped into a pool of light, shopping bags in hand, I abstract her as a symbolic representative of all the passengers who have passed through this historic building over the years. The light illuminates her shape from behind, while the shadows minimize descriptive appearance. The sweep of a huge arch in the background echoes the flow of curving light on her body and head.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
1/80s f/2.6 at 10.0mm iso80 full exif

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Phil Douglis29-May-2016 23:19
Thanks, Marisa. Train stations were once considered "gateways" to cities. Most visitors arrived and departed from them and felt important in doing so. Station architecture celebrated this importance, implied here by that soaring arch. You tell us that the "glory days" of railroad travel are long gone, and the glamour of arrival and departure has faded away. Yet the triumphant architecture of this structure remains, and contrasts here to the everyday realities of our time.
Marisa Taddia28-May-2016 22:16
This image speaks of time and change of habits. The magnificent architecture of the train station recalls a time when travel to important places required to dress in the best clothes. Today, as shown in the capture, those glory days are gone and the lone visitor not only wears a multiracial outfit (as Tim pointed out), but carries in her hands everyday purchases bags. Glamor is gone and has given way to a more relaxed life.
Phil Douglis15-Oct-2012 03:48
You are right, Tim -- this image has multi-cultural overtones, and seen in that light (pun intended), it brings new meaning to the photograph.
Tim May13-Oct-2012 22:39
I get the impression here that the woman has her head covered - which for me speaks of her being a Muslim woman. This adds a new dimension for me to this image in that it speaks of the way "Streamline Moderne" becomes our current "muti-cultural modern."
Phil Douglis18-Sep-2012 20:26
Thanks, Iris and John, for your comments on this image. By limiting the station itself to essentially a soaring arch, I tried to express the "Streamlined" style of an era. Train travel was once full of elegance, as you note in your comment, Iris. Today's trains are packed with commuters -- train travel has become a routine chore. This image compares the remnants of nostalgic elegance with the present realities of commuter travel.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)02-Sep-2012 00:58
There is so much nostalgia and elegance associated with the old train stations and you certainly express both in this image.
Phil Douglis31-Aug-2012 23:22
We spent two hours here, Vera, and I made more than 100 images in this remarkable building. This is the one I posted, because it can teach us the most. Thanks for your comment, as always.
veraferia31-Aug-2012 20:48
Splendid light and composition! Welcome back master!
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