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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > USS Midway and Friend, San Diego, California, 2004
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USS Midway and Friend, San Diego, California, 2004
17-APR-2004

USS Midway and Friend, San Diego, California, 2004

The hull of the famed US Aircraft Carrier Midway, now a museum in San Diego Harbor, dwarfs this small Naval Security ship on patrol. I made this photograph from the opposite shore with a 210mm telephoto converter lens, and then cropped off the flight deck to abstract the Midway, and make its massive hull seem even larger. This power of this image comes from its scale incongruity – the contrast of the small ship cruising along under the wave-like pattern painted on the side of the Midway’s hull. To me, the idea of this tiny boat guarding what once was one of the largest warships on earth was incongruous in itself. I simply had to find an appropriate vantage point, choose the right lens length, and capture the right moment to make it work as a photograph.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/800s f/4.0 at 28.8mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
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Ian Clowes22-Jan-2005 22:26
That's a very powerful image - you cropped just right!
Phil Douglis22-Dec-2004 20:54
Hi, Mikel. A number of people have told me that my rendition of the Midway reminds them of a baleen whale. i was attracted to those flowing dimensional lines in the hull, as much as I was to the size disparity. They do, indeed, bring both dimension and volume to this image that a flat looking hull would not have done. Those wavy lines also imply that the Midway is in motion, even though it is not. In concentrating only on the three dimensional aspect of the hull, I abstract most of the ship, not showing where it began or ended (much as I did in the earlier Guggenheim image). This makes it seem even larger than it is, and thereby intensifies the scale incongruity.
Xabier Mikel Laburu Van Woudenberg22-Dec-2004 19:51
It is realy incongruous to see that little patrol boat that even contrasts with the large vessel in colour I also had the idea of it garding one very ausome military boat, though I thought that perhaps it was giding it out of port. Anyway I have to say that the mettal shapes of the Midway aslo give a dimension and volume to the background that is not flat, perhaps not that much as with the Gugenheim since it is not reflecting all the colours, but it also gives it a certain dinamism that in a certain way wold simulate the waves in a calm lake seen from above, a thik mist or even a huge gray whale... or perhaps a hanging bead sheet waving in the brezze. :S
Guest 02-Dec-2004 22:39
I meant USO, Unidentified Swimming Object !!
Phil Douglis01-Dec-2004 23:29
I think you mean UFO. But I'll take the compliment anyway, Clara.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 20:08
so huge that is almost a fantasy or an USO.
Phil Douglis02-Nov-2004 17:33
You are doing a great job at absorbing the lessons I am trying to teach here, Nut. This image is indeed based on incongruity caused by abstraction. I only show a tiny part of the aircraft carrier by abstracting it in this way. Less is more. And the tiny ship is much less than the bigger ship it protects.
nut 02-Nov-2004 13:28
It is an abstract incongrutity. Incongruity in scale to show how small this Naval
security ship is. The purpose of the scale incongrutity is to highlight the abstract
incongrutity.
Cecilia Lim 01-Sep-2004 19:27
This is a great image Phil because not only does it have strong visual appeal, it also describes scale very well AND tickles the brain by pointing out the ironic - that a tiny boat could possibly guard and offer security to a boat umpteen times bigger than itself and which is capable of much more destruction!
--The way you've pulled all the elements of design has worked so well for this image. The wavy pattern on the USS Midway accentuates the movement of the security boat cutting through the water.
--Where you've placed the security boat is also important - You have generally used the "rule of thirds" to position the boat effectively within the frame, but within this rule you have gone against the norm of placing the subject on the right third instead of the left, to work to your advantage. Generally, photographers would place a moving subject two thirds away from the edge of the frame that it is moving towards - this helps to create a visual space for it to travel trough, and/or implies direction. But you've done the opposite to create a purposeful meaning. By placing it on the right nearer to the right edge of the frame, it now now appears to be charging ahead, creating a sense of leadership, authority, duty and fearlessness in this tiny little boat.
--Abstraction is also used well here as you seem to be making the point that the USS Midway was so huge that you couldn't get any other part of the ship within your frame! By not showing everything, it leaves much to the imagination, making us wonder in awe how huge the warship could really be.
However I do wonder if the difference in the scale of the boats could have been even more effectively emphasized if you had shown some of the deck and the front of the ship, as constants for the comparison. By showing their likeness, we could notice other differences, such as their size, even more. But as it is, your image has made its way to my favourites list because it is an image that can be enjoyed on so many levels!
Carol E Sandgren20-Jun-2004 20:21
How'd I miss this? You sure know how to stunt a boat!! Love the size incongruity.
Phil Douglis05-Jun-2004 17:01
Thanks, Natalia -- good to hear from you again. This image was one of those moments that happen in photography -- being in the right place and the right time helped. And so did the crop.
Guest 05-Jun-2004 15:39
neat one, Phil!
~Natalia.
Guest 07-May-2004 02:27
This is one of my favourite images from you! Tim, www.AsiaExplorers.com
Phil Douglis27-Apr-2004 22:18
This was one of my very favorite images of the week we spent shooting together in California and Mexico. When we decided, on impulse, to swing out onto the jetty near the Midway, I had no idea of what kind of pictures we were going to be able to make. In fact, I began working on creating scale incongruity between two fishermen in the foreground with the Midway as a background. But then this security boat glided into my frame, and the whole concept changed. I immediately saw not only the vast scale incongruity between this small ship and the huge aircraft carrier, but I also saw the implication of the former "protector" now being protected. The final touch came in the crop -- by removing the flight deck of the Midway from this shot, and honing the huge ship down to just its vast hull, the image becomes more abstract and powerful.
Tim May27-Apr-2004 21:28
This is my other favorite - I call it "Naval Security" because of the layering of security. The Midway created a major security for a war torn world and now is protected itself on a much smaller scale.
Wendy O25-Apr-2004 05:44
Great crop!
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