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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Nineteen: Conveying a Sense of Place – A Town of Ghosts, Frozen in Time > Decay and Beauty, Bodie, California, 2004
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Decay and Beauty, Bodie, California, 2004
17-OCT-2004

Decay and Beauty, Bodie, California, 2004

Buildings such as these once housed people who lived hard, and died even harder. Badmen, bad whiskey and bad climate were all part of Bodie life. Its streets are now silent, but its bad climate still erodes these battered facades, and Bodie’s badmen have all gone to their graves. The town has died with them. This image, through the interplay of light, shadow, texture, and color, expresses both sadness and desolation, but yet I feel that there is a sense of haunting beauty in this scene as well. It is this tension between such decay and beauty that made Bodie so fascinating to me.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20
1/1000s f/5.2 at 72.0mm iso80 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
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Phil Douglis24-Mar-2005 19:17
You are right, Catriona. The colors of Bodie in the morning light characterize its haunted beauty. I also felt the contrast between the creaking wood and the solid brick as I made this image. Thanks for reminding me of that -- it is a very important symbol. Bodie was a place of winners and losers, rich and poor, temporary and permanent. Wood and brick, learning into each other in decay, tell that story well. Great observation on the nature of those ghosts as well. These people were as hard as they came. There was no place for benevolence here.
Guest 24-Mar-2005 13:24
Bodie looks like an interesting place Phil. I was first attracted to this gallery when doing research on the FZ-20 camera. I was, and am still amazed by the beautiful subtle colours in each of the images. The rich brown and earthy tones add to sense of desolation and isolation of Bodie.

This image really interests me. My eyes are drawn from left to right - there is a nice diagonal flow to it. The light and shadows on the wooden building work beautifully together to expose the fragility of it. You show the bending and I can almost hear the creaking of the building in the harsh winds. In contrast to this is the brick building - a symbol of strength. I think that this building will out live the wooden one.

This image shows the passing of time as nature and the elements continuously wear away at the buildings. You have captured the loneliness of the place - the ghosts that I see are not girls in pretty dresses playing outside these building. Instead they are hard people who lived in hard conditions.
Phil Douglis29-Oct-2004 03:49
Scary place, Bruce, but also quite beautiful in its own decadent way.
bruce berrien29-Oct-2004 02:40
This has the look of a particularly menacing back alley, the kind of place you don't want to wander into unaware.
Phil Douglis28-Oct-2004 19:08
Thanks, Wendy. This is the light, as Lisa implied, of "the twilight zone" and those textures you see speak of hard lives in a hard place.
Phil Douglis28-Oct-2004 18:59
Yes, Lisa! You nailed it here. Bodie is a place that seems to slip in and out of time, and the tilted, skewed nature of this haunted image seems to imply exactly that! The early morning light accentuates the impression. Thanks for bringing these thoughts here, Lisa.
Wendy O28-Oct-2004 14:37
Nice texture and light!
Lisa Haskins28-Oct-2004 14:01
Nice! I love how you have used light in this gallery. Its a town that seems to exist in the twilight hours (or early morning, I can't tell)....like it slips in and out of time.
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