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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Twelve: Using color to express ideas > Golden path, Guilin, China, 2006
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Golden path, Guilin, China, 2006

Golden path, Guilin, China, 2006

Guilin's climate was warm and moist. It rained every night during our visit, leaving its wet streets to greet the morning light. Dawn light reflected on the wet street creates a path of gold for this cyclist, a symbol of promise for the day to come. Colors carry significant symbolic meaning. This golden glow, for example, is nostalgic, warm, rich, and positive.
A few hours later, the sun was gone, and this street became an oil stained, ugly bluish gray, suggesting pollution, wear and tear.

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1/160s f/5.6 at 35.9mm iso80 full exif

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Phil Douglis26-Sep-2007 23:05
Now you know why the "Yellow Brick Road" has become mythology, Suwanee.
Suwanee Lennon11-Sep-2007 06:10
Nostalgic indeed. Just plain pure magical.
Phil Douglis03-Nov-2006 21:44
Yes, David -- it would be a good opening shot for a "day in the life" story. The day promised much at this moment. But as is often the case in Southern China, that promise soon vanished.
David Kelly03-Nov-2006 20:44
Very nice. A day in the life...
Phil Douglis21-Aug-2006 22:14
Color can define mood, Chris. It certainly does here.
Chris Sofopoulos21-Aug-2006 09:34
Fantastic effect from the colour on the street. A very good and moody abstract!
Phil Douglis16-Jul-2006 21:24
Thanks, Ceci, for the first of many comments I hope you will post in my cyberbook. You read this image well, adding several new interpretations to it. Nobody has mentioned the rising road and its symbolic implications before. The road both shines and rises, which could indeed symbolize the rise of China itself as a world economic power. He is but one man out of a billion and a half people, and he rides a bicycle to work. But he is, as you say so eloquently, "balanced and centered on a shining road, suggesting better things to come." You also note that the image is like "balm" that soothes us from the harsh realities of globalization. As I note in my caption, an hour later the glow was gone and the street appeared to be streaked with oil, worn, and torn. An image is a moment in time. But a nation struggling to grasp its future must take a longer, harder road than one we we see here. Such is the power of expressive photography. We can be enormously selective, and tell the story we want to tell. In this case, by just waiting for the right light and the right moment.
Guest 16-Jul-2006 20:30
This is a magical shot, almost a suspension of time merged with what could be an ascension to the heavens. To see a lone rider in this populous land, balanced and centered on a shining road, does indeed suggest better things to come. We have so much information about China's growing problems as it works to become a world power that this image is like balm, soothing and distracting this western viewer momentarily from the harsher realities of globalization. It's an exquisite dreamscape, one that sends out positive energy in its beauty and dignity, balancing the day to come.
Phil Douglis26-Apr-2006 21:28
Thanks, Iris, for bringing a new eye to this image. Yes, some can see an image as representing simply a moment in time, light and space, and not as a metaphor holding larger meaning. You bring just such an eye to this image, and I thank you for it.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)26-Apr-2006 18:39
The glow of the early morning light with the lone rider conveys a wonderful feeling of solitude. I'm sure the rider is relishing this moment of calm and quiet before he emerges into the busy throngs of his fellow countrymen. I see this golden road for what it is in the moment, beautiful, peaceful, calm, and not really as a promise of anything to come.
Phil Douglis23-Apr-2006 04:09
I agree -- gold symbolizes wealth and comfort, and thus you might say that this rider might be on his way to a better day.
EB23-Apr-2006 03:51
I will repeat what was said before. It is also unique, beautiful, almost intimate. This golden path is almost the symbol of a better life he is aspiring to.
Phil Douglis19-Apr-2006 21:34
I think you meant to say "Philesque" but "Phileque" has a unique ring to it as well. You are saying here that I am showing beauty here at the expense of reality, which is true. I am an optimist, and tend to take the romantic view rather than the nitty gritty, seamy side of life. Even my homeless appear comfortable -- see this shot I made on Okinawa: It is eloquently composed, warm and inviting in light and color, and disguises the fact that this man is without shelter. Your own motivations are similar. And so are the motivations of most travel photographers. And since this cyberbook is about expressive travel photography, I tend to make images as examples that are positive rather than negative. As here, I show the street as a golden path, not as an ugly scar. If this was cyberbook on photojournalism, my tone might well be darker, because the world can also be a harsh, dangerous, sad and angry place, and journalism deals with reality, not pleasure. But these galleries are about travel photography, which is often rooted in pleasure. That's why most people travel. To enjoy themselves. You are right, Tim -- both of us do hint at those harsh realities below the glorious. But as travel photographers we both tend to focus, as you say, on the beautiful, the unique, and every now and then the quirky. We leave the ugly side to documentary and journalistic photographers.
Tim May19-Apr-2006 18:05
This, too, is "Phileque" with your capture of golden light - It leads me to wonder about myself as a photographer - I want to show the thousands of ways the world is beautiful, unique, and sometimes quirky. This image definitely focuses on the beautiful - but as you say - the light is a temporary mask for the ugly - both of us, I think, mostly focus on the beauty and leave it to the journalists to show the nitty gritty. Yet, I also think that we both hint at the harsh realities below the glorious - photography, like life, is multifaceted.
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