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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Twenty: Controlling perspective with the wideangle lens > Big Baguettes, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005
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Big Baguettes, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005

Big Baguettes, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005

Laos, like Viet Nam, was once part of France’s overseas empire. The French brought the baguette to Laos, and while its empire is long gone, its bread remains. This picture is a good example of “having your cake and eating it, too” as I indicated in my introduction to this gallery. (I should have said “having your baguette and eating it, too.”) This image offers that “richly layered sense of depth,” I mentioned. By moving closer to exaggerate the scale of the baguettes as my foreground layer subject, I make their textures and rhythms far more detailed. Their stacked vertical placement creates leading lines that draw us into the image. The middle layer remains just as sharp, and features the determined young sandwich maker himself and the fixings he uses to make them. The background layer retains the same level of sharpness and provides context for the market itself. You can see how a sense of depth is implied – the baguettes are larger in size than the boy who runs this stand. And the boy, in turn, is much larger than the people who move through the market behind him. These contrasting scale relationships are the key to suggesting the illusion of depth within a two dimensional image. It is the 24mm wideangle’s control of perspective that allows me to organize this picture in this manner.

Canon PowerShot G6
1/160s f/4.0 at 7.2mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
Phil Douglis13-May-2005 23:13
Colonialism was an evil. Imposing the will and customs of one culture upon another eventually destroys more than it builds. However, as you point out, Tim, France has long since fled from Indochina, yet its bread remains in every marketplace. The baguette has become as Laotian as French. It is no longer a cultural imposition. Nobody in this market even saw it a French roll. You and I think of it as French. Your colonial metaphor may work for us, but I doubt if the hungry people who ate these rolls even gave it a thought. They just enjoyed them.
Tim May13-May-2005 19:29
I see a metaphor for colonialism. The French imposed their culture on a people in and intrusive manner, yet the culture has remained - and thrives in the background.
Phil Douglis09-Apr-2005 05:50
Thanks, San Antonio, for endorsing the wideangle as a powerful tool for photographic expression. The key is your word exaggeration. Some might call it distortion. I call it emphasis. No matter what word we use, that bread still roars out at us and sucks us into this image, making its point loudly and clearly in the process.
Sam Antonio Photography09-Apr-2005 02:16
Mr. Douglis,

I love to photograph with a wide angle lens! I think it's the only way to go. By combining a strong foreground with an equally strong background (hyperfocal) you impact the viewer with depth and dimension such as your photo above. You could have easily photographed the girl but by adding the bread in the foreground you have given an exaggerated depth to the photo and invited the viewer into a three dimensional world. Kudos!

Sam Antonio
Phil Douglis20-Mar-2005 00:55
Thanks, Peter. That's exactly why he has arranged his bread in this manner. To make people hungry and hungry people buy his food. So I made my as image to make viewers such as you hungry as well. The 24mm wideangle lens allowed me to move in right on top of the bread and fill half the frame with it, yet still let me use the other half of he frame to add all that context you mention, for meaning.
Guest 19-Mar-2005 20:11
Phil, I haven't been to your galleries in few months and I see you have been working very hard, I have lot's to catch up with.

Don't know if this was your intention, but this image makes me hungry, actually my mouth is watering as I type. I can see the crunchy crust of the bread, imagine how soft and tender it is inside, geez I can smell it.

I doubt all that would have been achieved by longer lens, simply by using wide angle lens you have showed it up my face(which is fine with me), but not only that, I can still see what I can make my sandwich with, I see the poeple who sell it, can imagine poeple who make it, and I am can sense and feel that I am part of the market. The layers of information provoking my senses are indeed very impressive here.

Off I go to the fridge.

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