photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twelve: Using color to express ideas > Breakfast at the Bagdad Café, Newberry Springs, California, 2006
previous | next

Breakfast at the Bagdad Café, Newberry Springs, California, 2006

The Bagdad Café is a remote roadhouse still serving meals to travelers along the former US Route 66. It was the location for a German film of the same name, shot here in 1988.
Several of the café’s staff were extras in the movie. I made this portrait of the chef (Would this be Michael? Or is it Bud?) looking out at us over a few of the eggs he made for a hungry group of 20 photographers (including several pbase artists) who filled every seat in the house. This image works well in color because of the sense of presence it gives to the chef and the emphasis it places on the Coke ad that dominates the bill of fare. I also shot a similar image at the café in black and white, a journalistic picture that takes us back into time. See it by clicking the thumbnail below:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
1/50s f/3.6 at 8.4mm iso80 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis06-Dec-2007 03:37
I am delighted that you are now looking at color for its values and black and white for its purpose, Vera. We should never think that one or the other is better or worse. Only different, and serving different purposes.
Guest 06-Dec-2007 01:37
Very different feel to these photos. I thought I liked the BW best, but as I study them, I like them both for different reasons. I think I have more interest in studying the color one to see what is in it. Perhaps this is because the BW seems to, as you say, simplify things, so my eye is less drawn to the details.

Phil Douglis10-Mar-2006 21:45
Good thoughts, Ramma. Normally, I tell my students to simplify their images. In photography, it is almost always better to take away, than to add. Except, of course, when clutter itself is the point of the picture. And as you point out, it certainly tells the story of this old restaurant.
Ramma 10-Mar-2006 17:40
Very expressive image. It gives so much information. Name of the *master chefs*, directions of no smoking, some menu items. an advertisement of this kinda stuff one sees in almost all eating joints, but so many of them in photograph itself, implies a good eye and superb composition
Phil Douglis27-Feb-2006 17:40
These old road houses and diners survive because they look old and bring back a lot of memories. And there have been a number of photo books based on them.
monique jansen27-Feb-2006 15:09
Love all of those old US diners, you could make a series on diners or things that look like they belong in the past.
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 22:12
Thanks, Carol, for relating this image to the film that was shot here in the 1980s. I have not seen the film, but it seems as if the place has not changed that much, has it?
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 22:10
You are right, Christine -- color emphasizes clutter here, but clutter is the point of the picture, isn't it? And yes, the warm welcome on the wall and the less than welcoming stare of the chef is certainly an incongruity.
The no smoking sign is required by law in California., just as it is in Ontario and elsewhere. I am glad you mentioned the old "I spy" game here -- it was my intention to present the Bagdad Cafe as a mass of nostalgic detail, so that you, too, will feel as if you have been there. As you noted, much of that detail reads more effectively in color, such as the hot sauce , the Coke sign, and the color photos over the pass-through that make the Cafe seem just like your own kitchen.
Carol E Sandgren19-Feb-2006 18:59
And now after seeing the film finally, I realize that the "magic" is really still there even though the German actress performing is not! great that you caught (one of ) the chefs peeking out from the kitchen window to give us a frame of reference (as far as the film is concerned.)
Guest 19-Feb-2006 17:45
The colour emphasizes the clutter, the hot sauce and the Coke sign, for example. An incongruity: the board says that you are welcome and yet, according to Tim's comment and the man's face, you were not so sure!
The sign "Absolutely no smoking" caught my attention. On your black and white version, it is even posted at another place as well. Is it a State law or a specific request from the restaurant? We have such a law in Ontario.
This would be a nice picture for the "I Spy" game I played as a little girl, where you are asked to find something in the illustration (a yellow container or a woman with long hair, for example).
Phil Douglis18-Feb-2006 03:47
Good point. There is a wary touch to his eyes. A crowd like ours seemed a bit out of place in this remote corner of the universe. In a way, our photo workshop group were always sightseers, wherever we went in the Mohave. The desert is not used to crowds. We suddenly materialized in the strangest places and then vanished into thin air. Its no wonder this guy looks over those eggs at us like he does. He must be sighing quietly to himself, "Now what?"
Tim May17-Feb-2006 23:36
Having been there - I respond to the look on the face of the man - the crowd of regulars at the Bagdad Cafe seemed to look to us visitors with a wary eye. We after all are sightseers, they live there.
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment