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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery One: Travel Abstractions -- Unlimited Thought > Rust, Route 66 Motel, Barstow, California, 2006
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Rust, Route 66 Motel, Barstow, California, 2006

This rusting car is parked forever amidst the colorful chaos that characterizes the setting of the historic Route 66 Motel in the California Mohave Desert town of Barstow.
It is difficult to know where the paint leaves off and the rust begins on this ancient automobile. I intensify that question by showing you just enough of the car to identify its function, and little else. I abstract the image into a geometrical grid including only part of its radiator, hood, engine vents and fender, and combining them into a gilded box rusting in the warm glow of the morning sun. I let the rest of the car drive through your imagination. You can get a glimpse of its interior by clicking on the thumbnail below:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
1/250s f/5.6 at 49.4mm iso80 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis12-Aug-2006 17:41
Thanks, Jeffrey, for seeing the value of the abstraction here. The more we leave to the imagination, the more expressive the image becomes.
Guest 12-Aug-2006 13:31
Love the interplay of textures with the geometric and 'natural' shapes. Could be a car, or could be anything-- very successful abstract.
Chris Sofopoulos16-Apr-2006 17:02
Very nice warm light!
Jude Marion07-Apr-2006 12:27
This is absolutely gorgeous Phil ... the light, shadow, textures, comp.
Guest 30-Mar-2006 16:54
I love these types of photos ( I'm a big fan of Abstracts, Textures, Patterns), and besides being well composed, i think the main reason this works so well, is the light and shadows, with the shadows being the added bonus. Great Shot! Phil
Phil Douglis09-Mar-2006 20:51
Thanks, Utsav. That's what abstraction is all about -- it can take away most of the identifying features of a subject until only an essence is left for the imagination to savor.
Guest 09-Mar-2006 11:25
Fantastic image... if it were not for the air vents it would be hard to guess its a vintage automobile. The warm glow on the rust and the small strip of insulation adds an interesting element... very creative composition and artistic abstract !
Phil Douglis06-Mar-2006 19:16
I was thinking of the Joad family in the Grapes of Wrath when I took this shot, Danny.
Guest 06-Mar-2006 14:13
This image has a quality of allowing the viewer to almost hear the chugging of an old engine and kids squabling in the back seat. I can also imagine the hardships of the times and visualize a family driving into the sunset on a hot California two lane.
Are we there yet!?
Phil Douglis01-Mar-2006 19:57
Thanks, John, for enjoying this abstraction. You are right. Some might ask, at least first, what it "is" but in this case, what it is is not the point I am making. I am appealing here to the viewer's imagination, hoping the viewer will make whatever he or she wants to make out of it. If the identity of the subject is important, there are always titles and captions to add this context. In this case, it's not about identity at all. Its about the mark of time on our lives.
Guest 01-Mar-2006 18:50
This image is all about shape, form, texture and composition. In this abstract form many would say "What the heck is it?" I say “It doesn’t matter what it is. The image stands even if you didn’t know what it was. This is where the shape, form, texture and composition come in. These are what make the image.” Beautiful image Phil!
Phil Douglis26-Feb-2006 03:30
I agree, Ana -- that in itself is incongruous, isn't it? Metal, one of our hardest substances, regarded as soft. And all because of the warm morning light on the rust which has created a smooth, velvety texture.
Anna Yu25-Feb-2006 23:50
The metal has mellowed so much with age that it has become as warm and soft as the light.
Phil Douglis21-Feb-2006 03:23
Your metaphor is apt, Ron. Not just for marriage, but for aging itself. Hopefully, all of us will gather rust as eloquently as you suggest. Thank you for illuminating this image with these thoughts.
Guest 20-Feb-2006 19:34
There is an unwritten sigh between us after half a lifetime of marriage.I will not voice my admiration of the lines,the stains or the folds of her skin that my touch me deeper than any sacred weathered volumes.I worship her patina secretly.Rather than underscore the approaching shadow that will curtain our stage.Yet how can one deny the flavoured beauty of a perfectly aged wine?
Phil Douglis20-Feb-2006 16:50
Thanks for calling attention to the soft shadowing here. Whenever we can add shadows to our pictures, the possibility of mystery is added to the mix.
Guest 20-Feb-2006 12:18
It has really nice tone and texture, but I especially like the shadow on the car. It makes it even more mysteriously.
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 20:47
Thanks, Sue, for calling attention to the rich tones of this image. The interplay of tonalities -- their brightness and darkness, the varying hues of green, brown, red, and beige - is accentuated by the interplay of textures both rough and smooth. We are seeing a map of this car's life -- and afterlife -- within just this very small section of its metal.
Sue Robertson19-Feb-2006 11:15
Excellent shot. Beautiful rich tones and texture.
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 04:08
Thanks, Jeff. Closer is often better when abstraction is the goal. It is a good way to activate the imagination of your viewers.
Guest 19-Feb-2006 03:57
Closer is better. Great study in shapes and lines. Yes, could be anything. As is, a very compelling shot.
Phil Douglis18-Feb-2006 20:24
Thanks, Diana -- that is one of the great powers of abstraction. Since it is not longer a car, but only a part of a car, it frees your eyes and mind to see those curves, lines, crescents and oblongs.
Guest 18-Feb-2006 06:56
I like the rusty colours of course, and the lighting, but I also see shapes like the curve, the horizontal and vertical lines. Also shapes such as half a crescent, vertical and horizontal oblongs. Very creative composition Phil.
Phil Douglis18-Feb-2006 04:14
Tom, Ana, Chats, David -- all of you have responded to the abstract nature of this image. It is doing exactly what an abstraction should do. As Ana puts it so beautifully, "the different volumes work so well with the light and shadow to create an image where the eye can linger and glean so much from so little." I don't think I've ever read a more lucid definition of the purpose of abstraction. Yes, it's also an "abstract industrial landscape or a great chamber lit by an unseen lamp," David. It is more than a picture of part of an old car. It is visual shorthand for an era that is no more and will never return.
david procter18-Feb-2006 03:53
Its almost become an abstrct industrial landscape or the interior of some great chamber with lit by an unseen lamp. The colours and curves are very satsifying.
Guest 18-Feb-2006 03:22
Beautiful light and tones. I love the different textures and volumes too.
Ana Carloto O'Shea18-Feb-2006 00:37
Humm.... A car you say?? It could be anything... by getting so close you've abstract the image giving it a new dimension. It is now a vision of multiple meanings...
The richness of colours and textures makes so apealing to the eye, but what I like mostly about this one is how the different volumes work so well with the light and the shadow to create an image where the eyes can linger and glean so much from so little.
Tom Beech17-Feb-2006 22:04
Very nice .. I like it 8-)
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