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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Sixteen: Story-telling street photography > Bow to the bird, Chinatown, San Francisco, California, 2007
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11-JUN-2007

Bow to the bird, Chinatown, San Francisco, California, 2007

Thousands of Chinese laborers came to San Francisco between 1850 and 1900 to work on the railroads and in the gold fields. They created a community that became the largest Chinatown in North America. Iconic examples of Chinese culture are everywhere, including on the wall of this building. This woman lowers her head at the exact instant she passes below the painting of a huge bird curling into a deep bow. The overhanging trees and fire escape ladder add to the scene by providing an overhead frame within a frame the bird seems to be bowing because of them.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/125s f/4.0 at 8.2mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
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Phil Douglis21-Jun-2007 19:18
A bow is a gesture of humility and respect. And those human values are at the core of this image, Mo.
monique jansen21-Jun-2007 08:37
She really looks like she is bowing to the supremacy of this big painted bird, who in return seem to bow respectfully to the lady
Phil Douglis19-Jun-2007 23:37
Thank you, ArJay. The fact that both bird and woman bow was the reason I chose this particular image over my others. And yes, the red poles function as a path marker -- they pull the eye along the image, step by step with the woman.
Phil Douglis19-Jun-2007 23:35
Tim and Iris were shooting side by side with me, Carol. Then Tim had to go back to the parking garage and retrieve a memory card or battery, so Iris and I had even more time to wait and shoot. It is a very busy street, right alongside of St. Mary's Park, at the heart of Chinatown, so we had plenty of subjects to shoot. I also used my "multiple image" burst feature, which allows me to hold the shutter button down when the subject enters the frame and just keep shooting. I get a series of images, step by step. I finished with at least six or seven images that worked, but this one was by far the most expressive of the lot. And you are right -- nobody even looked at the bird. It such a familiar part of Chinatown's landscape that people take it for granted. But we didn't.
Arjayphotography19-Jun-2007 23:00
Wow, again, the first thing I noticed was the attitude of the woman's head mimicking that of the painting. The red poles add an obvious strong element to the overall composition.
Carol E Sandgren19-Jun-2007 22:05
I see this as the bird beckoning the woman who pays him no attention at all, just has to go about her chores for the day. Great positioning! How long did you have to wait to get a figure to cross in exactly the right spot? You must be a patient man...
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