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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Clouds and Domes, Kizhi Island, Russia, 2003
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Clouds and Domes, Kizhi Island, Russia, 2003

These fingerlike wisps of clouds gathered in the sky over this 400 year old church on Kizhi Island in Russia's Lake Onega. As I changed my vantage point, I was able to make them incongruously explode into the sky over the church's ancient wooden domes, resulting in a far more mystical image than a picture of only the church by itself.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/1250s f/4.5 at 14.4mm full exif

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Phil Douglis24-Sep-2005 03:02
If the clouds were not in this spot, I would have not made this image Agnes. I am not as interested in churches themselves as in how they relate their surroundings and what those surroundings might suggest.
Guest 04-Sep-2005 20:23
I made a lot of sketches about these churches..i just love those forms,and the lines..its really Russian...The have thousands of crosses in the same place..who knows why...Its inetersting..And u took a wonderful photo with those clouds following the lines of onion formed cupolas..
Phil Douglis23-Aug-2005 18:02
Thanks, Galina. I don't know if this church has nails or not. They would not let us go near it. It is nearly in a state of collapse. The placement in the frame is critical. I wanted to build this image along a diagonal path, so I placed the church in the lower left and the clouds in the upper right.
Galina Stepanova23-Aug-2005 13:39
Is this on of those churches, which was built with no nails?
I've seen some on Solovetckij Island. Unique.
Off center and slightly tilt composition is attractive, great quality work.
Guest 19-Jan-2005 19:55
very cool
Guest 19-Jan-2005 19:55

looks like it's on fire.
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 21:19
Glad we agree, Mikel. Such positioning is not automatic, as you know. Some might say this image was a "lucky" shot, but the only luck involved was the presence of those wispy, curvy clouds in the sky. I had to "work" this image for awhile, envisioning it in my head, and watching the movement and position of those clouds, and all the while shifting my vantage point to relate those clouds to these domes as they moved through the frame.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 21:00
I think that your mistycism point of view in this case covers all my feelengs too. Like an aurea comming from the building you have a perfect positioning of the clouds and it's kind I love it.
Phil Douglis03-Dec-2004 20:45
I can see you have strong feelings about organized religion, Clara. Very often, we interpret photographs based on our own personal experiences. We see in them what we are and what we believe. The beauty of expressive photography is that it leaves room for a diversity of opinions. I made the photograph to stimulate your imagination, and you take it from there.
Guest 03-Dec-2004 18:29
You see the clouds mystical, I see them some how accusing the church temple of its sins. The geometry and angles and pointing direction of the clouds is what creates the incougruity in relation to the temple that should be surrounded by bliss and godly approval. Not the case. God is saying: "you unfaithful and greedy priests!" through the raged clouds.
Phil Douglis18-Nov-2004 22:20
Thank you, Amber, for interpreting my image in this way. You see that dome (religion) as taking advantage of nature to express its own theological mysteries. A fascinating observation from a thoughtful and intelligent person. You have turned my picture upside down and inside out to come up with this meaning, which is exactly what I hope people will do. That is why I make images, Amber -- to stimulate my viewers' imaginations. I am delighted that you have found such food for thought here.
Amber 18-Nov-2004 17:30
Hello Mr. Douglis,

A very powerful image in its own right I must say. The Dome looks like a powerful entity sitting in its own majestic seat and mysteriously enough sucking in the clouds slowly but surely as if it is defying natures own creation thus imparting a mystical expression. What do you say?

Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 22:55
Glad you have made the connection here, Nut.
nut 06-Nov-2004 22:40
These clouds are special, not look like others. The different between these clouds and another
is where they are. They are above the Domes. So it migth be something related to the Domes. The Domes of God and his son. :) I see.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 21:43
Context means the circumstances, events, or situations that provide the environment or setting for something else. The church here is the setting for those clouds. These clouds are not like other clouds. They are mystical, strange, and unusual. Seen in the context of that church, they seem to have something to do with mystical faith.
nut 06-Nov-2004 21:22
Context? So what is the meaning of incongruity in term of context?
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 19:33
I did not see evil in those clouds, because the context for it is very spiritual. What i saw was the mystical nature of faith.
nut 06-Nov-2004 10:05
In my opinion, clouds above the Domes look like an evil spirit to me and it jump down from
sky above into the Domes (I saw his flying hands). And this gave me an incongruity between
the good and bad re-presenter.
Phil Douglis23-Jul-2004 02:54
Thanks so much, Tami, for making this comment. Now that you have called attention to it, the juxtaposition of that pile of solid wooden domes against the fingerlike vapors above them is indeed powerful. It's amazing how easy it is to concentrate so hard on one aspect of something -- the clouds as a mysterious extension of the domes -- that we can easily overlook an aspect every bit as important. I have you to thank for pointing it out here, and for extending the range of incongruities this image demonstrates.
Tami22-Jul-2004 23:12
I agree with the other comments but I also like the contrast between the solid, very detailed structure of the building and the shapeless clouds.

Phil Douglis12-Mar-2004 19:07
Wizards, indeed. The domes were there for me. So were those curling clouds. But I kept moving, positioning and repositioning those clouds so that they flowed both into, and out of, those ancient domes.
Guest 12-Mar-2004 04:41
This one is fantastic - the shapes are so different, but also similar. Everything leads the eye to one focal point. Wizards at work.
Phil Douglis11-Dec-2003 18:36
Thank you, Jill. I agree with you about the surreal aspect of this photograph. I must admit that when I saw those fingers moving through the sky over those ancient domes, it seemed as if it were part of a dream. Can this be really happening? It was happening -- one of those fortunate juxtapositions that can not be explained.
Jill11-Dec-2003 13:25
Almost absolutely magnificant photograph.
scottamus 03-Oct-2003 23:21
Phil Douglis02-Oct-2003 19:08
BZ -- yes, you are right. Clouds can be interpreted as smoke signals from the gods. Alfred Stieglitz, the first to write about and promote photography's place as a fine art, once did an entire series on clouds. He called them "equivalents" -- metaphors for the human spirit. Everytime I see a cloud up there that suggests meaning, I imagine that Stieglitz himself is sending us a message.
Bailey Zimmerman02-Oct-2003 14:42
'Smoke signals' from the gods................
Phil Douglis28-Sep-2003 03:48
BZ -- after looking at your own work, which is filled with mysteries, I had a hunch you would approve of this image of mine. There is no explanation for why those wispy heavenly fingers appeared -- my task was to recognize their potential and move my position to connect them to those ancient wooden domes at Kizhi.
Bailey Zimmerman28-Sep-2003 02:51
The 'smoke' rises to the heavens...sending messages to the gods!
And the moment is captured forever!!
The clouds are your palette!
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