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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Gutted hotel, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2005
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Gutted hotel, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2005

Caught in the cross hairs of a tragic civil war that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, the ancient city of Dubrovnik was pounded with 2,000 shells in 1991 and 1992. Thirteen years later, as our ship approached the city, we saw this gutted hotel awaiting restoration. It symbolized to me the scale of the reconstruction task still underway here. The lone oarsman who floats before it represents the citizens of this city who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of its reconstruction. He is incongruously small and all by himself, which makes the rebuilding task ahead seem even more formidable.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20
1/250s f/4.0 at 40.2mm iso80 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis19-Jun-2007 15:30
Beautifully said, Alina. You are right. Small things can have large effects. One man can destroy the world or build a nation.
Alina19-Jun-2007 14:09
This is incredible photo. The tiny man in the tiny boat has power to destroy the building or put it together again. Who knows what goes through his mind?
Phil Douglis16-Jun-2007 05:38
I don't see this as Dutch -- it is really an all-Croation effort we are seeing here, Sun Han, in both the rowing and the building.
Guest 16-Jun-2007 04:33
beehive-like cells, oh my, as if a dutch-design, let's run
Phil Douglis23-Aug-2006 18:24
Thanks, Chris, for bring so much emotion to this image. I felt the same thing when I saw that scale incongruity. That little boat WAS Dubrovnik. A small city, yet one with a big heart and a huge task before it. The more context one brings to this image, the more potent a metaphor it becomes. Your own country is not far away. In fact, our final port on this trip was Athens. Your context for this city, this country, and these people, is probably much deeper than my own. So it does not surprise me that this image would resonate with you.
Chris Sofopoulos23-Aug-2006 11:21
I am so touched by this image Phil.
The building of the hotel is so huge and the boat so small..
If you know a little about that war and how hard it was, I think that it is one of the stronger in emotions images I have ever seen.
I can't stop looking at it..
Phil Douglis20-Jul-2006 03:38
It is a new world, Emi. They are rebuilding Croatia piece by piece, building by building, after a long and destructive war.
Guest 20-Jul-2006 02:14
It looks like some scientific fiction movie scene to me. The man in the boat is heading to the whole new world.

Phil Douglis28-Apr-2006 19:28
Thanks, Niall. I appreciate your view of this picture. As you see, I did not agree with Denny either -- he saw it as a technician would look at it. Those who prefer to look at photographs as an exercises in technology will usually not see it for its meaning.
type28-Apr-2006 15:25
I can't agree with Denny. This is a tremendous image, packed with wit and sadness - nothing of its technical qualties takes away from this.
Phil Douglis19-Oct-2005 23:13
This entire image is focused well enough to clearly establish the incongruous relationship between boat and building without distraction. I am not a pixel-peeper. I do not waste energy nit-picking technical considerations for their own sake. I try to focus on expression and meaning. The Leica lens has delivered depth of focus to this image that is excellent, in my view. The boat, the dirt, and the building are all sharp enough to express the idea I am trying to convey.
Denny Crane 19-Oct-2005 19:10
This could be improved by eliminating the green trees on the right, and have just concrete and dirt. The picture would be better if the boat and water surrounding it were in focus. They are just slightly out of focus, which looks like a technical mistake. Nothing wrong with focusing on the boat instead of the background. The dirt is also out-of-focus, so this emphasizes the feeling that the focus was off.
Phil Douglis09-Oct-2005 16:43
Thanks Dandan and Kal for commenting on this image. You both read this image as I had hoped you would. It is more than a guy in a boat and an unfinished building. It is a symbol of what Dubrovnik, and indeed much of that part of the world, has been through and the scale of the task that lies ahead. As for B&W, I considered it, since color does not play a big role. But when I looked at it in black and white, it became more abstract and a bit less real to me, and I wanted to stress the stark reality of it here.
Kal Khogali09-Oct-2005 15:58
A wondrful composition that works all the btter for the three sections created by the foreground, middle ground and the building at the back. The oars are in perfect symmetry and the scale speaks of the task. Simplicity is often the key to an image like tis, not too much distractions and here we have man, sea, earth and buidling. Could not be simpler or more effective. B&W would work in my opinion very well, but it would move the image in to the realms of fantasy. No longer a document of your travels.
Guest 09-Oct-2005 10:33
Phil, another thought, what do you think about this image in B&W?
Guest 09-Oct-2005 10:29
Phil, this is a great example on how to use scale incongruity to express ideas! The huge reconstruction work seems so fearful, but the floating unstable tiny person is still moving towards the task. Thank for this valuable lesson!
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