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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Ghostly welcome, Rhyolite, Nevada, 2007
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22-FEB-2007

Ghostly welcome, Rhyolite, Nevada, 2007

A contemporary sculpture of a ghost about to ride a bicycle stands just outside of Rhyolite, a ghost town that once lured thousands of gold-seekers. The ghostly sculpture is by Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski, who came to Rhyolite in the 1980s and established the Goldwell Open Air Museum to add a contemporary dimension to this old ghost town. It is an incongruous work of art -- ghosts donít usually ride bikes. The ghost is made of stone and the bike seems to be real. Iíve tried to make it even more incongruous by using this vantage point. Iíve removed as much of the sculptureís platform as possible, making it seem as if the ghost is about to get on and ride off into the hills in the background. My vantage point also allows me to contrast the white ghost to that dark background.

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Phil Douglis06-May-2018 20:17
I agree with you, Merri, about light being critical here. The key is not only the light itself, but how I made light work for this idea. I could have made this image from any angle, but I chose this one because the ghost was so white, and I wanted to contrast it to as dark a background as possible. There were shadowy areas behind the ghost, and I used a spot meter to establish my exposure for this image, enabling me to expose the entire image on the basis of the white ghost. Because the spot meter is exposing on the ghost, the shadowy areas in the background of this image become almost black. So it's not just the angle of the light that makes this work. It's the "white on black" relationship that makes the ghost "pop."
Merri 06-May-2018 07:58
This a place I definitely want to visit. I find it interesting what an important role light can play in the story. The scene is brightly lit giving it a mundane feel, yet the light comes in from an angle (afternoon?) so the ghost appears to glow and the details of the bicycle are in good contrast. You also angled the view so I imagined the ghost getting on the bike and riding off to the left which is, I assume, where the town is?
Phil Douglis19-Jun-2007 15:25
Glad you enjoyed this shot, Alina.
Alina19-Jun-2007 11:17
You better be ghost if you want to ride bike dressed like this :)
Phil Douglis20-May-2007 19:40
That is why we have captions, Tricia. To give the image context, and thereby intensify the viewer's pleasure and knowledge. There are some that say captions are superflous -- that a picture should speak for itself. Perhaps that may be true in art photography, but in travel photography, and certainly in a teaching context, such as I use in my cyberbook, the written word is just as important as the image. Glad I made you do a double take here.
flowsnow20-May-2007 18:42
This a funny shot...I really thought it was a man dressed in a white robe pretending to be a ghost. ....until you explained yourself!
Phil Douglis04-Apr-2007 07:11
A ghost fleeing a ghost town! Wonderful idea, Iris.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)04-Apr-2007 00:21
Double duhhh...ghost/ghost town. I, too, get is now! By 1915 Rhyolite was practically a ghost town. This "soul" represents the fleeing souls who abandoned Rhyolite when times got tough. The bicycle was just his transportation of choice!! I don't know if that desert landscape he's facing is any more welcoming. Caught between a ghost town and a dry place!!!
Phil Douglis03-Mar-2007 20:36
Hey, it took me a moment to make the connection myself. I am sure the presence of nearby Rhyolite was very much on Szukalski's mind as he creatd this piece of art.
Tim May03-Mar-2007 18:58
Duhhh - I finally got the interaction of the ghostly statues and the ghost town they stand by. Thanks for helping to remind me to look beyond the sculpture to its environment.
Phil Douglis02-Mar-2007 23:01
You are right -- this was a tough shot, Carol. I did not find it corny -- I saw what you saw, an incongruous statue of a ghost about to get on a bike and ride off to nearest ghost town, which was only a mile or so up the road. I thought this barren landscape was a perfect context for it. Thanks for the observation.
Carol E Sandgren02-Mar-2007 19:50
Although some may regard this sculpture a bit corny, I think it's amusing as well as a little bit mysterious if you didn't really know what it was, as I did not when I first came to Rhyolite. The contrast of the ghostly figure against the dry, barren landscape is indeed incongruous, and then again maybe not. IT could portray a sort of afterlife. My views of this were not nearly as effective.
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