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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Eight: Light and shadow shape meaning > Yak Skull, Lhasa, Tibet, 2004
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Yak Skull, Lhasa, Tibet, 2004
27-JUN-2004

Yak Skull, Lhasa, Tibet, 2004

We visited a Tibetan home in Lhasa that had the skull of a Yak lodged within the roofing over its front door. Good fortune, faith, and perhaps just luck are supposed to come from such symbols. This photograph works because of how the light shapes the subject. Once again, I used the spot meter option in my camera to expose on the white skull, and everything else in the picture becomes darker. The façade of the house flows into darkness and the red rooftops get darker as well. A Buddhist decoration set into the window directly between the horns of the skull, and decorative elements hanging below the roofline are kept in shadow for context.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/1250s f/4.5 at 28.8mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
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Phil Douglis16-Jul-2004 18:58
I admit it, Tim. I, too, thought of Georgia O'Keefe's studies of cow skulls the instant I saw this Yak skull on top of this Tibetan house. I also knew how much her vision depended upon light, and it was the way light fell on this skull that inspired me to make this photograph as I did.
Tim May16-Jul-2004 18:15
I wonder when this roof was created - I think of Georgia O'keefe - I wonder if she knew about this tradition as she started her studies of skulls - your images make me leap continents and time.
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