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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Fifty Eight: Man and nature -- expressing our relationship with the environment > Risk, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, 2008
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Risk, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, 2008
13-MAY-2008

Risk, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, 2008

A man struggles to gain a foothold on a wet rock just below the curtain of water that explodes before him. Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, sending water plunging nearly 2,500 feet into the pool at his feet. He seems incongruously puny in scale, bowing to the pulverizing force of the falling curtain of water only a small slip away from disaster. I open the gallery with this image because it symbolizes manís epic struggle against the overwhelming forces of nature. Man continually risks natureís fury at every turn. We must come to respect its power if we are to survive.

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Phil Douglis29-Jun-2008 21:56
You make a good point about the implied audibility of this image, Jen. The scale of the waterfall, compared to the small figure of the man, and the play of light on the water as it crashes down before him, suggests power, and the power of falling water always brings a great roar of noise along with it. So yes, we can image that noise here, and thus hear, and indeed, feel, the image. as well as see it. Thanks for coming back to it with me, Jen.
Jennifer Zhou29-Jun-2008 10:02
You are right Phil, we should come to understand our mother nature and appreciate for how much she gives us, we should learn to give something back to the nature as we take from it.

We see two sources of energy and strength in this photo-- from man and nature, both are powerful and magnificent, and I feel the balance you captured here in this very moment. The photo is silent, but I see, I hear, I feel so much from it!
Phil Douglis25-Jun-2008 18:26
It is wonderful to welcome you back to my galleries, Jen -- you have been busy bringing a new human being into the world, and it is only fitting that you choose this image for your first comment since Rachel was born. Yes, the spot of red on Dave's back is the only real color in this image. It can indeed symbolize the strength, energy, and courage that mankind brings to the risks and challenges posed by nature. It can also symbolize wisdom -- as I noted in my caption, we must respect nature's power, as well as understand and conserve its benefits, if we are to give Rachel and her generation a world worth living in.
Jennifer Zhou25-Jun-2008 16:31
This is such a powerful image. I notice the only color in the picture is Dave's red shirt, that for me speaks the unique of human kind ---- even the waterfall and the rocks seems tremendous, but they don't have feelings, and they don't have a mind as our human do. And that tiny red color shows incredible strength and energy of human. Instead of bowing down to the nature, I see he is trying his best to gain a foothold and then gather all his strength to face and fight with the seemingly unconquerable nature.
Phil Douglis26-May-2008 23:44
Your comment means a great deal to me, Cyndy. This entire cyberbook is dedicated to visual expression -- communicating with pictures. That is what I have been teaching for the past 37 years. I hope that my examples will not only "speak without using words," but also inspire others to make pictures that "speak," as well. Yes, Dave does indeed make a great observation here. Dave also led this trip to Yosemite. And that is Dave out there on that rock, as well. We had a choice of photographing him in any number of poses and from any distance. I happened to choose a shot i just as he was climbing onto that rock, and I left a great deal of plunging water in the frame around him. Why? Because this image inspires a number of meanings -- all of which I value. Man against nature? Man against the odds? Man's humility in the face of nature's might? I lay all of these options, and more, out there, and leave it to the imagination of my viewers to assign their own message to this picture.
Cyndy Largarticha26-May-2008 23:30
Dave (see above) makes a great observation. That's what I like about your work, Phil. You always stimulate the viewer to see beyond the artistic merits of the image. They seem to "speak" without using words.
Phil Douglis26-May-2008 22:44
Thanks, Alina, for seeing the importance of scale and the symbolism in the man's posture here.
Alina26-May-2008 22:41
Fantastic shot Phil. The man is so small and seems to bow in front of that waterfall.
Phil Douglis26-May-2008 22:07
Thanks, Dave, for adding this perspective. Perhaps this image is ultimately about humility? And thanks, too, for your help in making this image.
Dave Wyman26-May-2008 21:48
Phil, this is interesting photo, particularly with the doubled-over depiction of the human subject. To me, it appears the human, if only involuntarily, is bowing down before a power that, like a god, is difficult if not impossible to examine with a direct gaze.
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