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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Twenty: Controlling perspective with the wideangle lens > Four Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005
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Four Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005

Four Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2005

These dragon like creatures guarding Buddhist temples in Laos actually represent serpent-gods called Nagas, which have long been associated with wisdom and immortality and appear in various forms at places of worship in Egypt, China, India, South and Central America, and Indochina. They are intended to proclaim ferocity as well, and to stress that point I use the wideangle lens turned vertically to create a three-layer image. The Nagas occupy the foreground layer. My low vantage point causes the points on their heads to carry the eye up to the lavish and ornate golden façade of the temple they protect, which is the middle ground layer. The dark negative space within the façade is the background layer – curving black arches, which echo the thrusts of the horns in the first layer. The eye moves back into the mysterious darkness of that background layer, adding a third measure of expression to the image. Ferocity, Wealth, and Mystery – all organized in space by the use of the 24mm wideangle lens.

Canon PowerShot G6
1/320s f/4.0 at 7.2mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
ruthemily07-May-2005 23:05
you talk a lot about layer implying depth, and i agree. is this why wide angle is so good for implying (not adding - my mistake) depth, because it doesn't flatten the layers into one like a tele would? layers are important, we have talked about them before and i have struggled to see them. it's something i will make a conscious effort to try and think about when shooting.
Phil Douglis07-May-2005 22:23
The wideangle lens itself does not add depth to an image, Ruth. The photograph is still two dimensional in nature, having only height and width. But wideangle photography can imply depth and give images the illusion of that third dimension. That is what is happening here as we move from layer to layer. You are so right -- my wideangle lens allows me to move in on the Nagas to stress their ferocity by making them seem to jump out of the image at us. Yet even though I move in, I can still retain that background to imply depth, as well as echo the sharp teeth and horns of the Nagas with those dangling pointed embellishments.
ruthemily07-May-2005 18:07
the wide angle perspective really does add a lot of depth. i see what you mean. they do seem fierce like you say, because they seem to jump out of the image at me! had you stepped right back and used a longer focal length, it would have all appeared flat and the dragons would not have had so much energy and life.
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