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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Six: Vantage Point makes the difference > Rooster Weathervane, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic, 2003
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Rooster Weathervane, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic, 2003

Sometimes you must climb up and shoot down to make a photograph work. It took 800 steps to reach to the top of St. Vitus Cathedral's bell tower -- the view over Prague was fascinating. However making "postcard" views and vistas do not interest me. I need something else in the picture as a symbolic counterpoint. I saw a rooster weathervane rising above the red tile rooftops slightly below me, and instantly knew that it would become the subject of my picture, with the view as its context. A lone person walks in the square below near St. George's Convent -- the oldest in Bohemia. The tiny size of that figure tells us how high we really are. I adjusted my vantage point slightly to position the rooster weathervane so that its open beak becomes the pivot of the picture. Behind it, a series of roof lines lead our eyes to that tiny figure in the square, as well as to the Convent. It was only a small shift in space, but it helped me coherently link the rooster to its domain.

Canon PowerShot G2
1/320s f/4.0 at 12.5mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis11-May-2006 15:53
Thanks, Shirley. I will try to learn enough Chinese to appreciate the beauty of this proverb. Yes, the rooster does sing over the city here -- and for this rooster anyway, the world is Prague.
Shirley Wang11-May-2006 14:19
This is great shot. The sound of rooster rings to me as I see this. It is trying to wake up the city and the world with its streched neck and best voice. In the Chinese saying "ÐÛ¼¦Ò»³ªÌìÏÂÃù¡° £¨"The world follows as the rooster sings", but the beauty of this saying goes away with my dull translationl. Pleeeeease learn enough Chinese to enjoy the power of it.:-))
Phil Douglis11-Oct-2005 22:12
Thanks, Loren. Glad you are learning from my cyberbook and the comments that make it an ever-changing visual resource. As for the steps, whose counting? It felt like 800 steps so I made it 800 steps. Thanks for telling me there were only 280. That makes 560 steps round trip, which I can still feel in my ancient legs. But getting this image was worth the effort.
Guest 11-Oct-2005 21:49
I admire your work, Phil. It's a great learning experience to browse through your galleries and read your detailed comments. I only counted exactly 280 steps on this bell tower, however :-) But never mind, they definitely felt like 800!
Phil Douglis22-Oct-2004 01:29
I waited for that guy, Rod -- and yes, that is scale incongruity. But to work, he had to be in that very spot, on a direct line with that rooster and caught exactly between the building and the spire.
Guest 15-Oct-2004 00:15
This is wonderful. I really feel the person captured below, giving us a sense a scale (and I guess this is an example of scale incongruity?) adds tremendously to this photo.
Guest 19-Jun-2004 11:41
I've always been partial to rooftops - they are often delightful in their quirkiness. It's the "side" of the building or town that isn't so "dressed up", and I find these shots give a better idea of how a place "works".
Phil Douglis19-Mar-2004 18:37
Thanks, Jacquie, for your comment. I had to climb 800 steps to get this perspective, and there were no guarantees what I would find when I got to the top. I am not into making pictures of views for the sake of views -- you can buy panoramic postcards of a city in any souvenir store. I wanted to make picture speaking of Prague's history and culture in a timeless context, I found it in these colors, textures, patterns, and forms. This image provides a synthesis of old Prague,. If I had chickened out (not pun intended) on the 800 step climb, I never would have found it.
Jvan Photography19-Mar-2004 16:52
Beautiful color and perspective!
Phil Douglis22-Oct-2003 02:41
Carol, glad to have helped sweep you back to your childhood adventures. Much of what I shoot involves implying fantasies of some kind, and what you say here validates one of my reasons for taking this image from this high vantage point. I knew -- as I climbed all 800 of those steps to the top of the bell tower -- that the higher I climbed, the more diminutive the city would become, becoming, as you say, almost a toy village. The Rooster itself seemed toylike to me, with tail up, beak open, and what looks like a tongue sticking out. This picture is a childhood fantasy come to life -- all because of my vantage point and framing.
Carol E Sandgren21-Oct-2003 22:36
My first thought at first sight of this picture was reminding me of a toy children's village that I was taken to long ago when I was little, all brightly colored and just waiting for us to explore it and discover the secrets that were inside. The rooster on high and the spires proving that the rooster is really really high up also play a fun part in my interpretation of this picture.
Phil Douglis28-Sep-2003 04:19
BZ -- layers are the stuff of meaning. My high vantage point made them possible. Your lord rooster holds sway in foreground, guarded by ancient spires in the middle ground, while much context awaits in the wealth of detail in the background.
Bailey Zimmerman28-Sep-2003 03:01
Phil...this is such a great compostion...layers & layers!
The lord rooster surveying his kingdom!!!
Phil Douglis28-Sep-2003 00:11
Thanks, Denise, for your vote, and for your delight in this green copper rooster. Indeed, this rooster has whirled over Prague for hundreds of years, and has seen empires come and empires go. Glad you liked it as much as I did.
Denise Dee27-Sep-2003 22:21
i like all the different types of spires. It's almost playing 'can you top this?' and the rooster won. Plus, I love copper turning green, can't beat it for it's beauty and symbolism. love this shot, i just voted for it. Thanks, denise
Phil Douglis30-Aug-2003 18:00
Thanks, Pomah, for your comments. I don't think I've ever worked as hard to get a good angle on a shot. I'm still feeliing every one of those 800 steps
POMAH29-Aug-2003 21:05
The angle does make a huge difference. I liked many of your other photos. Great, insightful photography.
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