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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twelve: Using color to express ideas > Rose Window, St. Vincentís Cathedral, St. Malo, France, 2004
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Rose Window, St. Vincentís Cathedral, St. Malo, France, 2004

When I entered this cathedral at mid-day, I knew I had come at exactly the right moment. Light streaming through its great Rose Window was painting all the colors of the rainbow on the walls and floors of the cathedral. Using a low vantage point with a 24mm wideangle converter lens on my Canon G5, I moved in as close as I could to these columns to make them seem as large as possible, yet still include the Rose Window as context. The unexpected colors suggest not only beauty, but also festivity Ė they have turned a building of gray granite into an incongruous mosaic of reds, blues, greens, and yellows. It is as if a child has splashed the interior of the cathedral in watercolors. Almost more playful than spiritual, these colors bring an ancient building to life in a memorable way.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/50s f/3.2 at 7.2mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis26-Sep-2007 23:07
And movement it is -- soft, shimmering light is here and then gone.
Guest 11-Sep-2007 06:18
Beautiful. I can almost feel the movement of the light on the wall.
Phil Douglis05-May-2007 18:38
You make a good point. Light is emphemeral. Stained glass is not. They are made for each other. And for photography.
Azlin Ahmad05-May-2007 12:41
This seems to me to be an interplay between the static and the dynamic - the stained glass has been there for years, but the speckles of light seem to dance across the walls.
Phil Douglis29-May-2006 01:53
Thanks, Jack -- an image like this requires the right lens (in this case a 24mm wideangle) and a lot of patience. I had to make a number of images from different spots, and used my spot meter to get the kind of exposure and color depth I wanted.
Guest 29-May-2006 01:18
I know how difficult is to take such a picture. I've tried and failed many times. It is a beautiful picture!!
Phil Douglis14-May-2005 00:05
Go ahead and cheat, Ana -- some like to take it one gallery at a time to learn in a logical and coherent manner. Others graze my site, look for inspiration as you have, and learn that way. Whatever works for you is fine.
I see the action in this image here as well, and I am delighted that you grasp my concept of using the columns as subject and the stained glass window as context, instead of the other way around. You may notice that I do this quite often. As you say, this image is about flying colors to you and it has obviously imprinted itself upon your vivid imagination.

One final thought for you, Ana. Your imagination can NEVER take you too far. That is the greatest value of the human imagination. It can function without limits. Only unimaginative people can limit the imagination. It will never limit someone like you. Thanks for your stimulating thoughts, as usual.
Ana Carloto O'Shea13-May-2005 23:38
I've "cheated" and decided to jump right into gallery twelve, because this composition has been calling me since I first browsed through your photos :-)
You are surely going to find this amusing, but for me this is an action photo!!
When I look at this photo I cannot see the colourful reflection resting on the columns, I see them all in motion!! Going up and down and round and round... Again the perfect play between the dark and the light areas, but this time complete with a dazzling show of moving colours!
You also chose an angle that leaves the window to second place and gave the leading role to the columns, that in any other occasion we might not even notice and this one of the things that I find particularly interesting in this work of yours. Simply by the powers of beauty you've "forced us" see beyond.
This is a very uplifting & joyful capture, that calls us to "fly" with the colours to where our imagination will take us... And mine always seems to take me too far :-)
I love this one!
Phil Douglis27-Feb-2005 04:50
Good point, Carol. The reflected light was the reason I entered the cathedral in the first place. I have photographed enough stained glass in my time and was not really interested in more of it. But the way those colors fell on the pillars, floors and walls of the cathedral was incongruous, abstract, and breathtakingly beautiful. They gave me no choice. A photographer's dream. And it only happens for a few minutes each day.
Jean Ray22-Feb-2005 03:19
This is truly an awesome image, Phil, in the true meaning of the word. The first word that came to mind as it began to unfold on my screen(still have dial up) was "magical."
Carol E Sandgren17-Feb-2005 05:45
I just came upon this shot of yours, Phil. Beautiful play of light, and so unusual that the reflection is more colorful than the source!
Phil Douglis29-Sep-2004 04:06
You guess right.
Guest 29-Sep-2004 00:34
Let me guess, spot meter?
Phil Douglis26-Sep-2004 00:35
Thanks so much, Bruce. I have received a number of compliments on this shot, which is, as you say, more about the effect rather than the source of the light. It is similar in a way to my San Diego sunset at Instead of the setting sun itself, I shot the effect of that sunset on the cloud. Here I was fascinated by the play of light on the walls of the church itself, and used the stained glass widow as context, rather than subject. There must be a good lesson here, for all of us.
Guest 25-Sep-2004 18:34
Phil - this is beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of a church interior that actually captured and conveyed the play of colored light ON a subject (though I've seen many photos of stained-glass windows themselves). Well done! Bravo!
Phil Douglis19-Sep-2004 01:04
You offer us here an important observation on the relationship between a photograph's subject matter and its context, Tim. In my explanation of this picture, I said that I used these colorful columns as my subject matter and the Rose Window as my context. And now you talk here of the "results-- the glory of that window." As you imply -- the context has truly illuminated its subject here. And that's really the ultimate purpose of context, isn't it? Thanks, Tim.
Tim May19-Sep-2004 00:28
How often I have seen pictures of rose windows and how wonderful of you to show us the results, the glory, of that window. I love this image.
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