St. Petersburg Russia has been on my wife Anita’s bucket-list for years. Earlier this year she booked us on a Russian river cruise. We spent a few days in Moscow and then sailed to St. Petersburg. Yes, there were a mind-numbing number of tours to royal palaces packed with art and fountains. But being the saint that she is, Anita carved out some opportunities designed just for me to have fun with my camera. I particularly had fun shooting at night and in this blog I’ll share some of my favorite images from the trip.
The night Moscow tour we were on gave me a paltry 20 minutes in Red Square after dark. Fortunately Anita and I had scouted out Red Square the day before so we were able to make the most of our limited time. I started out with the Icon of all Russian Icon’s: St. Basil’s Cathedral.
With the clock ticking, we darn near ran to the other end of Red Square to get this shot of the Zhukov statue in front of the State Historical Building.
In retrospect, running around Red Square at night with a rifle-looking tripod might not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done. When the military guards spotted me sprinting toward Lenin’s Tomb, the look in their eyes could have melted lead. Fortunately, I’m probably not the only crazy tourist they’ve ever seen and their AK-47s stayed slung on their backs.
We barely made it back to the bus as it was pulling away and I’ll tell you, the old heart was really pumping!
We also stopped at a river park near the Moscow State University. It’s a huge and impressive old Stalinist building and like most Russian tourist locations, there was a well-tended flowerbed in front of it.
Our 4 hour tour wrapped up around midnight and left me wishing I had more time to photograph this amazing city at night.
We had a lot more time in St. Petersburg. We hired a local guide, Oleg, who drove us around in a 1979 refurbished Lada (a soviet rip-off of a Fiat 124). His pricing was so reasonable that we hired him for two nights which allowed Anita and I to see quite a bit of the city.
Although it was a bit south of the city center, the place I was most looking forward to photographing was Chesme Church. I had fallen in love with it the first time I had seen a picture of it years ago. Yes, I do love the traditional Russian Orthodox churches like St. Basils, but Chesme has a unique attraction all its own.
The Winter Palace (Catherine’s Palace) is in Pushkin, just south of St. Petersburg. It closed early on the night we visited but I had time to grab a few shots:
‘Evening Peace’: Cathedral Of St Catherine in PushkinWe headed back into downtown St. Peterburg where I soon fell in love with the brilliant, blue domes of Trinity Cathedral. The main dome was destroyed in a terrible fire in 2006. Fortunately, it has been completely rebuilt.
Being a history nut, I had to go see the Cruiser Aurora
There are no shortage of amazing churches in St. Petersburg…unfortunately, the one I most wanted to photograph, the incredible ‘Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood’ was covered in Scaffolding…maybe next time.
Our ten days in Russia were a visual delight. Don’t get me wrong, the natural beauty of a quiet trail in the woods with the Milky Way arching over me can’t be beat but this was incredible in its own right.
PS: I know that most of you read this blog because of your interest in Nature photography, not travel shots. So you will be pleased to know that I’m heading off to Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to catch the fall colors tomorrow. Then I’m going to hike the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico for a few days. When I get back I should have whole new batch of material for some solid Landscape Photography blogs. Talk to you then!
And since you can’t have too many pictures of St. Basil’s, I’ll leave you with this: