Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

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.

Night photo of St. Basil's in Red Square. Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Everyone’s favorite Russian: 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.

Marshall Zhukov statue in Red Square. Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

‘Night Rider’

 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.

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Lenin’s Tomb in foreground with the Kremlin wall leading to St. Basil’s

We barely made it back to the bus as it was pulling away and I’ll tell you, the old heart was really pumping!

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Russian Reflections: View of the Moscow River and the Kremlin

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.

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Known as Stalin’s ‘Seven Sisters’, Moscow State Univ. is one of a group of seven similar skyscrapers built in Moscow between 1947-53

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.

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Wedding Cake and Flowers: Chesme Church.  A bit of focus stacking allowed me to keep everything sharp in the shot from front to back.

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:

Winter Palace Night Photography St. Petersburg

Catherine the Great had over 220 pounds of gold used to gild her Winter Palace…and it makes quite the impression.

Winter Palace Night Photography St. Petersburg

‘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.

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Trinity Cathedral

Being a history nut, I had to go see the Cruiser Aurora

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

At 9.40pm on 25 October 1917 a shot from the Aurora signaled the beginning of the October Bolshevik Revolution

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

A long exposure resulted in these cool streaks of light from cars as they passed by one of St. Petersburg’s oldest churches: Church of St. Panteleimon the Healer;

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Smolny Cathedral is amazing.  I can see why it took nearly 90 years to build

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

That’s Oleg’s Lada in the parking lot.

 

The square in front of the Hermitage was breathtaking at night.  We spent a long while soaking in the atmosphere…I could almost feel the history seeping up thru the cobblestones.Hermitage Night Photography in St. PetersburgNight Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

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.

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Building Jewelry: details on the Temple of Assumption

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.

Jeff

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:

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

 

 

 

 

Night Photography in Moscow and St. Petersburg

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2 Comments

  1. Gary Peterson November 12, 2018 at 11:46 am #

    Your photographs captured the amazing beauty of Russia, I was blessed to spend 14 days last September in Voronezh, culminating with a overnight train ride to Moscow arriving in the early morning and leaving about 10 pm to St. Petersburg. Arriving in St. Petersburg we spent 5 days visiting both the summer palace of Peter the Great and the area around the winter palace as well. Your photos captured much of what I saw and photographed as well. Red square at night was spectacular. I know the feeling of trying not to get left behind, my son is married to a Russian and invited me to visit his in-laws but due to immigration problems she was not able to accompany us. Our visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg was given by my daughter-in-laws grandmother, none of the family spoke English. Her grandmother hired English speaking guides for the two days we spent visiting the palaces. Another spectacular day was spent in Zadonsk, “City of Churches” , not far from Voronezh, sort of a pilgrimage spot for Russian Orthodox faithful. There are multiple monasteries and convents here each with their own cathedrals. I had never even envisioned being able to visit Russia let alone have the pleasure of family to guide us. A funny aside to Red Square, my son had on his list seeing Lenin in his tomb, unfortunately it was closed that day, Grandma Natasha tried all the guards to see if we could get in, as I watched each one she approached I heard “nyet”, much to her dismay.

    • Jeff Stamer November 12, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

      Hi Gary, Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of Russia. I envy that you were able to see it like a native!
      Jeff

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