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A Birds-Eye View of St. Petersburg

Published: March 27, 2014 (Issue # 1803)



  • Hermitage Pavilion, Pushkin, from 60 meters above, September 2013. This is probably the best picture Ive taken so far. There was this thin layer of dawn mist that made everything look like a fairytale, said Chapple.
    Photo: Amos Chapple

  • Smolny Cathedral, from 40 meters above, October 2013.
    Photo: Amos Chapple

  • Mikhailovsky Castle.
    Photo: Amos Chapple

  • St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Peterhof, from 60 meters above, February 2014.
    Photo: Amos Chapple

  • Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.
    Photo: Amos Chapple

Youre a professional photographer, standing in front of the The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, one of the most photographed churches in the world. Your money shot depends on capturing the church in a way that no one has ever before. With millions of photographs already out there, taken from all angles and times of days, whats left to do? The answer, according to award-winning New Zealand photographer Amos Chapple, lies in drone technology.

Using a drone is like photographing 100 years ago where you are like, theres a nice building or nice scene that hasnt been photographed before I can photograph it and it will have value, said Chapple, speaking to The St. Petersburg Times. Every picture needs to be different to push things forward somehow but how do you do that when things have been photographed 100 times before? So from this angle [when the drone is in the air] you can literally be taking a picture that has never been taken before you are able to get right in amongst the buildings.

The drone Chapple refers to is new technology that, according to him, is causing a sensation in the photography field. Basically everyone has wanted this for a long time and a company in the U.S. has finally come out with something that is small, self-contained and simple to use.

Packed away in a small suitcase, the drone is a small, battery-operated quad-helicopter, no more than half a meter in diameter, to which Chapple attaches his small light-weight camera and then controls from the ground. It is also uses GPS technology so if you want it to go straight up, even if there is wind, it will go straight up, said Chapple. However, with the ability to fly up to 300 meters, there is always a risk of losing the drone or, even worse, crashing to the ground. Ive had a few hairy moments, recalls Chapple. Ive had a drone smash to pieces on the ground here in St. Petersburg which cost me $2,500.

Chapple has been living in St. Petersburg on and off for the past two years. Having started his career at the New Zealand Herald at 21 as a staff photographer, he quit two years later when he was invited to be part of the UNESCO Our Place project a five-year job which saw him travel non-stop, photographing all of the World Heritage sites around the world and picking up a few awards along the way such as the Cathay Pacific Traveler of the Year Award in 2009 and Editors Choice in the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest.

It was also through this project that he got his first exposure to Russia. I came to Russia in 2006, when I was 23, for one month and visited Moscow and really loved the experience and photography. Unfortunately, St. Petersburg had just fallen outside of my reach so I promised myself that one day I would one day go back and live here, he said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphotos exhibition On Both Sides, chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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