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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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