A Birds-Eye View of St. Petersburg
Published: March 27, 2014 (Issue # 1803)
You’re 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, what’s 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, there’s a nice building or nice scene that hasn’t 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. “I’ve had a few hairy moments,” recalls Chapple. “I’ve 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 Editor’s 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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