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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

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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