It should have all been ready for September 10th, 2017, Moscow’s official Big Birthday, when the city turned 870 years old, but even throwing a huge amount of money and countless workers in innumerable job sites wasn’t enough to make everything pretty!
All joking aside, Moscow is really investing an enormous sum and making an incredible effort to improve its look and the quality of life of Muscovites. For the citizens of the Russian capital the price to pay is that of an incredible number of construction sites, which exacerbate the already trying traffic conditions and cause continuous traffic jams. In many case the new infrastructures will eventually alleviate traffic conditions, by creating an even better public transport system, in other instances they are meant to encourage alternative means of transportations (mainly on foot and by bicycle, in the warmer months, of course) by reducing former 16 lane streets in the center of town to a meagre 8-10 lanes and thus enlarging the sidewalks and embellishing them with flowerbeds, benches and so on.
But that’s not all: the very center of town is “changing face”. A prime example of that is the very recent opening of a new park (Zaryadye Park) right next to the Red Square, on the spot where the immense (and immensely ugly) Rossiya Hotel used to be until 2006. But this is far from being the only significant change in the central part of Moscow. Basically all of the buildings, which are not demolished, are being completely restored and brought back to their former glory (although more often than not with a new function). In very many cases the scaffolding around the building is hidden by huge nets, printed with an image of what the future look of the building itself will be like. Basically they are giant, colourful trompe-l’œil!
While walking downtown Moscow, what struck me the most was to notice the state of complete disarray some of these buildings were in. Just look at the feature image of this post: the vegetation growing on the roof is a clear sign of many years of neglect and the condition of the stucco definitely confirms that. This is particularly shocking, to me, in relation with the immense value these places would have, were they to be put on the market. Apartments and office spaces in the center of Moscow have the same retail value of those in Lower Manhattan or any other hyper-expensive neighbourhood in the world’s megalopolises.
You might be surprised to find a photo tip in a post, the feature image of which is not that great or interesting of a photo. But that’s actually the very point I want to make. I want to build on what I wrote in yesterday’s post about the fact that sometimes it is worth to take a picture even when you already know it won’t come out that great, just to create a visual memory that is truly yours.
Sometimes, actually as often as you can, you should try very hard to make the best picture you can make, aiming at creating a museum quality piece of art. Put all of your soul, your experience, your time and your energy into it.
But don’t let this attitude stop you from taking a quick snapshot when taking a quick snapshot is all you have to do to accomplish a different goal.
Think of what use you want to make of the picture you are taking. In this case, for instance, it was just meant to illustrate a moment in time in Moscow (and to make a point) on a web-platform in a low quality JPEG setting (to save you bandwidth and time!) and at a reasonably low resolution. To be completely honest with you, I was shooting other things with a wide angle lens (a 20 mm) and I did not even change lens to take this picture, knowing that an extreme crop would still give me “enough pixels for what I needed”
Could I have taken a better, more thought after and carefully composed picture? Without any doubt. Should I have? Maybe not. That was not my goal there and then.
In one of the latest Apple events, Tim Cook revealed that in 2016 alone people took over 1 TRILLION (one thousand million!) pictures, and just with Apple iPhones and iPads. A part of this TRILLION pictures (even just one in a thousand would make a million of them!) are probably “visual reminders” that people snap because they have their phone either in their hands already or very handy. If you are a photographer, chances are your camera is already in your hands or very handy. There’s nothing wrong in using it as you would your phone, just to snap away a picture. And there are so many advantages: you get better quality in any case, you can crop the hell out of your snaps, if needs be, and you are constantly familiarising yourself with your camera, with composition and so on. So my very simple photo tip is: don’t put away your camera and take out your phone to take the simplest of pictures. Take the shot with your camera and try to use it as a small, teeny, tiny step towards your personal growth as a photographer, by keeping an eye on your shutter speed and f-stop and making sure they are appropriate for what you want to capture.
Would you like to take part in a photowalk or a photo tour of Moscow or any other Russian destination with an English (and Italian, Spanish and French) speaking photographer (me) showing you the sights, the best time and viewpoint(s) to capture them in your images and helping you improve your photo technique with practical tips? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!