Evening walk in the Ostankino park – Photo tip!

Ostankinsky District , also called simply Ostankino, is one of the 125 raions of MoscowVDNH exhibition center and the Ostankino Tower, the tallest structure in Europe, are located in Ostankinsky. The rayon is also rightfully known for the Ostankino Palace, the third-largest wooden building in the world, which is a former summer residence and private opera theatre of Sheremetev family, originally situated several kilometres to the north from Moscow but now a part of the ever-growin city. Extant historical Ostankino includes the main wooden palace, built in 1792-1798 around a theater hall, with adjacent Egyptian and Italian pavilions, a 17th-century Trinity church, and fragments of the old Ostankino park with a replica of Milovzor folly.

The palace, now a museum, comprises a beautiful park (the admission to which is free of charge). In 1761 Sheremetevs hired a garden manager, Johann Manstadt, who supervised expansion of the park and its conversion to a commercial enterprise. Under Manstadt, Ostankino garden became an important supply of exotic plants for wealthy Moscow families; customers included Catherine II and Grigory Potyomkin. The park sprawled over territories of present-day All-Russia Exhibition CentreBotanical GardenOstankino Television buildings and residential blocks around it. Today the park is decidedly smaller than it used to be, nut it remains huge, nonetheless, with an area of ​​4 hectares.

The park is wonderfully maintained, with plenty of benches for a nice rest and it also offers cafés, venues for events, and it is also easy to reach with public transportation. A couple of minutes walk from the park main entrance there is also a lake, which offers beautiful views, completely devoid of buildings, hidden by the tree-line, except, of course for the majestic Ostankino Tower!

To get a nice evening portrait at sunset all you really need is an off-camera flash. You can even use a flash on the camera (or even the integrated or pop-up flash that most cameras have!) to create some fill light.
What that means is that your subject, against the setting sun, is much darker than the sky. Without a flash you can get two results. A properly exposed subject, and a completely washed-out sky, or a nicely exposed sky and a silhouette subject, as dark as the trees you see in my image. This is one of those cases where it really is best NOT to use the auto exposure of your camera. Tasked with the impossible goal of having everything properly exposed, your camera will almost invariably set for “a middle ground” resulting in both an over exposed sky and an under-exposed subject!
So, my suggestion is to meter (set the exposure) for the sky, so that you get all the rich colours (especially if there are some scattered clouds) and a nice deep blue, and then use the flash to illuminate your subject.
For even better results, you can use an off-camera flash (radio controlled or, if you are a Nikon shooter you can use Nikon’s CLS system so that the flash on your camera fires, but does not effect the exposure and it works as a “commander” to activate an off-camera Nikon flash). This gives the desired directionality to the light and has the added benefit that if your subject looks into the camera he or she will not get the hideous red eyes that you often see as a result of an on-camera flash light.
For better results, still, you can attach a softbox to your flash. The benefit of the softbox is that, as the name implies, it makes the flash light much more soft (a soft light, as opposed to a harsh one, means that the shadows aren’t so dark and there is a much more gradual passage from light to shadow).
There are really many, many options on the market. If you don’t mind the price (about 160 USD) there’s a really good one by Scott McNally or, if you live in Moscow, you can pick the Falcon Eyes equivalent for around 3750 Rubles (under 60 Euros – 70 USD). I can’t actually find a link for it, but should you be interested send me a message via the contact page and I’ll give you all the infos!




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!




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