From Russia With Love Locks

If you’ve scheduled a cruise along the Moscow River, you’re likely to come across Luzhkov Bridge — a pedestrian walkway lined with iron trees decorated in hundreds of love locks. Apparently this area is a popular backdrop for wedding photos but the only people I saw posing under the blazing sun were snap-happy tourists.

Whatever the season, it is a very cool sight to see. You can get there on foot, about a twenty-minute walk from the Kremlin; by metro; or by chance, as I discovered it after visiting the nearby Tretyakov Gallery.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

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White Nights in St Petersburg, Russia

I met my mum and sister in St Petersburg, Russia, just as June rolled into July; when the glorious White Nights were are their peak. The sun hardly slept — sometimes it napped under a blanket of clouds — and when the moon showed its face, it shone as bright as a beacon. The historic city was always illuminated and teeming with life, but its wide open spaces allowed for pause and reflection. I was awake throughout.

St Isaac's Cathedral

St Isaac’s Cathedral

View of Hotel Astoria and St Isaac's Square from the cupola of St Isaac's Cathedral

View of Hotel Astoria and St Isaac’s Square from the cupola of St Isaac’s Cathedral

Pigeons at Alexander Nevsky Monastery

Pigeons at Alexander Nevsky Monastery

The grand Petrodvoretz, the Tsar's Summer Palace

The grand Petrodvoretz, the Tsar’s Summer Palace

On the birch tree-lined fringes of the Gulf of Finland at Petrodvorets, the Tsar's summer palace

On the birch tree-lined fringes of the Gulf of Finland at Petrodvorets, the Tsar’s Summer Palace

Boating along the canals

Boating along the canals

Me, dwarfed by the palatial Hermitage

Me, dwarfed by the palatial Hermitage, the Winter Palace of every Tsar and Tsarina since Catherine the Great

Midsummer night light streaming through at 10pm

Midsummer night light streaming through at 10pm at Petro Palace Hotel

The moon by St Isaac's Cathedral

The moon by St Isaac’s Cathedral

Social Media: The Winogrand Effect

I read an interesting article in New York magazine by Jerry Saltz titled, “Photographing Through The Cracks: Garry Winogrand captured America as it split wide open.” It discusses an exhibition of the street photographer’s work currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The last paragraph stood out because it made me think about the future of art; the formal study of photography; the role of curator; and social media’s role in propelling a new generation of self-taught photographers. Here’s the quote:

“The whole world is now filled with incredible images–especially on Instagram and other social networks–that owe something to Winogrand’s, documenting life, change, and all the rest. Yet the art world and museums are not. Instead they tend to show oversize, very still pictures or images that investigate formal properties and ideas of display and presentation. I love many of those pictures, but what’s happening online on social media deserves far more serious scrutiny than it’s getting. If the art world doesn’t admit more of this sort of deceptively casual-seeming work, the outside world will reject more so-called art photography than it already does. That’s a divide that we don’t need to reestablish and widen.”

Thoughts?

St. Isaac's Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (with a Nikon)

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (on an angle with a Nikon and prime lens. I should add that my sister took amazing photos of the same cupola with an iPhone.).

Wanderlust — by Richard Avedon

Avedon was a poet and we didn’t know it?

Reading photographer Richard Avedon’s 1941 Scholastic Art & Writing award-winning poem Wanderlust on the back page of this month’s Harpers Bazaar was an apropos finale to a marathon magazine-reading session on an overcast Saturday in L.A.

WANDERLUST

You must not think because my glance is quick

To shift from this to that, from here to there,

Because I am most usually where

The way is strangest and the wonders thick,

Because when wind is wildest and the bay

Swoops madly upward and the gulls are few

And I am doing as I want to do,

Leaving the town to go my aimless way;

You must not think because I am the kind

Who always shunned security and such

As bother the responsible of mind

That I shall never total up to much;

I know my drifting will not prove a loss,

For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss.

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

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Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)

Lost In Translation: Sergey Esenin

The Russian-to-English translator’s job is a tough one. They face a constant dilemma in transforming  melodic Russian verse into rigid English. It’s unfortunate, but many times a bad translation will make the most evocative Russian sentence sound flat and dull.

In my research of Russian literature, I have been reading about Sergey Esenin — one of the country’s most-loved lyrical poets. Born in the country, he moved to the city — Moscow, then Petrograd — and in 1918, formed the Imagist poetry group.The Revolution had an impact on Esenin; he found it hard to adjust to the new way of life, and alcohol and drugs furthered his disillusionment. Over the course of 30 years, Esenin wed four times (American dancer Isadora Duncan was his third wife), becoming a father through marriage and a romantic liaison. All this made for  moving and emotive verse that, while poignant, thrives on masterful composition.

So, what does this have to do with translation? While combing through copious amount of information, I came across a number of English translations of Esenin’s final poem. Stumped, I searched for the original and found no translation to be a match. They were all either too wordy, exaggerated, and/or neglected to honour the poet’s words. I ended up translating the eight lines myself and believe me, it’s hard to balance the literal and the melodious, yet that shouldn’t compromise the poem’s integrity.

THE FINAL POEM

Apparently, this final untitled poem was written in blood. Esenin, who was staying at the Hotel Angleterre in Leningrad, could not find any ink and used his lifeblood to complete the piece. The poem became public around the same time he was found in his hotel room, hanging from a radiator pipe. Whether Esenin committed suicide or not is undetermined. He had been mentally unstable and suffered from a drug addiction, though some attribute his death to the hands of the secret police. Politically, Esenin was out of favour as his “village” poetry clashed with the industrial theories of the Revolution.

Esenin left his legacy in the most beautiful of poetic works that continue to be devoured. I checked Twitter and found that the Russians love nothing more than to share a cup of coffee with Esenin in the spring.

Here’s my translation of this final poem. The original is below if you want to have a go of translating it yourself, or to at least compare with Google translate. If you come across wildly varied versions in either case, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye.

My dear, you are in my heart.

This predestined parting

Promises a meeting in time to come.

 

Goodbye, my friend, without a hand, without a word,

Don’t be sad and furrow your brow in sorrow, –

To die in this life is not new,

But to live, of course, is not newer.

(1925)

До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья.
Милый мой, ты у меня в груди.
Предназначенное расставанье
Обещает встречу впереди.

До свиданья, друг мой, без руки, без слова,
Не грусти и не печаль бровей, —
В этой жизни умирать не ново,
Но и жить, конечно, не новей.

(1925)

Esenin and Duncan

Esenin and Duncan

 

 

Spreading the Love… ~ Africa

Scott Randall was one of the first bloggers I met when I set up my travel blog at the end of 2011. In this day and age, that makes us friends from way back, right?

Anyway, Scott takes amazing photos of wildlife, and today his photo captured my heart. Whether it was the look on the lion’s face, or the painterly effect… or maybe it’s because I am a Leo. Whatever it was, I had the immediate desire to spread the beauty of this image. Luckily, Scott gave me permission. And how apropos that it is Valentine’s Day.

It was hard for me to believe that Scott only started dabbling in photography a few years ago; he’d retired from a 32-year stint working in the Department of the Navy when he started learning the skill. To me, he’s a pro and meeting people like him makes me grateful for having joined the blogosphere.

Here’s Scott’s blog that was posted today on scottseyephotos.wordpress.com. Enjoy!

One of the things I love about photography is that you never know where or if you will find a treasured image – one that recalls the experience you had, the magic of the moment or the splendor of the subject.  Even in a place like Africa where the opportunities are endless, you never know if you will get that one “keeper”.  Even after you go through your photos a couple of times that treasure may still elude you.  

That kind of happened to me as I went through my Africa portfolio – there are MANY that I think are good photos and capture the moment well but I was hoping to get at least one that I could have printed professionally to put in our own living room.  It wasn’t until I started doing a first cut of post- processing on some of the photos that I stumbled upon this one that I really liked.

I had taken a photo of a male lion sitting in the grass of the Serengeti – the light wasn’t great and he wasn’t doing much but he had this very wispy mane that I liked.  I decided to see what it would be like as a simulated oil painting using some of the photoshop tools and came up with the image below.  I love the expression in the lion’s face and the way his mane translates into brush strokes…….  I  have sent this away to be printed and am anxiously awaiting its return – hopefully to become a treasured part of our living room decor.