September 22, 2013

Checking in with Russian Bloggers


Checking in with Russian Bloggers

As we move into fall, it would appear that some of our favorite Russian bloggers – in particular the Tumblr-like photo-sharing ones – have been making the most of this great time to enjoy both the outdoors and the indoors. From the local to the exotic, from the splendor of nature to the peculiar forms of city architecture, their cameras have been recording everything.

If there’s one thing that the Russian landscape is known for, it’s expanses – they’re practically another national resource (conveniently, vistas of nearby formerly-Soviet countries count as well). Sergey Ershov, for one (who is also the featured photographer for the 2014 Russian Life Wall Calendar, has been exploring the Ukrainian Carpathians – at the end of his post he even recommends some walking routes for enjoying the scenery. And he’s by far not the first to appreciate Russia’s natural landscape: the similarity of his forest scenes to paintings by Ivan Shishkin is striking. Igor Spilenok – who is on a 3-year long quest with his wife, Laura Williams, to visit all Russia's national parks – is out in the Far East, checking out Lake Baikal and nearby nature reserves.

Many of these photographers – like many Russians in general – are travellers, much like Igor’s recent acquaintance, the German voyager Gerry the Tramp. So if they cannot find a suitable subject nearby, they are happy to find something further afield: Shadrapa’s Livejournal, for example, includes a whole sequence of posts about Southeast Asia, mixed in with more familiar territory.

Speaking of familiarity, though, there are also calls to make the familiar new and interesting, to take a different perspective. The same Shadrapa also has a post showing how people capture architecture on Instagram, with a strong focus on contrast, patterns, and composition, using the peculiar shapes of Soviet and Russian buildings. (His use of the word зафоловить caught my eye – it’s a Russification of “to follow,” in a Tumblr or Instagram sense. The Internet is a great place to find new borrowed words!) He then follows his own advice with a slightly fancier camera, taking new, interesting, and often humorous shots of familiar sculptures and larger structures in the area. Russos, on his Livejournal, follows in the same vein with his panoramas of the Mayakovskaya subway station in Moscow, playing with other, previously unconsidered angles.

With the last post, from Russos, it’s worth pointing out how easy it is to get lost in these blogs, and to end up pleasantly surprised – following a link in this post about how to view photographs, I somehow ended up at a post with cards that used cat cartoons to explain the convoluted rules of Russian grammar and spelling. This, to me, felt like the perfect encapsulation of the Russian user: someone who uses humor to play with everything – be it language, photography, or architecture.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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