Tag Archives: digital

Resurrection. Not quite. A home for digital snapshots.

7 Feb

Well, this blog has been dormant for a while and its’ resurrection is unlikely. The reason why is because I am interested in different aspects of photography, from collecting photographic formulas (anyone can hop on board with that endeavor) to taking digital snapshots of people of things, from archaic photo processes to traditional analog dark room stuff.

Having all this in one place is too much. So I am launching a few separate blogs, which I hope won’t go dormant any time soon.

The first one is my digital photo stream, yes amazingly enough I secured the domain – digitalphotostream.com (if anyone wants to join me there are create a communal digital photo stream, I’d be more than happy to change the profile or to redesign the site or even make a site independent from the wordpress platform.

So here is the first post.

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Film or Digital

20 Jun

What’s better? That’s a stupid question.  Because to me the answer is obvious. That is film. The film is however a dying format. I switched from digital to film in 2008 after almost ten years of shooting digital. My first camera was a Sony Mavica that used quarter 3.5 inch floppies to record images. I guess those 3.5″ magnetic disks were called floppies due to inertia, their 5.25 inch predecessors were indeed floppy like a rabbit’s floppy ears, but they themselves were rather rigid. Though not a scientific test, this shows a degree of difference between digital and film, or wait, between digital and digital since of course film becomes digital when it is scanned. I myself prefer film because in my opinion nothing beats the translucence, the breathtaking tonal depth, the glory of a real analog transparency.  But when scanned it loses most of its luster and I’d say that digital without any intermediary, as in the image taken with a Sony A900, is certainly not worse, perhaps even better, than a 35mm color slide.  Of course  we are talking about display of an image on a computer screen, not the right way to see a photograph   (I believe that transparencies should be projected or looked at through the light while black and white photos optically printed on black and white photographic paper) but as far as computer screens go, the “original digital” is in no way inferior (perhaps better) that the digital image created with intermediary of 35mm E6 film and a cheap scanner.  I am going to shoot film though. As far as it is impracticably possible.

direct digital, Sony Alpha 900

direct digital, Sony Alpha 900

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitalized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, No correction

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, No correction

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitalized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, Photoshop autocorrection

Kodak Ektachrome 100G, color adjusted, digitized with Canon Canoscan 9000f scanner, Photoshop auto correction

It might become impossible at some point. With Kodak out of reversible film business altogether, and only Fuji left that makes E6 film chances are it will disappear in the nearest future. In fact it is already extinct in most of the world. Black and white film might hold on for a little longer, though 120 format is already in short supply, but with really, really only Ilford and neither live nor dead Foma Bohemia left around, the chances of film surviving seems to be slim.

Unless. Unless.

But that’s another topic.

The picture in the picture is that of gorgeous Romanesque church in the small town or rather hamlet of Kirchstetten, famous for its baroque palace (now for sale by the way )  in beautiful Weinviertel of northern Lower Austria, only 17 odd kilometers from my place in old Nicolsburg or Nikolsburg,  now Mikulov, where if one needs accommodations one can stay a night or two at the pension Mikulov or Nicolsburg.

Kodachrome – In Memoriam – The first anniversary of Kodachrome’s demise –

2 Jan

This is the first of planned   10 or 12 Kodachrome-related posts, each will display roughly 10 Kodachrome images.

I wrote this on December 30 but apparently did not publish the article (New Year Eves tend to be hectic).  The photos below were made with Zenit E camera (Kodachrome 64) and old Minolta SLR (Kodachrome 200).  This first batch consists of 10 photos of St. Petersburg taken in immediate vicinity of my St. Petersburg home.  Click the image for a larger version (contact me if you need really huge files for whatever reason).

Today is the day Kodak turned off Kodachrome’s life support.

St. Vladimir Square (Vladimirskaä Ploşad', Владимирская площадь, Vladimirskaya) Kodachrome St. Petersburg (Autumn 2010)

St. Vladimir Square (Vladimirskaä Ploşad', Владимирская площадь, Vladimirskaya) Kodachrome St. Petersburg (Autumn 2010), Russia - baroque St. Vladimir Cathedral and (ugly) Dostoevskiï (Dostoevsky) monument. Dostoevskiï lived about 200 meters to the right from this spot.

On December 30, Kodak or rather its subcontractor Dwayne’s Photo Lab in Kansas, USA,  officially stopped processing Kodachrome.  A few of my  first and last Kodachrome rolls were made for the US market and the rest was sold in Europe.  US-market Kodachrome came back as if it were processed by Dwayne’s (well, as it was), each film in a plastic box with Dwayne’s label on it while the film that was sold in Europe came in original-yellow Kodachrome packaging, each slide frame numbered and bearing  Kodak logo. Although the official date of Kodachrome’s demise is December 30, 2010, it reportedly continued to live for almost three weeks a while after its death. Apparently an avalanche of film engulfed  Dwayne’s Photo in the last weeks of November 2010 (I think the shutoff date was December 26) and the company kept processing film until January 18, 2011,  according to Kodachrome project’s blog from December 26th to 1:36 PM on the 18th (of January), Dwayne’s Photo processed 20,564 rolls of 35mm, 3,565 of 8mm and 57,655 feet of 16mm Kodachrome motion and still picture film.

Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg (about 1.5 km from the previous image)

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg (about 1.5 km from the previous image), St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia

While for US-born Americans  Kodachrome was something of a cultural icon, for me it did not mean much. I knew that in the past there were other color film processes like the Franco-English Dufay color,  French Autochrome and Autochrome based Alticolor, beautiful Agfacolor that preceded Kodachrome by 3 years, never mind that on the smaller scale level there were a few Russian color photography pioneers from the turn of the century era like brilliant Sergueï Prokoudine-Gorsky (in US publication his name also gets spelled  as Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky) who left a workable though complicated additive color process along with thousands of color photographs illustrating daily life of the entire Russian Empire which he took well before (first!) world war and Bolshevist coup which  brought it down.   I will publish all of Prokoudine-Gorsky /Прокудин-Горский photographs in a separate gallery one day;  those pictures are amazing and they are all in public domain .  Prokoudine-Gorsky’s photographs are surreal.  It is a time machine which   for me is somewhat scary to use, I don’t like looking at those images, – I would rather not see how our past looked like.  if there is any I would prefer to have it in monochrome.

 

A corner building and full moon over  Theatre Square (Театральная площадь) or rather improbably in English though closer to the original as Theatrical Square -  Theatralnaä Ploşad' phonetically rendered as Teatralnaya St. Petersburg, Russia Saint Petersburg Kodachrome

A corner building and full moon over Theatre Square (Театральная площадь) or rather improbably in English though closer to the original as Theatrical Square - Theatralnaä Ploşad' phonetically rendered as Teatralnaya St. Petersburg, Russia Saint Petersburg Kodachrome

Yes I’ve heard about Kodachrome and its commercial success in the 40s and 50s but I thought that Kodachrome was so overwhelingly triumphant against its European competition primarily because by 1945 entire Europe – from Atlantic almost to the Urals – was destroyed and the USA got healthy and rich by sucking all the juices from the rest of the planet. Something it still does though markedly less successfully.   There are many claims of Kodachrome’s technical superiority.  That’s a matter of taste but yes, I too prefer the look of Kodachrome to say Agfacolor.  Now – after having been digital user for quite long – I realize that one of film’s greatest attractions is its  diversity. Every film has its own characters, temperament,  unique shades and different colors (if it is color film) while with a digital camera you are stuck with one boring sensor or the future of churning out   Photoshop forgeries.

Day time Kirche street from Foundry Avenue (Kirochnaia, Litejny) - Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg (about 1.5 km from the previous image), St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia Kodachrome late October - 2010

Day time at Kirche street from Foundry Avenue - the street where I live in St. Petersburg (about 1.5 km from the previous image), St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia Kodachrome late October - 2010 - (Kirochnaia, Litejny) - Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street

But I admit that out of four contemporaries – Agfacolor, Dufay, Lumière’s Autochrom in its numerous varieties and Kodachrome, I like Kodak’s stuff best. It is not naturalistic looking but it is natural,  Kodachrome is also rich, it has deep beautiful hues and tones that range from etherial otherworldly warmth to  steely blue.  Kodachrome was fantastic stuff but it took me long time to find that out.  More recent films and expensive digital reproduce  reality more accurately  but to me another attraction of old or unusual film stocks is that they don’t, film distorts reality,  life documented on Kodachrome is fairly close to the real chromatic thing but is not quite there, it is different, and it is beautiful

two girls - I see just two females in the frame more could be lurking -  Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street

two girls (click for larger picture) - I see just two females in the frame more could be lurking - (Kirochnaia, Litejny) - Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street

I am not a walking Xerox copier and when I need accuracy of color rendition, my Sony A900 does the job way better than does Kodachrome.  Skin tones in Kodachrome can appear earthly grayish and the look of the film is that of remote past,  it is or rather it was a photographic time machine, it is the way of representing the present in the past, a delicious endeavor  (there are still many opportunities to make pictures with historic color film stocks though no longer with Kodachrome)

 

domes of Resurrection of Our Savior Cathedral from afar , popularly known as the Tar (Smolny) Cathedral from 18th century works that produced shipbuilding pitch pine tar. Saint / St Petersburg, Russia  2010 late October Kodachrome

domes of the Resurrection of Our Savior Cathedral from afar , popularly known as the Tar (Smolny) Cathedral from 18th century works that produced shipbuilding pitch pine tar. Saint / St Petersburg, Russia 2010 late October Kodachrome

After the United States dressed warmly  in a NATO’s fig leaf unleashed a humanitarian war of aggression against Yugoslavia (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23914) in 1999 I stopped buying products made by very large American corporations.  That it turn meant that after 1999 I only bought Fuji and Agfa films and then soon went fully digital which in practical terms meant going Japanese (I got my first digital camera in 1998, it was a Sony Mavica that recorded fuzzy images on a 3 1⁄2-inch floppy).  Since then  I mellowed down quite a bit – though only in matters that concern photography and do buy Kodak color film if it is cheap, though not their black and white stuff which is pretty awful (in my hands at least).  It would be sad to see Kodak  go bankrupt and follow other film manufacturers, of which there was a legion,  into oblivion.

A Convenience Store (a small supermarket rather)

Entrance to a convenience store (or rather small twenty four hour retail market) on Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg (about 1.5 km from the previous image), St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia Kodachrome late October - 2010

That’s how I missed Kodachrome during its lifetime.  I shot little Agfa and then some Fuji but then went digital even before the wild masses began defecting from film. I remember seeing Kodachrome on the shelves though. Even in the  1990s Kodachrome was something of a fossil.

Kodachrome 64 120 box

This is a professional 5 roll pack that contained European market Kodachrome 64 in 120 format, manufactured about 1986-1987, expired 1991. This box is in my collection but unfortunately there is no film in it. The box is twice thicker that a regular pro pack as it is divided into two sections - one contained film and the other mail-in processing envelopes. Someone used 5 rolls of film but did not process them. All five envelopes are intact. Each envelope, alas not usable after December 30, 2010, was worth about 10 euros / dollars if sold alone (those envelopes had value!) but I have no idea who bought them as each pack of European Kodachrome contained such an envelop and Kodak only dispatched processed film to non-US addresses. In America processing and optional framing had to be paid for separately. I never got hold of any 120 Kodachrome film though.

In Europe it was always sold with a processing envelope (something as I recall Kodak was prohibited from doing  on its home turf because of a mid 1950s antitrust law suit that it lost ).  It used to cost – as it appeared to me then – a good fortune.  In Europe a roll of Kodachrome retailed for the equivalent of 20-25 euros or for whopping 30 US dollars in today’s terms or perhaps for 20 dollars with parity currency rate.  Kodachrome was only sold in “real” old Europe if we were to use Donald Rumsfeld’s terminology –  between 1945 and 1991.  With the exception of Finland, which is a new state but was in the “Kodachrome zone” this category actually included entire “real” Europe without Russia that existed before 1917-1918.  German Democratic Republic aside (on which territory a number of historic German states were located in the past), Soviet Union only held lands of newfangled states that did not exist before 1917.

Kodachrome

Surface scan of a Kodachrome slide, processed in France (they stopped processing Kodachrome in France in the late 80s or ealry 90s). This slide dates from 70s and comes from my "collection" (a box of unsorted) slides of French origin. I have no idea whose photograph apparears on it - I just grabbed a random Kodachrome slide out of the box.

The  Kodachrome border ran along the Iron Curtain and that wall that was never breached. Except for the territory of the annexed GDR, Kodachrome was never sold in the former Warsaw pact “states” or in Russia, not even after 1991. That of course was almost of irrelevance because by 1990s only some pros in the USA itself and Kodachrome enthusiasts were shooting this film.  Numerous E-6 process films, probably first introduced by Kodak itself, killed Kodachrome.  The price of 20-25 euros in modern equivalent (or 20- 30 US dollars ) might seem outrageous but in really it wasn’t. In America Kodachrome sold for roughly 10 dollars per roll (from 7.99 to 9.99) during the same period of time but did not include processing or framing. European price included processing, framing and return postage. So as it looks now it might have been even cheaper to shoot Kodachrome in Europe than in the US but very   few did and at the end  Kodachrome’s share of the film market went down to  fraction of a percent.

St Petersburg Kodachrome

St Petersburg (Saint Peters) Conservatory building, Theatre Square (Театральная площадь) or rather improbably in English though closer to the original as Theatrical Square - Theatralnaä Ploşad' phonetically rendered as Teatralnaya St. Petersburg, Russia Saint Petersburg Kodachrome late October 2010

In September  2010 I read somewhere, in some online blog or a magazine article, that Kodak has long discontinued Kodachrome and that it will no longer be processed. I didn’t know that. And another thing, I read, December 2010 is the cutoff date.  No more Kodachrome after that.  Now one disadvantage of the Kodachrome  versus its competitors like Agfacolor was that you need to build more or less a factory to process the stuff.  As I understand (in the plainest of layman terms) reversible Agfacolor like all subsequent films had its dyes incorporated within three photosensitive layers. You just need the right mix of chemicals to develop those films anywhere. Kodachrome had an extremely complicated processing procedure where dyes were introduced during development stage. Something that is impossible to do at home no matter how big a home you’ve got.

Idealnaä časka  - idealnaya chashka - kodachrome

A coffee shop of the Ideal Cup (Idealnaä časka) chain, St. Petersburg (idiots write it as fantastic Saint Petersburg) - obviously Kodachrome 64 is an extremely slow film, I was shooting it as ISO 25 in dim lightining, ISO 1600-3200 would be better suited for this sort of photography, sitll quite many painterly effects - idealnaya chashka - kodachrome

Getting my hands on Kodachrome became urgent. I realized that it is now or never situation and I need to buy a few rolls of Kodachrome immediately or I’ll never process it.  I saw old Kodachrome slides from the 40s and 50s, love  how the film looks and wanted to take pictures of my kids on Kodachrome as well. I began to look for the stuff on the Ebay, placed random bids here and there, and amazingly got three lots of Kodachrome fairly cheaply – probably for no more than 2 euros per American roll or 3 euros for the European “issue” along with the free processing mailer. That was a good deal because I saw people selling processing envelopes for 5 euros a pop. I have no idea what they did with the film. Already after Kodachrome’s demise I bought a case of Kodak color film (all expired stuff, Vericolor II stuff, some Ektar, lots of film. I haven’t shot yet any from that batch). The precious case contained a retail pro pack of Kodachrome – alas the film was gone but all five mail-in processing envelopes were intact. What happened to the film? Who knows.  Prices of Kodachrome nosedived right before November although the stuff that was unsold recovered the value after January 2011 – people sell intact Kodachrome boxes for 20 euros / 25 dollars online which are now of course only good for display purposes (developing the stuff in black and white chemistry is akin to vandalism).  If I did not use my Kodachrome but kept it until today I could have made a small, admittedly a very small, fortune.

ideal cup kodachrome

A coffee shop of the Ideal Cup (Idealnaä časka) chain, St. Petersburg (idiots write it as fantastic Saint Petersburg) - Kodachrome 64 is a slow film, I was exposing it as ISO 25 in dark lightining, ISO 1600-3200 would be better under the circumstances - still I like the results of the experiment- idealnaya chashka - kodachrome

My Kodachrome began arriving in  October, I had about a month to waste it. I photographed St. Petersburg, then went with my kids on a ferry to the federal   German Reich,  then drove straight to Mikulov (Nikolsburg) and after a short stay there proceeded (on wheels)  to Italy. By then my modest stock of expired Kodachrome ran out. Because of urgency I felt I have to take pictures fast and   with any sort of rush quality suffers.  I packed everything and sent it off to Kodak (in Switzerland, that was the last place in Europe that still took Kodachrome and forwarded it to Dwayne’s lab in the states). I got it back right after new year.

ideal cup kodachrome

A coffee shop of the Ideal Cup (Idealnaä časka) chain, St. Petersburg fisheye lens (that's one of the things you must get but then won't use). Zenit camera

I believe I might have been the last person who used Kodachrome in either Russia or the Czech Republic (where it was never sold anyway). Flickr has few, very few,  fantastic Kodachrome images of Leningrad, all taken by tourists in the 1970s and early 80s. Time frozen. But nothing afterwards.

I am   crazy about historic film and for me the experience of shooting Kodachrome and getting it developed was almost a divine pleasure. I am also happy that I now got some Kodachrome photos on my own.  I am thankful to Kodak that they kept it going for so long.

At 75 years (1935-2010) Kodachrome  is or rather was the longest surviving photographic process. With its 59 years Agfacolor which later became a ‘chrome (such as German Orwochrom) came second but a disclaimer should be made that it is still possible and in fact is fairly easy to process any Agfacolor / Orwochrom type filmstock at home.  If years of film production are to be counted, and that would be fairer, Kodachrome’s lifespan would  have to be reduced by a year to 74 but factually by 8, from 75 down to 67 as  most of Kodachrome production stopped in 2002.  I couldn’t locate any film fresher than that for my experiment. Nonetheless, even with that reduction Kodachrome still outlived its Agfa contemporary by almost a decade. I am unsure if color film stays in production for three more decades from now, that’s how much time is needed for the current C-41 and E-6 films to beat Kodachrome’s longevity record.

Kirochnaya 10 Kodachrome Russia

A rare example of private urban architecture (http://www.citywalls.ru/house1855.html) albeit much mutilated one. The townhouse or private house of architect Theodore Demercev (hated Americanized "spellers" might render his name in the language of Donald Rumsfeld and Obama as Fyodor Demertsev or worse), built in 1792. This elegant neoclassical building was apparently mutilated for commercial ends - in 1826 another massive floor was added on top of the structure. Kodachrome Zenit camera October 2010

Lifespan of commercial photographic color film processes:

Autochrom / Alticolor (France) – from about 1907 to 1955 = 48 years

Dufay / Dufaycolor –   France / Great Britain – from mid 1920s to until 1940, about 15 years.

Kodacolor (C-22)  1943-1972  (first Kodak then internationalized) =29 years

Kodachrome – 1935 to 2010 =75 years

Agfacolor reversible / Orwochrom – 1932 to 1991 = 59 years

Kodak C-41 and similar international processes (Fuji, Agfa) 1972 until today, the current most common negative process, 40 years, still alive.

Kodak E-3 reversible, about 1950 to 1972 – 22 years

Kodak E-4 reversible, 1972-1974 – 2 years

Kodak E-6 and its international derivatives, 1974 until today,  38 years, still alive.

European market Kodachrome 64 120 format box

European market Kodachrome 64 120 format box

Kodachrome 64 120 5 pack

Kodachrome 64 120 5 pack - Kodak officially discontinued the film in 1996 but probably stopped making it even earlier.

Are Russian photographers free? Some are.

26 Sep

Though Flickr I got a message from an editor of an art magazine with dual seat in London and Berlin (unlike Rome and Berlin or London and Paris pairs, this couple sounds surreally odd). She was nice to ask me  seven innoxent questions, a few were about nature of photography while others about Russian-ness or how it is perceived by others (the fair lady did not ask if  Russians guzzle vodka down from a garden hose though), but I thought I’ll post my answers for all to see because in some ways, like relationship between film  and digital (or lack thereof) could be of interest to those for whom photography is of interest.

Hi Amanda,

Thank you for noticing my pictures and please accept my apologies for responding so late or rather later than I should have had but alas I did not get the message in time. You see I was on a vacation. From the Internet that is. I got tired of checking my email 45 times per day and thought for one it would it would be great  if I could get disconnected for a while. Yes I know Internet is a great money making platform (even I make some money off it now and then and have plans for a few Internet-related ventures) but from the personal standpoint it is both a horrible way to waste one’s not so precious time as well as a  major productivity drag.

Though I am not hoping to make your magazine edition, let me answer your questions one by one (though I thought at least some of them were somewhat  biased, questions I mean, not my forthcoming answers, which are not) but let’s begin: better late  than never

1. 1.Your photography is very characteristic and different. What do you think has influenced you most?

I am just trying not to pay much attention to established rules as I enjoy experimentation in general, be it experimentation with cooking or with photography. Though perhaps when it comes to cooking my operational freedom is more restricted by national traditions, be those French, Austrian or old Russian, and is thus more reliant on the repositories of collective wisdom stored within confines of classic cookbooks, than would ever be the case of photography with which I am free to do pretty much anything I please.

Among photographers who influenced me most was perhaps Sergei Varaskin (http://club.foto.ru/gallery/photos/author.php?author_id=2084), he is not well known, controversial and yes, Russian or rather he lives in Russia. I discovered his creative genius just a few months ago.  As I understand in his real life he is a civil engineer of retirement age .

2. 2.Do you experiment with many different cameras? What do you see in analog photography that digital photography lacks?

Because I collect cameras the natural urge for me is to try them out as well, to resurrect them to their former photographic selves if not to their past glory. That is a sentiment that a few historic gun collectors might share because manyof them have the urge, the itch, to shoot old pistols and rifles and whatever they’ve got in their collections that when put to use belches smoke,  produces noise and even expels gunpowder propelled projectiles. Similarly to old guns (and God knows I like guns) finding ammunition for the old junk can be challenging while firing ancient pieces might even be dangerous both to the experimenter and to the spectators. It is less dangerous with cameras at least as far as the experimenter is concerned.

Digital photography is too naturalistic and plasticky. I think digital photography (done with quality say expensive equipment) enjoys almost absolute advantage over traditional film in a number of areas where naturalism is either the greatest value or is of substantial value: say in such rewarding genres as pornography as well as in commercial and product photography.  I am going to quote or misquote a flickr user who wrote something to the effect that digital photography did to film what silver-based photography did to traditional painting around 1860s or so, namely it freed it. Liberated from the restraints of naturalism and of need to emulate naturalistic ideals,  film photography can now aspire to reach the expressive heights which  were off limits to it  just a decade or two ago in the dark era when quality “mattered” most. Now a decent midrange DSLRs like the Sony A900 never mind the heavy artillery of the top end digital Hasselblad caliber, even in the hands of  neophyte rookies, deliver “quality” that less than 20 years ago was imaginable,  attainable on a consistent basis and deliverable only by the most experienced lavishly outfitted squads of pros backed by teams of fearless assistants .

Thus said I don’t believe that  the digital image taking, processing and all the marvels of the photoshop artistry on one hand,  and the real photography, i.e. classic silver based photography and wet processing on the other are related lest are identical. To me these two are different media that should not be confused,  judged by or even placed within the same categories. For example,  the value of a traditional silver-based black and white print   is to me much greater – by virtue of its material alone and skill that went into the producting a wet print – than a digital ink printout from some Epson device. The equation is similar as to way  a unique oil painting created by an artist (paintings manufactured in painting factories in China is a different category altogether) carries greater appeal never mind the value than a shiny reproduction from a color photocopier.

3. 3. Do you prefer to shoot emptiness and portray still life rather than the typical portraits? Who do you enjoy photographing?

I am an entrepreneur or perhaps  self-employed is the label that I would  be most comfortable with affixing to myself.  Thus I am not a professional photographer – a pro  is someone who does what he does for money and I don’t because  at least  in the domain of the photography I am freed from  financial restraints or considerations a professional would have to deal with. I am a private person who does not believe that life is or should be an exhibition. So the photos I take of my kids or of my friends are not for public display.

4. 4. How do you think that living in Russian is making you different as an artist?

I don’t live in the Russian Federation. I do spend a few months per year in St. Petersburg and it is too bright and excessively  unjustifiably foolishly cheery for my taste. In the summer months especially,. Russia – or that part of it –  is also pretentious in a garish sort of way never mind all the phony ostentatiousness and the fake luxuries of the Thieving Class on display over there and the loss of culture that by now seems almost irreversible.

5. 5.Many of your photos are melancholic and empty, do you see this is as part of Modern Russian?

I don’t quite understand the question or rather I hope I don’t but if I were you, and if I am getting it right, then  if  I wouldn’t commit the folly of transposing mostly meaningless photography of a middle aged man on cultural environment of today’s Russia which I’d assure you is though at this point seems utterly hopeless is not at all serious (well, that was once said about Vienna, somewhat unjustly though in a different and more serious context) and is now far more melancholic and emptier than the emptiest of my pictures are albeit even that place is not as depressing as the Swedish cinema. Though now pretty much extinct Swedish cinema is hardly a “place”

6. 6.Do you think people in Russia are really free or live under a disguised dictatorship?
I don’t think the dictatorship is in any way disguised.

And of course you can be totally free under a dictatorship. As an artist you should know that.
It benefits if the said dictatorship is of low taxation nature and does not care about artists as well,.

7. 7.How free do you feel as a Russian photographer in the whole wide world, and how important is communication with the outside world for you or your work?

There are three issues:

Firstly, I am not a Russian photographer. Strictly speaking I am not. But I am also a Russian photographer in an unusual way and I have bagged some unique experiences and possess an unusual amount of cultural insight. I am free.

Secondly, as a habitually failing entrepreneur I am looking for  venture capital partners, new contacts and people with whom I could develop a few projects and make a few bucks in the process or build up a business  or two – that would be good.   I realize that  this sort of considerations are irrelevant to any true artist. Look here, Mozart or Rimsky-Korsakov would have composed music regardless of whether they got paid or not, received favorable feedback or not (they often did not), if their creations were protected by copyright or not (they were not) and if they were online (they were not) or offline.  I think that for an artist at least too much communications is a bad thing. An artist must be able to work alone oblivious both to the world around and disinterested in the world’s opinions, prejudices and reactions.

Thirdly, for me personally, as for a hobby photographer, the Flickr has been an source of both inspiration and enlightenment not merely because I got occasional feedback but because I learn from the work of others, sharing is a mutual and  rewarding experience.

Once again thank you for asking for my opinion.