A Study of the Church of Spilled Blood

St Petersburg is undoubtably the most cultural and European city within Russia. Founded by Peter the Great, who spent many years travelling around Europe. Home of literary genius's Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy; It was also the city where the Russian revolution began and the era of Monarchy came to an end.

St Petersberg is rightly considered one of the worlds greatest architectural cities of modern times. The sheer scale and grandeur of the vision leaves any visitor speechless no matter how often they return. Needless to say our first visit there was met with awe and wonderment. This city is often referred to as the 'Venice of the the North' but I believe that s a gross injustice, likely derived from lazy commentators that find a basic similarity between the few canals in this historic city. Having said that the sheer romance and beauty shines through here, more-so than tourist over-run and commercialised Venice.

The splendour of this city is far deeper, and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (aka Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood) is the most iconic demonstration of the unique Russian Architecture. The unique setting itself, almost tipping into the Griboyedov Canal demonstrating a no-compromise approach to design, which allows a canal view that seems to exude different emotions in the viewer for each time of day. From a photographers perspective, this is a fantastic spot to sit out the hours, an watch how the many colours change over the day, from the cold blue in the morning, to the warm orange in the evening, Even into the night, it's charm continues and makes for fantastic long exposure shots.

Initial image is a long Exposure HDR... 3 shots, 28mm, f22, ISO100, 13s/30s/35s.

The following image is also a Long Exposure HDR, but converted to B&W. I think it really brings out the strings of lights leading to the church. Lighting the path to redemption ?

Walking back along the canal soem distance, and you get to another bridge, which carries the central and most important road through the city, Nevsky Prospekt. From this vantage point, you see a version of the beautifuly church mired in cables. I thought about cloning out the cables, but decided it's interesting in it's own right - reminding us that this is still a modern functioning city, and it's 's still possible to see pockets of historical beauty through the architectural detritus of modern life.

Easily mistaken for it's much older twin sister, St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. It sits where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Ironically Alexander the ‘Liberator Tsar’, was one of Russia's most liberal rulers, finally ending the legal slavery of rural serfs. His murder was carried out by Narodnaya Volya (The People’s Will), and orchestrated by Sophia Perovskaya, a distant relative of the Empress Elizabeth and the daughter of the former military governor of St Petersburg itself. Ironically, the Church was built by his son on the exact spot soon after, who then launched a crackdown on political freedoms.

Inside more than 20 types of minerals are lavished on the mosaics of the iconostasis, icon cases, canopy and floor. At over 7,500 square meters of mosaics, the church has more than any other in the world. Every one of these mosaics are pieced together from tiny, tiny tiles at a rumoured cost of of over 4.6m Roubles.…

Photography inside is a challenge, It's dark and contrasty - with the limited light from the faint glow of the candlestick-style chandeliers punctuated by the sunlight through the tall narrow windows.I would love to have been able to use a tripod - but sadly, like many such establishments they don't allow it. Most of th images above were a juggling act between High ISO (3200) v Low Aperture's... (f4) and risking losing some depth of field.

The iconostasis, the wall of icons and religious paintings that separates the nave from the sanctuary in a church is an intricately carved affair, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the profile of the Taj Mahal in India.

I would love to come back to this magnificent city, maybe with a more robust tripod for the outdoor long exposures, and explore more corners of this undeniably photogenic city. One thing is certain, the music most played in the car these days is Boney M with 'Rasputin' :-)

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