Sunday, June 22, 2014

Spring Branch

The photo was taken on March 30, 2007, in Alt Park, Cincinnati, Ohio. We had an unusually early, rapid and hot Spring that year.

I began getting more interested in photography after my daughter was born. Before that, I also tried taking pictures of whatever objects might interest me - in particular, I remember my very first trip to Saint Petersburg (Russia) when I was still a teenager (14 or 15 years old), as a part of a school children's group. The boys in our group made fun of me as all I seemed to care about were the architectural details, buildings and sculptures which this amazing city is filled with. Not people, and especially not those boys, interested me photographically then (OK, I admit - boys did interest me, though I hid it pretty well even from myself) - but it was the architecture, the atmosphere of that beautiful town which captured my heart forever. You see, I grew up in a small blue collar town which was the same age as myself. All the buildings looked the same and pretty boring. (I loved my hometown, but not for its architecture.) When I first landed in Saint Petersburg, I could not believe that people actually lived there - went to school, to work, shopping; seeing and feeling this beauty every single day of their lives. So I tried to capture as many places and buildings as I could with my small, but heavy black and silver camera. Most of my photos turned out to be way too dark, or overexposed, or blurry...

But back then, we only had a manual camera (mine was called Smena - "Смена" in Russian) and black and white film. I loved the magic of the process of film development and photographic printing in a dark room with only a special red lantern in it, a bedroom temporarily transformed for this purpose, all the cracks under the door tucked carefully with rolled up blankets - very special times which my father and brother shared with me, both talented amateur photographers (my dad actually bought his first camera when he was only 11 or 12, with his very first earned money). That magic which they shared with me, a wiggly girl who had so very little patience to wait properly until it was safe to open the door to get out (and probably ruined more than enough photographs because of that), who was eager to look at photos when they were still wet, stuck to a sheet of plexiglass to dry... I treasure those times in my memories, but the reality is that it was way too difficult for me to learn photography without seeing the results immediately, and of course it was much more expensive to purchase films, photo paper and all the necessary equipment. So I only returned to this interest after Anya was born and I bough my very first digital camera in 2003.

But it wasn't until much later that I began to really learn about photography, when I met Justin who is a talented photographer (and who actually attended an art college as an adult to learn the art and skills in depth) and also a talented teacher. Justin saw my interest in this field of self expression and taught me a few basic skills. I did not go very deeply into the technical particularities of photography, and I have no clue about all the endless gear photographers have access to - as this is not what attracts me to photography.

I love being able to capture with a camera a magical moment in life - that short moment when you know with your heart: this is perfect. No words, no movements - just a perfect still moment when everything stops for just an instant, and something very strong and warm and huge shines inside of you, and you are the only one who feels it. Those moments, being captured by this amazing tool, called a photo camera, are what photography means to me.


  1. I agree, photography is so fun and interesting. I had aspirations to become a fashion photographer while in high school. I entered a view city talent shows and actually got a couple of awards. But then my interest in fashion changed to more styling and writing.

    I enjoy taking my camera out to and taking pictures of things that are typically mundane and seeing the beauty in the ordinary. I just read an article today that stated our brains are pre - wired to appreciate the arts. Isn't that fabulous?!

    1. I enjoyed learning this about you! You are a very gifted lady, Glenda - no wonder that you are also a gifted photographer. You can do anything you want to. :) I think we all can - we'll at least get better at it as we go. But the limitation is only us.

      Is it brain? Is it soul? That is the kind of question scientists will get to the bottom of... some day. :)

  2. As you know I do a lot of photography, especially since I have had my blog. But I've always done this sort of photography and shared it with no one except family. I've done a course at art school, and learnt to develop film etc. but I'm afraid it is in one ear and out the other! I now have a gorgeous camera Canon G15 which has some manual settings, but I have yet to use them much. I'm like you, photography to me is a way to capture a moment and frame artistically a scene or detail that has captured my eye. I now share with some photography circles, but only for appreciation, not critique, because I'm afraid all the details while useful would destroy my love for it.
    Lovely spring branch. XO

    1. All you said here sounds very familiar. :) I have no desire to learn technical side of photography as well - at least, not now. But I can see that the lack of understanding how this amazing machine called camera works will become a limiting factor in my self-expression, if I want to go a bit further with it (not in a practical sense further - just further as an artist). Then, I believe, I will be craving for learning more, and at least some of it will stay "in". :)

      And yes, I enjoy your Beautyscope very much - you are definitely talented in this field, as in many others!

  3. Oh I know Смена and also know how boring could be Soviet architecture ...- - -
    Had formerly makeshift photo lab in toilet (whole family was waiting at the door ...) and I felt it always as magical moment when image is created..
    Today have only a small digital camera, but it does not interest me so much. My eyes are too bad to work on the screen and to use all the possibilities. Only "daily use" now, not serious.
    Your photo is amazing!

    1. Oh yes, those moments when images appear from under "water"... oh that was a true magic! We also used our bathroom (toilets were a separate tiny rooms in our apartments) as a dark room, and I think we tried to work in our storage room too (both of those rooms did not have windows, so they were naturally darker than bedrooms). But it was such a tiny space, so when there were three of us, we had to transform one of bedrooms into a dark room for an evening. :)

      Boring beyond words... yes! You live in such a beautiful old town, Mascha. You understand what it means to be surrounded by the real architecture. My Mom always had books on art and architecture, and beautiful gardens, so I was introduced to them in very early age. I remember going through them endlessly, admiring the photos.

      Your photos are wonderful and very expressive! I don't think it matters much what camera we use. Small cameras can be very good (Justin sure knows how to make artistic photographs with them). But I am like you, not especially inspired by small cameras these days.

  4. Beautiful moment, do not pass away! :) You described it wonderfully, Marlen. At the end, what we do, I think, is capturing our own feeling - happiness? inspiration? what is that feeling? :)

  5. Ja nie umiem robić zdjęć, ale wszystkich, którzy to robią i to dobrze, podziwami :)))

  6. Such a lovely post Natalia! I think you describe things with so much detail and feeling that I feel like I was there in that darkroom with you. I love photography, my step dad taught it in high school and we share in that love. He used to have a dark room in his classroom that I loved going too, I remember the smell, and the excitement of as the picture revealed itself.
    One of the saddest but also best moments I had was after my dad died I looked through his pictures for hours, most I had never seen and moments I was not a part of but I loved seeing my dad alive again in photos. Is that weird?