Red Square awaits

We designed promo web-page for Alfa Bank on occasion of Paul McCartney’s concert in Moscow. He was going to perform on Red Square, so we needed photographs of it.

The idea was that Paul McCartney who gave concerts on all famous squares around the world, including Tiananmen, was finally coming to favor Russian music lovers and sing on Red Square so dear to them all. I decided to show that the square was preparing, waiting quietly with all its peculiarities, looking forward to welcome him and experience its Very First Concert of Paul McCartney.

Naturally, a designer would start by browsing the studio photo collection, perform search by keywords “red square kremlin moscow” and have 3-4 screens of pictures suitable, sadly, for nothing but confectionery or tourist booklets.

No awe, no details. Straightforward officialese views, indifferent crowds of tourists, magniloquent postures of greenish Minin and Pozharsky guarding Pokrovsky Sobor from a photographer. I spend some time looking mournfully at this formal clipart, then take a camera and, with a sigh, set off to do the shooting myself. Good for me that it’s a few minutes walk from the studio. I decided not to take the studio Canon D30 with a bulky long-distance objective and manage the task with my small Nikon Coolpix 4500— with such a camera there is no need to take on that characteristic photographer’s attitude, you can shoot holding the camera low and pretend to be just walking.

It was clear that I wouldn’t see any “tender light over the ancient Kremlin walls” (that’s how the song goes)—the weather was rather gloomy in the early April. On the other hand, drizzling rain and the wind blowing through the Voskresensky gates drove away most tourists, which meant that I wouldn’t need to do so much in Photoshop—the square awaiting its Mystic Suitor has to be empty of people. Looking at the Kremlin through the objective I felt sorry I didn’t take the Canon. Coolpix 4500 turned out to have optics insufficient for shooting architecture—it produced extended perspective making the Kremlin walls fall.

Well, I can go for close-ups and original views. Dropping to one knee as if to tie my shoelaces I get the first shot:

It looks dull, but a smart person shall never be upset with Photoshop at hand! I adjust curves, stamp out the people, take down the scaffolding from St. Basil’s Cathedral, recolor the sky, blur the background—and there we have more trepidation:

On the way from Iversky Gates to Mausoleum, near GUM I walk into a row of stone bollards. I bend closer down and ask them: “What is it you dream about?”

They keep silent, of course. The shot is all stone of pretty much the same color, but it’s no problem—I apply curves again, mercilessly bring down RGB channels and then fine-tune the blue, green and red, make a few strokes with Linear Dodge air brush—and here I have a pleasant warm evening.

And now the Mausoleum. It can look both grand and laconic, but only if you assess it not as a building, but a composition of red and black rectangles.

Because of the optics problems that I’ve already meant, the shot was distorted and I had to straighten up in Photoshop each one of the  marble boards. And the curves, as usual. The Kremlin wall is visually pushed back with more blue. And I brighten up the firs.

I circled round Minin and Pozharsky for quite a while until I found the point from which they look truly like mythology heroes.

Calm before the storm. Pure German romanticism. I take it to the extreme:

That’s it. Nothing be called dull and banal as there are always the means of Photoshop. It’s just a matter of choosing the right little window to see the world through.

Narrated by Oleg Pashchenko

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