I suspect when the Revolution Square underground station in Moscow was being built, nobody would have imagined that it would witness the dramatic changes since the dawn of Perestroika. This truly is one of the most spectacular of Stalin’s fabled underground stations, lined with bronze statues of heroic workers and soldiers with square jaws (including the women) and resolute expressions.
Seeing the station full these days with tourists and iPod toting teenagers, you can’t help but be struck by the remarkable juxtaposition of these images of a bygone dream (though some might well say propagandist illusion) and the modern world that passes through it without a second thought.
Although it might not have been approved of at the time, the tradition soon grew up for those passing the huntsman’s statue to stroke the dog’s nose for luck… you can see its shiny snout in the photo, and you only have to wait a few moments for yet another passer-by to reach out and touch it as they hurry past.
The Moscow underground is a wonderful hunting ground for images, magnificent and mundane. It is all the more interesting now as the place where old worlds and new come together, one frozen in time and the other always rushing to the next experience or deadline.
This shot was taken before my Leica days, on a trusty Canon 20D with the excellent Canon ultrawide zoom that I picked up cheap in Hong Kong. I have always been a Canon fan, albeit having to put up with plenty of sneering from the Nikonites… My first experience of a Canon was many years ago when i finally saved up for my first really high quality camera – a second hand Canon A1 with a 50mm F1.8 ‘Winter Olympics’ branded lens. I still have that camera, and sometime soon hope to get it refurbished and give film a try once again.
Knowing Canon of old, I decided to give their first serious DSLR a try when my interest in photography was rekindled in the early days of digital. The D30 (which again I still have) was a lovely camera producing smooth and filmlike images – albeit with lots of drawbacks compared to the models of today. Having started again with the Canon system, I soon had acquired a set of lenses and became ‘locked in’ to that system. I sometimes suspect that Nikon, which started relatively slow in DSLR development, might have captured my affections if I had bought into digital a few years later, but I’m still pretty happy with my choice and have no regrets. Whichever major brand you choose these days, you will still be blessed with some amazing technology – and the old challenge of capturing a magical image always remains, no matter how much kit you have to back you up…
Image taken on 24 May 2007, Canon 20D with 10-22mm lens, 1/10th at F 4.0 and ISO 1600