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360 Degrees of Beauty

 

Yevhen BUDKO offers an essay about Oleh Zadorozhny, a photographer who creates his photos as one puts together puzzles; it would be impossible to guess, without explanations, how Mr Zadorozhnys photographs of beautiful nature and impressive interiors are blended so artfully together as to present a living panoramic view.

 

Mr Zadorozhnys photos are like panoramic views, which have been taken by a video camera or observed by a human eye, the great difference being that they are still photos. I do not know any other photographer who does it so well.

Imagine you want to take a panoramic photo of 180, 270 or even 360 degrees; different sections of this panorama will inevitably have their own specific features, will be lit in a different manner, will be of different distances to the lens of your camera. How can you squeeze all that into one picture so that the composition will be balanced, everything will be in focus, would not seem artificial, would not look as though falling backwards or forwards, with the colors retaining their natural look? Is it really possible to do a thing like that?

Yes, it is, says the master photographer.

But of course, not everyone who possesses a camera can do it. Each picture of this kind requires solving many problems that can be solved only through knowledge of geometry, laws of optics and of many other things; you have to measure very carefully all the distances with the help of a laser device and build your composition in such a manner so as to achieve an ideal. Then, after you take so many pictures, you have to remember which photo belongs where, which pieces fit together and which are available to be included into the panorama. And then you have to bring all the pieces together to create a well-balanced panoramic effect you want to achieve. How difficult it is you begin to realize only when you try to do something similar and miserably fail. Then you think it must take a sort of photography magic to achieve the effect you are after. Mr Zadorozhny, and alchemist of photography, is proud of his achievements and he has the full right to be.

And another thing Mr Zadorozhny never uses digital cameras only slides, good old wide slides, which can render all the nuances of colors and light effects, slides without pixels but with the noble, very sensitive and almost absolutely perfect emulsion. Mr Zadorozhny thinks that digital cameras are good for amateurs all youve got to do is press the shutter button!

The only digital photo camera that he owns is the one installed in his cell phone.

It turned out its the skills that is more important than a camera you use. Though, of course, cameras are also an important factor in achieving good results. Among the cameras Mr Zadorozhny owns are Horsman and Noblex, expensive cameras for taking panoramic pictures. But once, when some photographers claimed that Mr Zadorozhnys success was achieved only thanks to his use of very expensive cameras, he demonstrated that he could achieve good result even with his sell phone camera and did the picture of Zymnynsky Nunnery in the Land of Volyn. This photo was even included into the album, 1010 rokiv Zymnynskomy monastyryu (1010 Years of the Zymnynsky Nunnery) which was to be published (it was Mr Zadorozhny who was commissioned to take the photos for this album).

Mr Zadorozhny can afford to buy any cameras he wants he earns a lot for his photos; he charges as much for them as he pleases and both he and the customers know his photos are worth the price.

Mr Zadorozhny says that photography for him now is more of a hobby than a full-time occupation. Its an expensive hobby, he admits, but he can afford it. He owns an advertisement agency and can publish any of his photos he thinks are fit for publication. Also, he is in the management of an investment company. But this job he takes very seriously it is not a hobby.

In the past, he used to head an organization which was called Ukrpobuttelepresreklama. It was a state-run organization with a fancy name and with rather fancy tasks. It was to provide press coverage of important events at the state level, to design displays in museums, to provide photo services for the leaders of the then soviet Ukraine which was a part of the Soviet Union.

Mr Zadorozhny was also engaged in singing the working deeds of peasants and workers when he was hired to design displays at what was called the Exhibition of Achievements in Peoples Economy (now it is a large exhibition center, Ekspotsentr Ukrayiny). Asked what he thinks now about having to give in to ideological pressures in the past, he says that its all right with him. He used to work for Ukraine and continues to do so professionally.

He took official photographs of the inaugurations of the previous presidents of Ukraine. In the soviet past, he took photos of the general secretary of the communist party of Ukraine; he was a member of the party of journalists and photographers who accompanied the visit of the Russian Orthodox Churchs Patriarch Kiril to Ukraine last year. Through the means of his photography, he sings the beauty of churches of all denominations; he extols the beauty of icons and of so many other things. It is not ideology that he is interested in it is creativity and spirit that he is after.

Talking about icons Mr Zadorozhny believes that one of his greatest achievements is the publication of a two-volume book, 2000 Rokiv Rizdva Khrystovoho (2000 Years Since the Birth of Christ). The book contains reproductions of 900 icons (it is a hefty book too it weighs over nine pounds!). Besides, he published four albums devoted to icon painting. Mr Zadorozhny provided not only the photos for these books but the texts as well a photographer turned an art critic. The Church has awarded him with two orders for his fruitful and regular cooperation with the Church.

When asked whether he believed in God, Mr Zadorozhny honestly and openly said, Yes, but for about 15 or 20 percent. Mysterious are your ways, oh Lord!

Is it surprising? we may ask. The soviet regime had burned out a lot in the souls of those who lived under it its good luck that something has been left.

Recently, Mr Zadorozhny paid a visit to the archives of the Security Service of Ukraine. He wanted to find out for what his father had been sentenced to spend a term in a concentration camp in the severe north of the Soviet Union, and he, as a boy, and his mother had to spend years in exile, also in the north. The family lived through a lot of suffering the soviets could not forget or forgive the fact the Zadorozhnys were considered to be the enemies of the people.

Later, as a young man, Mr Zadorozhny was drafted into the army and he served in a missile unit. He was among the best and it must have raised his self-respect and respect of others. He has always been striving for perfection.

He was a manager who organized the first bouts of Vitaly and Volodymyr Klychko who were then kick boxers and now are world famous prizefighters; as a race driver he won a medal and distinction as champion of Kyiv; Mr Zadorozhny fought, as an advocate of the right cause, against any infringements of the copyright and always won his cases.

His life has always been how should I say! full to the brim. It all probably began though I am not sure its worth mentioning when as a boy, Oleh Zadorozhny took photos of Yury Gagarin, the first soviet cosmonaut, who came to Kyiv on a much cheered visit. At that time Oleh attended a photography hobby group at the Palace of Pioneers.

There are so many changes one lives through in ones life, sometimes taking U-turns. Under such conditions, one has to have an anchor in life, something to love. Mr Zadorozhny does have a love to adhere to photography has been his love.

Today, he is working at a photo-album and preparing an exhibition which will be devoted to the 20th anniversary of Ukraines Independence.

He continues to put together his panoramic puzzles. He has recently been commissioned to take a picture of the whole of China. You should have heard how he is going to take photos of the Great Wall of China! It was like a master class in photography and a challenge to all the photographers of China!

But, for one, prefer his photos of Ukraine.

 

Panoramic view of the Zymnensky Nunnery.

 

Panoramic view of a stretch of the River Pivdenny Buh.

 

The Church of St Yura (George) in Lviv; the picture is a composite of four photos (montage by Serhiy Prodanenko).

 

Interior of the Uspenska Church in the Zymnensky Nunnery (six photos were used to create this view; montage by Serhiy Prodanenko).

 

Mother Superior of the Zymnensky Nunnery in the reception room (six photos were used to create this view; montage by Serhiy Prodanenko).

 

The Spasopreobrazhensky Monastery in Novhorod-Siversky.

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