I spent my Spring Break in Ukraine photographing the aftermath of the protests and riots that took place in February that prompted President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country. I was in Kiev while the Crimean referendum was taking place and I ended up with a lot of great photos from my eight days there. Most of my trip was rainy and cold with only a few moments of relief from the winds that cut through every layer of clothing. Because I didn’t want to spend my whole trip following self-defense forces around Майдан Незалежності (Independence Square) I took an afternoon trip to the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, an Orthodox Christian monastery where over a hundred people are buried in the complex system of underground corridors. After being in the area where so many protestors had been injured and killed it was a welcomed change to be somewhere as peaceful as a monastery.
I knew when I arrived there that a sunburst photo would look great with the golden domes against the cloudy sky but I’d given up hope that the sun would appear that day. The wind was blowing very hard and the clouds were moving quickly across the sky. There ended up being one small window of time where the clouds separated just enough for the sun to shine through. Had anyone been there to witness my sprint to the edge of the shadow of the church to point my camera at the sun while taking tiny steps left and right, I’m sure they’d have thought I was crazy. After taking enough photos to ensure I had the shot that I was picturing the sun disappeared and didn’t return for two days. Since this was my only tourist-like stop on my trip I spent a few hours wandering the caves with a small candle as my light source. The silence of the tombs was relaxing and seeing the care that was taken with the mummified remains of saints was very moving. After I finished my time there I returned to Independence Square and was again surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of revolution. This photo is my reminder of that amazing place and is an example that in places of hardship, beauty can be found.
To get this photo I shot at ISO 200, 1/200th and closed my aperture down to f 22 to get the burst that I was hoping for. I took smalls steps left and right to increase and decrease the amount of sun that was visible while being careful to not stare directly at it through the viewfinder.
About the Photographer:
In my photos I wish to capture the raw elements of human nature, either through abandonment or conflict. After seeing things in the military that I wished I could show the world, I decided to take that idea and make a career out of it. If my work can make someone appreciate their place in the world while bringing a bit of perspective about places they’ve never been I’ve accomplished my mission.
To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/its-back-the-2014-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/.