Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Gerd Ludwig: What Would Lenin Do?
Gerd Ludwig’s “Moscow Never Sleeps” project takes advantage of the latest digital technology to show a city that has completely changed from the days when the sickle and hammer flew above the Kremlin
The view down the Garden Ring during Friday night rush hour.
Surprisingly, the early days of digital technology didn’t result in aesthetic innovations in documentary photography. Photojournalists tried to mimic the look of slide film. New, digitally based aesthetics
were mostly found in fine-art or commercial use. However, the recent high-ISO capabilities are fundamentally changing the look of photographs taken in the darker conditions. For the first time, we can shoot dimly lit situations while maintaining a sense of place. “It also made my assignments less stressful because I didn’t have the burden of carrying film,” adds Ludwig.
Ludwig was basically out in the middle of nowhere without any modern forms of communication for three months at a time. “There was either no way to ship film, or depending on where I was, it was a lengthy process of paperwork and travel that would have taken too much time away from shooting—it was a nightmare,” he says.
On a side note, today Ludwig has hard drives to cart around. He travels with about two terabytes of hard-drive storage. “I have a bunch of SmartDisk FireLite and WiebeTech drives ranging from 80 GB to 200 GB, and double backups of LaCie drives at 500 GB each.”
Russia doesn’t allow hard drives to leave the country via mail either. “It’s a government thing,” explains Ludwig. “You have to have special permission to ship them, so I just hold on to them. Plus, I bring an extra laptop because if that goes down, you’re done.”
I ask which is more cumbersome? Without hesitation, Ludwig exclaims, “Oh, film, definitely! Film is heavier, and the fear of losing film outweighs any negative aspects of having to carry extra drives or an extra laptop.”
Strangers in a “flash mob” cued via the Internet show up to kiss amid the crowds near Red Square.
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