07
Jul
09

Switzerland in Ukraine?

Suzi and I travelled to Ukraine in May to visit my aunt Ellie, who has lived and worked in Kyiv for several years. (Ellie is not Ukrainian, and neither am I.) We decided one day to take a road trip into the countryside. One of Ellie’s Ukrainian coworkers, Anna, took us to Trostyanets park, which is an arboretum. Anna’s mother worked in the park as a tour guide, and explained to us (in Russian and Ukrainian, but not in English) the history of this unusual place.

The dendrological park was built to impress a woman. Ivan Skoropadsky, a rich land owner, was enamored of a young woman he met in Switzerland. He asked her to marry him and move back to Ukraine with him, but she said she loved the Swiss countryside too much to leave. Undeterred, Skoropadsky set to work recreating an ersatz alpine landscape in the flat farmlands of Trostyanets. He dammed the river, and used dredged soil to create meager hills. He imported hundreds of species of trees, and literally built a forest. Sadly, the Swiss woman was unimpressed by his efforts — she never even came to see the paradise he had built for her.

Here’s a photo I took of our tour guide in the park. I used the Canon TS-E 24mm f3.5 lens on an EOS 5D Mark II. I tilted the lens to create a plane of focus that included the tour guide’s face and some of the trees in the background. This lens is a pain in the butt, but it can achieve some otherwise impossible effects. Canon has just released an updated version of this lens. (Thanks, Canon, for making my lens model obsolete ten minutes after I bought it!)

Tour Guide in Trostyanets Park

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