The University of Chicago Magazine

December 1997

Pictured Above: The patterns of fallen leaves in Hutchinson Courtyard underscore the tabletops' mosaics of light and dark. Says Zakusilo: "You expect someone from medieval Florence to be sitting there, playing chess."


Shooting the City Gray in black and white, photographer Eugene Zakusilo offers a broader way of seeing the campus.


Human vision, looking straight ahead," says photographer Eugene Zakusilo, takes in only two degrees in fine detail; another 60 degrees to each side of center gets seen less clearly. With the help of a swinging lens, the Russian-made Horizon camera used to create the images on these pages is able to make frames that span 140 degrees. "Normally," notes Zakusilo, who trained as a physician before joining a photographers' collective in Leningrad, "we don't see things this wide. In real life, we don't take in the horizons."

But the aspect of the camera that Zakusilo-who lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Elena Pavlova, AM'95, a doctoral candidate in history, and their 13-year-old daughter-finds most intriguing comes from the fact that the lens itself moves. By moving the camera while the lens simultaneously follows its own arc, Zakusilo says, the photographer can "animate still lives."

An element of surprise also animates the enterprise. "Unpredictability is an interesting thing in this game," says Zakusilo. Although "you know the pattern of movement of the lens, you don't look through the lens. You look through the viewfinder." Thus, in the course of a four- to five-second exposure, he can experiment-moving the camera left to right, right to left, up and down, or forward and back-admittedly "killing a number of rolls of film" before getting the "right" frame. Because the "very slow" film means almost certain overexposure in "the bright light of day," he shoots in late afternoon, sometimes returning twilight after twilight to try for the desired effect. "It's not like you take one shot and then walk away to the next."

Asked to find a common thread in the campus scenes he photographed this fall, Eugene Zakusilo talks about the interplay of natural and human designs. In the end, he says, he experimented with the settings because each "touched me in some way."-M.R.Y.



To see other Zakusilo images see your December issue of the Magazine, pages 22-25 or contact us for a copy.

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