Photographer's Note


Two rødrussen captured on the Karl Johans gate in Oslo during the big Constitution Day (May 17) march, merrily and mildly disrupting the parade. They’re part of the Norwegian “Russ” rite of passage phenomenon:
When pupils leave secondary school to enroll in university they become Russ and are baptized as such between April 17 and May 1. The Russ period ends on May 18 when the exams start. The Russen wear a uniform: personalized dungarees worn with the chest patch and the suspenders hanging over the trouser part and a cap with a string attached to it. The color of the uniform is based upon the study the pupils have applied for. Red (rød) is the most common color and codes for mathematics, physics, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, media and communication, art, music, dance & drama and athletics. Essential to the russ thang are the assignments. The assignments are called knots and they prescribe behavior that symbolizes the breaking free from the control of the home/family and school by challenging social conventions and asserting one’s position in the peer group. They are set by the Russ board in the national 101 Knot List and involve things like posing as police officers, spending the night in a tree, buying condoms or tampons using sign language, kissing someone of the same sex and of course partying related things like drinking a bottle of wine in 20 minutes.
When an assignment is completed a token is tied to the string of the cap as a reward. Examples: a cork for the drinking and a pink feather for the kissing. Modern men’s tribal past is never far away ;-).
Another Russ feature is formed by the name cards. Pictures and texts are printed on them. The ‘president’ in the WS pic has one tucked under her cap. Every Russ makes a big stack of name cards and the little kids love and collect them with great fervor.
From April 17 to May 17 the Russen engaged in their 'russefeiering' are all over town .

The Russ thang forms an interesting contrast with freshman university rites of passage as shown here. Main differences are that it is essentially egalitarian – no bullying by seniors, that it’s conditional (when a Russ fails his exams he can’t enter university) and the orientation is not institutional – it’s not aimed at the to a certain extent breaking of the individuality to make the student fit in the university or fraternity/sorority and build a new year group doing that.

The PCS3 work flow: I altered the saturation, contrast, curves and levels for the whole pic and some elements separately, using different layers, enhanced the edges, USM-ed, added a frame and resized, sharpened the edges on a 50% transparent layer and did a gentle USM (1,1px, 21%) again on that layer.

exif data
Camera Manufacturer : Canon
Camera Model : Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Exposure time [s] : 1/160
F-Number : 5.6
ISO speed ratings : 80
Exposure program : Aperture priority (3)
Focal length [mm] : 148 mm (35 mm equiv)
Date taken : 2008:05:17 12:32:41
Exposure bias value : -1/3
Metering mode : Evaluative, Multi-segment (5)
Exposure mode : Manual (1)
Colour space : sRGB
Contrast : Normal
Saturation : Normal
Sharpness : Normal

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Additional Photos by Bert Hoetmer (bertolucci) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1928 W: 122 N: 4345] (14052)
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