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May 25, 2020

In Part I, my photos of Lake Baikal were "warm" with the sun shining at sunrise or sunset adding that terrific orange and yellow glow we all love to see. This part will be much cooler, but more reflective of the icy environment of this enormous Siberian lake. I previously mentioned that I was a bit lost on the ice, and nowhere more so than when photographing "clear ice." I am not sure I ever really figured it out, but these images are my attempt.

  • Prisms Below

  • Clear Ice Ballet

This is what “Clear Ice” looks like. Those are bubbles under the surface and vertical wall fractures that go down for several meters. The ice is frozen down about 5 to 6 meters thick. The water is very clear. In the summer when the ice melts, they say you can drop a penny and watch it sink for over a minute.

Turquoise Blue Ice

The turquoise color of the ice glimmers when the sun hits it from the side and you can see this here. They call these pieces ‘early ice’ as they freeze first when the waves get close to the shore. 

  • Falling

  • Edges

Along the lake’s edge, there are grottos with icicles streaming from the ceiling that are both a bit scary and gorgeous as they reflect in the light. Outside of these caves you can see how the ice runs down the rocks to form a clear ledge extending out across the lake.

Driving to the Dragon

The lake is over 400 miles long and 50 miles wide so we used these Russian style vans to drive across the ice. In some places, there are marked "lanes." The rock above is called the Tail of the Dragon and you can see the vans coming 'round at sunrise.

  • Fun with red flares to explore the ice caves

  • Reflecting fire in the ice

  • Ice Ship Exploring

Surrounded by solid ice everywhere, you can make some "other worldly" images. Lighting flares inside of caves show off the tremendous structure of the frozen rocks. Red hot fire makes an obvious contrast against the ice cold landscape. There are abandoned ships around the lake and we found a flooded one, frozen solid, to explore and light paint. Thanks to our intrepid guide and friend, Vladimir, shown in this series.

To wrap up, I will leave you with this behind the scenes video with clips of the blue ice, the "crowds" at Tail of the Dragon and ending the day with traditional fish stew.

Behind the Scenes Video

That's a wrap for Lake Baikal, but there is much more to come from my trip to Siberia and Russia. Next up, I trek up north to the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle to stay with the Nenets, nomad reindeer herders. That post will be coming soon so if you haven't already, please sign up for my photo email newsletter.

Matt

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