A Winter’s Month in Unedited Black and White Photographs

A Winter’s Month in Unedited Black and White Photographs

A Winter’s Month in Unedited Black and White Photographs

I haven’t traveled at all since I went to Iceland in September and as fellow addicts can understand, staying put is about the worst thing a travel junkie like me can do. For one, I start to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms that make me genuinely un-fun to be around, not to mention how unsurprisingly difficult it is to run a travel photography website when you aren’t actively traveling. Today I can happily say my travel hiatus is finally over. I’ve just returned from more than a month abroad on what was perhaps my most epic trip yet – a wintertime Trans Siberian Railway journey that took me all the way across Russia and then some. That’s right folks, I spent the majority of mid February to mid March in Siberia. I can count on one hand how many times the mercury rose above freezing, and every single day in Russia was spent slowly and deliberately navigating obscene amounts of slippery black ice and snow.

Starting in a beautiful and cold Tallinn, Estonia, I traveled by long distance bus to St. Petersburg, Russia. From there I took the train nearly 10,000km to Vladivostok with stops in Tyumen, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal, and Khabarovsk. Direct from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok takes 7 days, but what’s the fun in spending a week straight on a train? Better to stop off and see the real Russia along the way – the raw, unadulterated Russia that’s home to 142 million people who not just survive, but live their lives in some of the harshest climates on our amazing planet.

But… why?

I could just as easily have spent my last month on a beach somewhere in Thailand, and you know what? It would have been relaxing, easy, comfortable, and I’d have loved it. So why spend a teeth chattering month in some of the coldest inhabited places on Earth? Curiosity. I’ve been to Thailand and it’s amazing, but for me travel is as much an education as it is an experience. Sure, I love warm smiles and warm weather (who doesn’t?), and Siberia tends to be lacking both, but Siberia offers an education that you just can’t get sipping mai tais on the beach day after day after day. A wintertime visit to Siberia offers insight into the lives of the hardy few who live in such places that make the “harsh” winters of the US and Europe look downright tropical; places that for the most part give even Canada’s worst a run for it’s money.

I took thousands of pictures in the last month and I can’t wait to tell you all about it – from from the unbelievably hospitable fellow train car passengers to the unbelievably inhospitable weather (wind chills got down to -28F). I have a lot of photo editing and writing ahead of me, but I just can’t wait to share. For now here are some non-photoshopped black and whites converted in-camera. The only adjustments made during the conversion were brightness/contrast with an added red filter on some images. I hope you enjoy this sneak preview of what’s to come. As always, if you’d like a friendly email when I post more about Siberia, Russia, Estonia, and Hong Kong, just subscribe to my newsletter at the upper right corner of your screen. Thanks and enjoy!

 

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn

Main square in Old Town

Tallinn

Walking the street in the evening in Tallinn

Tallinn

Looking up

Shot at 25,600 ISO for an added grain effect.

Shot at 25,600 ISO for an added grain effect.

 

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg

Staying bundled up in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

St. Petersburg

Inside The Hermitage

 

Tyumen

Tyumen

A Tyumen street in February

Tyumen

An eerie carousel at night

Tyumen

Tyumen train station

 

Tomsk

Tomsk

Tomsk tower during a snowstorm

Tomsk

Beautiful Siberian architecture in Tomsk

Tomsk

An amazing looking church at night

 

Krasnoyarsk

I just had a short stop here on the train, but I managed to grab a few shots of the station at sunrise.

Krasnoyarsk

Train station

Krasnoyarsk

Monument outside the train station at sunrise

 

Irkutsk

Irkutsk

Evening in Irkutsk

Irkutsk

Irkutsk church

Irkutsk

Love locks in Irkutsk. You see these everywhere in Russia.

 

Listvyanka and Lake Baikal

 

Listvyanka

Trees in Listvyanka

Listvyanka

An abandoned ship beached on the shores of Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal

Ice on Lake Baikal and sunset

 

Khabarovsk

 

Khabarovsk

Church in Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk

A nighttime view in Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk

An interesting window in Khabarovsk

 

Vladivostok

 

Vladivostok

Early morning before sunrise in Vladivostok

Vladivostok

A fellow photographer shooting the sunset in Vladivostok

 

Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong

Keeping watch over the city

Hong Kong

View from The Peak

Hong Kong

A taxi navigates Hong Kong’s narrow streets

 

I hope you enjoyed these pictures! There’s plenty more where these came from…

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Comments ( 13 )

  • Irina

    Amazing pictures and very true description of the Siberians! As a former Siberian geographically but still a Siberian in my heart I can’t wait for the continuation of you travel story in more detail.

  • Irina

    Oops! I left Lake Baikal and Listvyanka village out… 🙂

  • Irina

    Yes, I did. 🙂 Let me know when you are going back there and I will make sure you meet those Russians who speak English and smile a lot… 🙂

    Also if you plan to visit Siberia in the summer I would recommend taking a Yenissei river cruise from Krasnoyarsk to Dixon (7-8 days I guess). This way you will be able to go beyond the Polar Circle, walk on the ‘tundra’ and experience the polar day when there is no sunset… 🙂 The nature along the Yenissei river is absolutely gorgeous. But beware of the local mosquitoes – they are the size of a bee… 😉 Along the way there are several breathtaking rapids, very few human settlements and fine sand beaches (though the water could be pretty cold). I used to work on such cruises in the summer when I was in college very many years ago but still remember the stunning beauty of the northern Siberian nature.

    • Ed Graham

      Ha! My only issues were in Moscow, otherwise for the most part the people were amazingly friendly. The cruise sounds amazing, will have to look into that. Crazy as it sounds but I’d also like to visit Yakutsk in January.

      • Irina

        Ed, a friend of my sent me amazing pictures about the coldest town on earth – Oymyakon – which is located in Yakutia. They are part of a PPS presentation (5.7 MB) and I would love to share them with you. Please let me know where to send them to if you are interested. It’s mind-boggling!

        • Ed Graham

          Yeah I have heard of Oymyakon, it’s part of the pole of cold including Yakutsk and one other town (which I can’t remember right now). I would love to go there in winter and visit all three. My email is [email protected] thanks!

  • Megan

    Wow! These photos are beyond gorgeous. I’ve looked through them all a few times now–and I’m still so taken by them, especially the third one (Walking in the street at night in Talinn). I get such a sense of place from all of them and suddenly feel like I want to take a trans-Siberian trip in the wintertime.

  • Jenny

    These are really beautiful. I can’t wait to start seeing more as you process them. Sounds like an amazing adventure.

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