Travel Photography – Ukraine & Chernobyl

Ukraine is a country steeped in history and there is much going on in the country today that will be read about in history books in years to come.  Many of us will recall  an event in Ukraine’s history that had a wider impact on much of what was then the USSR and also Europe, that was the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant disaster.

Having been involved with the Chernobyl Childrens Lifeline Charity, you can read more about this here, for a number of years a few of us decided we would like to experience their side of the story, learn more about their every day lives & struggles and to also visit the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself.

Travel photography is something I’m aiming to do a lot more of as having spent much of my earlier working years traveling the world, sadly the photography bug had not yet bit.  Its now time to put that right. So, what more of an excuse could one want, to do a little travel photography, and explore somewhere were there is a personal connection?

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t do much research before heading over to Ukraine and was somewhat unsure if there were any constraints with regards to photography etc.  I suppose that a little bit of me still thought of it as being very much a controlled state.  As a youngster growing up in the eighties i felt somewhat intrigued and mystified by the old Soviet cold war era and some of that mystery still lives with me today.  In reality though i couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Ukraine is a bustling country eager to have its own unique identity, with symbols of patriotism almost on every corner, and many a stranger happy to say hello and chat, with the obvious language barrier though.

For the trip i had a reasonable luggage allowance so took a full compliment of gear including my two Fuji XT-1’s, the xf18-55mm & xf55-140mm zoom lens’ and also the xf14mm, xf35mm & xf56mm primes.  I’ve got to say though, that i found myself mainly using the 18-55mm which is totally opposite to the way i normally work when shooting weddings etc where the primes are the only lens’ i use.  The 18-55mm, with its image stabilisation, is such a versatile lens and coped well with the many situations i found myself.   There is one thing i will add though and that is that the airport security was a nightmare.  Every item of photographic & electronic gear had to be taken out of my rucksack and placed in a separate tray for the x-ray scanner.  It was a lengthy process and chaos of re-packing everything while you have the constant stream of other peoples stuff pushing you along was a bit of a nightmare.

Anyway, gear aside, i wanted to experience, or at least see, the Ukrainian way of life.  In particular that of the more rural setting where many of our visiting children come from.  We were lucky to see many aspects of their lives from the hustle and bustle of the town markets to the self reliant lifestyle many lead with their own small holdings.  People from all walks of life, complete strangers, were happy to welcome us with open arms as if we were family, an experience that was overwhelmingly humbling.

The trip would not have been complete without a visit to the infamous Nuclear Power plant of Chernobyl.  Reactor number four catastrophically exploded on 26th April 1986 and immediately changed the lives of thousands of people and sadly, to this very day, still affects the lives of many more thousands.

The exclusion zone can only be visited by prior booking a guided tour.  There are a number of companies on the internet selling tickets but its only once you arrive at the first 30km check point that you realise just how much of a tourist attraction this place has become.  With the mystery of the many abandoned villages and the stories they hold to the somewhat imposing steel structure that now covers the reactor, who wouldn’t want to visit the site of the worlds worst nuclear disaster?  I know, its not for everyone, but it was a very emotional experience thinking of the time when many people gave their lives to avoid an even greater explosion and thus saving the lives of many and even the existence of the European continent.

So below is a pictorial collection of my visit, from the humbling family encounters, the emotional visit to a local orphanage and to the poignant visit to Chernobyl & the abandoned city of Prypiat.  If you’d like to know a little  more about my visit please do leave me a comment or get in touch.  You can also find a Youtube travel blog i made here.  Finally, more of my work can be found on my website which you can find here.  I’ll look forward to sharing images of my future travels with you soon….Rob

Blog_Ukraine-1

Monuments from the Soviet era celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Soviet symbols celebrating WWII victory

Monuments from the Soviet era celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Kerosene rail station

Korosten, an important rail hub in the Zhytomyr region. Fire crews from here were some of the first to attend the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster.

Blog_Ukraine-12

Busy markets in Korosten with Salo (cured fat) in abundance.

Blog_Ukraine-13

There were wild dogs everywhere, some quite placid while others harassed the busy shoppers.

Blog_Ukraine-17

Blog_Ukraine-22

Children in a local school were intrigued by their foreign visitors.

Blog_Ukraine-25

Typical rural houses in Ukraine.

Blog_Ukraine-27Blog_Ukraine-29Blog_Ukraine-32

Blog_Ukraine-36

Chernobyl and the queues of tourists waiting for their guides.

Blog_Ukraine-40

Items discarded in a village that was hastily abandoned shortly after the nuclear disaster.

Blog_Ukraine-41

Nature rapidly reclaiming what it once owned.

Blog_Ukraine-43

The city of Chernobyl.

Blog_Ukraine-45

Our guide showed us how the background radiation levels fluctuated within relatively short distances.

Blog_Ukraine-48

Childhood toys lay abandoned in a village near Chernobyl.

Blog_Ukraine-54

The infamous reactor 4 at Chernobyl, now with its new steel confinement.

Blog_Ukraine-57

Blog_Ukraine-60

The road to Prypiat. The city that offered a new beginning, and new hope and a new life to many. A city that only had a life of 16 years.

Blog_Ukraine-61Blog_Ukraine-64Blog_Ukraine-65

Blog_Ukraine-66

This amusement park was never used. It was due to be opened on 1st May 1986, just a week after the nuclear disaster.

Blog_Ukraine-74

The Soviet Duga 3 ‘over the horizon’ radar close to the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant.

Blog_Ukraine-76

Soviet military wall painting.

Blog_Ukraine-77Blog_Ukraine-78

Blog_Ukraine-80

An abandoned Soviet missile bunker.

Blog_Ukraine-84

Soviet era newspapers pasted to the wall of an abandoned missile base.

 

Advertisements

London and a mixed bag of Photography

Last week I ventured off on a day trip to London.  It had been a while since my last visit and I was long overdue a day of ‘me’ photography.  I had no real agenda and no expectations of what i would find or photograph, but, as London is place where you can find and photograph anything and everything, i was more than confident of getting something ‘in the bag’.

With that in mind it did make me take a little more kit that I really should have, but, with the light weight of the Fuji XT1 and its complement of amazing lens’ it wasn’t a real issue.  I did however make a return trip to the car shortly after parking at the rain station to dump my tripod as a last minute decision to leave this behind.

Monday morning in London was manic, it’s manic every morning to be honest, but this particular Monday was the day after the London Marathon.  The cleanup process was still in full swing and there were stacks upon stacks of those meal barriers everywhere, but, the cleanup team must have been very hard at work all night restoring the city to its normal self ready for there Monday morning onslaught.

I love the huge diversity London offers and it’s great to see all the tourists taking in the sights but i’d wish they would leave those blooming selfie sticks at home.  Having nearly had my eye taken out on a couple of occasions was beginning to wear a little thin as they waved them around with little or no regard to those around them.

All-in-all though it was a great day where i photographed ‘that’ anything & everything, from some of the iconic buildings, life on the street, life under the street and even those blooming tourists with their selfie sticks, lol.  The weather was very changeable with some heavy rain showers but it certainly did not stop play, moreover, it helped create a winning image, more about that a little further on.

Again, the Xt1 was a dream to work with, occasionally shooting from the hip and zone focusing for the street shots – but i must admit that i still need a little more practice at this technique.  As for that tripod i left behind, i didn’t even miss it.  I photographed a few long exposure images, some in excess of 75 seconds, all helped with the Lee Seven5 filter system, and just used what was available such as walls and even the pavement.  It helped me compose some great images with a low perspective and the freedom of working without a tripod was very liberating.

The week ended on a high by me submitting an image into the Fujifilm_UK #fujifridaychallenge, with the weeks theme being reflections, and having my entry chosen by renowned Fuji X Photographer Paul Sanders as the winning image.  As mentioned above, the image was taken just after a heavy rain shower and i was in an area of high-rise office blocks, with a view of the Shard in-between, and the wet pavement in combination with the glass sided buildings created an amazing reflective scene.

Anyway, I hope you like the images i’ve added below.  Please do feel free to share the blog and leave me a comment and if you missed my last blog post on why i moved to the Fujifilm X system you can read that here.  Thanks, Rob.

London Photography by Rob Ferrol

There’s more to London you know.

News reader on the streets of London by Rob Ferrol

News reader ready for action

Tourists in London posing with selfie stick

Grrr, the curse of the selfie sticks.

Padlocks left by lovers

Lovers locks

A newly married couple on Westminster bridge, london

Just married

big ben London with blurred London bus and jogger

Lunchtime rush hour at Westminster bridge

stormy clouds over westminster by rob ferrol photography

Stormy clouds over Westminster

London bus blurred with motion as it passes red london phone box by rob ferrol

elderly females taking a cigarette break

Fag break

two males outside bookshop in london by rob ferrol

Another fag break

lonely female in cafe by rob ferrol

Deep in thought

 

london city skyline in black and white by rob ferrol

London city skyline

long exposure of tower bridge by rob ferrol

Tower Bridge long exposure

st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

St Paul’s from Millennium bridge

statue of fire fighters and st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

Firefighter statue near St Pauls

shard reflections on a rainy day in london by rob ferrol

The winning shot

A mixed bag of London – Street, Architecture, Fashion & Sports Photography

In my last blog post i gave you an highlight of my images that i took of the final stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race.  A chance encounter on a fantastic weekend in the city.

I had planned to be on a 2 day workshop that ended up being cancelled last minute but having already paid my travel & accommodation costs i decided to still head down there and have a weekend of self indulged photographic fun.  It was my first ever time in London on my own with my camera so i had just planned to take my time and soak it all up and it ended up being a mixed bag weekend.

I’d arrived late in london due to a train delay but was pleased to see East Coast Trains staff handing out refund vouchers which was a pleasant surprise, id always thought train delays were part and parcel of modern day rail travel so well done East Coast Trains for your fist class customer service.  So, having arrived late, i decided to head straight over top Tower Bridge to get some late evening shots.  I didn’t plan on dragging all my luggage with me but i didn’t want to waste my first evening.  The hotel checkin could wait a little while longer.  As i mentioned above, the weekend turned into a mixed bag of photographic subject.  As well as stumbling across the Tour of Britain on the Sunday i found myself in a photographers melee on Saturday afternoon.  After a quick lunch at the Covent Garden food market I wandered down to the Strand and found London Fashion Week in full swing.  There were photographers and models everywhere, it was like organised chaos and one couldn’t resist grabbing a few shots.  I may have to venture down to London just to capture the atmosphere around this event one day.

Anyway, i suppose i’d better let you get to the images.  As I said a very mixed bag of stuff which i hope you will like.  Please do feel free to leave a comment and maybe share this blog with your family & friends.  Just before i go i’d like to finish in a couple of thank you’d both heading in the direction of two London Cabbies.  Firstly to a kind chap called Dave who, after chatting in the cab on the way to the hotel, decided to give me a free ride out of gratitude for my past military service and also for my current public service as a Paramedic.  I was blown away with his kind hearted gratitude.  Secondly to another London Cabbie and good friend Terry who is also an amazing photographer, you can see some of his fabulous images on his website here.   He took time out of his hectic weekend day to catch up over coffee and then to show me a few locations around Canary Wharf.   So, on to the images.

London by Rob Ferrol Photography

Tower Bridge, London

Underground, London Rob Ferrol Photography

Early morning tube ride – so quiet compared to the evening rush hour.

London, the shard,rob,ferrol photography

Dawn Light on the Shard, Lomndon

The Shard London Rob Ferrol Photography

Dawn Light on the Shard, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Skateboard Graveyard, Golden Jubilee Bridge, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Sh*@ting on Humanity

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Going Underground.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Street Photography

London Rob Ferrol Photography

What to have for lunch?? Food market in Covent Garden

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Flying the flags, Covent Garden, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Dusk colour at Canary Wharf

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Canary Wharf in Mono

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Bright Lights Big City. Canary Wharf, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Canary Wharf Clock, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tube Tunnels, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Spot the Banana, Canary Wharf, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Lloyds Building, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Gherkin abstract, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

Tour of Britain in London

It was by a streak of opportunistic luck that i came across this final of the Tour of Britain cycle race in London tis weekend.  I’d planned to be in the city on a two day photographic workshop but sadly this was cancelled by the organiser last minute.  Having already paid my accommodation and hotel fees i decided to just head down anyway and have a self indulged weekend of photography shooting some city architecture and some street photography.  It turned into a weekend of good fortunes, more about this in my next blog.

Anyway, i managed to catch up with a fellow photographer and London Cabbie Terry Gibbins who happened to mention that there was a cycle race on the Embankment on Sunday.  I was planning to head into the city on that day to shoot some LE stuff around the Gherkin and Lloyds building and figured there would be less people around on a sunday.  There was in a way but it was full of traffic that was being diverted due to the race so was not as peaceful as i had hoped.  So, with a morning spent there i decided to grab the tube and head over to Westminster for the last few hours before heading home from Kings Cross.  After getting off the tube at Westminster i found that i was right in the epicentre of the race.  What i’d seen earlier must have been some warm up heats as the actual race hadn’t started.  The place was full of people but i somehow managed to find a clear spot that looked straight down the start/finish line.  Not sure how i managed that one but it was a prime spot i wasn’t go into give up so decided to get comfy and enjoy the race.  The atmosphere was amazing with entertainment provided by the band of the Coldstream Guards and then some very enthusiastic DJ/Compare.  Anyway the images below are just a selection of what i took, im not sure of all the competitors names but Sir Bradley Wiggins was in there somewhere, hope you like them!!

I’ll have a full roundup of my weekend in London coming soon but please feel free to leave a comment and why not stop by my website to see more of my work.


Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14Sport Photography Rob Ferrol London #TOB14






























The Streets of London

This week I took a trip down to London for the day with an old friend Bryn to shoot some street scenes.  Street photography is a relatively new genre that I’m exploring but enjoying immensely.  With no clear agenda I set out to record what I found interesting, what captured my attention and generally have a good bloomin day out.  We walked miles and witnessed everything from candid emotions,  street protests & Street artists all while doing a little bit of tourists snapping taking in the scenery and wonderful architecture of this fantastic city.

London has so much to offer and explore, way more than a day trip can do justice, so I’m hoping to head back down there next month.  Anyway, here are a selection of images from the day, I hope you like them.  Please feel free to leave me a comment and share with your friends, or stop by my website or Facebook page for more images and updates.  Thanks for looking.

Start the day off with one of many coffee's

Start the day off with one of many coffee’s

Tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision.

Thanks not gonna get me to London, there's workmen approaching.

Thanks not gonna get me to London, there’s workmen approaching.

Bryn watching the world whizz by

Bryn watching the world whizz by

Sleeping

Sleeping

is that Superman???

is that Superman???

these feet are made for walking

these feet are made for walking

first some lunch and a beer :-)

first some lunch and a beer 🙂

what you looking at?

what you looking at?

mmmmm, really?

mmmmm, really?

May day protest - Trafalgar Square

May day protest – Trafalgar Square

protest

protest

more portest

more portest

he's a peacekeeper

he’s a peacekeeper

on the underground

on the underground

Big Mac

Big Mac

more tunnel vision

more tunnel vision

tube

tube

a hard day at the office

a hard day at the office

going up

going up

still going up

still going up

high rise high contrast

high rise high contrast

on reflection

on reflection

London Streets-24

the shard

the shard

Sleep walking - Jive talking

Sleep walking – Jive talking

dunno!!

dunno!!

dreaming

dreaming

caught in the lime light

caught in the lime light

tourist snap

tourist snap

tourist snap

tourist snap

tripods not allowed

tripods not allowed

London Streets-33

skater boy

skater boy

home time

home time