A visit to Chernobyl and Pripyat by Viktor Nemeth

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Today Viktor Nemeth (flickr stream) will share his some photos from his trip Chernobyl and Pripyat (click for larger view):

Certainly - the gear were: Nikon D600, Nikkor 16-35/4, 50/1.8G, 70-200/2.8 VR2. Also took a Sigma fisheye which I didn't end up using at all.

As for the story itself, I'll make it a bit long and then you cut it if you'd like to...

So the only official way in to Chernobyl is via an organized tour that is done by one of the accredited agencies. Your details, such as passport number, name, etc needs to be provided weeks in advance and the Ministry of Interior or whoever does a whole lot of checks on you. The trip itself starts around 9am and the minibus is loaded w/ tourists. There are apparently 8-9k people brought into the zone each year. There are options for single or small-group tours as well but they cost a fair bit more.

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The drive to the area itself was reasonably uneventful, we were being shown a variety of documentaries, and once we got to the boundaries of the Zone, had to cross three police/military checkpoints where documents were checked.

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The area itself is dangerous but not due to the radiation. That's pretty much harmless to the tourists as we spend little time in places. The more problematic issue is the lack of maintenance and the outcome of that. As it can be seen on some photos the floors and ceilings have collapsed and hardwood floors feel almost mushy soft when stepped on. There's a certain danger of falling through a hole that didn't previously exist. Broken glass and metal are also ever present, so sturdy shoes are useful to say the least.

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Tours are showing the 'popular' sights to people. You'll see that most of my photos resemble familiar ones from online, which is primarily because there are only 7-8 specific buildings that are shown to tourists. Wandering around in the residential areas is sadly not permitted any more.

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As for the gear, a full-frame camera is ever-powerful and with the 16-35 VR lens it's a great companion for indoor shots. I had issues with the oil spots on the D600, many of which can be observed on the photos. All photos were shot in RAW and most of them had some level of vibrance reduction in PS. I tend to like that effect, adds a certain amount of drama perhaps. All media is/are subjective anyway...

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If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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