My guide and translator was off to try and climb the Duga antenna so I was alone with our government escort. His main instruction was “no climbing” which is a shame because some of the cranes in the harbor had some very interesting cockpits. When I arrived I took a quick survey of the area, and the floating crane immediately caught my eye. It was early enough in the morning the river was still calm and there was a beautiful reflection of the crane in the water. It was a challenge to cleanup the composition, there was a small dock structure where I could just clear the weeds on the left, but I wish I could have positioned my tripod about 5 feet further out in to the water. I definitely wanted a symmetrical composition with even amounts reflection and image so I put the horizon about in the middle. I didn’t want to include a lot of busy foilage on the left which fixed how wide I could go keeping the crane somewhat centered, that constraint meant I had to crop off the top of the crane. It’s funny looking at other folks pictures, I am often surprised to see the top of the crane which has another segment, in my mind the crane goes straight up. I photographed a couple of the other cranes on the shore, but this was really the best composition of the morning.

RW & view camera, Harbor Cranes, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Making this silver gelatin print can be fairly challenging. The sky had some cloud pattern, but very faint. My goal in printing is to push the sky to the lightest of light gray. I print with increased contrast to try and emphasize the textures in the crane, but that means I need a shadow mask so the shadows don’t go to complete black. It is a delicate balance between a light airy sky, exciting textures and overall tonal balance. When all of these pieces come together to convey what I saw and felt at this unique location, I consider it a successful fine art print. This silver gelatin print, made in my darkroom to archival standards is available for purchase.