Baikal Calling

It's interesting.

No matter how many great spots I can visit for my annual photography trip, the wish to return to Baikal Lake keeps coming back as an unfulfilled dream. Baikal is so calm and thrilling, so empty and deep - and I don't mean its waters.

My images didn't do the place much of a justice last year. I have seen different things from what I later found on my card. I gave the photos some time to settle, but it didn't help. I guess I made a whole series of mistakes, and I'll leave it for later to assess why that was.

They were of all sorts - logistical, technical and emotional. Only now I know that I spent an unnecessary amount of time in Listvyanka. As much as I liked the spirit of the place, snowmobile driving on the snowy surface of the lake and meeting all the participants of the International Ice Marathon, I didn't find anything that would resonate with my taste for design, perhaps except for this image:

Caption: Ice Block; Camera: Linhof Techno; Digital Back: Phase One IQ150; Lens: Rodenstock 23mm f/5.6 HR Digaron S; Exposure: 1/8s; Aperture: f/11; ISO: 100; Filter: Lee ND0.45 Soft

I figured later that Olkhon island excited my photographic vision much much more. I was left with 4 days there only, out of which I saw a good light twice.

Technically, I only used the widest angle lenses on both cameras. They (I, actually) captured ice structures in the foreground well, but left fragments of coasts on the background small. Very small and insignificant. And unless there were magnificent clouds, the photographs ended up empty as a robbed room. Even for my simplistic taste. The only excuse is that which of you would change lenses on the stone cold linhof body in minus 20 Celsius?

This is what I'm talking about:

I don't use a polarizing filter on my very wide angle lenses as it makes the sky look weird. I should have used it here though. I could not process plenty of photos due to excessive sky reflection on the ice that the polarizer would deal with.

I also think that I connected too much to the lake emotionally. I missed the perspective. Detachment. And as a result, I hooked myself in small details, bits and pieces. There was no one around to share imminent impressions with, to seek critical views from. Or just to simply discuss and digest what is around that would help to achieve a higher degree of objectivity when taking pictures.

But don't get me wrong. This place is so different from everything I have experienced so far that it deserves every kind of engagement and one is actually unable to avoid it unless he / she lives there. I just feel I owe Baikal more than what I have done last year. Hence, I'm going there on March 11 for a week. To one place only:


In case of interest, I would be very happy if any of you joined me. Seriously - I can help with the logistics and everything else. Just write me an email now.

This time, if I end up making better images with my iPhone than on two serious cameras, I will donate my Linhof to a charity.