Dragon Rock and the Rest

One of the reasons I keep returning to Baikal is that you have plenty of photographically creative options even if you avoid local icons and typical views. Two years ago, I was so amazed with the frozen lake that I forgot about everything I pre-visualised having seen images of the iconic spots on internet. Now, with heavily increased tourist traffic, it became actually impossible to be alone in such place at the best time of a day. That is why I did not make a single image of Ogoy island or Shamanka viewpoint despite of 3 trips to Baikal.

One morning I made a rare exception. Since it was snowing all night, it might have been dangerous to drive on the snow-covered ice at night for a dawn shooting. My driver was brave enough to try. I felt limited in options as due to the lack of backgrounds, I always need to use structures or patterns in the ice to construct an image. On the other hand, I had all lake for myself as there seemed to be nobody at all. I had a lake all for myself, but there was nothing but 10 centimeters of snow on it.

I chose to go and check Ogoy - the island with a typical ‘dragon-like’ head. We came early. The engine stopped and I carefully walked the virgin snow. What a feeling to be alone again in a wind and coldness! The space and silence were immense. The rock was mine and I was all hers (if it is she :-)). It's been an hour till dawn when I set my camera up for the classic composition with the tip of the rock exaggerated by my wide angle Rodenstock. I thought of other options, but did not want to spoil the foreground with my footsteps. Rightly so as I figured later.

  Caption: Morning with the Dragon, Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Rodenstock 23mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 1s, Aperture: f/16, ISO: 100, Filters: Lee ND Graduated 0.45S

Caption: Morning with the Dragon, Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Rodenstock 23mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 1s, Aperture: f/16, ISO: 100, Filters: Lee ND Graduated 0.45S

I agree the composition is rather obvious. On the other hand, the fresh snow on ice makes a scene very clean and a bit unusual from what has been photographed at this place. I was also lucky with the light - it's been breaking enjoyably slow and yielded some nice pastel tones at the end.

I made couple of exposures after a long wait as the sun was crossing through the horizon. Later on, I tried different angles and views destroying the snow all around, but this one made the best justice to the shape of the rock, which was key for the image in this situation. In the post-process I corrected the contrast via curves and added some punch (gentle enough, hopefully) to the sunrise colours with the help of luminosity masking.