This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, A UK photographer is exhibiting a unique series of infrared images, taken from within the 30km exclusion zone around the entombed power station.
The surreal Chernobyl photos include depictions of abandoned bumper cars, kindergarten beds, train tracks and vast Communist-era buildings, with the infrared techniques creating a spectral feel to the trees, wild plants and pools of toxic moss that are reclaiming the land from its crumbling concrete monoliths.
Darren says: “I’ve always been interested in visiting places that are off the beaten track – especially if they’re associated with darker moments in history. For me, photography trips have never been about exotic safaris or the arctic and my overseas travels have included Pompeii and Auschwitz. In the UK, I spend my spare time exploring and photographing abandoned and decaying buildings and castles; I also like our Victorian graveyards for their atmosphere and serenity.”
He adds: “At Chernobyl, especially on my second trip, I wanted to capture the sense overpowering sense of silence, the greys of the concrete and asphalt and the contrast of the increasingly dominant plants and trees. I was interested in the objects and interiors of the buildings, and the lives of the people that were left behind. From a personal point of view, it’s humbling to see the after effects and to meet the people that still work there, despite the risks to their health.”
Darren took the photos with a Canon 450D that has been converted to take infrared images using a 10-22mm wide-angle lens. He also used a Canon 5D Mark II with 17-40mm or 24-105mm lens and Heliopan IR filters. “The infrared filters transform what is seen by the human eye into a dreamlike image,” says Darren. “The processing gives the images the distinct ‘traditional’ feel of high speed infrared film with its characteristic grain, contrast and halation (light leakage). The images for the exhibition are printed using Silver Gelatine to further enhance the film feel.”
The resulting images have been picked up by one of the UK’s leading photographic magazines and will be showcased in a multi-page spread in its July issue.
The exhibition is held from 1st – 31th of July in Rhubarb and Custard on 4 High Street, Eton, Berkshire. Admission if free. All the profits obtained will go to the Chernobyl Children’s Project.
1st – 31st July : Rhubarb & Custard Photography Gallery, Eton UK