30 years later: Exploring Pripyat in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
From a distance, Pripyat looked quite normal. Just as if all the people there would be sleeping. But once we approached the city centre, I felt more like in an episode of the Walking Dead.
The buildings are still standing, but you realize that something has happened here and people had to leave in a mad rush. 36 hours after the Chernobyl disaster, 50.000 souls were evacuated within two hours using more than 1000 buses. And this is still evident today.
We arrived and started our exploration at the main plaza, where the former ministry of nuclear power, the palace of culture and the Polissya hotel are. Nature began to take back.
From the back of the palace of culture we could see the well known fairground of Pripyat with the iconic ferris wheel and the abandoned auto scooter.
From the fairground we continued to the former warehouse.
Finally we went to the old school. And though we were used to it, our Geiger Counters started to beep wildly again. The school is a zone with still increased radioactivity.
All the classrooms look pretty much the same, except for the tables having different colors. The books lying on the floor are another hint how fast people had to leave Pripyat. See the stencil lying in front of the table?
There's one thing about those gas masks. They weren't used after the accident in the power plant. Allegedly putting on gas masks was part of the eduction in the former Soviet Union.
Getting acceptable shots was challenging in Pripyat. We didn't have much time (and you don't want to spend much time in the same place; at least in some places where the Geiger Counter beeps wildly) so I had to take photos quickly.
I used the Moment Wide Lens to capture the big buildings and the interior of the buildings. Inside the buildings I shot with Pro Camera [iTunes App Store Link] using Low Light & HDR mode (worth the in app purchase!) that magically combines a long exposure with an HDR reducing the noise of the final image under low light conditions.
Oh yes, do yourself a favor: Don't go there on your own. Book a tour; it's much safer. I booked mine with chernobyl-tours.com; and be prepared for some strange reactions from your friends. Mine said things from "you're nuts" to "how cool". But at first they didn't take my announcement serious that I'm going to visit Chernobyl. Maybe because I posted it on Facebook on April 1st? ;)