Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Once Upon a Time in Siberia

There are company of Russian photographers that travel around Russia and world taking pictures of everything they see. Recently they decided to split up; one of them went to Africa to make a picture story and the other one went to one of the mining towns in Siberia. Just compare it, +40C (+95F) in Africa and -40C (-40F) in Siberia.

It is kinda funny to be there at nights. If you open a window, you will hardly close it after 5 minutes.
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One of cozy streets. The temperature outdoors is -42C (-44F).
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Each fast breath hurts unaccustomed to such fierce frost lungs and everything inside your nose freezes up. The main thing is to breathe smoothly and to walk slowly.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Many houses have boiler installations which burn coal.
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Because of that, the whole city is being smog-immersed and all snow grays out the next day it falls.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

One of the locals.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Camera lens freezes up and resists zooming.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Frost and the sun, what a beautiful day! And it is just -42C (-44F) outdoors.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

The sign says: the best yard 2005. For sure, you can’t argue with it.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Bleak fire of the winter sun.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

The first man. Almost every car is with a started motor. In the morning only those cars that have been staying in heated parking place at night can be started. After 15 minutes of being outdoors the photocamera frosted over and refused to work.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

This is a parking place with heating. You can recognize it because of thick ice built-up on the doors.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

The car of the photographer can start while it is -40C (-40F) outside, but it is better to park it into the parking place to be on the safe side.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

To warm the camera up, the photographer came into the riser block of flats in one of the houses. It is warm over there, just -5C (+23F.)
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Night city.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia

These snow sculptures have frozen up so badly that one can break stones upon them.

Once Upon a Time in Siberia

Hot water is being delivered to houses by external pipe system, they say that it is much comfortable like that. Actually, you don’t need to be a skilled technician to find out where is the leakage.

Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia

One of the going coal-pits of the town. Once there were 16 of them, but nowadays more than a half are closed. Nevertheless, the town is being one of the leading suppliers of carbonized coal in Russia.
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia

The next day the photographer went to one of the major coal-pits of the town. There its coal-preparation plant smokes.
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Hello Greenpeace!
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
Once Upon a Time in Siberia
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Photo credits – 1

62 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Siberia”

  1. so where are the pictures from africa the + 40 environment pictures. I have to say this pictures remind me of my hometown in north Iceland, Hrísey. this is pure truth. if you want to go mad, go to a place where your skin will melt and your brain will not work properly in +40 degree. bon voyage kammerat.

    • G’day mate,
      We have quite a few days here in Western Sydney when we have over +40, but after living for 30 years in “minus”-country – Sydney is a paradise 😉

      • +40oC? That’s nothing! I’ve worked for a month on an oil drilling rig around Innaminka (near the border between QLD and NSW in Central Australia).

        It gets up to 50oC in the shade for a week or so in the height of summer each year.

        Now that hurts!

    • They’re there because of diamonds and gold (black and yellow ones).

      Now, let’s put some Greenpeace and PETA activists in such place with no leather clothes and with no coal-heating…

    • If you live in the upper Midwest of the United States, you can get the same weather. I never had a birthday above -20 until I moved to NY. Now I have to deal with the feet of snow, not the horrible temperatures.

      But you make do. Bed, TV, hot drinks, and so on

  2. I understood the external pipelines across Russia/Ukraine to be for cheap delivery of natural gas. Can anyone confirm this? It seems it would take more than insulation wrap to keep water pipes from freezing in those tempratures.

    • Not only for natural gas; cities in Russia, Ukraine, and most East European countries have a central distribution of hot water and heating agent (usually hot water too, though some use steam). The pipes are in underground tunnels, but in some situations they can’t be buried and you get pictures 21 and 22.

  3. Beautiful, people struggling every day against the cold. But it begs to question: what’s so great about that place anyway, it’s effing cold!

    “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong” – Yvon Chouinard, and there’s so much that can go wrong there.

    • The beauty is in the industrial design of the coal processing plants and in the way the Russians built things. I live in the US, and going through towns like Pittsburgh or Baltimore, where giant industrial complexes were built similarly to this town is just incredible for a person who understands them. It’s not about the coal, soot, or ash, it’s about the aesthetic of the buildings and the grand scale to which they were constructed.

      Also, this “coal smoked environmental disaster…” is the reason people like you and I can have warm homes and a good lifestyle. The people that live up there are mining natural resources, such that the coal they produce can be used to fire coal burning power plants. Respect them for that.

      • cool pictures of gigantic architecture… yes, I respect this.

        but respect for energy from coal, nuclear power and oil?
        no! I don’t respect energy which will harm peoples health and that kills the nature.
        renewables rock! everywhere!

  4. Absolutly stunning pictures, thanks for sharing them with us. We often think of it cold in the UK when it is -5, however in your country people much be far more resistant to the cold temperatures than we are.

    Please keep up the great work.

    • Do not forget that the cold out here is very dry so -20 here is not as bad [subjectively speaking] as -4 in UK, where one has this penetrating humid type of cold, that penetrates your bones. Dress up warm and stay out of the wind and you can easily deal with -30 – -40. In Western Europe it is very different because of the sea climate: wet and humid.

  5. Nice colliery, but where is the washing facility? The other post about a coal mine didn’t show one either. I wonder if this Russian coal is clean enough to use as is.

    • @OJ – most Russian coal plants don’t have washing facilities. That’s why a lot of it burns so poorly. It’s the biggest single problem with the Russian coal industry. The quality is so poor that they can’t export it except as very low quality brown coal for around US$6-8 /tonne – and that’s if they can find a buyer.

      Russian coal giant SUEK has partnered with an Australian firm Downer EDI to design and build high quality coal washing and processing plant for some of their Eastern mines that will bring the quality of the coal to international standards and the US$25/tonne price range.

  6. I’ve seen cold but not as extensive as this. Winnipeg Canada can get to -30C but this looks colder. Starting cars left outside can be a problem and may have to be taken to indoor garages to warm up enough to start the engine.

    wonderful photography Dimitry!

  7. These are truly awesome pictures for me. They have opened my eyes to a whole new wonderland (as long as i dont have to live or visit there). Thank you


  8. I would hate sustained cold like that, but here, in parts of central and northern Canada, during winter, we see -30 to -40 regularly, and in the more northern areas, -40 to -50 regularly.

    Here in Calgary, we can see as low as -42ºC in winter and as warm as +40ºC in summer.

  9. -40 is cold for a poor people who barely have heating in their soviet era houses.

    For others like Scandinavians and Canadians -40 is something that occurs almost every winter but is hardly any problem as houses are good and very very few poor people need to stay out.

    However, -40 c won’t kill you if you leave your window open for 5 minutes… maybe the plants next your window.

    I’ve slept out in the forest (in a sleeping bag) at -51 C on a skiing trip across Finnish Lapland and pitched a tent in a light breeze at -60.5 C up the mountainside of Denali, Alaska and I have to tell you the difference between still dry air and fast blowing semi-moist air is the difference between black and white.

    Nice pix but please don’t mention freezing temperatures in your “only in Russia” list.

  10. Most if not all of these images have a high amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) tinkering going on within them, not to mention a good chunk of Photo-shopping. Also noticed a few shots that were clipped together using a tool called “Photomerge” in PS.

    They’re cool shots, but they’re most certainly not “un-messed-around-with”.

    The use of High Dynamic Range is probably the key reason why there are no people in any of the images. What it means is capturing the very same picture content at different exposures. People move, and would therefore throw off any attempts at verasimilitude within the “pieced-together” exposures.

    Still, a cool gallery, all of it being said. The richness in the colors (thank you HDR) is particularly attractive.

  11. Oh- and for those who would wonder why on EARTH ANYWONE would wish to to live in such an incredibly hostile and frigid environment?

    Here’s one reason:



  12. i live in a mountain town in colorado where we have stretches of -40 (-10 by day). if you dont have a heater block on your car when it’s parked outside you likely won’t be able to start it up until it heats up outside the next day. it’s also a good idea to by a heating wire to wrap around your car’s fuel line so that your fuel line doesn’t freeze. really i can’t even feel the difference between -10 and -40, it all hurts the same.

  13. This is a fine photo essay. Too bad that the people are so camera shy. Surely they are a hardy people. A doctor would need a night job in the coal plant with such a people.

    Those of US(A) who sit at our computers in warm, or cool comfort have little idea of the value of electricity or heat. Until the lights and heat go out.
    I respect all those who feed us and provide heat and light to our lives.
    How the phony ‘greens’ would cry if coal or oil supply were interrupted. Or if they had to miss a meal.

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