Erarta Museum presents a portrait gallery of snowflakes
Getting hold of his first professional camera, the economist and civil servant Sergey Kichigin immediately pointed his lens at the natural beauty of the Russian North and, in particular, the snow.
His photographic experiments were inspired by the American photographer and scientist Kenneth Libbrecht who published an illustrated field guide to snowflakes. Having found all the necessary equipment, Sergey Kichigin, too, began creating high-resolution shots of these unique ice crystals.
Snowflakes turned out to be rather demanding models. First they have to be caught on a glass surface, then transferred to a prepared cold room where the photo shoot can begin. Shooting in the street, unfortunately, did not guarantee the required sharpness of all crystal faces in the resulting image.
Another challenge was due to the fact that in the Vologda Oblast where the artist resides the picture-perfect snow falls only 3 to 6 times per winter. The rest of the season brings snow pellets or crystals frustratingly stuck together and unfit for shooting. On the few suitable days the photographer must capture either the very beginning or the end of a snowfall: at the edge of a cloud snowflakes tend to bump into each other less often, reaching the ground intact. Temperature and humidity are also important: the most beautiful and solid crystals appear at about -15 °C.
The photographer had to face challenges not only while catching the snowflakes, but also while working at his makeshift studio. Since any constant source of light also emits warmth harmful to crystals, Sergey invented a complex protection for his 'models'.
Successfully tackling all these technical issues, over several years the Vologda-based photographer Sergey Kichigin created one of the world's largest collections of snowflake photographs. These were showcased in three solo exhibitions, contended in and won a number of national and international competitions (National Geographic, Michael The Maven Photography Contest, Nikon Small World (USA), The Photographic Angle (UK), to name just a few).
Sergey Kichigin's photographs can be found in many private collections in Russia and abroad, and continue to be acquired and commissioned by businesses from across the globe for their advertising campaigns.
The exhibition at Erarta Museum features not only selected photographic works, but also mesmerising videos giving a glimpse into the mystery of ice crystal formation.