Summer Tundra bird’s-eye view

Photos tundra made ​​a week ago from a helicopter in the Nenets Autonomous District, Russia.

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A set of photographs by Sergey Maximishin

Let me share with you a set of photos by Sergey Maximishin, one of the famous russian photographer. Here are pictures of different years, from different countries, and a series of journalistic photo stories.


Sergey Maximishin was born in 1964. Spent childhood in Kerch, the Crimea. Moved to Leningrad in 1982. Served in the Soviet army as a photographer the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. Graduated from Leningrad Politechnical Inctitute in 1991 with a B.A. in physics. Worked in the laboratory of scientific and technical expertise in the Hermitage Museum. Graduated from St-Petersburg Faculty of photojournalism in 1998. In 1999-2003 was a staff photographer for the “Izvestia” newspaper. Since 2003 works with a German agency “Focus”.


The Times, Time, Newsweek, Parool, Liberation, Washington Post, The Wall Street Jornal, Stern, Business Week, Focus, Der Profile, Corriere della Sera, Izvestia, Ogonyok, Itogi and other.


World Press Photo (2004, 2006), Russia Press Photo contest (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), UNEP International Photographic Competition on the Environmental (2005) and others.

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Starting from this post sometimes I’m going to write in english without help of my friends. Sorry for my mistakes and feel free to correct me. I really don’t know English well enough.

This time I want to show you 7 pictures that I took in Belgrade (Serbia) in August this year. I call it “The city of light”.

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The El Rocio Pilgrimage

There is very little information about all this on the internet. There’s, in fact, barely any information at all. No matter in what language, even in Spanish. There are very few photos as well. From the one hand, this is a local event, and people only 100km away from it might not know much about it. From the other side, this is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, gathering up to 1 mln. people. There are not many tourists and “outsiders” among the participants in romeria. The main part of people here are the pilgrims themselves.

Romeria takes place in a small village called El Rocio (Huelva province, Spain), which is not a very populous place normally. Up until the mid-XIX century, the whole village had only a few houses, and the pilgrims camped in their wagons. Later, each of the brotherhoods built its own house with stables, few dozens of bedrooms (with bunk beds like in a dormitory), and a large hall for the big celebrations. There are some private houses too. Such a village house, very basic and Spartan, costs about 1-2 mln €. During the pilgrimage dates, the daily rent reaches about 10 thousand €, while a room in a local hotel costs about €500 instead of the usual €60. The streets in the village are unpaved, everything is adapted to the animal-powered transport and horse riding.

The main attraction of the area, and the site of the annual pilgrimage of billions of people is the El Rocio chapel, where the pilgrims go to pay tribute to the patron saint, Virgin del Rocio. The actual pilgrims come on horseback, staying overnight for 3-4 nights in their wagons on their way. For many people this is the most important annual event, while other people in Spain have never even heard of it. And neither, of course, people from the other countries did.

Romeria in El Rocio does not resemble a religious event at all. It’s a feria, a moveable feast, where life itself is celebrated, with people dancing, singing, drinking over the top, and loving each other (in all senses). Christian and pagan beliefs are joined together here seamlessly.

Below are my 20 photos from El Rocio, made during the two days of my visit. This is not a report or a story. I did not make an attempt to follow the sequence of the events, as it is not very interesting to me. I was trying to embrace the overall atmosphere, the mood of the people, and of course the color of the “cowboy”-ish romeria. These are my visual impressions on the life of the pilgrims in El Rocio.

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How to catch 200 deer in an open field without killing one

Do you know what it a “bull”? It’s a reindeer. They stand in separate herds, or right next to chums in a small corral. By the way, do you know what corral is? It’s an enclosure for deer. It is usually quite large, with enough space for conducting veterinary and zootechnical treatment. Sometimes small corrals are made up for the “bulls”, so that they are always within reach. Large ones are made up rarely, usually twice a year – in the spring and summer, for the piece count (corralization) and marking the herd. Otherwise, deer graze in an open field, procuring reindeer moss with their hoofs within 3-5 km from chum. And do you know what is a “piece”? It’s a part of a herd that departed the main group and went roaming God knows where.

It’s not difficult to trace the “piece” and get it back to the herd in winter. Deer rarely go further than 5 km within one night, which, compared to the size of tundra is just a block away. It’s more complicated when a “piece” joins the herd of the neighboring brigade, since it’s hard to separate them without a corral. Even if there are 10 heads in the “piece” it’s quite some problem, what to expect, when there are 200…

It does occur quite rarely. The “pieces” sometimes do leave the herd, it does indeed happen. But the probability that it would come across another herd in the vast territory of tundra, is very small. Moreover, the migration routes of deer are predetermined and mutually agreed upon in advance. But it does happen every now and then. And if it does, want it or not, the brigades need to catch the “alien” deer and get them back to their herd.

To witness this large scale operation you need to have quite some luck. Matvey, our guide in tundra, said that he has seen it for the first time in the last 10 years. Usually you catch deer for meat, and you only need just 1-2 heads. It takes some 10-15 minutes, maybe even less. Thus, the major part of the photos documenting the process are set acts. Photographers simply do not have enough time to get good photos within such a short period of time, and ask reindeer herdsmen later on to pose, as if they are noosing with tynzyan (Nenets noose for catching deer). I have seen myself a few times how this kind of set acts are taking place.

This time, though, the situation was completely different. The process of catching 200 heads, took… 2 whole days! Not counting an extra day for the preparations. Both me and Sasha Sorin had a chance to watch this process for 5 hours, and even to participate in it. We could have continued to take part, but we were tapped out by then – running in banks of snow, sinking into it up to your waist is quite tiresome.

So, here are some photos from the large scale deer catch. With some comments.

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Yakutsk, Russia. The 7 most impressive moments of the trip

It is the first time that I had the chance to go to the place where cold is permanently present. A couple of weeks earlier, several of my colleagues and I have been contacted by representatives of the two ministries of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – the Ministry of Federal Relations and Communications, and the Ministry of Business and Tourism. They invited us to take part in a big festival called “Winter starts from Yakutia”, which is held in early December each year.

This is not just a celebration, but also one of the key brands of Yakutia. With this event the real winter starts, when Russian Father Frost from Great Ustyug comes to visit the Yakut Lord of Cold, Winter and the Kingdom of Permafrost whose name is Chiskhaan. Together they (drink vodka) celebrate the coming of Symbol Cold, which then starts its pre-new year’s trip through Russia.

Of course, I accepted the invitation to discover Yakutsk with pleasure and don’t regret it at all. On the contrary! This was an amazing trip with great people, bright impressions and intensive events. I am not very good in relating the complete sequence of events, and I don’t really like doing that, but I would like to share with you some of my personal impressions.

Below you will find 7 of the most impressive moments of my trip to Yakutsk. They are not shown in order of importance, as it is quite difficult to classify them. They come in the order in which they came up to my mind when I wrote this article.

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