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Instagram Spotlight: The Salton Sea, Sleeping Cars, and Chernobyl

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Left: Diving into the Sea of Japan, Vladivostok, Russia. Right: Chernobyl control room

It’s not often that you meet a photographer who has been working on a single project for 20 years, let alone one as dangerous and mysterious as Chernobyl. Since 1993 photographer Gerd Ludwig has been risking his own health to document the devastating results of the 1986 Russian nuclear accident. Unlike some who might seek out dangerous situations for an adrenaline rush, Ludwig is motivated by a concern for man-made disasters and their consequences. His book,  “The Long Shadow of Chernobyl,” recently won the Best Photography Book Award from Pictures of the Year International.

Ludwig brings a thoughtful eye and a tender heart to his photographs. For example, his “Sleeping Cars,” series brings inanimate objects to life with subtle humor. Ludwig captures a variety of covered cars at night in Los Angeles, imagining them as sleeping.

Here’s a small selection of Ludwig’s work, including pictures from Germany, Ukraine, and the United States.

A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

In the 1990s, the British architect Norman Foster restored the #Reichstag, Germany’s 1894 parliament building, which was wrecked in World War II. Its glass dome symbolizes transparency.

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

An ensemble of sunken palm trees suggests that the Salton Sea has seen better days. A fluctuation in sea level and increased salinity have since led to an environmental decay that is now nearing catastrophic dimensions.

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

Children walk together through the forest in Germany.

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

Where do the seven million registered vehicles in Los Angeles County sleep? My ongoing series “Sleeping Cars,” examines where LA cars spend their nights.

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

This is the control room of reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was here that on April 26, 1986, operators committed a fatal series of errors during a safety-test, triggering a reactor meltdown that resulted in the world’s largest nuclear accident to date. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine 2011

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

Nineteen years after the Chernobyl accident, empty schools and kindergarten rooms in Pripyat—once the largest town in the Zone with 50,000 inhabitants—remain a silent testament to the sudden and tragic departure of the city’s residents. Due to decay, this section of the school building has meanwhile collapsed. Pripyat, Ukraine 2005

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

Recently, reports have surfaced that the #Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is turning into a wildlife sanctuary. Much of it is exaggerated, as in the case of these stray dogs seeking food at an abandoned research center. Because of their feral features, some people falsely claim that they are a mixed breed of wolves and German shepherds. Pripyat, Ukraine, 2005

A photo posted by Gerd Ludwig (@gerdludwig) on

A group of fashionable financial advisers in their mid-twenties celebrating themselves in Moscow, Russia.

Follow Gerd Ludwig on Twitter and Instagram.


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