Last year me and some friends of mine were given a chance to spend a whole day in one of the world's largest Chernobyl type (RBMK) NPP (Nuclear Power Plant), at Ignalina (IAE), Lithuania. Obtaining the permissions were taken 6 months, because the main purpose of the trip was to testing and developing a handheld radiation detector in various radiation level enviroment. I joined this team as a photographer.
During the excursion we were allowed to make some pictures in the reactor hall, in the turbine hall, in the main control room, in the main pump hall, in the freight corridor, and at some exterior places, like cooling pond, etc...
This shot was taken from the top of the reactor container No.2., under my feet there was generated 1500 MW (per each reactor) of nuclear power, those square plates on the floor are the control, and fuel rods.
Unbelievable dimensions were inside.
Due to the dismantling processes at some places increased the surface, and the background radiaton level, and because of the character of our excursion, we had to wear a full protection body suit, gloves, masks, hats, etc, because of the 1,000 times bigger (measured 50-100 micro Sieverts per hour, 15 minutes were about 25 micro Sieverts) radiaton level than the normal background. But that's okay if you keep the safety instructions, any type of CT is much more harmful (Chest CT equals 30 milli Sieverts, it is a quite huge amount) than this. I emphasize it this was not a common excursion, but was a test, so the NPP demand special safety regulations.
It was quite difficult to pushing the buttons and setting the camera, due to the high temperature, and the protection suit,so we completely tired by the end of the day.
We should leave the reactor hall after 15 minutes in order to our protection. The end of the day we have to dismantle our photography equipment to pieces, and they were examined regarding to radioactive contamination.It was necessary because under the test processing in several places directly placed the test device close (or directly onto) to pool and the top of the fuel rods. Several times we reached for things, and touched things, and that only authorized when and if we wearing gloves, but we kept the cameras in these gloves too.
A security officer watched our every step, and sometimes indicated that something is not allowed to shoot, and when we have to turn off the cameras, and gopros HD cameras.
That was one of the most exciting photo tour in my life.
About the processing:
Three handheld shots (-2,0,+2) were made (tripods are forbidden) in low light enviroment (regarding to f/4, and iso number), pre processing with PS camera raw, pictures were merged together, and tonemapping in Photomatix PRO, noise were eliminated with Noise Ninja, b/w conversion, and selective colouring in Silver Efex PRO 2 (about 60 control points were added), and finished in PS CS5.
Thanks for visit, and your support!