Photographing Ice and Snow in Harbin, China

A Thai warrior, carved in snow at Snow World in Harbin, China.

I photographed this sculpture of a Thai warrior at the amazing Snow World in Harbin, China. The sculpture was fashioned from snow and I was fortunate to have been able to photograph it with late afternoon sunlight illuminating the central part of the sculpture.

Snow World is a large and expansive outdoor park, filled with statues and sculptures carved from snow. Due to the extreme cold these works of art remain intact throughout the deep winter and the exhibition is open for months each year.

I recommend at least half a day to explore Snow World after which a good hot meal and revitalizing shower will be required.

It’s a wonderful and very interesting place and I really enjoyed being able to wander around and photograph the sculptures and architectural replicas on display.

Life size ice sculptures make for surreal scenes at night at Ice World in the city of Harbin, China.

My Exhilarating Visit To Ice World

If you’re looking for an even more exciting adventure then the nearby Ice World attraction is for you.

Though you can visit during the day my Ice World adventure lasted for several hours in the evening, during which time I had an absolute hoot photographing all manner of large, internally illuminated structures.

Daytime temperatures were down to around -20 Degrees Celsius at Snow World, but my evening adventure at Ice World saw the mercury drop to -30 Degrees Celsius.

Not for the faint hearted, but if you’re properly attired and moving it’s certainly manageable.

Rail Bridge in Winter, Harbin, China

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During the night time session my face got sore very quickly from the cold. Fortunately I had a balaclava with me which saved the day, though it did frighten one of the local lasses when I asked to make her portrait.

To behold a wide-eyed foreign devil is one thing, but to hear a strange language from behind a mostly covered face, outdoors at night, was a tad too much for this lass.

Fortunately, once my face was revealed the world was put right, detente re-established and the portrait made.

Bridge and Snow, Snow World, Harbin, China

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One thing I did discover at Ice World was the frequent formation of ice on my camera body. I wrapped the camera inside a fleece beanie, with the lens sticking out, which kept camera, battery and memory card relatively warm.

I also used the beanie to wipe the ice crystals off the outside of the camera and lens on a regular basis.

A colorful mural at SnowWorld in Harbin, China.

Trust Me, Photography Is A Physical Endeavour

To make interesting and unique photos you need to put yourself in a position to do so. Sometimes that position is relatively uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

Making great photos isn't always easy and it's the physicality of the process, not the camera gear you're working with, that often makes the difference between a competent and a more memorable image. 

If that means going without a meal or putting up with heat, cold, wind or rain to be able to make that image then that’s what you do.

However, perspective needs to be maintained. I'm saying be prepared to move out of your comfort zone. I'm not saying put yourself in danger.

Care always needs to taken to remain safe under such circumstances and knowing your own physical limitations and levels of endurance are critical. Please, stay safe and don't over do it.

And the end of the day if it’s not fun it’s probably not worth it.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru