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“Lightmapping” Reveals Invisible Radiation in Chernobyl & Fukushima

Greenpeace photographer Greg McNevin uses a light-painting technique to visualize lasting radiation levels.
Images courtesy of the Greenpeace photo archive

30 years after the disaster at Chernobyl, the area surrounding what was once a booming nuclear power plant still carries a considerable amount of radiation. The same can be said of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and its surrounding areas, since the disaster in 2011.

Although the physical reminders of destruction are still visible, evidence of the lingering radiation is far less apparent. In an attempt to visualize the high radiation levels in these areas, Greenpeace photographer Greg McNevin overlaid measurement graphs of radioactivity onto long-exposure photographs. McNevin’s Lightmapping Radiation efforts, in both Russia and Japan, employ a special light painting tool to displays levels of radiation in real time. Cataloged areas of radioactivity are represented by walls of luminous graphs running across contaminated landscapes like cautionary fences.


McNevin created his setup for an earlier WiFi light painting project, fixing a Geiger counter onto an LED light stick. The varying height of white, orange, and red light indicate the different measurements of radiation.

In other photographs, McNevin plays with a pixel stick to insert warning signs and write encouraging slogans. In a blog post about the project, he writes that photographers exploring the repercussions of nuclear disasters tend to focus on portraiture, a powerful ploy, but far removed from the source of the actual issue. His lightmapping series isn’t a premeditated critique of governments’ decontamination efforts, but rather a visible demonstration of tragic long-term effects.

See more from the Lightmapping Radiation project below:

Head over to Greg McNevin’s website to check out the rest of the series.

Via New Aesthetic, Mashable


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