Photographers Take Epic Car Photographs by Lighting Up a Frozen Lake from Below


These have to qualify as some of the coolest car photographs we’ve ever seen. Yes, we’ve seen some amazing composites and some real live racing photos that are quite epic in their own right, but these images by photographers Dmitry Chistoprudov and Nikolay Rykov have the entire Internet wide-eyed.

First important note is that the photos aren’t faked, and we have the behind the scenes photos to prove it. Christoprudov and Rykov actually wanted to illuminate a car from below 1 meter (3.28 feet) of solid lake ice — you know… weekend project — and so they set about doing just that.

In the end they succeeded, as the photographs above and below go to show, but not before encountering all sorts of challenges.


The first problem they had was getting a waterproof light source that would be strong enough. By Rykov’s estimation, they needed something that could shine around 1000Lm, and they needed it on a budget. In the end, a desperate Google search yielded the MagicShine MJ-810B.

Then they had to actually drill the hole in the ice, which they did with an ice drill borrowed from a nearby village. Only one problem with that: it wasn’t wide enough. “The diameter of the hole was too small to let our light come through,” explains Rykov on his LiveJournal (translated by English Russia). “So we had to stop fishermen on the roadway and offer them 500 roubles for widening our hole with their special tool.”

That led to an hour worth of cleaning up scratches left by the fishermen’s spiked boots and clearing away the ice that had been dug up. Finally, after all of this, they were ready to lower the light and shoot. Here are some of the behind the scenes photos:






All of the work was well worth it. The images are going viral and the story is a testament to ingenuity, creativity and not giving up when your ice drill is too narrow (a problem I’m sure we’ll all face at some point).

You can find out more about the project by either Google Translating the duo’s Live Journal post or checking out the small bits that have been translated more accurately by English Russia here.

(via Jalopnik)

Image credits: Photographs by Dmitry Chistoprudov and Nikolay Rykov and used with permission

  • Ed Rhodes

    wow, now that is thinking with light!

  • David Vaughn

    I actually kind of wish the car wasn’t in the photo lol. That ice would make a neat abstract-y texture shot.

    But then again, the bottom of the car is probably blocking the hotspot from the flash head so it probably wouldn’t work as well without it. Hmm…

  • Matt

    Very cool, if I tried that there would be a nice car at the bottom of a nice lake.

  • Brett I

    The Chevrolet Cruze is a fine automobile, but why not a Corvette! Or an Aston Martin.

  • The_Nexus

    Cool!!! Where can I get this Epic car? What other types of car will Epic be producing in the future?

  • kelly hofer

    I thought the lines were light painted, but they are just cracks illuminated by the one powerful light underneath the car. Which hardly makes these photo light paintings as much as long exposures. I can’t see any actual painting going on.

  • Andrew

    looks AMAZING. I can’t wait to see more, I hope this doesn’t start a trend of photographers getting cars sunk while trying to get a good shot, lol

  • Fuzztographer

    Too bad the car is anything but epic.

  • Thekaph

    I love it! Maybe I am bad at searching but I didnt find the BTS. Is it possible to feature it in the article? Thanks :)

  • Esprit

    All of that hard work, all of that awesome lighting… and the actual shots are terrible. Bad, unflattering angles, poor lighting on the car itself… disappointing. Could have been so much better.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    These pictures look cool and the behind the scenes images are amazing. But I have one problem. While the images look cool, they work as long as you attach the behind the scenes. If you stumble about these images on the Internet, you would think “These guys shot a car and edited in a weird background”.
    The images in and of itself are just really awesome because of the trouble they went through to shot them!!
    But in the end there is a big possibility that these images could be shot in a studio and if you don’t attach a behind the scenes shot the whole afford may get a bit lost.

  • Fullstop

    I like this kind of out of the box thinking when it comes to photography. Thank you, PetaPixel for highlighting those who strive to try new things, regardless of the inevitable criticism that will come from the full time critics.

  • TSY87

    I was going to submit this when I saw the article on jalopnik… glad someone else did!

  • Leif Sikorski

    I thought almost the same. I like the idea and the effort they put into this project, but I dont’ really like the result at all. The car just doesn’t fit in there.

  • Burnin Biomass

    “So we had to stop fishermen on the roadway and offer them 500 roubles for widening our hole with their special tool.”


    Yes, I’m a child.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I think the background (the ice) is very cool! I also kinda wish there was another subject.

    You bring up a subject I have thought about before. When is HOW you captured the image a part of the total experience of the image?

    In the past, I have usually went with the same idea behind jokes… if you have to explain it, it didn’t work.

    Now however, I am finding myself enjoying something not only for the image but HOW the image was captured. I know it still is photography, but there is also a performance aspect to it too.

  • OtterMatt

    Please, for the love of Enzo Ferarri, someone give them a car worth shooting and let them do this again for a pro advert! That Chevy is COMPLETELY ruining the photo. :'(

    Otherwise, this is brilliant! Absolutely stunning effect.

  • Frank Petronio

    I wonder which is more dangerous, standing on frozen water or driving a Government Motors-designed Chevrolet?

  • Best Guest

    Are their more images to this gallery? The only ones I see are hi-angle which as another poster mentioned requires explaining. I would have liked to see the horizon or tree line used as part of the composition – then behind the scenes or explaination would be unnecessary.

  • dan110024

    It’s stated that it was done on a budget. Not everyone has access to expensive cars.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    I don’t have a problem with the “performance art” – concept behind the image. BUT you have to show it to the other person. If you would take the end result (the car on the ice) and use it as a car advertisement, it just won’t work. And even if you try to sell a print it wouldn’t. But as an concept images saying “We will drill a hole in the ice and light your product from under the ice, to get the best result for your images, if we have to”, it is awesome.
    As an advertising for these two guys and there photography business, these images are pretty cool!

  • Gerbert Floor

    exactly what I was thinking. Awesome Idea but I don’t like the composition as it is. Either top down view or with a horizon would be epic imho.

  • Chad Westover

    Looks like an epic frozen lake photograph with a car in the way. Awesome concept still. Nice!

  • Matt

    Could take only a craigslist post or a automotive forum to find one for free…

  • Filip

    what’s this stupid car doing there, spoiling the picture

  • Excidium

    great concept, but the end result looks like the car was photoshopped into the image. And the car is a boring as….

  • chudez

    wanted: guy with expensive car. must be willing to drive it over frozen lake. which we will be drilling big holes into. yeah, the ice is thick, but you know, sometimes sh*t happens.