Nuclear Island, Leibstadt, Switzerland 2020

The photo “Nuclear Island” was taken on a perfect summer day in August 2020. Together with my wife, we ​​took advantage of the hot weather and rode on our Stand-Up Paddle Boards down the cool, slowly winding river Rhine. From Waldshut, the vertically rising cooling steam of the Swiss electric power plant became visible. In awe of the concentrated power of splitting atomic nuclei right in front of us, we paddled towards the facility and took a few shining selfies.

After transferring the SUPs over a dam (left in the picture) we continued our paddling trip on the now faster flowing river. In the middle of the river, which also acts as the official border between Germany and Switzerland, a sparsely vegetated sand island protruded. From a distance, I saw numerous motorboats at its end and wondered what was going on. As I floated by, I noticed a pink parasol with people underneath. And then everything happened pretty quickly.

The current had already driven me over the end of the island when I decided to quickly turn the SUP against the direction of the flow. During a short period of motionlessness, I looked and marveled at the scene spreading in front of me. Parents and children were meeting on a double state river island to gather under one umbrella against the backdrop of an active nuclear fission facility in times of a virus pandemic! The bright colors in the warming sunshine and the light clouds gave the whole thing a carefree feeling.

Most likely, my sudden appearance and my high raised photo-arm attracted the attention of some people. I did not notice this until later. I was busy balancing the SUP and adjusting the frame while looking at the barely readable, reflective screen of my waterproof camera. After all, I was pleased to find out that the boatpeople and the girls (particularly the one on the red buoy) were looking into the camera. The picture was a great and unexpected gift.

Nuclear Island was nominated as top 20 finalist in the Leica Poland Street Photo Awards 2020.