April 19, 2021

Photographer Captures Rare Iridescent Clouds That Look Like Soap Bubbles Over Siberia’s Highest Mountain

Russian photographer Svetlana Kazina has a deep love of nature. So much so that, over twenty years ago, she quit her job in the city and moved her family to a hut in a mountain village near the border of Kazakhstan. It’s here that she has been able to hone her craft and spend time surrounded by the awe-inspiring environment. One of her favorite locations to photograph is Siberia’s highest peak, Belukha Mountain. And on a recent winter day, she was able to capture stunning photos of iridescent clouds hovering at the summit.

Regarded as a sacred mountain by locals, it rises up 4,500 meters and is situated within the Altai Mountains. As one would expect, given its level of elevation, arriving at Belukha Mountain is not easy. Kazina notes that from her village it took one day by car and two days on foot to reach the Ak-Kem valley. From there, it’s another day to reach the base of the mountain. Such an arduous journey meant that the only others accompanying Kazina during her time on the mountain were scientists and meteorologists conducting research.

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Svetlana Kazina photographed iridescent clouds over Siberia’s highest peak, Belukha Mountain.

However, the time spent arriving at her destination was well worth it when she awoke one morning to a spectacular sight. The dry, frosty conditions, coupled with high winds, made for the appearance of iridescent clouds. Nestled between the eastern and western peaks, these rainbow colors often appear when clouds are close to the sun and the moon. As they often occur at Belukha Mountain, Kazina was prepared.

Svetlana Kazina

While the irisation is easy to see with the naked eye, as long as the sun isn’t too strong, it can be difficult to capture on camera. Using a polarizing filter and tripod, Kazina aimed her camera at the dazzling rainbow clouds in the sky and snapped away. The results speak for themselves. Each cloud has its own unique look, from the multi-colored cotton candy to giant soap bubbles in the sky. While Kazina’s time observing the clouds was brief—they needed to move to the next meteorological station—she was still able to come away with an incredible portfolio of images.

You can follow more of Kazina’s adventures on Instagram and Facebook, as well as her website where she sells calendars to help fund her work.

Svetlana Kazina

Irisation is caused when light scatters through small water droplets or ice in clouds near the sun.

This phenomenon mostly occurs in higher altitudes such as Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska, and Northern Canada. However, they can appear elsewhere in the world.

According to Svetlana, she witnessed and captured the rare phenomenon early in the morning.

Svetlana told Siberian Times:

‘I pictured this beauty over Siberia’s highest peak, Belukha, early in the morning’, said Svetlana.

‘Rainbow clouds are a rare optical phenomenon when thin clouds close to the Sun change to spectral colors.

‘The clouds in my photos are so thin that they look more like lace.

‘The wind at this height was so strong that the cloud ‘lace’ changed every second.

The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia include some of Russia’s most stunning scenery, a haven for travelers who want to escape from the modern world.

Svetlana Kazina

These polar stratospheric clouds, (mother-of-pearl clouds) occurs when the Sun scatters over small water droplets of nearly uniform size.

According to NASA:

“When the Sun is in the right position andhidden from direct view, these thin clouds can be seen significantly diffracting sunlight in a nearly coherent manner with different colors being deflected by different amounts.”

“Therefore, different colors will come to the observer from slightly different directions. Many clouds start with uniform regions that could show iridescenceBut [they] quickly become too thick, too mixed, or too angularly far from the Sun to exhibit striking colors.”

The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia include some of Russia’s most stunning sceneries.

The mountain range is also majestic and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world.

The rainbow-colored clouds look like soap bubbles.

Svetlana Kazina