The annual festival started in 1963, but took some time off during the Cultural Revolution. It resumed in 1985, and has been growing ever since. Initially, participants were all from China, but now it boasts an international reputation, and attracts sculptors from all over the world. Believe it or not, the teams from Thailand have won the snow sculpting competition every year for the last 8 years.
Can you really take photos?
As a photographer, there were some pretty significant challenges to work around. It’s understandable that if the temperature is too cold for humans, it’s also likely too cold for camera equipment. And indeed it was.
Cameras are capable of working in very cold temperatures, but the batteries are not. We had to keep a spare battery in an inside pocket close to our body, so it would stay warm. And every once in a while, we’d have to switch out the cold, exhausted battery, with a warm one to give the camera some more life.
The other problem was condensation on the lenses. Whenever we took refuge in the warming huts, the lenses could fog up, due to the dramatic change in the temperature. So to combat that problem, we would put our cameras into large plastic zip-lock bags before we entered the warming hut. That way, the same cold air as the outside would surround the cameras, while inside the bag. Once we were back outside, we could remove them from the bag, and it would be still cold, and ready to work.