In September 1852, Fenton traveled to Kiev, Russia, to record a suspension bridge that the English engineer Charles Blacker Vignoles was building over the Dnieper River for Czar Nicholas I. Fenton faced formidable challenges, especially for a novice photographer. He had to transport large quantities of photographic materials over several hundred miles and cope with the dim light and often bitter cold of the Russian autumn. That he made any photographs at all is a testament to his drive; that he did so successfully is an indication of how quickly he had mastered both the art and science of photography.
In addition to the bridge construction, Fenton
made architectural views in Kiev, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg,
as well as some landscapes. Recognizing that few photographs
had been made of Russia's most famous buildings, he made several
studies of the Kremlin and the Cathedral of the Assumption
in Moscow, among others. He photographed the most prominent
features of these buildings—the fortifications of the
Kremlin or the onion domes of the Cathedral—but used
unusual points of view to transform them into dynamic pictorial
elements that energized his compositions.