arts
This is how you capture the beauty of arctic wilderness
Updated 19th August 2016
This is how you capture the beauty of arctic wilderness
Canadian photographer Michael H. Davies has been photographing his arctic community for years, but it was only a month ago that the broader public became familiar with his work.
Around Christmas, a photo he'd taken of steaming tea freezing in mid-air at -40˚C was picked up by national and international media, and shared thousands of times on Facebook.
But personally, he's not sure what all the fuss is about.
"When we finally did get that shot, I didn't think anything special about it at all," says Davies, who moved from Toronto to Pangnirtung, Nunavut 10 years ago. "As far as I'm concerned, [there are] lots of shots that I've gone through the same amount of effort and planning to get a result. It just happened that this is the perfect storm of coincidences that people really went crazy for it."
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Capturing the vast beauty of the Arctic with just pastel on paper
He thinks back to images of a sky hauntingly lit by the Northern Lights, or shots taken at the floe's edge (the point where ice meets open ocean) where the high sun "turned everything into these crisp, warm feelings."
"It's the comparison between looking at something that's so cold and so empty," he says. "You look at that photo and see that sun, you can almost feel the warmth inside."
In Pangnirtung, an Inuit hamlet with a population of 1550, 40 km south of the Arctic Circle, photography can be a challenge. Factors like battery-freezing temperatures, precarious thin ice, and the threat of bear attacks ("We're the slowest thing out here, so if bear smells a human and they're interested in having a snack...") mean even basic shoots require forethought and preparation.
"In the Arctic we joke about a place that's very, very beautiful, but as soon as you get off the plane, it's trying to kill you," he laughs.
Check out the video above for some of Davies' most memorable photos, and insight into the unique challenges and opportunities of arctic photography.
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