HIgh in the Arctic .. .. Eskiimo !!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the APUG Community' started by Majik_Imaje, May 18, 2007.

  1. Majik_Imaje

    Majik_Imaje Member

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    Hello ! my name is David I am originally from Boston Ma. I am / was an electrican with an obsession for photography that had consumed me literally. I moved to Alaska.. working as an electrican I was sent to this tiny Eskimo village called Point Hope Alaska. For just 3 weeks, to wire two construction camps. When the job finished, I quit and stayed here.

    A tiny whaling community of only 750 Inupiaq Eskimos who live their lives centered around the bowhead whale.

    Point Hope is the oldest continually inhabited settlement or village in all of North America, life can accurately be traced back some 3,000 years to this very spot.

    That was 27 years ago ! and I am still here. I was presented with the ultimate challenge. I had my Besler enlarger shipped up here, the chemicals and cases and cases of 11 x 14 color paper. Working with film @ 50 below zero was a first for me. but the ultimate challenge was.. ..

    something I never expected.. .. I had no water !.. .. .. .. 'just .. snow !

    Come see the Eskimo way at the top of the world 200 miles above the Arctic circle, Tikigaqmuit - "People of Point Hope Alaska" - North Americas Oldest people.. Greenland was founded by people from Point Hope, Most villages in Alaska are founded by People from Point Hope who migrated across the land bridge from uppper mongolia some 3,000 years ago.

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    Aaka & Aapa - Grandmother & Grandfather - Lilly & Donald Oktollik

    My four sons - GREAT-grandparents.

    Donald was a whaling capatin & an Episcopal Minister in his day.


    Elaine & Minnie - Two teenage girl-friends pose for me in Traditional dress @ 40 below zero !

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    Do they look cold ? No. when dressed properly and eating the correct food at the correct time is how you keep warm up here.

    When the community is out on the ocean ice for whaling, as they currentlyl are at this very moment in May, The hunters sleep outside for two months @ temps of 30 - 60 below zero & colder with wiind chill added.

    This is a typical whaling camp 7 miles out on the Ocean Ice pack of the Chukchi Sea in the Bering Strait of upper Alaska

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    18 whaling camps are spread out on the ocean ice pack at distances of 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile. Animals are migrating.. this is how we obtain food.

    I have to obtain water, but the house I am in has none, At the time I had built and owned Many, too many color darkrooms, from moving around too much. I was extremly familiar with C-41 processing & Ep2 techniques & proper replenishment rates etc.
    but using snow ? I had to melt tons of snow, literally tons, to obtain the necessary precious water, to mix chemicals and process film & prints.

    When melted, the water was FILTHY, animal hairs, soot, other debris, scum and such.. yuk ! The water was filtered through towels and it still had a yellowish tinge to the overall look. How do you WASH film with NO RUNNING water? I had to come up with something, that worked FIRST TIME.
    I knew these images were are very valuable and 27 years later these 6 x7 negatives are still in pristine condition.

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    Many miles out on the ocean ice. Kathy Rock age ten, is sitting on a snowmachine, she knows me well, as a frequent visitor to her home, her Dad is Elijah Rock "Alaskan Eskimo Whaling Commissioner
    I raised my camera to create an image, and she smiled, I brought the camera down and said Kathy, please do not do that! I want you to look right past me as though I am not even here.YOu can't see me I kept repeating, I knew what I wanted, but had to convince her to relax and just look past me. oh tghere it is.. Yes ! Yes ! -=[click]=- I spent 1/2 hour speaking with her, and I only expolsed one frame of film.

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    I had to obtain the permission of many different Eskimo agencies, that is why, still to this day, I have the only COLOR COLLECTION of Eskimos on a sacred bowhead whale hunt. I have been honored to have been on 5 whale hunts. My sons continue where I left off. But the images I am posting are the original ones 27 years ago! processed with snow. It was only because I was so familiar with mass processing techniques that I dared attempt this seeminlly impossiblel task, here is an image of one of my many darkrooms in Washington State
    When I purchased paper and chemicals, for years, I always purchase by the cases! tens of thousands of sheets of paper ! I finally got it down PAT !
    [​IMG]

    iT TAKES: the combined effort of hundreds of people to blaize a trail using picks, axes, chipping tools by hand to smooth out a trail for miles. to transport equipment and supplies out to the edge of the ice pack.

    All this incredibly hard work, no PAY FOR THIS WORK, but just the RIGHT TO EAT !:wink: :D
     
  2. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    Beautiful work David.
    I shall never again complain about cold hands during the winter or my water supply being temporally out because of local construction.Against all odds you have produced some remarkable immages that will forever document a unique way of life.

    Mike
     
  3. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Magnificent, David...Make sure the negatives will live on. This is a real society, not what we have down here in the US..ALl the best, Evan Clarke
     
  4. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wow... incredible story and photographs! And, as Mike said, I'll never complain about my cold basement darkroom again! I'm sure it would feel balmy to you!! Welcome...
     
  5. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    David, you have done a remakrable job on your photography, in less than ideal conditions, congratulations and welcome! I envy your decision to "unplug" from the modern world and join the people. Please post some of your work in the galleries when you are able. Didn't know you could work in those conditions, but it seems anything is possible if there is a need. Nice darkroom. Best, tim from sunny tucson, arizona
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Fascinating work, David! Welcome to APUG.
     
  7. Frank R

    Frank R Subscriber

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    Absolutely fantastic!

    I feel that this will be a historically important collection.

    I would love to see a museum exhibit of large prints up close.

    I hope this exposure will not cause much disturbance to the community. But the remoteness and the weather will keep most away.
     
  8. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Great work! Can't add much more than what folks here have already said.
     
  9. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I think if there were a "Shackleton's Endurance" prize in photography, you'd get my vote!!!!!!! Mere mortals would have sent their films south to be developed and printed...the fact that you have the self confidence and single minded beligerance to pull it off probably suits you well to your chosen environment.

    The historical significance of your work from all these years, and maybe more importantly from future work as your world changes, is huge. When will you entertain the idea of a book?

    Murray

    P.S. Anybody know a documentary film maker?
     
  10. wfe

    wfe Member

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    WOW !!!
     
  11. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    David, Thank you for posting your amazing story and beautiful photos here and welcome to APUG.
    Look forward to see more of your work.


    jan
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Fantastic images. Welcome to APUG!

    Regards, Art.
     
  13. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    I've never seen anyone more driven and motivated to do what he loves! Nice images that need to be shown to the outside world. Now I have something to talk about for the next few weeks!

    drew
     
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  15. CRhymer

    CRhymer Subscriber

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    Hello,
    Welcome to APUG from the Deep South, Fort Smith, NT, Canada
    Latitude: 60º 0' N
    Longitude: 111º 53' W
    Elevation (m): 203

    Great pics.

    Cheers,
    Clarence
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    great story, wonderful images
    thanks for finding us!

    i look forward to seeing and reading more :smile:

    john
     
  17. PhotoBob

    PhotoBob Subscriber

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    Very interesting story and images.
    Thank you
     
  18. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    David, what a great series of portraits! I'm in the Boston are (Somerville) and I'm just starting to develop my own work - can't imagine developing in such a cold environment - great work, please post some more!
     
  19. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Hi David, welcome from Hawaii. Thanks for sharing such fine images with us. Glad to see that you have kept true to film, even under such harsh conditions.
     
  20. Carol Flutot

    Carol Flutot Member

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  21. ilya1963

    ilya1963 Member

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    Fascinating ...
    ILYA
     
  22. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Now that's an introduction...

    Welcome.
     
  23. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    Wow, I am humbled by your perserverance. Suddenly I have no problems. thanks so much for posting your wonderful story and your beautiful prints. Welcome from Oklahoma.
     
  24. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Now this is what I love about APUG. A truly remarkable story. Welcome from the UK.

    Regards

    Mike
     
  25. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Welcome to the site David and thank you for sharing this with us, truly inspiring.

    Sean
     
  26. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Welcome David, from the Little North that is Montréal, and I hereby nominate you as the bravest APUG member!