Grise Fjord, Ellesmere Island, Canadian ArcticFrom the kylefoto of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com
Grise Fjord in Inuktitut is Aujuittuq (ᐊᐅᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ), meaning "place that never thaws". What a fitting name for a hamlet that is often seen surrounded by ice even in the summer months on the northernmost island in Canada. We were arriving from our expedition ship and were greeted by the locals after we navigated a maze of sea ice grounded on the shore by the tide. Among them was an RCMP officer who was originally born in the Grenadines in the Caribbean, we joked about the stark contrast of his previous life and now. Even though the people here are mainly inuit, they are also canadians, and for the most part they dress just like me. But for the sake of preserving history and traditions, for special occasions they will put on traditional clothing.
The intricacy and beauty of this traditional wear is stunning. Made entirely of seal skin, every piece of the animal has been used for something. A close look at the crafting and stitching reveals how much work has gone into the making of these. Thousands of years of trial, error and inuit ingenuity has gone into the design of these beautiful, functional and life preserving attire. Another danger out here is the harsh glare of the arctic sun, it’s magnified by the amount of high albedo snow and ice of this landscape. The inuit have developed visors made of bone, with tiny slits letting in just enough light to see but not so much to get snow blindness.
Photographic details: We had the opportunity to photograph these people indoors inside the community hall, but we preferred a much more fitting environment. Mere meters from the hall we had the shore line covered in grounded sea ice. The harsh sunlight would have been too much for this shot so we put him in the shade of this ice. In hindsight the extreme brightness of the ice in the background would have been better off if I had gone the HDR route. Over exposed highlights in the background aren’t ideal, although not important. Despite those shortcomings this photograph isn’t about getting perfect technical photographic statistics, it’s about the subject, this amazing inuit child and the grand history that his garments represent, and that’s what the exposure is geared for, at the very least he is perfectly exposed.
1/200s f/5.0 ISO50 100mm