Friday, September 21, 2007

A week photographing on Baffin Island: Friday

Today we have Daryl Benson's final comments after spending almost three weeks photographing on the northern side of Baffin Island in the Canadian North.

"Here's my personal favourite image from this trip," says Daryl. "That boulder has been precariously perched on that eroding pedestal for... well actually I don't know how long? I'm sure it's a measure of time longer than my life and was probably sitting there 1,000 years ago when the Thule Inuit first arrived in the arctic. It's probably been sitting there longer than that. This was photographed only a couple weeks ago and the little flowers that surround it have by now gone to seed and withered, the first few flakes of another winter have probably already fallen but it is still perched there, most likely. I have no idea for how much longer?"

When we asked Daryl what photographers should think about before taking such a trip, he replied, "The best and most worthwhile tip I'd pass along is one of patience and preparedness. I know this isn't a tech tip and sounds like pretty obvious stuff, but to actually put it into practice requires some effort, understanding and... patience.

"Weather in the High Arctic can be extreme, but it also can change very quickly and, once it's changed, it tends to hang around for days. This of course is nice if it's sunny, but can be bad news if it's cold, wet and windy. This trip worked out fairly well for me weather-wise, but I was prepared to be stuck in a wind-tortured tent for days. I always take some writing material and an iPod loaded with audiobooks and extra batteries. At this time of year, drop-off and pick-up service from many locations in the north is by boat (there are no roads). It doesn't take much weather to chop up the water and make it unsafe for boats to travel, and because these weather systems can settle in for days, it's quite possible to be stranded for a while.

"Understand what you're potentially getting into, be prepared and then be patient. Easy to say, tough to actually do, but being honest with yourself and your abilities and understanding what the possibilities are will help prepare you if things do turn sour.

"The obvious things like dry, warm clothes, shelter and food are essential, but almost as important is keeping the mind engaged, staying positive and being patient. The books, both printed and audio (I've got over 50 titles on my iPod in addition to the music), have proved valuable on many trips and are always worth the weight and effort to pack."

We thank Daryl for allowing us to enjoy some of the beautiful results of his Baffin Island expedition from the comfort of our computers. This trip was one of the last Daryl has scheduled over the past few years as part of his project to produce a photographic "portrait" of Canada's natural beauty--coast-to-coast and south-to-north! The ultimate result will be a very special book to celebrate Canada's Bicentennial next July. More news about that soon.

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