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Old May 7th, 2007, 09:59 AM
Majik Imaje's Avatar
Majik Imaje Majik Imaje is offline
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High in the Arctic !! Eskimo....!

Hello from the TOP OF THE WORLD in Point Hope Alaska

The oldest continually inhabited village or settlement in all of North America.

Life here can accurately be traced back to over 3,000 years ago to this one spot of land

I live in a tiny whaling community of only 750 Inupiaq Eskimos

We hunt and live of the Bowhead Whale

Believe it or not.. .. .. I was sent to this village as an electrican for just 3 weeks to wire two construction camps.
When the job finished, I quit the company and stayed

THAT WAS 30 YEARS AGO ! I am still here !



BELIEVE IT OR NOT: I had 60 rolls of color film to process and I had no water. I had to melt snow!!

Come on a photo essay of the oldest people in North America

The Inupiaq of Point Hope Alaska.

We live out on the ocean ice pack for two months or longer depending on ice conditions. We sleep outside @ temps of minus 50 below zero with no tents !



All this work, just so we can EAT ! We receive no pay, just the right to EAT.



Moving an umiaq (skin boat) down to the lead opening to hunt the mighty bowhead whale.

Even the children use a sled UNDER their Umaiq when hunting for the bowhead whale @ 40 below zero !



5 miles out on the ocean ice pack in the Chukchi Sea on the bering strait 200 miles above the Arctic circle
Children play outside @ 30 below zero for days and days on end


Out on the ocean ice pack, we sit, wait, watch, eat, sleep. RIGHT HERE, for two months.


Midnight in May ! We are currently gaining 20 minutes more light each day. By the end of May it will not get dark until the end of August !
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Old May 7th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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jackblade76 jackblade76 is offline
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Excellent series! Appreciate even under such tough & critical conditions you still manage to pursue your hobby. WARM (literally) welcome to the corner. Like to see more pics from you.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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Majik Imaje Majik Imaje is offline
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Harsh conditions .. .. .. 60 below zero.. ..

Thanks JackBlade !! I promise you spectacular photos and amazing stories of life in the Arctic.


Was pure TORTURE when I had to change film, especially on this day,



I would literally scream when I had to change film, taking off your gloves @ 60 below zero and trying to fiddle about inserting that film, was torture of the highest degree. Intense PAIN. It would take a long long time after changing film before I had use of my fingers, hands well enough to handle the controls on the camera.



Each and every whaling camp is set up identical. 18 whaling captains are spaced out 1/2 - 3/4 mile apart on the edge of the ocean ice. This is home for the next two months.

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Old May 7th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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susan pickup susan pickup is offline
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Hi
welcome to the corner. Its great to meet you. How does your camera function in such severe weather/cold conditions. I love your series of life where you are.
Susan
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Old May 7th, 2007, 05:29 PM
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digital2006 digital2006 is offline
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Hi and welcome to the corner...that was a wonderful series of shots...looking forward to seeing more of your photos..keep em comin.
  #6    Top
Old May 7th, 2007, 06:29 PM
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Majik Imaje Majik Imaje is offline
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How do camera(s) function at sub zero temps ?

Sluggish at times, especially when it is 60 b elow or colder, very sluggish, but workable with just a little more force than usual. Nothing ever broke, except my will to keep going on.
Changing film was an excercise in pure torture. INTENSE PAIN. it would take a very long time before my hands and fingers could use and control camera functions.
Well tlhe problem wasn't with the film. I have been processing C-41 using Kodak chemicals for many decades. I started learning using C-22.

but tons of snow was melted, Clean snow, we had to travel far to get clean snow, miles out side of the village. When melted it was "filthy" with animal hairs, soot, and other assorted small bits of debris. The water had a yellowish tinge to it. and it was filtered through towels to remove all foreign material.
I had no choice, I had to get these photographs up to Barrow Alaska. A closed meeting of whaling captains only was coming up and I had to finish this project and see what I could do, on my own, to help these people retain their aboriginal rights to hunt the Bowhead whale.

The main problem was with one of the cameras I was using, it just would not work right down on the ice and in those extreme cold temperatures.
Place a camera on a tripod and keep it there for months! Out in the violent wind that is never ending, I had to literally chip the ice out of the viewfinder everymorning, when the sun came up to reveal the ice encased camera.
Batteries are useless out here. They die! I don't care how many you bring out here, they won't last.

I have been on 5 whale hunts, The first year, all I had was a Nikon F3 and sixty rolls of vericolor.. I will never use, own or possess a Nikon ever again. It constantly failed.
The most spectacular composition ever, IT FAILED MISERABLY & would not function.

My second whale hunt I had 5 cameras, 300 rolls of vericolor film.
Not one of those cameras ever failed ONCE.!
Pentax K1000 worked perfectly, flawlessly, while encased in ice. The same held true for the Cannon AE1 - Leica - Mamiya RB 67 - Mamiya C220

They never failed once ever, no matter how much ice was around those cameras.

Oh but today we use DIGITAL. ha ha ha ha.. go ahead, bring that rig down on the ocean ice and watch what happens. It won't last 12 hours never mind 12 weeks.
Once you get down to the ocean ice and the lead, (a grueling 4 or 5 hour trip, your there, no electricity, no place to go to warm up. 100% ICE and vicious winds.


That ice, on the other side, of the lead opening is moving, about 20 mph or more, from right to left. We always have strong north wind. It is very easy to hallucinate out here on the ice.
You experience bizarre sensations, such as, DONT WATCH THAT ICE.
I am a dumb city boy from Boston, just an electrican, no one, no body, nothing.
But I do know how, to develop color film "expertly" I have had lots of practice in my 17 COLOR DARKROOMS I have owned and built, as a hobby. (http://majikimaje.com/drkrm15.jpg)

don't watch that ice for very long, because when you do, THAT ICE, will STOP, and you will begin to feel as though your travelling in the opposite direction.

I was always falling over, sending these people into utter hysteria, constantly!! It became a habit of sorts, for years!

NOW I am going to tell you a TRUE story, that you will just never believe in a million years. Especially you mothers!
You are out on the ocean ice, in a nice warm tent, making doughnuts and the temp outside is 50 below zero.


Every tent is set up in the exact same manner. Once that dough is made,you have to have it "rise". this tent looks warm but it is very drafty. so the dough is put into a clean plastic bag, and that woman, Emily Lane, will place that bag under her parky as she carries the dough much like a person carries a baby, inside the parky on the back.
Now, when these women go to sleep at night, they have a "boyer" take care of the tent area.

This person's JOB & responsibililty is to:

Keep that woodstove buring all night long. Using an axe, chop wood, using very sharp knives, carefully use "sicpan", (extremely flammable "seal oil").
Gather and melt clean snow for washing dishes and getting the thermoses ready.
Make fresh hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, a lot of thermoses have to be brought down to the hunters at the lead opening.
His job(s) also include keep a sharp eye on the wind & the ice.
Cracks can suddenly appear at any time. The wind can shift and we have to evacuate @ warp speed or everyone will be crushed from advancing ice.
He is armed with many rifles in case of a polar bear attack.
It is time for bed, your in safe hands, give that person your lighter and matches and go to sleep.

THIS IS A 3 YEAR OLD CHILD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  #7    Top
Old May 7th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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nosnibora nosnibora is offline
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Well, "Hello and welcome to the Corner" hardly feels like enough of a welcome after that incredibly interesting introduction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that and seeing the photos. Hope you will be posting more soon. And, Welcome to the Corner!
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Old May 7th, 2007, 10:09 PM
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Tim L. Walker Tim L. Walker is offline
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Wow! Quite the intro! Beautiful country you have up there... looking forward to seeing and reading more about life up north!
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  #9    Top
Old May 8th, 2007, 11:06 PM
Majik Imaje's Avatar
Majik Imaje Majik Imaje is offline
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Midnight @ the beginning of May, A typical whaling camp 4 miles out on the ocean ice. This is home for the next two months.
this is where we hunt, eat, sleep 24/7
Due to the fact that we are approaching 24 hour sunlight, this triggers a swtich in your body and you become "solar powered" it is very easy to stay up for 3 days, when you want to sleep, merelly sit down on the sled and lean back, close your eyes, and rest a few hours, YOur all charged up for another 3 days or more.



Wait, watch, listen, observe, you just never know what is going to happen next.
One side of your face is sweating and the other side is getting frost bit. In about ten hours you get the best tan of your life on your face and hands LOL .
The only sounds, are the sounds of the wind & the ice!

All day, every day, two months, this is the most exciting time of the year, gathering, hunting for food!
standing in line in a supermarket is too boring ! ha ha ha.!



Midnight in Mid May, Rex Rock, whaling Captain, scans the horizon
searching for whales.

This image won the Alaska Press Award in 1989

Rex has a 20 x 24 framed double matted of this image in his home on his wall.



be back soon for more! .. .. ..
  #10    Top
Old May 9th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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digital2006 digital2006 is offline
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Dear Lord...if you ever hear me complain about anything again,and i mean anything..remind me of these photos... i have no idea how they do it.
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