Photo Expedition to Nunavik

This post highlights Rich’s and my travel to Kuujjuaq, in the Canadian region of Nunavik, starting on August 6, 2015. The next post will focus on our bush flight to Lake Diana where we camped on the Tundra. Tundra land begins north of the tree line. Though I’ll show some Tundra photos in my next post, and later at my on-line gallery, most of the Tundra photos will be withheld, pending the release of a photo book next year.

Nunavik comprises the northern third of Quebec. According to Wikipedia, it covers 171,307 square miles north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the NunavikInuit of Quebec. The 2011 census shows about 12,000 inhabitants, of whom 90% are Inuit. There are fourteen villages strung along the coast of Nunavik. There are no roads linking the villages.

Nunavik means “great land” in the local dialect of Inuktitut and the Inuit inhabitants of the region call themselves Nunavimmiut. Until 1912, the region was part of the District of Ungava of the Northwest Territories.

Negotiations for regional autonomy and resolution of outstanding land claims took place in the 2000s. The seat of government is Kuujjuaq, where we stayed before and after our four days on the Tundra. Negotiations on better empowering Inuit political rights in their land are still ongoing.

After driving 5 1/2 hours to the Montreal airport we stayed at the Novotel before catching our next day flight to Kuujjuaq (clicking on each photograph will display it full screen). Our airline, First Air, is 65 years old, _DSF2586serving the far north; it also conducts world-wide charters. It is fully Inuit owned since 1990. As you can see in the photo, the forward section of our 737 is configured for cargo (the money maker), passengers are relegated aft of the bulkhead (all coach). The service, however, was excellent, including a full

Raptor 864 on the Ramp at Kuujjuaq
Raptor 864 on the Ramp at Kuujjuaq

meal. We left sunny Montréal at about 65º F and arrived at misty Kuujjuaq 2 1/2 hours later at about 40º F. The weather did clear later in the afternoon, with mostly good weather for the rest of the trip.

TOur Coordinating Hostundra Tom, of Great Wildlife Adventures, picked us up at the airport

and took us to our inn. We arrived two days before the Tundra

Kuujjuaq Inn
Kuujjuaq Inn

bush flight so we could photograph in the village. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable photographing people since I wasn’t there long enough for them to get to know me. The only exception was a photograph I took of an Inuit woman sewing sections for a tent since we were

Tent Making
Tent Making

granted entrée, facilitated by one of the community’s leaders, Allen Gordon.

After getting settled we walked through the village and its surrounds for context. Although the village lacks the aesthetics we would expect to find in the lower 48

Overlooking Kuujjuaq
Overlooking Kuujjuaq

states, the sub-arctic is not amenable to southern living. Kuujjuaq sits on permafrost, with only the top 18 inches or so melting during the warmer months. Consequently, all lines and tanks cannot be buried (there are no underground

Kuujjuaq
Kuujjuaq

culvers or sewer lines). Each building contains its own heating oil, water, and septic tanks (residents call for service when these tanks approach empty or full). Housing is highly insulated and designed to withstand high winds. On December 21 sunrise is 8:18 and the sun sets at 14:44. It gets cold, with the lowest temperatures approaching -35º F. Buildings are raised about a foot above ground to allow for up-welling each spring.

The cost of living is high because everything has to be flown in, or delivered by barge (there are no roads connecting to

Rocky Beach: Kuujjuaq
Rocky Beach on the Koksoak River

southern Quebec). Barges can only enter the Koksoak River at high tide and must depart with the next high tide since the river is not otherwise navigable, due to large rocks. Everything is shipped via Montréal. As a result, most people rent housing, built by the government, due to its high cost.

The next morning we walked up the rocky escarpment outside the village

Kuujjuaq
August Frost

shortly after dawn. Before we reached the escarpment we noticed that frost covered the plants, as the temperature had dipped below freezing overnight. We were joined by a young husky who escorted us most of the way.  The view was impressive as a morning mist still hung over the river._MG_7784

In my next post I’ll describe the bush flight to Lake

From the escarpment
From the escarpment

Diana on the Tundra, along with introducing the other members of our expedition.

In follow-up to the Peaks Island Community Discussion

My thanks to all who attended; you were a wonderful audience. It was a packed house!

My thanks also to Priscilla Webster, Kathryn Moxhay, and the Friends of the Peaks Island Branch Library who made this possible;

Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld of CFW Photography here in Portland who wrote a wonderful Foreword;

and my friends whom I’ve known forever, Debbie Jordan and Dave Stankowicz here on Peaks.

The following photos, courtesy of A.D. Stankowicz:

Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library

 

 

 

 

 

Global population Growth
Global Population Growth

 

 

Interactive Discussion
Interactive Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

Great Audience
Great Audience
Post-talk
Post-talk

 

 

 

 

 

With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster

 

 

 

 

 

Back at Black Dog Cottage
Back at Black Dog Cottage

Here are the references I referred to in my opening remarks:

The End of Plenty

Rachel Carson

Living Planet Report

National Academy of Sciences

The Sixth Extinction

Barnes & Noble Climate Change Titles (I have no financial or business relationships with Barnes & Noble)

Barnes & Noble Environmental Pollution Titles National Geographic: Global Warming

Perhaps the most eloquent speaker for helping us understand our universe was the Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 TV series, Cosmos. A decade later he showed us a humbling photo of Earth (the Blue Dot), taken from Voyager I, and made the point that Earth is the only home we’ll ever have so we better take care of it.

Carl Sagan’s Blue Dot The Blue Dot from 4 billion miles

In the 1980s Sagan encouraged a promising 17 year-old boy from New York to pursue astronomy. He invited Neil deGrasse Tyson to Ithaca to see what was going on at the forefront of astronomy. Today, Dr. Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He hosts Nova Science Now (and others), and resurrected Cosmos in 2014, aired on Fox, and now available on Netflix. Like Sagan, he too emphasizes that we need to globally act to protect our environment, since we now now that the additional CO2  in the atmosphere started to climb since the beginning of the industrial revolution (this CO2 has a fossil fuel signature–meaning, we did it).

On to Rockland

I drove up to Rockland earlier this week to decide if it might be a good area to spend a few days during peak foliage. It is a “come back” town. Formerly a run-down fishing community, today it has a museum of American art, about a dozen art galleries, coffee houses; and upscale, independent stores. It has more windjammer cruises than its neighbor, Camden. Rockland also has a huge ferry terminal operated by the State of

Rockland Harbor
Rockland Harbor

Maine. From there you can make relatively long voyages to North Haven, Vinal Haven, Matinicus, and Ragged Islands.

After looking around Main Street, I walked to the harbor for a few shots. Gone were the large yachts such as those of Belfast, Camden, and Portland but this could be due to the season—some boats now being in dry dock, others sailing south.

Owls Head Light
Owls Head Light

I was anxious to go to Owls Head Light, as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and Rockland. Although the park was quite nice, the lighthouse was not impressive. It was small, and given the terrain, there was no way to get a really artistic shot. Unlike most other lighthouses, you literally had to stand next to it to shoot, as shown in the accompanying photograph.

There was a beach at Owl’s Head that provided a nice view toward the north end of Rockland where I caught a nice scene with two sailboats on outbound courses.

_DSF1132
Outbound from Rockland

From here I was off to Birch Point Beach where, like Portland Head Light, artists abounded. I figured this had to be a pretty good spot to photograph. Here are but a few shots, including some of the artists. Maine’s coast continues to inspire artists and attract tourists. As urbanized as most of us are, nature continues to be something we need.

_DSF1137
Artists (and dog) at Birch Point Beach
_DSF1142
Birch Point Beach, looking Southwest

All in all I decided Rockland would indeed be a good spot for photographing the northern part of the mid-coast so I reserved a room at a local motel. Not only will I be there to capture the fall colors at peak, but I’ll be able to get dawn and dusk shots when lighting is best since I won’t have to content with ferry schedules.

By the way, if you double-click on any of my blog images you will see far more detail.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

The Celebration of Surf

Ahh, surf. I love its sound—it roars in, then pounds and crashes onto the beach. It’s even better when it hits the rocks! It’s loud, yet relaxing. Of course, as we all know, the Beach Boys popularized surf. I grew up with surf at Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts (https://www.google.com/search?q=horseneck+beach&oq=ho&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l2.2990j0j4&client=ms-android-motorola&sourceid=chrome-mobile&espv=1&ie=UTF-8#facrc=_&imgrc=2Tzgc27N8Win6M%253A%3Bundefined%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F0%252F0e%252FHorseneck.JPG%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FHorseneck_Beach_State_Reservation%3B2048%3B1536).

My sister and I loved going there. With the approach of high tide and perhaps assisted by swells from a distant sea storm, one could be battered by waves IMG_5187 IMG_5186 IMG_5188 IMG_5189 IMG_5190 IMG_5191 IMG_5192cresting to as much as six or more feet. Although West Coasters and Hawaiians would scoff at such small waves, this was a pretty big deal to us East Coast kids. We would body surf. The great fun was watching a swell approach, then become a wall and curl before it broke over you. We quickly learned to take a deep breath because if you were caught under the break it would keep you down for several seconds (it seemed like much longer) until its energy petered out towards the shore. Wow!

No one in Maine is swimming now, but I always see people at beaches, sometimes sitting in beach chairs, just watching and listening to the waves. How cool they are. Living on an island, I don’t have to go too far to see surf. You just have to look for shoreline that faces the open sea. So, again, it was back to the backshore. Now that I have a Portland tidal chart, provided by my friend Debbie, I knew high tide would be at 6:56 PM at 9.1 feet on the day of the shoot (the tides run at their highest, over 11 feet, when the moon is at its fullest). Since sunset was at almost the same time, I got to the shore around 5:00 PM when the waves would be better lit (all these things to think about when composing naturescapes). Fortunately, bright sunshine prevailed.

Maybe the best way to present my photo surfin’ safari is to show some wave sequence shots (on the left). Actually, they are all like mini tsunamis, beginning as gentle swells (though they don’t travel at 500 mph). Then, as they approach the shore, the shallower depths compress the wave’s energy so that it rises up to create that curl, which then breaks as the water’s depth further decreases. An undertow resultsas this mass of water begins to recede.

The larger photos, below, show what happens to these waves after they hit the rocks. I played around with shutter speeds so some shots freeze the action while others blur the action.

As you can see, surf has a lot of energy. Given enough time, these rocks will be ground to sand. The tides also contain tremendous kinetic energy. Just imagine what it takes to move up to 30 feet of the sea (at the Bay of Fundy). The Scots, still part of the U.K., are implementing tidal power technology to generate electricity.

But as powerful as the sea is, in some ways we are more powerful. IMG_5007 IMG_5034 IMG_5071 IMG_5086 IMG_5221Global warming is proceeding faster than predicted by prior computer modeling. Scientific data show that this is due in great part to our burning of fossil fuels.

According to a recent news report, the Gulf of Maine is warming at five times the rate of the rest of the seas (http://nhpr.org/post/gulf-maine-warming-faster-most-worlds-oceans). This is bad news for lobsters that require cold water, and those who eat them, not to mention all the other known and unknown environmental implications.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Photographing Portland Maine and the mid-coast

As many of you know, I’ll soon be in Maine, where I’ll be photographing from Acadia National Park, south to Portland. Maine is perhaps the most wilderness state in the northeast. It’s, by far, the largest state in New England, having a population of only 1.3m, about 623,000 of who live in the Portland-Lewiston and So. Portland areas along the southern coast. Bush pilots still fly in Maine; taking hunters, fisherman, and some tourists to remote lake locations.

I’ll be staying on Peaks Island  where the daily commute will involve taking the Casco Bay Ferry to get to and from my car in Portland to travel up the Maine coast, mostly via Route 1. I’ve been going to Peaks since the early eighties and have several friends there, one of which my late wife has known since here college days.

As I travel Maine’s coast I’ll be photographing land- and seascapes, lighthouses, and wildlife. I also hope to photograph some of the people in the course of their daily lives. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll have the chance to go out on a lobster boat (which reminds me, I need to print some release forms allowing me to publish identifiable photos). My plan is to exhibit some of these photos next year at Image City, and to eventually self-publish a photobook.

One place, among many others, that I’ll be visiting is the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where, Beginning in 1952, she summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955). Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences. April 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.

As those of you who have followed my blog know, my overarching theme is the natural environment. If we don’t protect this, we’ll all be in serious trouble. The sixth extinction is already underway.

During my stay I’ll have limited access to wireless internet “down front” on the island (though I’ll have better email access via my smart phone), which means I’ll only be able to upload a very few (unprocessed) photos. I suggest that those of you who are interested click the FOLLOW button on my blog to receive updates, as I plan to spend as little time as possible on email. You can always UNFOLLOW at any time.

If anyone has spent significant time photographing Maine’s coast I’d be happy to hear from you. That’s it for now. Let’s see what unfolds.