Sovereings of the Arctic
Wrapped in layers of clothes I am laying on my stomach, watching a large group of longhaired beasts, that seemed to be from a prehistoric world. The wind has picked up in the course of the night to 40 miles and hour. It whips up the mountain sides and sweeps up small ice crystals that hit my skin like needles. In different areas blowing snow becomes thick and travels across the ground like a ghost of fog.
As parts of my face start to get colder and want to turn numb; and my hands can’t handle my camera anymore, I am thinking how lucky I am to be hit with this weather. It is these types of conditions, that I was hoping for. In my photography I really want to convey a sense of place – take people out into the field with me. For that, my images need to convey the harsh weather conditions, the powerful elements of the wind and the cold.
I am laying on the ground to get a unique perspective. The blowing snow creates this mystical atmosphere and ads to my interpretation of an animal that rather belongs to a children’s fairytale than to this world. I also have learned that the Muskoxen are much less mindful of my presence if I stay low to the ground. They often just eye me with curiosity.
As I am out there observing them many hours a day, I become ever more fascinated. What puzzles me the most is how they can live of a few lichen on the barren tundra, that they scratch up from underneath the snow. How can they possibly receive sufficient energy from this bit of vegetation to withstand constant arctic winter conditions?
What gets me even more, is that I seem to always find them on the most exposed and windy spots on the mountain sides and hilltops. They appear completely indifferent to the wind and the cold. It becomes obvious how well they have adapted to their environment. Their wool apparently has 6 times the insulating qualities of regular wool. No wonder they stay warm.
I am wrapped in several layers of underwear, polar fleece and outer shells that keep me warm. I had never paid much attention to high-tech clothes in the past. Part of that was probably the price tag: out of reach for a broke photographer who spends all of his money on camera gear. This time around however, I had received a sample of Patagonia´s winter clothes. I have to say I was totally impressed. The combination of inside layers and outer shells completely kept any wind from getting to me. It allowed me to hang out with the muskox patiently waiting for those special moments that make up a great image.
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