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Thread: Barrow in June

  1. #1
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Default Barrow in June

    Here are some pictures of Barrow in June. First are two images of Woolly Lousewort (Pendicularis dasyantha) flowers. These little things are one of the tallest flowering plants found here, growing to as much as perhaps 6 or 7 inches in height. These two are half that.


    These images were taken using natural light at about 5:30 AM using a wonderful old manual focus 105mm f/2.8 macro lens made by Kiron along with another old treasure, a Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing Teleconverter. Hence the actual focal length was 210mm.


    This next image was taken the day before, using an 80-200mm f/2.8 lens at 200mm with a Kenko 2x teleconverter, so the actual focal length is 400mm for this image.

    This is one of a pair of swans, and this was as close as they would let me get. Walking 10 feet closer caused them to move 10 feet farther away.


    The last image is an umiaq, flying the crew flag to announce that a whale has been caught. This was the last umiaq to be moved from the ice back onto shore this year.


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    Member tull777's Avatar
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    The boat image is great. I would really like to hear the story behind it.
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    "If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out. ....."Tight Lines & Best Fishes"

  3. #3
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tull777 View Post
    The boat image is great. I would really like to hear the story behind it.
    Well, I wish I could tell the whole story, but I only know enough to hint at what it might be and unfortunately I don't have many specifics.

    Each umiaq is owned by a whaling captain. Here in Barrow they are made with a wooden frame that lasts for many years and the skins are from the Bearded Seal (oogruk). In other places it may be different kinds of skins (in western Alaska they tend to use split walrus hides, for example). The skins are replaced every two or three years, and are then used as part of the "blanket" used for the blanket toss (Nalukatuq) celebration.

    Traditionally when a crew caught a whale they would announce it to the whole village by flying the crew flag from the top of the Captain's house. People could then go to that house for instructions on how to help with the harvest. The trail to where the whale was located would also be marked, and that would at some point be with the umiaq flying the crew flag.

    There are multiple rituals and ceremonies involved in distribution of whale meat the other crews that assist in the harvest and to the community as a whole. Bringing the umiaq from the ice onto the shore is one occasion. The blanket toss celebration of the whale is another. Thanksgiving and Christmas are also significant times for distribution of whale meat.

    The picture of the umiaq on the ice is of a boat that has not yet been brought ashore with the appropriate ceremony. When it comes ashore they will have a feast at the site where it is landed, and cook up whale meat and pass out maktak for everyone. It's sort of a one meal prayer meeting as opposed to the massive all day celebration that Nalukatuq is.

    This spring Barrow crews only caught 3 whales. Here are pictures of the other two successful umiaqs, taken for documentation purposes, and with a few interesting notes.

    First, a "modern" umiaq! This one is made with a plywood and fiberglass skin. It is rather well crafted, though I didn't take any up close pictures that show the craftsmanship of the boat construction.


    The next picture is of a "special" umiaq this year. It is the Arnold Brower Crew (ABC) umiaq. Arnold Brower Jr. passed away last fall, and this spring his crew was the first to harvest a whale... very late in the season due to poor weather conditions; but the whale was taken in the first couple of hours of the day that was his birthday.


    Here is a closeup of the inside of the ABC umiaq. It is not exactly a work of art in terms of craftsmanship, nor is it particularly a "traditional" construction either. Some of the woodwork (not shown here) is downright crude, and rather than caribou sinew they've used a variety of modern ropes. (It is worth noting the polish on the seats though, because this crew has consistently been one of the most successful, and this umiaq has probably seen more work than most!)


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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    I love those pictures and the information thank you.
    If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
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    Here's an ABC whale from a couple years back. I was up there visiting and I got to help pull on the rope. I tell people I landed a 30" fish.

    http://jimstrutz.com/images/alaska/s...Whale%202.html

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Nice shots Floyd. I too loved the boat images. Tons of curiousity was stirrred. Thanks for sharing man.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Well, if it's the technical aspect of the boats that is interesting... take a look at this one!

    These images were taken during the Nalukataq given by the AC and ABC crews on July 27th. The ABC crew of course had their umiaq there, which is the one pictured previously. The AC crew joined with them, and they too had their umiaq. But it is a brand new frame, and does not appear to have ever had a skin applied.

    This boat is a work of art. It uses modern construction techniques that perfectly match traditional methods. It is one of, if not the most, well crafted umiaqs I've ever looked at.






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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Good stuff man. Thanks for posting. I also like the windbreak in the background. Kind of reminds others of what the area is like. Very foreign site for most. I was back home in NC for the last few weeks and it was 108 degrees one day. Windbreaks in the arctic are a nice change of scenery
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    That's the classiest umiaq frame I've seen. A work of art. Appreciate your pics Floyd. They're great.

  10. #10

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    That is an outstanding umiaq frame.

    I can't help but notice the dichotomy of it being supported on oil barrels.

    Took a pick like that a few years ago when I was over there...



    Please forgive the posting of my picture on your thread.

  11. #11
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
    That is an outstanding umiaq frame.

    I can't help but notice the dichotomy of it being supported on oil barrels.
    Realistically though, there is no dichotomy. The U.S. military left hundreds of thousands of 55 gallon drums all over Alaska. Most of them have rusted away, but there are still a few in use for odd things like supporting umiaq boats all summer. And indeed, most of the boats in town spend summer on top of a couple of drums! (A few get stored on old fashioned wood racks.)

    But, regardless of that, your umiaq picture is a good one. (And no apology needed to post it as Barrow is the topic of the thread, and you own just as much of it as anyone.)

    Hmm... some day just for fun I'll run around town and getting multiple images of umiaqs, and make up some composites, say 10 or 20 boats to an image, just to show the number and the variety of old and new umiaqs that exist in Barrow.

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    Incredible boats and great photo work. Thanks for posting. J.

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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    floyd davidson :The next picture is of a "special" umiaq this year. It is the Arnold Brower Crew (ABC) umiaq. Arnold Brower Jr. passed away last fall, and this spring his crew was the first to harvest a whale... very late in the season due to poor weather conditions; but the whale was taken in the first couple of hours of the day that was his birthday.
    Arnold Brower Jr. is alive and well !!

    Last fall was the sad death of Arnold Brower SENIOR! He was a member on Fredrick Browers crew

    Please get your facts straight before you post them!
    You have already insulted enough members of this family too many times to mention in the past !!

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    Ran into Arnold & Jojo last week at Sam's club in Anchorage. He didn't look very dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    Ran into Arnold & Jojo last week at Sam's club in Anchorage. He didn't look very dead.
    Typos happen.

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    Agree with others in that the first photo of the boat is quite interesting.

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    Nice photos Floyd! What type of wood is the umiaq's frame made out of? The quality & craftsmanship are excellent.

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    Wow. Great pics, man. Did you submit them anywhere? If not, you should.
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    Member Majik Imaje's Avatar
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    Floyd Davidson: Well, I wish I could tell the whole story, but I only know enough to hint at what it might be and unfortunately I don't have many specifics.
    Yes Floyd I agree with the other posters, and I have to admit your progress in photography with these images is a giant leap in your quest to become a recognized photographer, YOU REALLY SHOULD write a book. And include your awesome images. They are without a doubt the very best that I have ever seen you post.

    Just one question: Why all the advertising on every image ?
    Last edited by Brian M; 07-31-2009 at 13:47. Reason: negative personal comments

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