While spring breakers throughout the U.S. headed south in search of warmer climes this month, APU’s Photo Club went north. Way north.
For part of their break, eight students went to Utqiagvik (the city formerly known as Barrow) to work on their photography prowess.
It’s not the first time the club has traveled to colder locales for their spring break trip. Last year, the club did a joint event with the Kellogg Campus Club where they spent a portion of the spring break in Fairbanks and the Chena Hot Springs shooting photos of the northern lights.
For the group, lessons went beyond just practicing aperture, shutter speed and other photography skills. The trip was culturally enlightening, as well.
“The landscape of the North Slope is not only significantly different than down here in south central, but the people and their lifestyles are also quite unique,” said Ian McDermod, the Photo Club President. “There is a strong sense of community up there that only comes from such a small isolated location that is quite literally on the top of the world. Prices are a lot more expensive, you have to bundle up in five layers just to walk outside, and you even see eight-year-old children driving snow machines on the road and pulling their friends in sleds behind them. It’s quite a different world up there.”
Photos and captions by student Ian McDermod.
Students overlook the vast Arctic Ocean sea ice. It had only been a couple hours since Photo Club landed in Utqiagvik, and already a polar bear is spotted way off in the distance. Shutter buttons click furiously well observing the majestic spectacle.
Outdoor Studies student Aaron Woelk walks along the tundra on a mid-afternoon day in Utqiagvik. The sun provided “warm” temperatures that reached single digits with wind chill.
Students Logan Phipps and Melody Sarian get down on the ground to get some macro shots of small frozen grass that sticks up above the snow and ice.
A polar bear roams the frozen ocean just outside the town. This is everyone’s first experience seeing a polar bear in the wild. Although a spectacular creature, the polar bear is extremely vicious. Students and other observing townsfolk maintain a safe distance as the bear trot’s along the horizon.
The whalebone arch is a famous landmark in the city of Utqiagvik. Photo Club was fascinated not only with the beauty of the landmark itself, but also the native Inupiat subsistence lifestyle that it represents.
The Arctic Ocean views seems never-ending. At night the frozen sea is both breathtaking and provides an ominous sense of enigma. Meanwhile, a faint hint of Northern Lights dances in the dark untouched sky.
On a brisk Sunday morning, Photo Club makes their way into the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory to learn the ways in which the monitoring station measures arctic atmospheric conditions and how this research contributes to global climate change models. Everyone also walked away with their own souvenir vile of fresh arctic air.