the Winter 2004 Photolife
Journey into the Thelon
By Courtney Milne
I used this as my guideline in the Thelon and, using ISO 100 film at f/2.8, I doubled my exposure time twice to compensate for the reduced film sensitivity, and about twice to adjust for the decreased lens opening (f/2.8 is a little more than two f-stops less light than f/1.2). Thus my baseline exposures were around one minute, longer if the activity wasn’t too bright, shorter if the lights were really on fire.
What has the two weeks in the North meant to me? First of all, I feel profoundly blessed. Maybe what Lawren Harris said three-quarters of a century ago still holds true today. I would like to believe that my photographs do convey a sense of place “more spacious of a greater living quiet, perhaps a more certain conviction of eternal values.” If a photograph is a mirror of a person’s inner landscape, then indeed the North has connected me to a vibrant, clean, pure, robust inner reality that has been lying dormant. The light there dances with a little more joy. The colours of the autumn tundra mix and blend magically as if splashed together from the brush of a master painter. I found it difficult to walk because each new step felt as though I were treading on a delicate and fragile masterpiece—nature’s canvas of infinite size and import.
I open the tent flap and step out into a dazzling light
that illuminates the hoar frost that has blanketed the beach before dawn.
There is Jeff, binoculars to his eyes, a distant silhouette on the far
We are cruising the pristine waters of Whitefish Lake on a pontoon boat as a brilliant crimson sunset explodes on the western rim, then spreads like wildfire across the entire hemisphere. Caribou antlers shine iridescent white in the nurturing glow of a pregnant moon. The aurora, like a saucy and unruly sorceress, mocks our inability to keep pace with her dance, or to catch her with our cameras. Rain, sleet, wind, snow, sand, piercing cold, brilliant sun, arctic light, luminescent colour stream by us and at us in a kaleidoscope of cosmic sensations. I am a child; I am old; I am alive; I can’t comprehend; I can’t cope; I am exhausted, euphoric, mesmerized, satiated, starved for more, eager to return… and already there. My senses are in overload, my body on the brink of collapse. The spell is cast.
Courtney Milne has photographed on all seven continents, in 55 countries, and has amassed more than 465,000 photographs including some of the most exotic landscapes on our planet. He is the author of ten books and 185 illustrated articles on photography. His multimedia concerts, workshops, and keynote presentations have thrilled audiences around the world. Milne has recently been nominated for a 2004 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. See more of his work and upcoming events at www.CourtneyMilne.com
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