Autumn Whaling, Epilogue

It is hard to leave, and difficult to put into perspective. The Arctic isn’t easy, and for me therein lies its appeal. It is cold, dirty, and glorious. Things must be prepared for, lest the consequences be real and potentially life threatening. From Brooklyn to Barrow and back— this assignment was a pleasure, and leaves me wanting more of the same. We will see what comes next.

In terms of this body of work— this is the first pass. Within a months time I will re- edit the images and re-edit the text into a single narrative. Large prints for galleries.

Thank you very much to the 500 + people that signed up for my journal as I was writing.

In terms of the blog— there is going to be a hard right turn back to Architectural Photography and New York City.

-Ari Burling

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Autumn Whaling, Part 28

It has been a long, unique, and productive day. Standing on the periphery, I see that the work is far from over. For hours I have been shooting as close to the action as possible. I hope the images reflect this. Looking out into the night, I feel very fortunate. How beautiful today has been. Here, in a remote corner of the world, I was in the right place at the right time with a camera. I want more of this. Sunrise is in a few hours so I head back to the hotel to get some sleep.

One more frame.

Monday: Epilogue.

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Autumn Whaling, Part 27

One by one, the baleen are removed. A man balances his knee near the base of a bristle, then rocks up and down, using gravity to help apply pressure. The connective tissue gives away. It sounds like young trees snapping in the wind.


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Autumn Whaling, Part 26

Most likely polar bears are nearby, prowling around in the darkness— attracted by the smell of blood. They will have their turn with the remains of the whale, but not yet. The humans are not finished. When the last useful portions of meat are removed, the carcass will be dumped at Point Barrow, just up the road and not far from here. The corpse will be fair game for a whole host of scavengers. Despite being the largest land omnivore and at the top of the arctic food chain, polar bears only approach or attack humans when they are desperate or out of other— less dangerous options. 


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