A trip to Torngat Mountains National Park a dream come true for East Coast photographer
Story by Stephanie Hounsell
Photography by Wayne Barrett
It’s not everybody who has the necessary pairing of guts and knowledge required to conquer the rugged Torngat Mountains National Park. Not to mention the opportunity.
Exploring the unforgiving, nearly 10,000-square-kilometre park in northern Labrador had long been a dream of PEI landscape photographer Wayne Barrett, who enjoys the challenges that accompany visiting isolated locations. So when the opportunity arose to visit the Torngat Mountains on assignment with Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, he didn’t think twice.
“Very few people get the opportunity to go there,” says Barrett, who started Barrett and MacKay Photography 37 years ago with his wife, Anne MacKay. “It’s hard to get in there, let’s put it that way.”
Three years ago, Barrett spent a week in August at the national park alongside a film crew. He spent about 40 hours doing aerial work, and was also flown to various locations within the park via helicopter.
The landscape and geology were “just breath-taking,” says Barrett, who first dreamed of making the trip after reading a book about an artist travelling in the Torngats.
Danger was never far away. Whenever Barrett left the compound, he was accompanied by an Inuit guide who carried a gun in case polar bears got too close.
“You have to be very careful. It’s not a forgiving land. If you make a mistake, you’re in big trouble,” Barrett says, adding the nearest community is 500 kilometres away.
Above is an image Barrett shot in the mountains, which includes an Inuit girl and her grandfather, who works in the park. The Inukshuk was built for the filming of the tourism ad; Barrett captured the image after the crew was finished filming.
The team had something very specific they were looking to capture. “We were looking for mood,” Barrett says. “We were shooting with very dramatic skies that were deep and moody, and that was the whole intent of going there to shoot.”
Each night, Barrett hunkered down in a tent, where generators powered digital computers to download the images. It was exhausting, with some days not ending until the wee hours of the morning by the time he was finished downloading.
Among the challenges was that of the aerial shots, which required shooting at high speeds with fast lenses in low light. There wasn’t a lot of depth-of-field to work with, but the high quality and fast speed of the lenses made for good images, Barrett says.
With Mother Nature throwing everything at the crew from sunny, mild weather to snow, keeping the camera equipment in top shape was important, he says.
Several years have passed since the trip, but Barrett’s memories haven’t faded and the images could have been taken yesterday. “I wish I could spend a lot more time there, but I feel very privileged I did have the time I did.”
To read Stephanie’s interview with Wayne Barrett and his wife Anne MacKay please pick up the Winter 2015 issue of OPC or subscribe today!