Stunning sunset photo of hot tea tossed at minus 40 disliked by photographer

CBC News called the tundra tea toss Internet gold, but the photographer whose sunset photo went viral thought a different one he took was better.

CBC News called the tundra tea toss Internet gold, but the photographer whose sunset photo went viral thought a different one he took was better. Photo: Michael H. Davies

CBC News called the tundra tea toss Internet gold, but the photographer whose stunning sunset photo went viral on Facebook didn't like the image and thought a different one he'd taken was better.

But what's not to like about a setting sun framed perfectly inside hot tea freezing as soon as it was tossed at minus 40 degrees?

Photographer Michael H. Davies, who lives with his family in the Hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, 12 miles south of the Artic Circle, captured the photo of friend Markus Siivola tossing a thermos of hot tea into the freezing air with amazing results.

Davies told CBC News that he had seen a similar photo elsewhere and thought he could top it. So he and Siivola snowmobiled into the mountains 45 minutes outside of town with five or six thermoses.

“In each one we threw in a tea bag because we thought, if this doesn’t work, at least we can have a tea, because, as everybody knows, in Nunavut we go to great lengths to have tea somewhere strange, whether it’s in front of an iceberg, or on top of a mountain or in the middle of the tundra,” Davies explained to CBC News.

So, no, there was nothing special about his use of tea. But the photo shoot was definitely special and planned to perfection.

“I went through the science of it,” he told CBC News. “I figured, ‘OK, I need 40 below, I need calm winds, I need the sunset in the background so it lights up my fog when I film it.”

Conditions were perfect, and so was the second shot — the money shot — at least to everyone but Davies.

“I didn't like the photo,” Davies told CBC News. “My first response, I came back and showed my wife and said what do you think? We were going through the photos I took, because we tried it a couple of times, and I picked a completely different one.”

His wife told him “this one’s better” and suggested putting it on Facebook. He shared it with friends, and they instantly began sharing it with their friends. Then Davies made the photo public and it took off with inquiries coming in from around the world.

As for his other photos, you can see them on Davies' Flickr page. CBC News interviewed Davies and showed several of his other stunning photographs:

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