Saturday, May 29, 2010

Final project

The ending of my photojournalism class marked the close of an intense challenge for me. I didn't know what to expect going in but at the least hoped to keep up and learn a few things. These things were acheived and I exceeded the expectations I laid out for myself. I will be posting more of my work from the semester but I'll start with my final project which I consider my best work.

The subject for my project was Missoula glass blower Casey Bergschutz. I covered the entire glass blowing process and also Bergschultz's life as a father of two adorable boys. My shoots went well and the toughest task was narrowing down over 500 images to the final 8-9 selections. I'm happy with the results and below are my favorites.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Idaho and Bare Naked Ladies

I set out last Tuesday (5/18) for a day trip to Clark Fork, Idaho with Theresa as my guide. We went to Clark Fork so Theresa could put plants on her parent’s graves and show me around the town she grew up in.

The weather for our trip was cloudy with on and off rain but we weren't going to let that damper the day. We travelled along Highway 200 and went through Plains and Thompson Falls before leaving Montana. Our stomachs were rumbling as we came into Plains and stopped at a great roadside stand. The lunch fare consisted of buffalo burgers and tacos with a chaser of huckleberry lemonade.

We made it into Clark Fork after three plus hours on the road and I received the grand tour. Theresa showed me the house she grew up in, her high school, where certain friends & relatives had lived and of course the local hang outs. It was a nice little town nestled in the Idaho Panhandle and I was very glad to have seen it.

Next on our agenda was a trip to the local cemetery where Theresa cleaned and planted her family's gravesites. It was weird that while we were at the cemetery a wild tom was calling for his mate. He was very intent on noisily reminding us of his presence. Theresa tried to get a picture of the rowdy pair but they were moving a bit too fast.

Before hitting the road back to Montana, we made a brief stop at Lake Pend Oreille. Lake Pend Oreille is massive at an area of 148 square miles and maybe on our next trip we can explore it a bit more. The highlight for me was watching a family of ducks out for a swim on the lake.

I had the bright idea of stopping outside of Clark Fork to dine at the Amber Bear Inn. The Inn was very well advertised but getting there was another thing. We saw the main sign for it along the highway and turned off. We went a short distance and made another turn. I started to worry when after several turns we hit gravel. At this point we were committed and decided to forge on. Well after what seemed like an eternity we came upon a large house in a mountain meadow.

Theresa went up to the door and proceeded to ring the bell. After a few minutes the proprietor finally emerged. She informed Theresa that they had just returned from a grocery run and she supposed she could cook us something. Well geez we wouldn’t want to inconvenience your fine establishment for a meal! She went on to explain they were open mostly for breakfast and lunch but dinner was more of a summer thing. Well don't ya think it would be good to put that on your billboard? She volunteered her husband to carry my very heavy power chair up the steps but we politely declined. Theresa told the gal she was worried about us finding our way back to the highway. Our hostess said we shouldn't have any problem and if we end up in the Diggers driveway we know we've gone too far. That would be fine except who the heck are the Diggers?

We finally made it to the highway and began our long trip home. Dinner had to wait and we ended up eating at the O.K. Cafe in St. Regis. The O.K. Café is good place to stop if you find yourself on I-90 in western Montana. We finally rolled into Missoula about 10:30 that night but it the trip was awesome. I surely won't forget about our trip to the Amber Bear Inn!

I've been a Bare Naked Ladies AKA BNL fan since my Dewey Apts. days back in Jamestown. Their blend of sophisticated pop lyrics and quirky humor drew me to the band. When Theresa said she had tickets I was so excited but a bit bummed because Steven Page was no longer fronting the band.

The concert was fabulous and BNL didn't miss a beat with Ed Robertson at the helm. They had an awesome light show and it was fun to see them engage with the audience. I thought they sounded quite good and they played many of my favorites including: The Old Apartment, Falling For The First Time, Pinch Me, You Run Away, Too Little Too Late, and It's All Been Done.

It was a memorable evening and I'd definitely go see them again if given the chance. Check out BNL if they come to your neck of the woods.

I promised some pictures on my final photojournalism project but I'll be back Thursday with that.


BNL Photo Credit:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

History in the making

Thursday I witnessed the beginning of a new chapter at the University of Montana as the Payne Family Native American Center was dedicated. This beautiful facility will house the Native American Studies (NAS) program and is the first building of it's kind in the nation.

The new Native American Center has a few features that stood out to me. They include:

+The Bonnie HeavyRunner gathering space, a stunning atrium that is the centerpiece of the building.

+Native designs from each of Montana's tribes are inscribed throughout the flooring of the building.

+The Payne Center is the first completely green (LEED certified) building on the UM campus.

+The landscaping uses a combination of native grasses, plants, and flowers that require little water.

+Outside the center are the flags of each Montana tribe and a storytelling area where the oral traditions of the first Montanans can flourish.

I have no native blood in me but seeing the faces of those in attendance at the dedication filled me with hope for the future. This country to put it bluntly has screwed over it's indigenous peoples and treated them like second class citizens for centuries. These wrongs sadly can't be undone but things like the Payne Center can start giving appreciation and respect back to our native brothers and sisters.

As a student journalist, I want to have a basic understanding of the issues related to Montana's first peoples. I'll get a start on that this fall when I take my first Native American Studies (NAS) course. The course will deal with issues Montana Indians have dealt with since the reservation era began. I'm expecting this to be a rigorous class that will benefit me greatly in the future. If this class turns out to be as interesting as I think, there may be more NAS classes in my future.

I failed to mention this but at the Payne Center dedication a very famous Montanan was in attendance. Joe Medicine Crow was born in Lodge Grass Montana and his deeds in WWII earned him the distinction of being the last Plains Indian War Chief. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom (highest civilian honor) by President Obama in 2009. Below is on clip on Joe Medicine Crow from the Ken Burns documentary The War.

I’ll have a post Wednesday on my final photojournalism project and a summary of the semester gone by.