Montana State University Bozeman - Montanan Yearbook (Bozeman, MT)

 - Class of 1983

Page 66 of 496

 

Montana State University Bozeman - Montanan Yearbook (Bozeman, MT) online yearbook collection, 1983 Edition, Page 66 of 496
Page 66 of 496



Montana State University Bozeman - Montanan Yearbook (Bozeman, MT) online yearbook collection, 1983 Edition, Page 65
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Page 66 text:

BACKPACKING PHOTOGRAPHERS The small camp nestled in pine and rock is alert as the sun's early morning rays illuminate the horizon. Twenty-two pairs of eyes wait in anticipation for the shoot to begin. The light becomes more intense and at an individual moment of decision, each person opens fire. The “hunters'' are a group of backpackers and photographers, their quarry the wilderness and their trophy a photograph of a moment in wilderness time. The setting of this unique outdoor laboratory is the Absaroka-Bcartooth Wilderness Area of southern Montana, the largest true alpine area in the continental United States. The group that is stalking and capturing the stark, natural beauty is part of a summer class offered through Montana State University in Bozeman. The class is providing a limited number of students with technical instruction in wilderness photography as well as an opportunity to spend eight days backpacking and camping in a wilderness area, according to Don Pilottc and Paul Jesswein, instructors for the course. The experimental three-week course began the summer of 1982 to provide both amateur and professional photographers the ability to make better photographs as well as understand equipment they have available. “The idea initially came from the fact that a great many photographers arc also interested in outdoor recreation," Jess-wein, acting head of the film and television department at MSU, said. “Many photographers find their photographs don't capture the moment or the mood and we arc trying to help them improve." Many photographers end up trying to explain why they took a photograph instead of letting the photograph explain the setting or the mood. “When the average person goes out to make a photograph, they often have a lot of excuses why a picture did or didn't turn out,“ said Pilottc, head of the MSU photography lab. “If you have to explain a view, you have failed in the exercise. We'd like to have fewer failures." The challenge of photography is capturing a mood and putting the setting as a whole into the picture-the concepts of sight, sound and smell. "You end up with an overall feeling," Pilottc added. "It is a challenge to take that feeling, capture it on film, print it and have someone view it and get that same feeling." Both men agree that the class offers a way to help take the guesswork out of wilderness photography. "Each photographer puts something of himself into his photos," Jesswein said. "Each photographer is trying to make a statement. We are trying to help photographers make that statement as well as see the different images. We want them to come away with pictures that succeed whether it be landscape, geology, botany or whatever that photographer's interests arc." The class is not just instruction. It combines the academic perspective with enjoyment of the outdoors and camaraderie of the participants. The class spends four days on the MSU campus prior to leaving on an eight-day trek through the wilderness area, backpacking and camp- ing. Campfire lectures, daily assignments, team talks as well as the opportunity to meet other people from a broad array of backgrounds in a recreational setting was a key draw for the course last year. But perhaps the key is removing the photographers, whether amateur or professional, from their routine environment. "All it takes in many cases is putting them in a new environment and then watching them get excited," Jesswein said. And the Beartooth is that environment, offering accessible non technical hiking in an area above 10,000 feet. "There arc a lot of broad plateaus, vistas and mountain scenes without spending a lot of time hiking to different areas," Pilottc said. “There are over 900 lakes in the wilderness area. In the matter of a few hours you are above the tree line and

Page 65 text:

had to get his enterprising photos on the first shot so he didn't waste film. He used an 8 by 10 view camera, the type that requires the photographer to focus with a cloth over his head. A fellow named Keith Castineau was known as the campus champion "bull thrower," so Schlechten lined him up with a bull. "I told him to run up and pull his tail around like he was going to throw him, and that picture turned out all right for only taking one shot," he said. The three youths got people to cooperate without them ever catching on to their hanky panky. They asked a couple of trackmen to get tangled in hurdles for a picture, saying they might use it for yearbook publicity purposes. They conned the football team into playing leapfrog with the same story. The annual advisor periodically checked on progress and was satisfied the correct amount of copy had been written and the right number of pictures taken. Each section was depicted with somethings unusual like a photo of railroad tracks for the "Track" section. Some hams announced the beginning of the dramatics part. 'We went to the store and borrowed three hams," Schlechten observed. "We unwrapped two of them, but that was a lot of work, so we took the photo with the third one wrapped, which said, Hansen Packing Company.' It was really funny because Bert Hansen was the head of the dramatics department, so that worked out better than we planned." In the end Rivenes took it upon himself to vent a few of his personal prejudices, according to Schlechten. There was a section called "Nominations for Oblivion," where some of Rivenes' least favorite people appeared. 'That was pretty raw," Schlechten said. "He nominated Ray Van Fleet as the most heartily disliked man on campus, which was not true. He may have been the most heartily disliked by Dave. On the other hand, he had a 'Hall of Fame' section which gave credit to some people who really deserved it, including Thoralf Rivenes, solely selected because he was the editor's cousin." The thing about Van Fleet backfired on Schlechten during World War II when he arrived at a Texas base as a rookie, only to find out there was a Major Van Fleet on the base. “Guess who didn't bother to look up Major Van Fleet," Schlechten said. One of the little jewels the boys thought up was using pictures of Buttcrfingcr candy bars to depict the basketball team, who had had a particularly poor season. The book showed seven pictures of Schubert Dyche who coached all seven sports, although he had some assistants. They made fun of sororities and fratcr-nites, showing a picture under one sorority group of a bunch of lemons, and the fraternity Rivenes belonged to was depicted with the rears of horses in the background. Also for the Greeks, Rivenes wrote two paragraphs of nonsense and repreated them as many times as necessary to fill the allotted space. One fraternity was shown living in an out house. A photo of tombstones was labeled as showing one of the more active sororities. "We only intended it to be funny and we wanted to do something different," Schlechten said. Among those who thought it was pretty funny were the astonished printers at the Great Falls shop where the yearbook was published. Somehow word leaked to the faculty advisor, Louis Ture, who demanded to sec proof sheets. "The university president called Dave in and said, 'You can't do this.' Dave said, What's the matter with it? He pleaded that it was funny and it was good and we hand't left anything out. Ex-editor Parker finally had to make the decision about distribution and he said he thought it should be allowed," Schlechten said. Officials took out seven pictures they thought to be in particularly bad taste. Photos of longjohns hanging on the line before the fraternity section, and panties and bras introducing sororites, had to go. When the annual hit campus, it was a bit of a bombshell. Some were mad, others laughing, others wanted their money back, and the college didn't buy the usual 50 copies that were sent to high schools to convince kids to come to the university. Rivenes didn't get kicked out of school, but he did get kicked out of the SAE fraternity, which turned out okay because he was elected president of the Independents the next year. Schlechten made enough money to buy a 1927 Chrysler for S65 and went to work for his dad in his Bozeman photography studio. And Bill Rider moved to California where he lived until his death a few years ago. The 1933 Montanan was honored by the National Association of College Annuals. The committee, after scanning the annual in popeyed disbelief, pronounced it the most original of the year. Twenty-five years later the MSU homecoming was dedicated to the 1933 yearbook and the three were honored in Bozeman with a Clarence Mjork contest as one highlight. And a few years ago Rivenes and Schlechten received a certificate of appreciation from MSU. —Marcia Krings 71



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