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Page 66 text:
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
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