Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chase Maier goes to the Salmonstock Music Festival 2013 - Ninilchik, Alaska.

By: Chase Maier

The Hitch in : Press Pass

When Brandi Carlile, the musical headliner for the Salmonstock Music Festival, took stage Saturday night I was passed out drunk behind the beer garden. It was that kind of show, for me anyway. Sitting here now and writing this it's occurred to me that I know as much about Salmon now as I did before leaving for Salmonstock - which is, I love eating it.

Sitting on a highway on-ramp with with a thumb-out can be a sordid endeavor. It's either a mad or a desperate lot who take to this method of transportation. Personally, I can't recall ever having met a straight-edge hitcher even after they've pressed on from tramping about. They're all mad I tell you, mad for something that most don't want to understand. -- This said, I'll dispense attempting an explanation of my own madness and just tell you that I arrived in Ninilchik on Friday evening around 11:30 on the heels of a couple hitches in. It was Jared, a young Native guy, who picked me up off the Huffman on-ramp in Anchorage and got me into Soldotna (about 3/4 of the way to Ninilchik) around 10:30.  Before getting out along Soldonta's main strip Jared gave me the quick lay of the land which included locations of a couple bars and possible places to pitch a tent in the event I got stuck overnight. Being only a couple blocks from the Maverick bar, a bar he described as 'an old time thinking bar' I headed in that direction. The thought of a couple Whiskeys and a journal entry sounded about right. I trekked off; With thumb-out as I walked I hadn't made it farther than to the end of the block were I was intercepted by Ross, an early-30's Ninilchik native, and his old black beater-truck. And just like that I was off to Ninilchik.

I should probably preface this whole convoluted affair with mentioning that it was just a few days prior that I determined I would I would have to shell out just over a hundred dollars for a Friday - Saturday pass, food and lodging of course not included. Unfortunately, having a bit of a tight fisted budget the cost just wasn't in the cards, so I pitched a long shot to Victoria, the editor of the Anchorage Press, with an email propositioning words and photos for a press pass. -- And so to bring things here full circle it was this arrangement that got me into Salmonstock.

Saturday : Breakfast : Beer & Photos : The Plunge

I awoke Saturday morning rank with anxiety, that nervous yet excited kind with an all too clever mix of a hangover. Even despite my late evening arrival I hadn't wasted much time before getting down to the heart of the matter, mainly live music and Jameson. Sometime just before trailing off to pitch and crash I met Hannah, a self-described 'gypsy-journalist'. We both arrived at the festival stag and wanting to hear more each other we exchanged numbers. After getting my bearings Saturday morning I decided to ring her up to see if she wanted to catch breakfast. She said she did and about twenty minutes later she showed up and we walked up to the small general store about a block away. As we were walking up, I noticed she was wearing different clothes then from the night before. I hadn't changed at all. I had thought about it, but I liked what I had on, plus it wasn't dirty. Once we arrived at the store the morning's anxiety prevented me from grabbing anything of real substance, a move I would later regret. Hannah picked up a tea and a quart of milk to go with the dates and the granola cereal she brought along.

After our quaint meal outside my tent we chatted a bit about our itinerary for the day. Hannah said she was headed inside the festival while I decided to hang back and make a liquor run before bearing down on the campsite for photographs. I had decided, just from my early morning look around, that there were quite a few charismatic characters and scenes worth photographing. Just before taking off Hannah offered up some weed to smoke. Typically, I'd decline in situations when I know my activities immediately following involve dealing with people. Suffice it to say, we smoked till the bowl was toast then parted ways. After my trek up to the liquor store for a re-up of beer and whiskey I pressed upon the campground in search of photographs. That's about when the madness began.

With camera in one hand a beer in the other what I found was a litany of interesting and charismatic characters, some still clinging to a hangover, others well into round two. Seemingly everybody had a story, interesting people usually do. And as I went from one group and one adventure to another I became more and more mad desiring more and more – more interaction with those wild and diverse personalities that kept me on my toes that made me feel alive. I was alive, alive with freedom to do, think and talk like I really needed too – to smile, rage and ask questions that the timid never ask. And all along the way we drank, smoked weed and told stories of other times we were completely mad. It was when I finally stepped foot inside the music festival that the fear came crashing in around me.

Gone was the individual replaced instead with a swarming mass moving in heedless directions. I could no longer see or feel my photographs and I raced off to the beer garden where I drank and talked and laughed like a mad man with anyone who would listen. And as I fueled my madness I knew that any thoughts of doing intellectual work was gone, replaced with this sick fear and desperation to live. I found myself in this mad back and forth, immersing myself in the personality of the individual then flinging myself into the masses. The madness finally overcame me when I found myself in front of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings as their set was at a fever pitch and the crowd was kicking, dancing and jumping into the sky alongside the dust that swarmed around us. It was then I lost myself in the energy and the absolute freedom to be exactly who I wanted to be at that moment in time.

And that was the end of my time.
--

Monday, June 24, 2013

zack.arias

I found  Zack Arias, back in 2011 when I was considering purchasing the new Fuji x100. The plan at the time was to buy the x100 to replace my much heavier Hasselblad for my project 'Hitchhiking America'. It was ultimately his blue-collar review of the x100 camera that turned me on to Zack's work and ultimately Zack Arias' story, a story that not only inspires me .. but a story I can relate too.

Zack Arias' story, which could be aptly titled 'from the bottom up', is a story about realizing your dreams through passion, hard-work, and perseverance .. even when those dreams seem completely out of sight. I can't say enough about positive things about Zack Arias, his work, or his willingness to share information.

The video below is a speech Zack gave in 2012 at Luminance. The talk intertwines the use of social media and the telling of your story, whatever story that may be.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

what's.in.my.bag

the iphone art

It was 2011 when I found myself first starting to explore with the possibility of using my iPhone as a camera. It started with not much more than with the iPhone's native camera and a few free, but not very good, editing apps. Then I found Instagram and everything changed. What Instagram did was to introduce me to the millions of people who were taking, editing and uploading images with not much more then a mobile camera phone. I wanted .. needed to know more. And so over the past two years, I have not only refined my mobile camera shooting technique but also the way and the apps I use to process the mobile images I take. The following is a list and brief description of some of my most commonly used iPhoneography shooting and editing apps. 

the.apps.i.use - via filterstorm pro.

Camera + : Shooting, Editing, Layers - This was my quintessential go-to app of 2011. If the iPhone is the jackknife of cameras [  it can take, process, and post images ] then Camera + is surely the jackknife of photography apps. Some of the nice shooting features of Camera + are it's ability to use exposure control while shooting, it's burst frame rate, and timer [ for those times you want to be in the photograph too] . When it comes to layering, Camera + is known for it's clarity layer which while cool, just got played-out as so many people were over using it. The trick with the clarity layer, which kind of reminds me of hdr, is to use it ever so subtlety, if you use it at all. The editing tools are a bit basic but for everything they've already packed into this well designed app, I can overlook it. Camera + is also well known for it's in camera shooting ability, followed by it's layering effects, not so much just pure editing power. You'd probably be well served to have a decent editing app in conjunction with Camera +, which I cover below.

Hipstamatic : Shooting - Simply said, you either love it or you hate it! For a couple years I found myself looking through the viewfinder of a Hasselblad. And it didn't take long for me to fall in love with seeing and shooting my images in the square format. First off, Hipstamatic is free, but all the extra lens' and films, which change the color/border of the image, are not. Secondly, it shoots in the square format. I think, for me, that explains why all the iPhone images I love the most come from Hipstamatic. But when it comes down to it, I think the beauty of Hipstamatic lies in finding the lens/film combinations that match the mood and tone of the environment you're shooting in.

sunday.funday - via hipstamatic, processed in filterstorm.

Filterstorm : Editing, Layers- If you're editing on your iPhone/iPad there is no real excuse for not having this app in your arsenal. Well, I guess there's one .. that being just being completely overwhelmed when opening it. Seriously though, it's like having Lightroom on your phone. Yes the interface is different but the functionality of processing is essentially the same. And now, to finally settle the age old debate .. Filterstorm as an editing app wins over Snapseed on processing control, power, and ergonomics. Plus Filterstorm also has a $15 Pro version that's pretty much all that and a bag of chips. Snapseed wins on cool factor and that it has some cool layers. Both by the way, both are iPad compatible.

Noir : Layers - Sort of a black and white vignetting layer app. Kinda cool, but totally unnecessary. It does have this lovely ability to give black and white street/art photos and composites that extra cool factor. It also has the ability to hurt images if overused. Definitely not the app you want to buy straight out of the gate. It has its uses but can like anything, be overused.

Snapseed : Editing, Layers - So if Filterstorm went down as my editor, next up would be Snapseed. In all actuality this is an amazing little app that has a smart and relatively easy usability. The Drama and Tilt-Shift layers can be especially cool. You really need a solid editing app and Filterstorm and Snapseed are both really nice options. But if it came down to it .. well fuck it, just spend the extra two bucks and get both the apps.

of.love - via hipstamatic, processed in snapseed.

VSCO Cam : Layers - Oh VSCO, How I love thee! Seriously, recently this has been my hidden little secret that I use in combination with Blender to give my photos the ol' Charles J. Tice workover. Problem is, it's really starting to become a lot of people's hidden little secret. Having flashbacks to 2011 and the outbreak of the Clarity process from Camera +. I'll say no more.

PicFx : Layers - Lots and lots of layers. Quality layers too. And the fact that you have a graduation slider to apply them with makes it a perfect little layer app. I come in this app from time to time for the Vintage Film layer and when I want to play a little with layers.

Blender : Specialty - If you don't know, now you know. Simply put, Blender allows you to take two images and blend them together. So, lets say you're torn between two processes of the same image .. simply throw the images in Blender and slide the slider till you find a happy medium. Great for making artistic composites as well. Blender just has a limitless number of uses. It's been in my top 5 apps for quite a while.

alma.sue - via hipstamatic and vscocam. processed in camera +.

So these are the apps I use. Not all of them, but most of them. I guess I found myself writing this post in response to the many questions I've received lately as to what apps I use for shooting and editing my mobile images. Hopefully this helps! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

All Quiet On the Downtown Front

Authors Note: I had originally intended to present this series as a work of photojournalism. However, once again my iPhone has conspired against me and won't tell me what it did with my audio interview. This said, I submit this series with an editorial rendition
--
Authors Update: After numerous follow-up conversations with this group I have obtained the names of persons involved in this story. Brent Baccala (2nd Image) Margie Thompson (3rd Image) and  John William Martin III.

When ever I see a pitched tent in a town-square I immediately think of the Occupy Wall St. movement. I think about that morning I was riding the 49 bus through Downtown Seattle and up to Capitol Hill and noticed the hundreds of pitched tents in Westlake Center. That was the first day of Occupy Seattle and also my subsequent introduction to social movements of the kind. 

I interviewed the gentleman in the 2nd image with the intent of obtaining an understanding of the visual of the 1st image. Basically, my question was ... what's going on here? He said that this was his plight; That his message was part of Christian revolution aimed at ridding Alaska of capitalism, corporate greed and to actually do so by motivating the electorate of Alaska to elect state officals with secessionist motivations. He spoke intelligently about his convictions, even if his proposed solutions were a bit grandiose. 

I also got a sense that he knew his occupation of town square was on borrowed time. He said the police had been by and that while they were civil they left him official notices that it was essentially, time to ship out. And while I looked around, I couldn't but help feel a bit of romantic nostalgia. The cool wet air of a mid-may snowing. A man motivated and with cause. The couple under the orange tarp. Blankets for warmth of body, a guitar for warmth of soul. The feel of Fall with the promise of Summer. 

Hope. 

Love. 

If just for a day.

Two days later, as seen in the final image, the gentleman was all that remained.

17th May 2013
Brent Bacalla
Margie Thompson
John Bacalla on May 19th 2013