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Featured Artist Interview

Artist Emilee Luke in Iceland

Emilee Luke

What is the most inspiring thing about photographing the Bear Paw Mountains?

There are many things that inspire me in the Bear Paw Mountains, but the main inspiration is getting to photograph a place that’s not captured or visited as frequently compared to so many other mountainous areas in Montana. The Bear Paws are truly a hidden gem, much like Havre, and I feel quite lucky to have frequent experiences in those mountains that are essential to my mental well-being. The Bear Paws are magical.

We noticed some shots were taken using a drone. Can you tell us about your strategies for capturing the Bear Paw Mountains using a drone?

Drone flying is quite fun, but I do have to strategize how I approach my image-taking, usually based on 3 specific factors: 1) how many people or wildlife I can see in the area – I typically won’t fly it if I know it might disturb either of those groups; 2) weather of course is important – rain or snow is typically a no-go, and strong winds, which we have plenty of, can be a challenging force, but many times fighting the wind is worth it for the shot; 3) since I photograph in the Bear Paws so frequently, I try my absolute hardest to photograph them differently than before – some folks assume visiting the same place often won’t allow for a new perspective, whether through imagery or not, but new perspective can always be found, even if it takes time to find.

We notice that you have daytime and nighttime photos (with amazing stars!). Can you tell us about your strategies for taking photos at night vs. during the daylight hours?

Day and night photos certainly come with their own unique approaches, so for daytime, I generally don’t have to focus too much on my camera settings (ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, etc.) and often (guiltily) use automatic mode for most of my daylight photos. Unless I have a very specific image I want to capture (i.e. a long exposure of a waterfall, sharp focus on one thing, using filters), I take an absurd amount of photos (digitally of course, film limits me) in the daytime since I am not as concerned about my manual settings. For night, totally different ballpark. Since I do a lot of star photography, I have to do that in the darkest hours of the night, which means my camera will have trouble auto focusing on anything, even if I use a flashlight on a foreground object. So, I often manually focus my lens which literally turns into a ‘shot in the dark’ as I take multiple shots before I get one that’s properly focused. Very much a guessing game, especially with star photos – and each exposure is upwards of 30 seconds, so night photography requires a lot of patience 😊 


Artist Biography


Raised primarily in Alaska and Colorado, and now living in the beautiful state of Montana, Emilee Rose Luke works as a Social Media & Communications Director/Adjunct Professor at MSU-Northern, where she practices her photography, graphic design, 3D printing and web design abilities. Emilee received her MFA in Creative Technologies & Practices from the University of South Alabama in 2020 and BA in Communications & Information Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2016. While her photography and videography work are heavily landscape focused, conceptually her work is centered around existentialism, particularly focusing on existence, time, questioning, isolation, and finitude. 

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