Photographers Spotlight : Mike Maas
Tell me about you!
I am a Vagabond with a Camera. I retired from the work that paid the bills in the fall of 2017. Since I retired, I travel around (wander about) for at least 6 months a year, while photographing the landscapes that I visit. I like to visit places that I have never been to before, and visit places I have been to before, but still want to explore more.
Before retirement I worked and traveled around much of the western United States, and a few locations internationally. Since then, I have visited most of the remainder of the US and some more international travel. I am always up for suggestions as to where to go and what to see.
A few years ago, I was photographing in a southeast Australia national park. The area I was photographing had an easy footpath with other people hiking. When it began to rain, I took shelter in a small lean-to with a bench. A man joined me in the lean-to. We talked and he noted that he had been watching me as I was photographing and admired my camera. While we were talking, I gave him one of my business cards. I recommended that visit my website to see some of my images. A few days later, he posted a message on my website. He said that he like my work but had a question for me. He admired my lifestyle of wandering about looking for new places to visit and asked me if I could teach him how to become a vagabond. I told him being a vagabond is something that is in your soul, it can’t be taught or learned.
How did you discover your love for photography?
I first got interested in photography from the slides that my uncle would show us when we would visit as kids. When I was in junior high school someone gave us a small hobby dark room kit. To learn how to use it I took a darkroom arts & crafts class. My little brother & I added a hobby enlarger to our darkroom as a Christmas present. We mostly used toy cameras using 127 film. I don’t remember photographing anything in particular.
After I got out on my own, I bought a used 35mm camera. I still didn’t photograph anything in particular. Curiosity got me reading photography books. Edward Weston’s images opened my eyes to the art of photography. When I saw Ansel Adams’ ‘Yosemite and the Range of Light’ I was hooked. I bought a 4×5 camera and there has been no looking back.
Who are some of your favorite photographers (past or present)?
There are so many. From the past, for opening my eyes to the possibilities, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. Present day, because I like the way the see the world, Charles Cramer and Joe Cornish.
You self identify as a “Vagabond with a Camera.” What do you feel attracts you to being a wanderer?
From an early age I have always enjoyed traveling and seeing new places. As a child every summer our family would go on vacation for 3 to 4 weeks to different locations. Those travels were the best time of the year. As an adult I have continued to love traveling and seeing new locations. To quote the Dalai Lama, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. Whether it be a new neighborhood in your hometown or an adventure halfway around the world, traveling to new places is a wonderful way to gain compassion for others.” For me I say why just once a year. Also, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, “Not all those who wander are lost”.
Can you describe a photographically challenging situation that you were confronted with that you were able to resolve on the fly?
I don’t know about photographically challenging situation. Photographing mainly landscapes my biggest challenge is choosing a camera location where I can setup my tripod and not put myself in danger of bodily harm. I have had a few scrapes and bruises, but I haven’t lost any body parts (not the same for camera parts) or ended up in the hospital.
In your experience shooting with Phase One, and currently the IQ4 150MP, what makes these systems worth the investment?
As the folks in Denmark say “Image Quality”.
Your imagery, whether it be landscape, abstraction, or macro photography, almost exclusively depicts nature. How do you continue to find such variety within this subject?
By traveling about and going to places I have never been to before, I am able to find new views that I haven’t seen before. When I go to locations that I have been to before I still look for new views.
What is your favorite underrated photographic tool? Why?
A cable release. The first tool I get whenever I get a new camera is a cable release for it. A lot of camera users, even with their cameras on tripods, think that will stop all camera shake, and use the shutter release on the camera. I don’t want to possibly have any shake, even very little, from touching the camera when releasing the shutter. Also, with a cable release I can release the shutter exactly when I want, without the delay of the self-timer.
If you were behind your camera and could choose anything you wanted to be in your viewfinder, where would you be and what would you be looking at?
As for as the location, I haven’t been there yet, and I won’t know what I would be looking at until I get there.
Why did you select Capture Integration as your equipment partner?
I purchased my first Phase One camera from Brand X. The sales people were not very helpful, and seemed as if they didn’t want to deal with the Phase One customers. I looked around for another Phase One dealer and found Capture Integration. When I first talked with Dave, I found him very helpful, informative, and knowledgeable. Everyone that I have dealt with at Capture Integration have been very friendly and helpful.