Sunday, December 20, 2015

Breathtaking Aerial Footage of Alaskan Sockeye Run (Bonus Q & A with film-maker)

To see Jason Ching's breath-taking aerial footage, follow the link below to the Wide Open Spaces website. Below this link is also an interview with the film-maker about his project...

Jason Ching works year round for a research group called the Alaska Salmon Program which is based out of the University of Washington in Seattle. His research program spends each summer (June to September) at several field stations located in and around sockeye salmon spawning grounds in Southwest Alaska. While in Alaska, he collects a variety of data in the field related to salmon behavior and ecology. Ching has been involved with the program since 2007. The program helped him develop a respect and understanding for the natural world and a passion for documenting the environment.

Q: What inspired you to do this filming project?

A: For as long as I can remember I have always had a strong desire to be involved with nature and the outdoors. In more recent years photography and filmmaking has allowed me to combine my passion with nature and the visual arts.  It has been a great pleasure of mine to communicate and hopefully inspire others to share an appreciation for nature and the environment. 

I work as a research scientist, but having wild Alaska in my backyard each summer has been the perfect situation for me to document the natural world, and progress as a nature photographer and filmmaker. To me being in Alaska each summer is another opportunity to capture what nature has to offer in order to share it with others. I have been doing it ever since I started coming up in 2007. It is such an amazing opportunity to work and play in such an intact, diverse and productive ecosystem.

Q: How many hours in the field do you think you have invested in this

A: What is interesting about this project is that it is tied into a research based pilot study. The study is looking into whether or not using UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) are an effective method in enumerating sockeye salmon populations on spawning grounds. This meant that I was able to largely fly my UAS for work, allowing me to gather around 12 hours of footage for this video. In addition to those 12 hours of flight time there was probably another 12 hours of stream and tundra hiking involved to get to and from these spawning locations. 

Q: Does anyone help fund your projects?

A: My video and photography projects are completely funded independently. It keeps me pretty poor, but I love being behind a camera while in nature. Engaging people with the natural world through my visuals is very rewarding to me.

Q: What plans do you have for future film projects?

A: Other than seeing what Alaska brings to the table next summer, I don't have any solid film projects on the horizon. As more of an amateur hobbyist, I would certainly like to get more involved in environmental filmmaking and photography and find a good balance between my interest and experience in the natural world, and taking it's picture.

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