The Light Sculptures in The Breakers

These light sculptures are incredible to capture. I normally don’t like taking photos of “art”, and I rarely carry my camera around museums any more… I just feel strange taking a photo of something that is already a piece of art. I was explaining this to my mom a few weeks ago, and then she mentioned these shots from Palm Beach, which was a good example of where I go against my own rules. I think the asterisk here is that some pieces of art can be (and should be) captured to help the viewer evoke the same response that I did while I was there. I suppose you can say anything is art… lights, sculpture, architecture, and the like… And I shoot all of those things. Okay this is going too deep down a thread now, so I’ll just close it off by saying I don’t like taking photos of paintings on walls, but this kinda stuff seems fun and cool to me.

This first photo is a new one of this crazy-bizarre wall light. I don’t know what your Rorschach reaction to it might be… The other two photos are from the same restaurant there in The Breakers in Palm Beach. I didn’t eat in this restaurant… the first night I tried this other Italian restaurant that is part of the hotel called Mangia that had these bright yellow heirloom tomatoes with their caprese salad… they were the best tomatoes I had ever eaten… I had to go back the next night again since I couldn’t stand not tasting them again!

Edit: I found out these incredible sculptures are from an Israeli artist named Ayala Serfaty.

The Rorschach Light (by Stuck in Customs)

The Glowing Alien infantsacs (by Stuck in Customs)

Shrooms in the Lounge (by Stuck in Customs)

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites

Away from the main temples of Angkor, this temple rests about two hours from Siem Reap through thick jungles and a sketchy road. As I made my way through the stone halls and entrance ways, I emerged onto this scene of a bunch of young Buddhists preparing for the next phase of their rites.

I think I ended up talking to almost a dozen different monks in and around Angkor. It was very interesting to hear their version of what happened with the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and that whole mess. They killed over 1 million Cambodians after the US pulled out of Vietnam, eliminating anyone with “involvement in free-market activities”. I was a little afraid to tell anyone there that I sometimes speak at Libertarian conferences, in case there were a few rogue Khmer Rouge agents roaming the jungles!

Some of the stories are a bit sketchy to be reprinted in this format, so if we ever meet for coffee some day, I’ll be glad to tell you… but there is some messed up stuff around there.

On a lighter note, I’m headed to Vegas next week for just a day and a half. I have a little speaking engagement, but I’ll be spending every spare waking moment living with my right brain and seeing what bits are appropriate to capture for you all! :)

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites (by Stuck in Customs)

Reaping the Storm

See that tiny storm on the left? See those tipis there on the right? That’s where I slept all night through the storm!

So, a word of warning… you may not want to travel with me. I come up with good ideas like sleeping in a tipi in the middle of the stormy season in Montana like this. There are a lot more good ideas where that one came from. At least I can promise it will always be an adventure… and you won’t get much sleep!

By the way, this is not a traditional HDR photo… I used LucisArt 6.0… working on a new tutorial for it!

Reaping the Storm (by Stuck in Customs)

After the cellos went silent

Once the concert was over, I roamed around the streets of Lyon deep into the night. It helps that I don’t sleep much and I had a good rotation on the iPod.

I love how these foreign cities sometimes illuminate their trees with unexpected lights. If I were on a city council somewhere, I’d light up everything in the city strange colors at night. I don’t know what else the city council does… besides bickering about nonsense… I wish they would focus on making things prettier at night. Please let me know if you see anyone running on that platform and the blog will endorse them!

After the cellos went silent (by Stuck in Customs)

The pool that taunted me in Jogjakarta

Can you believe that I looked at that pool every day and I never got in? It was there day after day… alluring and perfect… looking warm and fun… I would walk around it, admire it, take photos of it, pass it on the way to the spa… I did just about everything to that pool but get in. I thought about it a lot, for whatever that’s worth (a lot, actually, I have an active imagination). But next time I get there, I’m goin’ in… I think about what those little tiles will feel like slippin’ around under my toes… It’s gonna be great!

The pool that taunted me in Jogjakarta (by Stuck in Customs)

This is an Avout

I found her after taking a few wayward turns in some confusing corridors in the main temple of Angkor Wat. She was a Buddhist bolt, but lighting incense at the foot of a statue of Shiva, the Hindu god. It turns out that she, and others like her, are from an interesting sect that bridges two of the big religions. I always enjoy talking to people about this sort of thing. It doesn’t really bother me one way or another, but I just find all the thought processes to be interesting.

She’s one of the billions of people alive (and possibly re-alive) that draws into the splinters of the original Vedic Brahminism. She didn’t speak a lot of English, so there were a few pieces missing in our conversation, but I filled them in later after talking to many other monks and worshipers throughout the complex.

This is an Avout (by Stuck in Customs)

The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas

I left Brenham early on Sunday morning after crashing in a tiny roadside motel. The motel was pretty sketchy, but sometimes I like that style of drive-up-to-the-door, ditch my camera stuff in the room, crash for 6 hours, then leave in haste to catch the sunrise. Sunday morning turned out to be rainy and freezing… pretty horrible for a lot of outside photography. So I ate in downtown, read a few chapters of Ananthem, drank a lot of coffee, chatted with a waitress who was an aspiring photography student and gave her some golden nuggets of truth, then drove on to Houston.

Several miles outside of Brenham, I saw this strange collection of houses and stores that were all brightly colored but recently abandoned. It was still raining, so I put it on my list to hit on the way back later in the evening. Luckily, the weather was dark and moody when I returned. I spent about an hour walking around this old abandoned place, shooting a bunch of cool and creepy things. I have no idea why everything was boarded up and empty… there might have been some squatters in one distant house, but I was kind of freaked out by some strange music coming out through some of the boarded-up windows, so I decided it was time to leave…

I’ll post more shots of this place later… it was very strange… reminded me a little of a mid-80′s Texas version of my visit to Pripyat (the little town right by Chernobyl that was also abandoned).

The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas (by Stuck in Customs)

The Dark Temple Corridor in Morning Mist at 4 AM

I arrived at the temple of Borobudur a little after 4 AM. I had a tiny disposable flashlight, and, other than my driver idling about a mile away, I was the only person here. In fact, it was my second day in a row to do this, since I had so much fun the first. I was there with my friend Will, and he decided to sleep in the second day… but I had a few shots in mind I wanted to grab before the sun came up.

There were these strange argon lights around the temple to light up areas of excavation. They cast a gloomy and surreal light on the Buddhist reliefs that make concentric circles up to the top. I was able to get about 45 minutes of nice darkness with unexpected light until the sun started to appear over the nearby volcanoes and jungle mist.

The Dark Temple Corridor in Morning Mist at 4 AM (by Stuck in Customs)

Waiting for the Parade

After spending a while watching burned out hippies cavalcade on Congress in various states of undress during First Night a few evenings ago, I was reminded of this photo at Disneyworld.  So, I went back to process it and see if it was as idyllic as I remembered.   This is Main Street with the assembled crowds, as everyone awaits the big fireworks show and Disney parade.

Waiting for the Parade

The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year

I look forward to many more adventures with you this year and in coming years. We have a lot of things to do, don’t we? Mais oui!

Change and tumult and highs and lows will come and go with the winds, but I will always be here, ready to take you on fun new adventures with unexpected discoveries. This year has had a lot of unexpected things happen in all corners of life, and I don’t expect the next to be any different. In the end, I’ll do my best to keep pushing forward and exploring the world and the world of ideas with you.

If life gets kind of confusing or you get down, come visit to take your mind where it would rather be anyway. At best, it will be a deep experience, and at worst, it will be a pleasant distraction. I’ll take the worst if that’s the best I can get!

For the last photo of the year, I hope I have selected a great one to set the tone for the next year. I’ve been in artful concert with this one for what seems like ages. This happenstance scene is from a remote Hindu temple in the Indonesian jungle. It was a horribly stormy day and I could have easily found myself quite miserable… but I had seen this before, seen these patterns, and I knew I’d have the chance to see the sun again. Just for a few moments, the sun appeared there, and it was timeless. I didn’t think about the future, I just sat there, unconsciously moving around the temple and capturing the moment forever.

Okay, so… moving into left-brain mode now (getting practical logistical things done…), there have been a number of changes to the site!

1) I updated my HDR Tutorial ! It has become almost completely revamped… I have a few minor things to fix – let me know if you see any typos, because, as you know, I am horrible at catching my own… (anyone want to be my editor out there?)

2) A new Header Photo and CSS Background! Hit Refresh on your browser in case you don’t see it

3) A new “Reviews” section. You can see that over on the right.

4) A new “Popular Articles” section to catch some of the cool stuff that is now buried deep in the blog

5) Minor fixes: Comment font sizes, Comment entry box streamlining, Safari problem where the fonts were huge for single posts…

6) Enabled comments on “Pages” – things like the “About Me” and “Camera Equipment” pages did not allow comments before

The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year

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