More Goodies from Burning Man

He rises from the desert. This is a great sculpture about becoming conscious and being the awareness inside your mind. You can even crawl in through the ear.

They don’t seem too alarmed.

This one is called “Oid,” a huge microbe 10,000x scale.

Another scene from the [email protected] sculpture

More Burning Man Love

And here’s the next batch of four! 🙂

Trey Ratcliff

There are secrets inside the Mona Lisa, once you know the right way to knock… That’s the new (number 6 I think!) art car from our Camp Walter called the “Mona Lisa,” and it’s a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s tank from his sketchbook. This is the first night it was sighted moving across the desert, as if it was embarking on the northern African campaign during WWII. The only difference is it was full of music and a secret bar. If you knock twice on one of the panels, it secretly opens and you can go inside to get all top-shelf goodies. Next time, I’ll bring some of my favorite wines from New Zealand and add them to the supplies inside. 🙂

The Black Rock City Lighthouse Project. Believe it or not, when you get to the top of these things, everything may actually look straight! 🙂

Trey Ratcliff

Out in the deep playa is something called the “Trash Fence,” which is a multi-mile fence that catches any trash that might blow across the desert. There’s all kinds of unusual art way out there… it’s many miles away, but I often try to get out there to see what unusual stuff I can find… like this! To see how far away I am, you can barely see “The Man” over on the left side of the photo.

Trey Ratcliff

It was time for my annual visit to the Thunderdome, where they have nightly fights and all kinds of crazy action. What a fun night… here’s one of the emcees, directing the fighters in their bungee swings to their starting positions. She was no nonsense and not to be crossed!

Burning Man Best

Pop over to my Burning Man Portfolio on SmugMug to see some of my favorites from the last 7 years!

Next Batch from the Burn!

And here’s another fresh batch of cookies for ya! 🙂

Here’s my bestie Rene Smith up atop Lord Snort! He was spinning quite fast, so it was a fun photo to take. We had early entry this year, so we were able to visit a lot of the art before it was covered with too many people. This is actually the site of a small tragedy, as one guy lost all of his fingers while trying to jump onto the head as it was spinning around.

Fallen god-statues sink into the playa, a little deeper every day & night.

Did you know art cars on the playa get to be friends? It’s true! Our car Kalliope has become rather close with the amazing steampunk octopus, El Pulpo Mechanico. I think El Pulpo keeps Kalliope (and the rest of us!) warm! 🙂 They had many meetings this burn…

Trey Ratcliff

After the Billion Bunny March to protest humanity, I saw this scene… there are literally thousands of scenes like this all over the desert — it really is like a parallel universe.

Love on a Bike

Plotagraph Fun!

I’m working on a serious Plotagraph Pro tutorial. It’ll take me a while to finish, but it’s in the works!

Daily Photo – Love on a Bike

Here’s another Burning Man plotagraph… these things are super fun to convert. I’ve probably done about 100. They don’t always work out, but this one did!

Eden Muse at Burning Man

Organic Matter

I’ve made about 100 Plotagraphs now… I’ve started to experiment more with a “hair in the wind” effect.

Daily Photo – Eden Muse at Burning Man

Here’s the latest Plotagraph of a random morning when I ran into this model, Eden Muse at sunrise. A nice encounter… and a natural poser, like my little girls! 🙂

Burning Heads

New Plotagraph Portfolio

Pop over and check out the newly updated Plotagraph Portfolio. Remember it takes a while to load each “Plotagraph,” but I think it will be worth it once they do! 🙂

Daily Photo – Burning Heads

It’s that time of the season! Remember, this was made out of a single photo! 🙂

Seeing Double In Vegas

New Honey Harvest!

My bees are out there working hard! I’m looking forward to getting out there and doing another major spin pretty soon. That’s always a ton of hard work for a day, but it’s so awesome to end up with over a hundred jars of your very own honey!

Here’re a few pictures from last year’s harvest with the family!


Those Ratcliffs-067 Those Ratcliffs-065 Those Ratcliffs-046 Those Ratcliffs-041 Those Ratcliffs-028 Those Ratcliffs-022

Daily Photo – Seeing Double In Vegas

This is one of those fun double-exposures. I don't do a lot of them…I'm not sure why. I think they often look pretty cool and trippy! The creation process is quite fun in its own right. I used Analog Efex Pro 2 to make this… it's one of the new features that is in the new version.

Seeing Double In Vegas

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.3
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

A Notable Burning Man

This was my sixth Burning Man in a row, and each one is special in its own way. Every one of them leaves you completely physically, spiritually, and emotionally spent. I think if you don’t come out of it with barely any wits holding you together, then you haven’t done it right!

What made me go in the first place?

I started my photography blog at StuckInCustoms.com about eight years ago, and I had more and more people stop by the blog and tell me that I MUST go to Burning Man. I was like, “Why would I want to go there? A bunch of hedonistic self-absorbed hippies getting dirty!” Finally, after enough trustworthy people told me it’s not like that, and, well, you just kinda gotta go to see what it’s like. And they were right! It wasn’t like that at all… and then it made me feel a little silly for being so judgmental.



What I thought was just pure hedonism or self-absorbed people were really people that were simply comfortable with their own sense of self-expression (or in the middle of creating and experimenting with different selves). There’s a big difference! Since I’m an artist myself, I’m really comfy with this idea of not finding yourself but creating yourself. It’s a scary but awesome thing… and this is the safest place in the world to dip your toe into those waters.

It’s a great place for me to experiment with my camera too. I get weird ideas and try different styles. There are so many amazing things to see every year, and you never know what you’ll see next! There are basically 50,000 people there in amazing costumes all week long, and 99.9% of them are cool with their photo being taken. The only ones that say no are people like school teachers and stuff that want to stay super-off-the-grid, which is cool too. Anyway, I could talk about it forever…

Favorite Photos and Burning Man Blog?

First, I’ll share some photos from this year’s burn in 2015, then I’ll share some favorites from previous burns. 🙂 I’ve thought about starting up a “Burning Man only” blog, actually… let me know if you’d like to see one!
from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here’s one of my favorite places from Burning Man 2015 called the Totem of Confessions. Susan Sarandon helped with this art project and it held Timothy Leary’s ashes inside. After it burned, there was a little ceremony where she drank the ashes! Stuff like this happens all the time out in the playa.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Another amazing art piece here. Okay I’m gonna stop saying that. This is R-Evolution by the great Marco Cochrane who always delivers! One of the most amazing things about this giant statue is that when you get up close, you can see that she’s slowly breathing… her chest moves in and out in the smallest way.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

This year had crazy sandstorms. It was almost two days straight and it really sucked the life out of me and my camera. Of course I had to go out and shoot in the sandstorm! Here, you can see The Man on the left and in the middle is a huge articulating monkey-thing with ropes that anyone can pull to make it have a ghastly dance.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Sometimes the sandstorms get so bad you can’t even see your front bike tire. Here, the storm let up just enough so I could launch my DJI Phantom up to get a shot of the man from above.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

On Saturday night, the man burns, and all 50,000+ people come out for big show. At one point, these HUGE gas bombs blow up (you can see them up high) and the force of the blasts shakes all our skeletons.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here’s another aerial quad shot of the line to get in… this is the point when you’re wondering if it’s really worth it… and then, once you’re there, you promise yourself you’ll come again next year no matter what.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

There’s usually about 50 people on stilts around the playa. There’s even a special place called the Stilt Bar that’s super tall and you can only drink there if you have on stilts. Everything is free once you get into Burning Man, btw. It’s a wonderful gift-based week of happiness!

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

One of countless pieces out in the desert… they look different in the day, night, and in the storms… it’s worth visiting all of them multiple times to see how the light changes.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Every day features 500+ events, all wonderfully random and inclusive. In this one, about 3,000 people dressed up as bunnies and did a march to protest humanity. They are very upset because humans are much too tall and don’t hop enough.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Ahhh, off in the distance there on the right, you can see one of my favorite vehicles… I was riding through another storm, and it cleared suddenly and I saw this scene.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

And here it is up close. El Pulpo Mechanico. It’s a huge vehicle in the form of a steampunk octopus that shoots fire from it’s eight excitable arms! Awesome.

This year, they dramatically reduced the number of drones you could fly. I think they only allowed 30 licenses or something. I can’t figure out if that is a good or bad thing… I love getting up there and taking photos in new and interesting ways. Well, I hope they ease up the restrictions a little… I felt very lucky to get one!

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

On the final night, the temple burns and all the art car vehicles light up and surround the temple.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

And here is the beautiful temple from this year. People walk inside and leave notes on the walls, add pictures of loved ones who are sick or dying, write down stuff they want to forget or remember, and all sorts of meditations. It’s hard to believe they burn the whole thing down, but it’s a very peaceful time as opposed to the Bacchanalia of the Man burning.

Some of my favorite photos from previous Burning Mans!

Here’s “Bliss” another amazing statue from Marco Cochrane. One of the most amazing things is there are no “wires” or anything to hold it up. It’s massive and never blows down in the storms.

Coming Soon...

Here’s one of the temples from a previous year in the background. Every year they look different. In the foreground is Eden Muse, who I happened to find randomly walking around the temple one morning.

There in the gypsy’s creation.  It pulsed around us like a thick red vein; a timeless conduit that promised to hold a time machine between worlds.  And, I’d have it no other way, as every time machine should come appointed with the comforts of the sultans as they slowly wind throughout the edges of the Orient.  The colored lights cast new tones and shadows upon the rich, supple textures.  Small windows around the edges gave outward portal-glances to worlds and times that whizzed by, each one inviting a new pause to the story.  The light, I noticed, did something unexpected as it tumbled and flowed and rolled across the skin, drifting over small sinuous shapes as the crimson rays slid up and over the flowing curves of a dune in the middle of a faraway desert.  The lines would only stay a moment before the wind blew them into a new form.  The light tore time away from the shapes, and I could not figure out what was happening until much later in the story.

This is one of my favorite smaller vehicles — a little gypsy train. You can get on any art car any time… it rolls around the playa randomly and then you can get off, stumble around, then get on another art car and see where you go next!

Another random scene… I was riding my bike and happened to catch her shadow on the umbrella. I forgot her name but I asked her what she did in real life. She said she ran an online dating website! I was like okay whoa!

Embrace 2014

This is a favorite sculpture from last year. It’s called Embrace. It cost over $250,000 to build and stood for four days before it was burned (on purpose). Some people think this is crazy… that’s okay. I think it’s all part of the art, in that it shows how ephemeral everything is. There on the right are two of the people that made it, embracing.

Another one of Black Rock City’s 50,000 inhabitants, just hanging out in the deep playa.

Most everyone on the playa has bikes to get from place to place. If you look at the ground, you’ll see it’s like a hard-packed white powder, so it’s not really like beach sand. This white color also gives everything a nice glow from the bottom… we photographers like to call it the perfect reflector, because it just lights up people in unusual and surprising ways.

Japanese Tea in a Sandstorm

A Japanese tea ceremony in a sandstorm… I came upon this totally randomly. After I took the photo, I was invited to sit down and partake. It was beautiful. There was a five-minute ceremony, and he even put some gold leaf into my tea. Also, I’m pretty sure the tea had some vodka in it.

And, to bring this photo party to a close, here’s what Burning Man looks like from above. I took this from a small plane when a friend gave me a ride. About this time, I looked up above the window and saw the sign, “This plane is not approved by the FAA. It was built by a hobbiest.” I got a little nervous at that stage and thought this might be my last photo ever!

Stumbling around Vegas

Old-School Double Exposure

I saw a bunch of old-school double exposures recently. You know, people used to do this kind of stuff on film all the time… it was so creative and smart. I don’t have a mind that can think like that… it takes a different kind of brain to come up with those sorts of ideas I think!

Daily Photo – Stumbling around Vegas

I can't be the only one that has stumbled around Vegas and seen this! Actually I was totally sober when I took this, but I decided to mix it up a little with Analog Efex Pro 2. It has a cool double-exposure filter that does this kind of stuff to your photo. I recommend you get the demo and try it out!

Stumbling around Vegas

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture14
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

In Dust We Trust

Landscape Video Tutorial Review

Here’s an amazing review over on PhotoTraces by Viktor Elizarov. He really goes in depth and gets all kinds of screenshots and stuff – wow! Thanks Viktor! 🙂

Daily Photo – In Dust We Trust

Here's a redonk photo of me after emerging from a sandstorm at Burning Man this year! My good friend and camp mate Eric Cheng took this one! This year was the worst one ever for sandstorms. I think I must have been caught in at least four of them during the week. I did not really have the right protection, and I ended up with quite a bad cough for the next several weeks. In fact, it lasted all the way until I went to Africa about a month later… Now it's finally out of my system! 🙂

In Dust We Trust

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Focal Length
  • Flash
  • Exposure Program
  • Exposure Bias

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!