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! 🙂

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!

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

Burning Man and the Dust

My Full Burning Man Gallery

Is slowly getting updated with this year’s photos integrated into the flow in the Burning Man Portfolio on SmugMug. P.S. Wondering what SmugMug is? Check out the SmugMug Review here on the page!

Burning Man 2014 was Incredible!

Wow what a great year! This is year number five for me, and I feel like I’m starting to merge more and more of Burning Man into my real life. Thanks again to everyone I met and spent time with. It was so incredible and I can hardly wait for next year! I’m adding some of the new photos from this year in today’s post below.

Burning Man and using Cameras in the Dust

I’m gonna make this short and sweet. I get this question A LOT whenever I post photos, so I’m just gonna boil it down.

My Burning Man Recommendations

  • I recommend taking an older camera that you don’t mind breaking. Let’s face it, you rarely use your old cameras anyway, right? You can put them into an amazing environment and not really worry about them!
  • For daytime shots, a smaller compact camera is quite alright. You might be surprised to know how many of the shots in my Burning Man Portfolio (linked above) were taken with an Olympus Pen camera. Also, compact cameras do great in the dust — never had a problem!
  • If you do take your DSLR or interchangeable lens-system, try not to change lenses outside for the love of god. There’s always a little dust flying around… Charm your way into someone’s RV to change lenses if you must!
  • I recommend putting on a good general purpose lens (24-70mm) and then put a ziplock around the whole thing. Tape it on.
  • You can also put some tape around where the lens attaches to the body if you wish.
  • I have heard of photographers who have their cameras completely broken at Burning Man, but I don’t personally know any. I think the Burning Man website does a good job of REALLY SCARING you into over-protecting your camera. That is fine, better safe than sorry, I suppose, but I don’t do 10% of what it recommends. Mostly, it really seems to scare people because my posts are filled with comments like, “OMG I Can’t Believe You Took Your Camera Out at Burning Man!”
  • #1 Recommendation: Don’t worry so much! You may get some dust in there, but just get it cleaned! You’re probably spending over $1,000 to get to Burning Man, so just be cool with paying to get your camera cleaned at the end!

My Personal Burning Man Camera Experience

  • In the first four years of Burning Man, I never lost a camera. I never used any protection. I was a bit Olympus-PEN camera centric in the daytime and DSLR at night. I never even used a baggie or tape or anything… But I would often put my camera back in my camera bag during big sandstorms.
  • In 2013 I used almost all Sony NEX cameras and never had any problems with the sand or heat or anything.
  • This year 2014, I took my Sony A7r and my Sony A7s. This year was CRAZY with sandstorms. I basically shot with the Sony A7r the whole week with no problems until the end on the final day. This time, I did NOT put my camera away in the sandstorms and decided to shoot like a madman because it was so incredible then! I think it was honestly TOO MUCH sand in those sandstorms, again, the likes of which I have not seen in the last five years. The camera is a “little” bit broken. It’s a strange problem in that it actually works fine, but I can only take photos in the 2-second timer mode now! Strange! Anyway, I just sent it back for repair. No biggie. I did not have much dust inside either.
  • My Sony A7s performed flawlessly. Upon that, I had a Leica 35mm f/1.4. I did put tape on that. But I had no probs and no dust inside either.

On this day, I shot for about 8 hours inside a sandstorm here on another blistering day at Burning Man. While going through the middle of it, I came across a formal Japanese tea ceremony. It was amazing. The man in red on the left had a pure white face and bald head. His movements were slow and measured with the ceremony.
Just after he finished serving the woman on the right, he invited me over to sit. The whole process took about five minutes. He intricately folded red napkins to clean off the stirring brush, put matcha green tea into a golden bowl, added another tea drink (I cannot describe the taste), and then, in the end, he used chopsticks to pull out floating bits of gold from a small box of water. The first piece of gold flew away in the sandstorm, so he got another and put it all the way down into the tea. I then drank the whole thing at once. It was so amazing. I bowed and said thank you very much in Japanese, then I went away back into the sandstorm.

 

The Man was absolutely huge this year… It towered over all of us and could be seen from anywhere in Black Rock City.

 

I heard there was a lot of dramadrama over the construction of the Temple this year. I don’t know the full story, but the resulting temple was absolutely incredible when they got it up. Every year I am amazed that they burn something so beautiful to the ground.

 

I saw this amazing scene when I turned around during the Temple Burn.

 

Wonder what Burning Man looks like from above? Here’s a scene I saw when approaching the city from over a ridge. At the end of the burn, this all disappears and goes back to the white sands again…

This photo is special to me because I feel like it is me and my two little girls. I can’t wait to show them some of the art from Burning Man. Isabella is the middle one, always paying attention and very gently looking at things. That’s Scarlett in the front, just dancing freely in the wind.

 

Just one of the 65,000 interesting people that roam around the playa for the week.

 

Everyone at Burning Man rides bikes around to see the huge expanse of the impromptu city.

 

A little yoga session I came across!

 

I chased a sand tornado across the playa one day until it started ripping through the Pink Heart camp. I stayed right with it as it twisted in a counter-clockwise motion. I didn’t even have to pedal as the tornado pushed/pulled me along!

 

Daily Photo – Embrace

This is just about everyone's favorite art piece at Burning Man this year. What a bold idea! I took this on the first night when one of the couples that helped build it was embracing down at the base.

Embrace

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.3
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Burning Man PhotoWalk!

Burning Man PhotoWalk Details

Check This Event for the latest info. That is where I will keep everything updated, as this blog post may be old news at some point!

Burning Man PhotoWalk! Tuesday, Aug 26, 7 PM ! 🙂

An amazing event! It gets bigger every year, and this one will be very special! Anyone is welcome. All skill levels with any kind of camera from DSLRs to Mobile Phones. It’s a super-family-friendly event, so feel free to come and bring some friends!

Location: Center Camp (just outside of Center Camp in the direction of The Man MAP
Day and Time: Tuesday evening at 7 PM.
Hashtag for event: #BMPhotowalk2014
Prizes: Something special from CameraPunk ! http://goo.gl/yKz2pG and maybe more!

For this photowalk, we’ll have a special theme: Self-Expression. Naturally, you can take photos of everything, and I’ll be giving instruction, tips, tricks, etc etc… but for the prize, when you post your photos, I’ll be choosing a random photo that best exemplifies this theme. This is gonna be great… I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone! 

Some Favorites!

Here are some of my favorite Burning Man photos! You can see the whole Burning Man Album here on SmugMug!

Daily Photo – The Lady of the Sands

Here's the first photo I took at Burning Man last year, and it's still one of my favorites. When the occasional sandstorms come, a lot of people go take cover, but that's when I go out to take cool photos! It adds all the depth and mystery that is really there, I think.

The Lady of the Sands

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length20.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Burning Man 2013

Full Burning Man Album

You can visit the Full Burning Man album here on SmugMug. (BTW, isn’t the new SmugMug so cool? Check out my updated SmugMug Review right here for more.) I keep adding to it, and I’ve front-loaded the portfolio there with mostly new photos from 2013. This is my own little personal artistic contribution to Burning Man… I still have many more photos to edit and I will of course share them here on the blog as well.

Photo Equipment in the Desert – Questions?

Would people like to see me do a longer post about photography equipment handling in these crazy conditions? I’ve heard a few questions about this… but not sure if it is something everyone wants to know about. I’m happy to write more about it… just let me know! As for these photos below, these were all shot with the Sony NEX system… For newcomers, see my Sony NEX-7 Review here on the site.

Post-processing the Burning Man photos and Lightroom Presets?

This is a common question! If you enjoy the style of some of the photos below, you might want to grab some of my Lightroom Presets – they are here on the site in the Get Cool Stuff area.

Burning Man 2013

This is my fourth burn in a row, and this time I brought my wife and 12-year-old son. We camped with one of my best friends Cliff Baise and his wife + 12 year-old son. You can see him below as the alien, and, no, he doesn’t normally look like that. We were also right by my good friends Curtis Simmons and his wife, who were first-timers along with our wives… so it was fun to have so many “virgins” out there!

Wait, what IS Burning Man, anyway, I hear you wondering. It’s a magical event in the desert every year where over 50,000 artists, musicians, and explorers come together to build a temporary city that is just on the other side of reality.

We had an amazing time, and I can see all the questions forming now… WHAT? You brought a 12-year-old to Burning Man? Yes, oh yes. I’ll tell that full story soon. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite photos from the event this year.

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

Burning Man Photo

So….

Who wants to go next year? 🙂

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