I was on Channel 7 a few days ago in Australia – here is the clip
Backup Camera for Burning Man
My main camera I use nowadays is the Nikon D800, and I was a bit afraid to take that out into the desert. Instead, I took out my Nikon D3S to get some of these shots. It’s one of the six different cameras I used at Burning Man this year. I didn’t get much dust at all inside the camera… but I also never changed the lens or used it too much in sandstorms…
Daily Photo – Sunken Ghost Ship in the Desert
This year, they added to the end of the dock – a sunken Spanish Galleon, which has all the little authentic touches that I’ve come to expect from this crew. See all the rigging? It was even done by the woman who did all the rigging for The Black Pearl for Pirates of the Caribbean.
While I set up for this photo, a woman in a dress with lights inside came by with her well-dressed man. They stopped to look out across the desert while I took this photo….
I also decided to make it an anthology of sorts, so I included updated versions of the most popular how-to stories like “9 Tips for your HDR Brain to Consider” to “HDR: It’s About the Light,” and I also revisited and expanded some of my popular long-form pieces, like the Chernobyl story.
Enjoy! We’ve been busy publishing new books over there, so be sure to check out the many other Flatbooks authors while there!
Answers to the Trivia
I have the answers here in the variety hour! Jump ahead to 30:30 where I describe the photos and the cameras with which they were shot.
The Camera Doesn’t Matter
I’ll go ahead and state my premise here from the outset.
I believe this is the best time ever for you to get into photography, and I expect my little trivia contest below will prove that a camera that is only a few hundred dollars (like the Olympus Tough) can take photos as interesting as one for a few thousand dollars (like the Nikon D3S) or even one that is tens of thousands of dollars (like the Phase One). There are so many cameras out there, but I try to boil it down to the good/better/best on the Camera Reviews page here on the site.
Hardcore gear-head photographers will get VERY ANGRY at the statement above, but I’d like to see how they do on the trivia test below!
I used many different cameras at Burning Man – everything from one that cost a few hundred dollars to something that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes, I didn’t feel like carrying around a giant medium format camera or a DSLR, and I just wanted to be handy and quick with a little handheld consumer camera like the Olympus or the Pentax.
For all the photos below, I stripped out all the metadata (I think) and made them all the same resolution (4000 pixels wide or high with various crops) so that would not give away any clues as to the camera that made them.
Also note that I have processed all these photos. Look, I can’t help it… This isn’t a pure lab situation… but life is not a pure lab situation. In some cases, I’ve even used Lightroom to add grain back into the photo. That will make your job even more difficult. I didn’t make Lightroom adjustments to make the trivia harder – I just did this style of post-processing on each photo because I thought it was kind of beautiful. And see that one I put in there with the spiral of fire? I DID put that one there just to mess with you a bit.
Anyway, I’ve never made any apologies about my love of hardcore post-processing. I think the photo itself is just the beginning, and then the real magic happens when I can bend the light to my will later.
In that sense, I really quite like this trivia contest. Since I’m not alone in my love of post-processing, it makes an even stronger case that the camera with which you initially capture the light is a smaller and smaller part of the equation. The bigger part of the equation is you, yourself – your personality, your tools, and how you choose to use them on any given day.
Trey’s Lightroom Presets
All of the photos below were simply edited in Lightroom. I used the newly released Trey’s Lightroom Presets in case you want to play with them yourself. I thought I’d get that little plug in there… hope you don’t mind.
And here are the 6 final photos with the six different cameras. I put little captions under each one to give you a bit of context for the story…
While riding by on my bike, I saw these three dancers-al-fresco enjoying the sun. It seemed to be the sort of thing that was interesting and just begging for a photograph, and, well, you can see what happened. And no, none of this was posed… it just happened.
In the middle of the pink party, this girl was at center camp with pink ears and her dust cover. She was a very pretty bunny, so I gave her the international eyebrow-sign of “is it okay to take a photo?” and she lit up happily.
On the night the man burned, 60,000 people crowded around the bonfire of mammoth proportions. Photographers did anything they could to see over the crowd, including this enterprising photographer-wizard.
A girl rides in front of the most wonderful truck I’ve ever seen. Do you know the history behind it?
On the night of the temple burn, millions of burning embers filled the sky like golden dust from the heavens. I aimed my camera up and twisted it with the beat of nearby music.
There are over a hundred art-cars that roam the desert during the day and night. You can get on any one at any time and it will pick you up at a random place and drop you off at another. This little gypsy car was one of my favorites, and the music that flowed out of it was eclectic and relaxing.
Sample Answer (probably not right)
Photo 1 – B
Photo 2 – F
Photo 3 – D
Photo 4 – A
Photo 5 – C
Photo 6 – E
(And you can add some of your thoughts below your answer too if you would like to ruminate on one thing versus another!)
I’ll give the final answer in one week after the initial posting…
Here are a few bonus Burning Man photos; I am excited about this year!
The first one was taken late one afternoon. This is the middle torso of a huge sculpture that was partially buried in the sand. People would climb it to get a good view…
Below is a girl from center camp. She was actually completely naked, and I asked if I could take a photo. I indicated I wanted “neck-up”, even though she would have been totally cool with the full monty.
The Glowing Bridge at the Temple
The “Temple” is different every year, and it’s always fun to explore. I usually visit the temple several times before I decide to take photos. It’s fun to show up on the scene completely green and study all the angles and ideas around different compositions with different lighting conditions.
I put my Nikon D3X on eBay — so go bid away! I’ll even sign it if you like… just let me know
Topax Adjust Review Update
I’ve gone through and made a few updates to my Topaz Adjust Review. I also added a few more photos there as well… I used Topaz Adjust on this photo here to the right to help further define the American Airlines jet.
The List of Places to Visit
People often ask me where else is on my list. It makes me think of my list, which is long and serpentine, mind you. When I first started ticking places off my list, I thought the the list might exhaust itself at some point… maybe I have to slow down as I approach the end-of-the-list. But now I know the list will never end. The more places I go, the more “side quests” I hear about… little places here and there with question-marks floating overhead… waiting for me to go accept the quest.
Daily Photo – LOVE
Here’s another wonderful morning (or night?) scene from Burning Man. I should remember if this is morning or night! Hmmm… Let’s see… the sun is over there… and… well I think it is in that position in the morning. But then again, I’m awake… and I didn’t make it through many mornings there. I remember Cliff banging on the door of my RV vaguely one morning, but I slept right through that sunrise, like many others… And maybe this is one of those. Or maybe it’s sunset. Oh I don’t know… anyway, it’s kind of awesome, either way.
Well, we just released a new version (Retina HD-graphics) of Stuck On Earth, and I recently received this email from Joe Crocker. I’m sharing it now with his permission. Thank you Joe!
My daughter has a good friend who has diabetes. In the future she will be going blind. I have been looking for a group of pictures of all the great sites on earth and beyond for my daughter to give to her friend while she still has sight. Your Stuck On Earth is the closest thing I have found that approaches it.
Craziest Party Ever
So I think THIS is the craziest party I’ve ever been to! It’s really hard for a photo to describe the sheer pandaemonium of it all… And it’s not just for a little while – it’s a multi-hour party where people are dancing, screaming, shooting lasers, launching balloons, and, well, generally going curazy!
Daily Photo – The Man Burns
I was able to get up on a crane during the main event at Burning Man. Before I got on, they made 100% sure (and then double-checked) that everyone had gone to the bathroom. Once you are up on the crane, you’re up there for two hours. I can only assume the crane operator was very serious about this because the worst-possible situation had occurred during an earlier Burning Man when he was at ground-level.
I get regular questions about how to protect your camera equipment at Burning Man. Here are some points about that:
I use a backup (3rd) camera. I mostly just pull out a micro 4/3rds camera and never change the lens. It’s kind of a challenge, but a good challenge!
If you have to change lenses, well, don’t.
If you MUST change lenses, try to do it indoors… in a car or in an RV of some non-dirty hippy.
If you want to use your main camera, it’s good to weatherproof it with a baggie and tape… but the little dust will still get in.
Or, really, just follow my first bullet point and use a backup-backup camera and don’t worry so much!
Daily Photo – Sandstorm at Burning Man
The sandstorms come fast and furious. I was out in the middle of one as it blew across the playa. I was on my bike at the time, so it was easy to get around and find good perspectives of the temple as the sun was setting.
I think I’ve seen that show above only three or four times. It’s too frustrating… it’s frustrating because I keep trying to look at the cameras, the setup, the lighting, the backdrops, the assistants, and everything… but they keep showing the model over and over again…
It kind of reminds me of when my dad took me to those variety shows in Vegas when I was a kid. I kept wanting the “girl parts” to be over with so I could see more of the magic tricks…
Daily Photo - Tattooed Girl with Umbrella
One hard thing about Burning Man is not “getting used to” everything around you. Believe it or not, after a few days, seeing interesting people wearing crazy clothes and doing wonderful things becomes quite commonplace. It’s kind of like living inside a non-stop Cirque-de-soleil!
I was riding by on my bike and there was another photographer taking photos of this girl. He had just finished, so I swooped in, jumped off my bike, and took a quick photo. I felt a little bad about jumping in at the end of his photoshoot, but I figured that the Burning-Man-chill-attitude would make everything okay… and I think it did!
You guys and gals are always SO good at mystery photos… today I thought I would give you a real challenge. You’ll have to put on your CSI hats for this one!
Video Recap – 80 Days, 8,000 Photos
I was reminded of this video because I’m posting another Burning Man photo…
Daily Photo – Mystery Girl at Burning Man
So, who is she? I don’t know if this is much of a hint, but she told me she made those horns herself out of glue and bedsheets. She said this in a dismissive manner of “of course that is what I did – I can’t believe you couldn’t figure it out on your own.”
I have so many great scenes from Burning Man recently, but I have not posted many! This is very lame of me — I will get on it. In the meantime, check the Burning Man category here on the site to see more.
Daily Photo – Neo-Gypsy in the Desert
I was walking across the playa at Burning Man with Tom when we came across this gypsy of sorts. She was kind of dancing through the desert eating a bag of chips. That was surreal and everything, but then it felt even stranger when she pulled out her iPhone to make a few notes about our meeting. She typed in stuckincustoms.com so she would be sure to visit when she got back to civilization.
As many of you know, I don’t process my photos in any order. I still have photos from five years ago I’ve never processed. I do this for a lot of reasons. One reason is because I know in a few years I’ll be better than I am now, and I don’t want to “waste” all my photos with bad processing. The second reason is because I don’t like to feel the “burden” of needing to process photos right after a trip.
Daily Photo – White Flower in Desert
This is from Burning Man two years ago.
I can’t even remember why I set up in this area to take a shot. I was sort of drawn to it. It was so interesting to me. In some ways, it matters why the flowers are there and it doesn’t matter why they are there. And you can say the same thing about every little part of this photo. To me, this is all very nice and I can’t quite put my finger on it.