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 2014

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

Isabella on a walk

Quick Shooting Tip

See this photo below? I can’t claim credit for this idea! It came from my friend Cliff Baise. But if you get down in some grasses or thin plants and shoot with a shallow DOF (low Aperture number), then you can end up with this nice-looking effect!

The Myth of Talent

Here’s a great video by Robin Griggs Wood! She made this as her intro video for www.TheArcanum.com — it’s so awesome. I hope you like it as much as I do! 

Daily Photo – Isabella on a walk

One day we went over to Jack's Point, which is just on the other side of the lake from Queenstown. It was a cool winter morning, but the grasses were blowing in the wind like Isabella's hair. She's a very sweet girl! :)

Isabella on a walk

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8000
  • Aperture
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Arrowtown in the Autumn

Composition Tricks

Here’s a little trick with composing photos. As you know, it’s usually bad form to put major things (like the sun) in the middle of the photograph. But, if you turn the camera sideways (said in a Raising Arizona voice) into portrait mode, you can suddenly center anything and it looks good! You can imagine the photo below in landscape orientation — it would not be as compelling.

Daily Photo – Arrowtown in the Autumn

Arrowtown is so lovely! There is a huge park right by the main street and the trees go crazy in the Autumn. I kind of think this photo is cheating, because you can kind of aim your camera in any direction and just take a photo!

Arrowtown in the Autumn

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length39.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

A Red Foggy Night in Northern China

See any typos?

You know what? I’m terrible with typos… just terrible. I make them all the time. I re-read my blog posts and I can never catch my mistakes. So, if YOU ever see one, just leave a comment! Don’t worry… it won’t hurt my feelings. Then I can just fix it right up! :)

Lake of Dreams

I just got back from another amazing Burning Man. I thought you might like to see this video called “Lake of Dreams” – it was made during last year’s burn!

Daily Photo – A Red Foggy Night in Northern China

Here, at the Great Wall of China, you get a very epic sense of the world. I've now been here four times, and every time I'm totally impressed. This is by far the most impressive section I've ever been to. I'd like to go back here, maybe even in the middle of winter when there is snow. How awesome would it be to camp out up here? It should be amazing!

A Red Foggy Night in Northern China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length46.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

The Squid Boat

Waking up early for photos

You’ll see in the story below that I never actually got a photo of that amazing boat at night. I could have, if I wasn’t so lazy and wanted to see them come into port at 5 AM, but, honestly, I was way too lazy. That bed just feels so darned good. A comfy bed in the morning is my kryptonite.

Daily Photo – The Squid Boat

One thing you may notice from this photo are the huge lightbulbs. I've never seen such huge bulbs on a boat. But, apparently (and I did not see this), they light these boats up at night and the squid come flocking. This makes them very easy to catch! Maybe next time I go I'll be able to see these guys in action… I think that would be an amazing photo – it's on my to-photo list! :)

The Squid Boat

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length53.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

A private Island

The Video

You’ll notice this island from above in at least two scenes in the video below. I made this with my quadcopter — see my DJI Phantom Review for more!

Daily Photo – A private Island

This was our favorite little island on the trip. You might remember a kayak photo from last month where I made my daughter paddle the kayak to get to this little island. It was hard work, but the whole time I told her it was character building!

A private Island

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture18
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length26.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

An amazing meal in Hobbiton

An Older Interview You Might Have Missed

Here is a very fun episode I did with Leo Laporte!

Daily Photo – An amazing meal in Hobbiton

If you go on the tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, be sure you go on the last one of the day and stay for this dinner. It is absolutely NOT to be missed… man it was good. I ate so so so much — it was really redonkulous. And, as you can see, the view cannot be beaten!

An amazing meal in Hobbiton

An amazing meal in Hobbiton

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Fishing Near the Summer Palace

Another China Scene

This is a video I made when I was north of the Palace here up near an abandoned part of the Great Wall of China.

Daily Photo – Fishing Near the Summer Palace

This is a peaceful Chinese scene, don't you think? It's nice to see these kind of quaint things happening in beautiful spots like this, I think. I see a lot of people fishing all over China. Not all the scenes are quite this idyllic, believe me. But I do like to try to capture it when I can. This was shot in one of the many lakes that surround the Summer Palace.

Fishing Near the Summer Palace

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture8
  • ISO640
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Beautiful Land of the Hobbits

Other Great Movie Sets?

This spot below is the Hobbiton Movie Set. But it’s not just a set. It’s a real place with gardeners and staff, and, well everything but real Hobbits. I mean, some Kiwis are quite Hobbit-like, so I guess that is something!

Anyway, are there any other movie sets around the world that are actual real-working places that maintain their fantasy-glow all around the year?

Daily Photo – The Beautiful Land of the Hobbits

What's better than an afternoon strolling around the place where the Hobbits live? I can't think of much more than this? Oh sure, maybe take a boat ride in Venice or walk on the moon… but, other than those, I think maybe this comes in a solid third place! And the best thing about it is that anyone can do this! There are many tours that go through here… they are not rushed… lots of time for photos… and if you do the last tour of the day, you can even do the amazing medieval feast at night! :)

The Beautiful Land of the Hobbits

The Beautiful Land of the Hobbits

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

The Daemon Bird

The Lightroom Tutorial

I’m glad so many people are enjoying the Lightroom Tutorial! This photo below is one of the shots that is processed during the tutorial!

Daily Photo – The Daemon Bird

This fisherman and his bird were incredible. Whichever direction his head went, so did the bird's! It was really incredible to watch. If you have the Lightroom Tutorial I mention above, be sure to watch that part where I show all the various head positions! I've never seen anything like it in my life.

For this photo, because it was so dark, I opened up my aperture all the way to f/1.4 – that really helped the light to come in and give it this feeling.

The Daemon Bird

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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