Live Hangout – Sunday 5 PM ET (2 PM PT)
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Daily Photo – Thunderdome – Blood on the Sand
I was only partially injured while getting this photo from the wild sands of Burning Man.
A group tenderly called the “Death Guild” erected a Thunderdome in the desert city here at Burning Man. I was riding home on my customized Mad Max bike (thx for making it for me +Cliff Baise !), and I saw hundreds converging on the Thunderdome for a massive fight. Screaming hordes started climbing the super-structure to get a closer look. By the time I arrived, the observers were 10 deep on all sides, everyone crushing in to get a view of the big fight.
I jumped off my bike, grabbed my tripod, D3X, and 14-24 lens. I ducked down and crawled through legs clad in leather and spikes to get just inside.
There were latex-clad women with billy clubs and spiked cudgels roaming the perimeter, keeping people from coming inside. I gave one of more severe-looking gals the international nod of, “Hey, everything is cool, let me stay here – I’m here with purpose.” This is a hard look to communicate with words, but I have perfected it through hundreds of iterations. Anyway, I settled down low to the ground.
Heavy metal music started blaring and the master-of-ceremonies-in-leather came in to announce the combatants. The screams of the fans mixed with the music in an aggressive cacophony. People mashed harder into my backside as another climber used the legs of my tripod to launch himself up into the super-structure.
I was rained upon by bits of rock, sand, and occasional strange fluids while the combatants got locked into their flying harnesses. These were complex bungee-systems designed to let them jump and fly in any direction. It seemed the only inevitability was that they harnesses would get slung around one another in a death-spiral where the fighters would just wail away at one another until one gave out.
I finally got everything set up (+1 EV, f/4, 14mm, ISO 1600, with shutter at 1/20th of a second) and fired away as they backed up then flung themselves at one another. It was brutal and the crowd was going absolutely crazy. Even more debris rained down on me from above as the crowd jammed me more from behind and above. I gathered a series of shots, watched more of the amazing desert violence, then crawled out, barely keeping my wits about me.