More Burning Man and Chris Pirillo

HDR Video Tutorial Giveaway by Chris Pirillo

Hurry and visit Pirillo’s blog to enter! It’s very simple, just “Like” his FB page and leave a comment, and you are entered!

The HDR Video Tutorial has been very popular, and we’ve done a few of these giveaways… I’m glad to drive traffic around to nice guys like Chris!

I met Chris in Dallas when we jumped out of a plane together with the US Army. I also met his dad and we talked for a little while… he was a heck of a nice guy too. I guess, with a dad like that, Chris can’t help but to be so likable. Anyway, if you don’t know who the chap is, then this is a good chance to check out his site.

More from Burning Man

This is my fourth or fifth post that has a collection of these photos – to see the others, click the Burning Man category.

Getting in the Groove

I usually don’t put captions on photos, but I did for my last mini-set of Burning Man photos, so I will here too.

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On one of the final afternoons, a bitter sandstorm blew across the playa. It was also the night of the big burn, so people began to amass near the man himself. I saw this fellow photographer setting up on the periphery, bracing himself against the storm.


There they flow, the man and his familiar.  If every human has an animal companion that lurks and smells and protects and admires as we walk through the world then, on occasion, it meets another.  Not everyone believes in this universe of multiple animal daemons, but some do, and that's more than enough. The animal familiars meet one another, when the human souls open and share, and they walk around one another, like galaxies colliding.  They search and crane their necks around the get a sense of the otherness. The animal feeds the human a sense of the shadowself and they fold into one another, as a mountain folds into itself as the dark melts into the crease.

Burning Man is also a week-long costume party. In fact, if you are NOT in a costume, then you are the odd one out. We had a little PhotoWalk while I was there, and these characters came galloping through the middle of it.


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What is more Mad Max than Thunderdome? Not much! This was a great landmark that helped me find my way home around 3 AM… My camp was pretty close by.


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The playa is filled with one performance after another. Groups and troupes work on special performances, costumes, and other routines that they perform at their camps and out in the middle of the desert. This girl was in the middle of a rehearsal when I found her.


The Mega Lobby

Stuck In Customs Facebook page

I try to leave little surprises and stuff on the Stuck In Customs Facebook page. Be sure to come join to see the latest!

Daily Photo – The Mega Lobby

They don’t love it when you take photos in Vegas, but I love to take photos in Vegas, so this causes a bit of a problem. Since I am not objective about the situation, I go ahead with my side of the story and take photos when and how I choose. At least, until the authorities show up… I then go into Michael Weston mode and talk my way out of the situation.

This is the lobby of the Venetian, and it looks amazing from almost any angle. Just outside, you can often hear the valets singing a bit of opera… it’s very strange but kind of nice!

High Dynamic Range Photo

Exploring Burning Man

Social Media Awards

Last year, I lost to Gowalla.  Damn that awesome company.  But maybe this year, we can pull it off!  The nominations round has started…  Should you care to support the cause, come Comment on Trey’s Nomination.  Or, you can even nominate others…  just don’t nominate Gowalla.  Or they might take away all my awesome badges.

Too Many Burning Man Photos!

You all know that I normally only post one new photo a day. But I have so many Burning Man photos, that I’m likely to cluster them on occasion… otherwise I’ll never get through them all before the next one!

As usual, to see other photos of a category, just go click on the “Burning Man” at the bottom of the post.

Daily Photo(s) – Exploring Burning Man

Are you looking for something totally unique in this increasingly homogenized world? Try Burning Man!

Look… it’s not for everyone. If you’re kinda right-brained and like to have unexpected stimulation hitting your eyes non-stop for a week, then this just might be the place for you. It’s a nice shock to your artistic self.

I spent the first few days without my camera… just sort of walking around and drinking it all in. I was fairly zombie-like in my wandering. At the same time, I was considering various ways to capture the overall feeling of the place in a series of photos. I don’t usually do this, but I did add a few captions to the photos below in case you want to know more…

The metal kimodo neck bends skyward.  There is only one sound.  It is the sound of a hundred trunk-thick ropes holding back a moored ship.  They rub and tear against one another, the braids and coils tearing free and pulled back into the spiral.  The ropes scream like iron pulled apart by a furnace, and they burn like a soul reaching back for the earth.  Fire from the kimodo rests within and the broiling sea churns and twists beneath the hull.  The head bends back towards the earth, a new tension building in its dire armor.  It tears through the sky for something new to devour.  A heat shimmers from its scalloped visage, a heat that melts the heart of all that pass before.

People spend all year building elaborate land-vehicles that cruise around the playa day and night. This one is particularly awesome, with a fully articulated head that can breathe fire at night (pics of that coming soon!).


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Groups set up special camps with different themes. Here I am inside the “Black Lodge” from Twin Peaks (I’m a fan). It was modeled after the Red Room. I sat in it for many hours, listening to music and looking out this opening. This is one of the many photos I captured.


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Most people roamed the desert wearing goggles to protect ourselves from the sand and sun. For me, everything had an orange tint, so I’ve used the same technique in many of my photos of the event.


Note that all the Burning Man photos do not fall under the Creative Commons license as my other

Burning Man Art

More Burning Man

See other Burning Man photos here.

I have so many photos from Burning Man that I am excited to post!  A lot of them are using a special style that I experimented with while there, even though the one below is one of my standard HDR jobs.

Daily Photo – Burning Man Art

I keep thinking about how much fun I had at Burning Man!

Before I went, I was really wondering…  I’m usually good at imagining what a new experience might be like by comparing it to others and intuitively filling in the gaps.  But, since I am quite open to new experiences, everything flowed very easily there and it was a good artistic shock to my system.

People spend all year creating fabulous works of art that they display on the playa.  At night, everything amps up to a whole new level…  just wandering aimlessly for hours will be stimulating to dark corners of your right brain.

This statue below, by Marco Cochrane, is called “Bliss Dance”.  It’s a 40′ structure made out of an intricate mesh of steel.  The lights around it would cycle through various color mixes every few seconds.

Even though I took many photos of this great piece, this one is my favorite. I felt like to really show the scale and relevence of the piece that I needed to include regular sized humans and the expanse of the playa at the perfect time of the evening. Usually, as you know, I don’t talk about all the elements that go into the photo… I feel like talking too much about the artistic creation of the photo takes away from it a bit… But then again, I’m just not objective about it… what do you think?!i=1096496369&k=YRHkM&l

A World Away at Burning Man

Assistant in Beijing?

I’ll be spending a bit of time in Beijing in the next few weeks. If we have any likely assistants that want to help me out there for a bit, contact us at business at You’ll have to carry a lot of stuff and do various mundane tasks. Being my assistant is not as much fun as it might seem… I assure you. I’m just setting low expectations.

Daily Photo(s) – A World Away at Burning Man

I asked my workshop class in London, “Who has heard of Burning Man?” Less than half the class raised their hands, so maybe it requires a bit of explanation!

Burning Man is a gathering in the desert of Nevada every year that attracts tens of thousands of artists, geeks, hippies, and everyone in between. People stay in costume all week, prepare fabulous art pieces, build extreme camps, drive outrageous art cars, and more.

I wore goggles most of the week to combat the frequent sand storms that come out of nowhere. They bathe the entire landscape in an orange scouring sand that exacerbates the post-apocalyptic scene. Because I became so used to seeing Burning Man through my goggles, I wanted to bring the experience to you as well. Below are a selection of photos with captions underneath.

Burning Man

My steampunk goggles that came in handy when the desert storms ripped through the landscape.

Burning Man

Putting on the goggles near The Thunderdome, one of the many camps and fighting arenas that spontaneously appear in the impromptu city.

Burning Man

The googles fully on... and now you can see what I see...

Burning Man

A traveler rests in front of a massive art structure. The art piece in the back has a hollow trunk that allows people to climb up to the spherical cage on top.

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In the middle of the city is a vast expanse of desert where anyone can set up art pieces. Here, a small booth offering advice was erected. I sat down for a moment and they said I was beyond help.


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Near my camp, a burner walks near the radio tower of Babel.


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Every evening, a group of lamplighters walk through Black Rock City, hanging lanterns atop tall poles to keep the pathways lit for other travelers.


Burning Man

A ranger stands guard in front of the Burning Man tower during a sandstorm on the evening of the burn.

Steampunk at Burning Man

HDR on the iPhone 4 with Leo

Hey everyone. Leo Laporte asked me to be on his show today (Saturday) at 11:30 AM Pacific. We’ll be talking about, among other things, HDR on the iPhone. I’ve gotten a thousand questions on twitter and everything about this… just finishing my analysis and will share it all!

Tune in on to see the live video feed. See you soon!

More Burning Man to Come!

I’ve processed many photos from Burning Man. It was an amazing time, and I took a different approach. I did the usual HDR style on a few, but I also experimented quite a bit. I’ll share some of this in an upcoming post — I’m aiming to get them up sometime this week if I can! So stay tuned…

Daily Photo – Steampunk at Burning Man

I’ve always been a fan of the Steampunk genre. Have you never heard of it? I’m not sure I can explain it perfectly, but it mostly involves a parallel universe in which electricity never was invented and harnessed. The technology of steam is what continued to evolve to produce amazing machines, more sophisticated zeppelins, and fabulous gear-cog mechanisms of every size, shape, and function. Some movies that use this theme are the City of Lost Children, Sherlock Holmes, Steamboy, and more. I just finished a good book recommended by my uncle called “Boneshaker” that is also set in the milieu.

Anyway, everyone at Burning Man is in costume all the time. That’s about 50,000 people at a week-long costume party that becomes pretty intense. On the night of the actual burn of the tower (which you can see in the background), there was a little gathering of steampunk players toward the inner ring. One of the girls saw me taking photos, and came over to compare goggles for a bit. I grabbed this one of her just before it was time to return to her party.

HDR Photo

The Royal Entrance

New Print Available – The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year

Art collectors and fans rejoice! This great new Limited Edition Numbered Print is now available entitled “The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year“. It’s so pretty and one of my favorites. I took it in Indonesia after patiently waiting through a heck of a bad storm at this ancient temple. Sometimes, if you wait through the storm just long enough, a perfect and dramatic sunset can appear. Even better, you’ll be able to enjoy it by yourself because most everyone else will be huddling inside, trying to avoid the storm.

Also, remember that every print is unique and has its own number. You can purchase now from our partners at Really Big Canvas. You can also shop more around that site — Mother’s Day is quick approaching!

Daily Photo – The Royal Entrance

It took me a long time to get this shot right. In fact, in the upcoming HDR DVD, I try to work on another version of this — a vertical one. No matter what I did, I could not get it quite sharp enough because of some camera shake. This one turned out okay.

This is one of the entry hallways into the amazing Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. Feel free, as with all the photos, to zoom into the maximum resolution version on SmugMug. And yes, I still think SmugMug is very cool and am still using it after three months. For more info, see my SmugMug Review.

The Consumer Tube

Previous Shot from Nearby

I did a post a few months ago called “Dale Chihuly is My Kinda Guy” (follow link for pic), which was shot only a few hundred meters from this place. That’s one of the many cool things about Vegas. Just a few more steps away and you are in a completely different place!

Daily Photo – The Consumer Tube

This is one of the new shopping areas in Las Vegas inside the City Center. At the time I shot this, the mall had just opened and many of the stores had not yet been completed… but the architecture was all in place and it was impressive from so many angles.

While I was there, I saw another dude with a tripod setup. I like seeing other photographers around with tripods… I always give them a brotherly nod of approval.

iPad not Charging and a Pretty Photo

Charging the iPad Problems

Having trouble charging your iPad? I’ve updated my HyperMac Review a bit with information on how I am using it to keep things charged on the road.  My Macbook Pro just ain’t cuttin’ it!

I also have much greater luck when plugging it directly into the wall with the plug that was included. In just a few hours, the iPad is full. The USB connection to my new MacBook Pro just charges it way too slow!   I think we have all gotten used to how fast the iPhone charges… and the iPad is just a different beast.  I will keep testing the this battery thing and let you know how many charges it can supply… I’ll update the HyperMac review here when I figure it out.  Anyway, there are two options for your charging the iPad problems – hope they help!

Daily Photo – Chihuly in Space

I know you guys don’t get tired of the Chihuly pieces, and neither do I! In fact, I like this one so much that I use it as my desktop wallpaper.

Just as much thought goes into lighting these as it does the creation. I always wonder if he has the “lighting scenario” in mind when forming the piece and its colors. Or maybe, it’s just so awesome and naturally formed that it looks good under any kind of light. Heck, it would probably even look good in a 7-11 at 1 AM when all the pasty-lonely people stumble in for a Big Gulp and a Snickers. I can say this because I am often one of those people.

By the way, you all are free to use my images as desktop wallpaper, for fun, on your blogs, etc. That is the beauty of the Creative Commons license. If you are going to use them for any commercial purposes whatsoever, contact licensing at — the team there will take care of you.

Here is another Chihuly from just down the road… I’m sure some of you have been lucky enough to see this beautiful monstrosity in person!

Another Chihuly Masterpiece

SmugMug Contest Winner Announced!

Our SmugMug Portfolio contest has a winner! Congratulations to Hunter Luisi!

He has won the fabulous prizes of:

Daily Photo: Another Chihuly Masterpiece

Isn’t there some point when you can just stop saying “masterpiece”? I mean, isn’t everything he does considered a masterpiece? It’s like there should be a whole new elite lexicon – special words for descriptions, all of which mean “masterpiece” or better.

This gem is at his new gallery in Las Vegas. You just have to go see that place. The people inside were very nice and let me take my time to set up and properly get the light as it truly was. I’m not sure they could figure out what the heck I was doing with my camera and the process! But that’s okay. We kept up good conversation while I was going through my motions… and most of our conversation centered around how much we admire Dale!

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