So after years of being goaded by my friends I finally took the plunge and went to Burning Man. I figured it would be a good idea to bring a camera but I had heard that the dust could wreak havoc on the delicate inner-workings of a DSLR so I decided to leave the D80 at home and bring my little SD780 Elph. It ended up working out great, that little thing surprised me every time I used it. But this being my first time, I wanted to focus more on the experience and not be worrying about getting shots the whole time. Consequently, I didn’t come home with a whole lot of material, but I was really happy with what I did manage to get. Next year I am definitely going to bring the D80 (or whatever I’m shooting with at that time) and focus more on shooting, the place is a photographer’s dream.
Above are some examples of the shots I did get; all have been post-processed and most are multiple-exposures. As you can see, the place was downright otherworldly in terms of aesthetics; the beauty of the desert (a place I’ve spent very little time in my life) was absolutely breathtaking. The texture of the sand (which was extremely fine, almost like talcum powder) seemed like what I’d imagine the moon to be like. As the images above will attest, I was somewhat preoccupied with the sun, but you’ll have to forgive me as the sunrises and sunsets were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever witnessed. Some of the photos are available for purchase as prints at the ISO50 Photographic site.
As for the experience itself, I could go on and on but I’ll spare you the details and just say that is was without question a high point for me. The music, people, and artwork were all incredible. I brought with me a lot of preconceived notions about what Burning Man is and the kind of people who go there, but within the first hour or so of being out there in the desert with 50,000 people, every one of those notions were proven to be completely wrong. Try to make it out there if you have the opportunity, it’s really something special to be a part of.
Edit: I’ve discussed the process of creating these images a little in the comments.
Edit: ZX asked in the comments if I could post an unprocessed image, the example below is the raw output from the camera. After processing it became the top-most image above (this one). I really had a great time working with these images and I think I am closer than ever to becoming a Canon convert with my next DSLR purchase.
I took two weeks off work while the rest of the gang was in London for a conference to go surf camping down the West coast. I’m on the last leg of the trip and it’s been absolutely phenomenal.
I’m camping out of my Prius. A little awkward but it’s been just fine. Luckily friends down the coast have kept me company and offered their couches.
For the fellow sliders out there, I brought my 8’3 Malwitz noserider, 6’2 Hobie “Mini Bird”, and a 5’11 Taylor quad fish. Unfortunately my 2 new customs weren’t ready for the trip, so brought the old sleds. It’s turned out to be a pretty well rounded quiver for the slow summer conditions. I’ve mostly ridden the Hobie.
I’m keeping a blog, so if you’re interested – feel free to follow along. Lots of photos.
Well this wasn’t a hard decision: Undercover is officially my favorite clothing store in Tokyo. The SS/10 collection is based on the work of Dieter Rams, using the motto “Less but Better” to guide the design. Need I say more? I walked in and saw rows of Vitsoe shelving and was sold immediately. Then I saw Snow White’s coffin, an old Braun catalog, and basically every object Dieter Rams had ever designed. Eventually I realized there were also clothes for sale and I had to take a seat to collect myself. Of course I found myself sitting on the 620 Chair.
We make noise, not clothes. – Jun Takahashi and Undercover.
So obviously I’m a fan of the overall aesthetic and ethos of the store. My one complaint was, as much as I loved the clothes (and I did), absolutely nothing fit me. Of course I became frustratingly used to this in Tokyo. Would have loved to pick something up; though I did search long and far to find their 2010 lookbook as a consolation prize. They had a display copy in-store, which I pleaded for in broken Japanese, but they wouldn’t part with it. Every book store in Tokyo was the same — it wasn’t until the last place I tried where the guy told me I could just grab one on Amazon.jp. This is true, but you need to create a new account and shipping ends up costing about double the book itself. I have one on the way and will let you know if it’s worth it. From what I remember, it is.
Cheers to the sales guys there for letting me take so many pictures. Pretty tough thing to do in Tokyo; most places will freak out and lock you down if you pull out a camera. Not sure why, free publicity as far as I’m concerned. Anyway these guys were really nice and made a special “exception” for me — I think because they felt bad that literally the entire line didn’t fit me.
Yes, both of those passports are mine. The first thing that was said to me upon my arrival in Narita was “Do you know Interpol?” I answered yes and was lead into an interrogation room where I sat for about 45 minutes. Periodically someone would come explain that my passport was stolen. I would explain back to them that it couldn’t be, as it was right there in front of us. In the end I was told to go to the American Embassy and get a new one (hence the two above). So now I have two passports and a unique knowledge of the underworld at Narita Airport. That was at the beginning, much has happened since then.
Since my last update I have been out mining for cool things. No more tourist attractions (besides the Ramen Museum in Yokohama. My Mom already made fun of me for visiting a noodle museum, so don’t start). I am happy to say that I have been successful in my searchings for all things weird and wonderful. Most of my time has been spent in Aoyama, Harajuku and Naka Meguro (with some Daikanyama too). It’s been hard to decide what to focus on; clothes, housewares, interiors, music, games, food…I could easily spend all of each day bouncing between all the different shops in those areas. One place I literally had to leave because I was afraid I might buy too many things (Sempre). I also found a hair salon that was having a yard sale. Their three items for sale were a replica M16, faded porn, and a Twitter sign. Awesome.
We’ve been in Japan now for about 5 days. Mostly in Tokyo, though the last couple days were spent in Osaka and Kyoto, utilizing our JR Rail Passes. I almost blitzed to Kobe for the afternoon but got caught up on the world’s largest ferris wheel in Osaka. I didn’t know I was afraid of heights until this trip, where I have managed to induce vertigo about 5 times. We’ll be in Tokyo for the rest of the week, staying in a pretty crazy part of Shinjuku.
The trip thus far has been amazing. The weather — especially compared to two years ago — has been really cooperative. We’ve gotten lost many times; usually the result of me half-remembering where something is from last time. I can speak enough Japanese to ask for directions, but not quite enough to fully understand the answer. This usually results in us basically bouncing between locals until we happen upon our destination. I refer to this process as Lost Alex’s Local Japanese Pinball. Travel companions generally do not find this amusing.
Right now I’m packing for my trip to Japan tomorrow. I will be in Tokyo for 10 days, exploring and adventuring around with a photographer friend. It will be my second time visiting Tokyo (I went by myself for two weeks in 2008). Since I’ve been before, my to-do list this time is quite different from the last; I plowed through about three guidebooks worth of tourist attractions last time. With this trip, I am going to try and stay off the beaten path and explore parts of Tokyo I either missed or hadn’t heard about yet.
I’ll also be focusing a lot more on my photography. I was shooting from the hip with my D40 two years ago (gallery) — this time I’ll take a little more care and consideration with my shots. I’ll be carting the MKII with me everywhere and will be posting periodic pictures and travel updates. My Twitter should also be fairly active with Tokyo related musings.
I’ll definitely be on the lookout for all sorts of design related artifcats and thingamabobs. If anyone has any Tokyo recommendations along these lines, I am all ears.
I’ve just finished packing for tomorrow’s trip to Amsterdam where I’ll be speaking at FITC (sorry, the event has sold out). I’ll be talking about my background and theory along with some in depth process stuff, should be fun. I am not sure if they’re taping, I’ll check when I get there.
I’ll be bringing along my D80 and trying to get some good shots during my week there. I was going through some photos from last year’s trip and it really inspired me to get back into photography. I’ve been super busy with music and design lately so the only work the D80 has been doing lately is product photography stuff so it will be nice to give it a workout in such a beautiful place. Seeing those old pictures also reminded me that I need to get them up; I stopped posting halfway through an around the world trip I took a couple years back and there’s a lot of shots left to process and post (like the wing over Stockholm above).
I’m back in San Francisco after a very long trip home (around 20 hours over three flights) from Tromsø, Norway. It was great doing the workshop and playing at Insomnia; I really appreciate everyone coming out. Unfortunately I was sick almost the whole time so I didn’t get to see and do as much as I’d have liked while in this amazing place. But thanks to my gracious hosts — Annette and Simen, who went out of their way to show me around — I was able to get out and experience some of what Tromsø has to offer. I honestly had no idea what to expect from this place; I’d been so busy that I never had the chance to do any research before I left. Saying I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement to say the least — Tromsø is absolutely one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit. It’s the sort of alpine paradise that conjures up idealized notions of northern Europe in the 60′s. In fact, Röyksopp hail from Tromsø and it certainly shows in their Epel video (below). I felt like I was living it when I took the gondola up the mountain.
For starters, it’s a city rich in quality design and typography, thanks in part to Tank (pronounced “Tonk”), an Oslo-based design shop founded by Tromsø natives who have now returned and formed a satellite office in their home town. They’ve designed everything from packaging for the locally brewed Mack beer to the beautifully executed branding for local cafe Kaffebønna (which now sits squarely in my top 5 worldwide list for best coffee shops — worth a visit for the awesome pricing signage alone). Incidentally, Tank’s Tromsø office sits directly above another excellent cafe, Circa, which serves up some of the best sandwiches and tea I’ve had in a while. And by the way, all that amazing furniture we have to pay and arm and a leg for here in the states? It’s everywhere in Norway… Even the smallest cafe will have some incredible couch chilling in the corner that only rich art director types have over here.
But beyond all of the man-made fare, the real attraction is the natural beauty. Tromsø is situated right above the arctic circle and, as a result, the scenery is nothing short of stunning. Sharp, snow-covered mountain peaks jutting out from sea-level make for some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery I’ve ever laid eyes or lens on. Sadly, the days are very short at this time of the year. That, coupled with the fact that I spent most of my time sweating out a fever in bed, means I only got a couple hours of shooting in. But that’s all the more reason for a return trip, which I’ve already begun planning.
So thanks again to everyone from Tromsø for showing me a great time. And if you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit — I feel very lucky to have stumbled into this incredible place. Oh, and if you don’t have time to visit, you can live the experience vicariously through one of my all time favorite music videos:
P.S. Anyone know where I can buy these Fribol Herbal Drops in the US? I got them in Norway, they’re amazing and I can’t find a similar alternative here. Although I assume since they actually work and contain neither sugar nor drugs, they’re most certainly illegal in the states.