It isn’t far off..
It isn’t far off..
Burning Man is an annual art festival, held in Northern Nevada during the last week of August. It’s a mind-blowing place to be. You will want to take photos.
As a photographer and former Burning Man Media Liason, here are some tips I’ve learned over the years about how to prepare for shooting photography or video during Burning Man.
1) Bring as much gear as possible to the Playa. The Black Rock Desert is a beautiful place. You do not want to be in the middle of the desert and think ‘I should have brought this’. Just bring it. Bring as many memory cards as possible too.
2) Consider your gear transportation. You probably are not going to be able to carry all of your gear over your shoulder. I would highly recommend bringing a bicycle with a trailer (think ‘bicycle child trailer’) to carry your gear. I also highly recommend bringing a bicycle and a lock!
Theft happens everywhere. But most of all, people may confuse your bike for a community bike which is intended to be shared.
3) There will be dust.
This dust is like smoke. There is no escaping it.
I highly recommend using electrical tape to tape up every possible crevice of your camera. I usually tape as close to the lens as possible. It would be ideal if you could avoid every having to change your lens (eg. you have two cameras with two lens). Never ever change your lens during a dust storm (whiteout). I have done this without damage however, by changing it blind in a closed knapsack. Pretty risky though.
I use a DSLR for the pro shots, and two or three weathered digital point-and-shoot cameras for the times when the dust kicks up. The dust storms, with the right lighting, can provide awesome shots. Len filters are also great.
4) Best time of day to get a shot.
The best time to get a shot is just before the sun rises and just as the sun is setting. I highly recommend the morning shots, because it’s a very different vibe of the city. Very sobering.
The morning and sunset are great opportunities to play with light. Which brings me to..
5) Shut off the flash.
Flash is useless at Burning Man.
At night, flashing will illuminate thousands of dust specks in your shot. Instead you can easily find light for your shots – almost anywhere. This is Burning Man.
I like long exposure shots at night and ambient lighted sound stages.
6) Consent is key.
Always ask first. Some people do expect some privacy at Burning Man, and besides it is the polite thing to do. Most people won’t mind, but they will appreciate you asking. You might also meet some great people in having a conversation with them. I have.
The big issue is if the subject is identifiable. Is their face in the shot? Are they full frontal naked? If not, you’re okay.
If you are planning on selling your work commercially, bring printed model release forms. Carry them around and get any subjects to sign them.
Even if you are on assignment and you need to be working, putting the camera down and experiencing the event on its own for an afternoon may give you greater insight to what your surroundings are about.
8) Don’t be a darkwad.
Stay visible at night. Put mild lights on yourself, like a bike light, so you don’t get mowed over by a roaming art car or speeding bicyclist. I’m a fan of EL wire.
9) The Burn.
Arrive early to get up front. Like at least two hours early.
Be aware of the wind direction. You could have all sorts of trouble coming your way if the wind is against you, like smoke and immense heat once the Man falls. I witnessed high-flying flaming pieces of wood windblown into a crowd of people once. Literally, flaming boards fell upon people.
After the man has fallen, the crowd will move forward around you. If you have a tripod setup, you may need to pack up quickly and without warning or get lost in a people traffic jam.
10) Equipment cleaning.
Did I mention the dust?
It’s been a busy season for Facebook.
They bought Instagram, they introduced their own app store (for both Android and iPhone), they went public, and last week, they introduced their own camera app. Now Facebook says they may be ready to take on Google and Apple in the mobile phone market.
For the past few months, they have been quietly preparing to enter the mobile phone market. Facebook has already hired former Apple software and hardware engineers, and one engineer who worked on the iPad, the New York Times reported yesterday. They have an open working alliance with HTC and it is expected the phone operating system will be a customized version of Android. The project name is Buffy, named after the vampire slayer TV series.
The rumour is that Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg believes that they need to enter the mobile phone market to ensure they aren’t left behind as just a web site that makes money from ad revenues. Owning the hardware to show the software is a key step to their survival.
Apple has never been welcoming to alliances, so they will be a natural competitor, while Google has been making their own moves to not only create their own phone set, but are pinning hopes on being an ISP operator in years ahead.
Meanwhile, Microsoft – which owns a tiny share of Facebook – has already integrated many features of Facebook. Motorola and HTC have already made phones with a Facebook button built in. There’s also a chance that Facebook could purchase struggling handset RIM down the road.
I believe photography sharing will be at the core of this media challenge.
Alex Reid is a Canadian who likes a lot of things. Welcome to my world.