The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2019

Archive for the 'Non-Photo' Category

Out of the frying pan

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Midway through the third week now and stronger than ever, Occupy Wall Street is beginning to finally get noticed by the mainstream media. The coverage, largely nonexistent at first, is picking up steam; Slate, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and even the President  has something to say about the protests.

I feel they’re missing something.

In the coverage I’ve seen, there has been little to no honest coverage of who these protestors are; there have been a few passing mentions of “anarchists,” and the usual dismissive “smelly hippies” and “kids,” but I don’t believe that’s accurate or intellectually honest. I want to show that this protest contains many employed and employable folk like you and me. The blog We are the 99 Percent has done an excellent job putting a very human face to the movement (and disenfranchised) itself, but they’re not photographs of the protestors themselves, on the streets of New York. I want to change that.

So, thanks to a very generous sponsor, I’m going to New York. He’s set up a page so that others might go, too: go donate here.

Contact me with inquires here.

The Blight at the company picnic

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Burning Man Camp Map 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, preparations for our yearly company picnic are well underway. We have reason to believe that the above map most accurately reflects precisely where your intrepid narrator will be located on the playa this year (the X, if you will).

So, one way or another, we should be right on 3:30 between the Esplanade and Athens. Look for a row of black and white flags, and if I get my affects in order, a sign that says THE BLIGHT. See you in the dust.

PS: If you have any ideas for a photoshoot, right now would be a great time to contact me.

Praha to Venezia

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Prague Castle
Prague Castle across the river Vltava — click to see the Prague gallery

I’ve made it from Prague to Venice.

Bags packed, I took off a little after 9 Wednesday morning to get myself to Rome by air and then to Venice by rail. Turns out my flight’s delayed, now leaving by 1:30pm, and I finally arrive in Rome a bit after three; still suffering from gastro-intestinal distress and now wilting from the heat (how quickly one goes from shivering on the plane to melting in a heat wave), I didn’t make to the railway counter quickly enough. When I did, I got a reservation on the high-speed rail from Rome -> Venice, departing at 5:45pm. I asked the ticket agent (twice!) if the train was leaving right from the airport station, and he said yes. Lesson learned: double check. The train I needed was departing from Roma Termini, and all the trains from the airport go there (about a 40 minute ride). I then naively wait until 5:45 to board the train… and realize I’ve now missed my reservation.

We roll into Termini at 6:21pm in terminal 1, and I see that trains leave to Venice each hour at 45 minutes past, so the next train leaves at 6:45pm — but it’s also the last of the day. Fortunately, terminal 26 is as far away as it is possible to get from terminal 1, so I hoof it over there. I again make a naively strategic error and go to “1est” thinking it’s terminal 1 — but it turns out there is terminal 1 and terminal 1est, and 1est is out in the god damned boonies; I had actually -passed- my Venice train to get out to it. It’s now 6:41, so I turn around and literally run, backpack and camera bag and all, to catch the last train from the station. I am successful.

I do not, however, have a reservation, and the train is packed. I end up standing in the space between cars for a while, before wandering around and finding an open seat next to a well-dressed woman in her late thirties/early forties who seems none too pleased with having a traveling bum like me sitting next to her (I am admittedly disheveled at this point [and might smell]).

Risking causing further irritation to the woman next to whom I’m sitting, after a long period I ask to get my laptop from my bag (which is up in the storage rack above). Then, upon reviewing my email, I see that Julia (the bride) requested that I text her when I got on the train so that they could send someone to pick me up, but I was never able to find a prepaid phone (or wifi for Google Voice). I’m now considering what to do when I arrive in a strange town without a map long after dark. Twelve hours into my travels so far today, I do not relish the task of schlepping all my gear and finding their house. What if no one answers? Serious considerations of sleeping on the curb versus sleeping at the train station enter my mind.

In a divinely inspired moment, I open up Lightroom to poke around a bit through my Prague photos and — immediately — notice the formerly irritated woman sitting next to me taking a keen interest. I take off my headphones and she asks “did you take these?” in accented Italian. I turns out she’s a classical architecture professor at an Italian university (specializing in 17th century Baroque). We chat for a while, and I tell her I usually shoot portraits, and not buildings. Her brilliantly poetic response: “No, these are portraits of cities.” I then ask a favor: might she send a text message for me?

She gets a response 5 minutes later: “We’ll be waiting at the end of the platform.” My day is saved.

Benvenuto Venezia!

Videos! Burning Man 2009

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Perhaps in homage to this year’s theme, Evolution, I’ve extended my image-making repertoire to include things that move. Not the campy Photo-Flipbooks of ol’, but actual movies, with sound. Shot on Wee Camera (My Canon SD780), they’re nothing particularly fancy (coupled with the fact that I’m no videographer) these are here to serve as a documentary supplement to the photos in the gallery (at which you’ve already looked, yes?)

Without further ado, the first three (and the most exciting, assuredly) videos from my travels:

The Man Burns at Burning Man 2009

Raygun Gothic Rocketship Launch,  Burning Man 2009

Burn Night from a boom lift, Burning Man 2009

There are a few more of mine up on Vimeo, and I’ll add some more in the coming days (from the DPW Parade, the Balsa Man Regional Burn, and a few others). Enjoy!

Coming soon: Burning Man photos

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Your post-DPW Parade narrator
Post-DPW Parade, Saturday at Burning Man 2009

Your intrepid narrator is hard at work sorting near 3,000 photos taken this past week at Burning Man.  They will be online here this evening. Until then, take a look at the handful of images I posted from the playa while at Burning Man here, or occupy yourself with last year’s gallery.

Fandango Placement, part deux

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009


Preliminary map, Fandango at Burning Man 2009

We received new information regarding our preliminary placement at this year’s Burn, and I’ve reflected that in the above map. We arrive this Saturday afternoon.

Note that this, like the one before, is still a “best-guess” and may not be accurate. The only thing we know for sure is that our address is listed as 3 o’clock and Adapt. Come find us and have a drink. And now, back to packing.

‘Tis the season

Monday, August 3rd, 2009


This is a best-guess on my part from the preliminary placement data they gave us.

The Burn this year is a go. I once again serve on the art documentation team, meaning I’m supposed to take photos of things. It’s a job I can handle. This year you may find me within the Fandango Village, and we are conveniently located at the 3 o’clock plaza (Adapt and 3:00).

Galleries from prior years: 2008, 2007, 2006

UPDATE: This map is a best-guess on my part.

Under wraps: and if so, why bother?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

There exist in my archives a very large number of images never seen by anyone — a quick estimate puts the number at over 100,000. The vast majority of these are the duplicates, the blurry, the over/under-exposed, the ill-composed; you would be most disappointed to see them, I wager. I have heard it said anyone can be considered a good photographer if they only choose the right photos to post, but I digress: I’m not here to talk about the mountain of bad photos I have sitting here, and I’m not here to tell you the various trite reasons the ones worth posting remain languishing in the dark. No, I’m here to ask: why bother doing it at all?

I have always tried to put my work on display, even when it (frequently) was not worthy of it. My goal was not the criticism and critique of others, for I am and have always been my own harshest critic, and am never satisfied but for a moment with anything I have done. For if I cannot find flaw in a creation, it means either that it is perfect (which is utterly impossible) or that, instead, I’m not yet skilled enough to identify what is wrong. And, if so, I should not rest until I can do so. Nor did I (do I?) present and showcase for the (undeserved) praise that I sometimes received. Instead, all I wanted was acknowledgment. “Look, I did this, and I am proud of it for a moment.” A nod would be more than sufficient.

To not share is to be unfulfilled: it’s akin to laughing at a joke in an empty room. You turn and cast about, hoping to share it with someone — anyone — and thereby expand your own experience and joy, but no one’s there and you sigh and carry on. It’s like filling your mouth with fine wine and not swallowing.

I am not some artist laboring in obscurity to fill some void, some need in my psyche, only to have my work discovered posthumously — I cannot claim that dignified a goal. It is a performer whose traits I share, the desire for an audience. Though instead of even a quiet, polite applause, I instead satisfy myself with pageviews and bandwidth (oh woe is me). Ours is work to appreciate after the fact, for though we and the performers are plying our trade at the same moment, their act is the moment, and my photos will be up tomorrow.

Periodically someone will ask why do I bother? Why do I spend all this money and time and effort and go through the stress and pain and sleepless nights to do this? (For, perhaps you do not know, but I do not do this for a living. In fact, it barely — if at all — pays for itself. It depends on how I do my books). And I will not offer up some asininely banal reason such as “I enjoy it.” I can do better than that, and will explore that topic in a future post.

Ultimately, the answer here is that there is no point whatsoever for me to shoot something if no one ever sees it. There’s your tree-in-the-forest solution; did anyone hear it? Yes? No? Irrelevant.

All this was a very fancy (read: longwinded) way of saying “Oh hi, look, I didn’t post these last year for various reasons, but I am now. You should look (and thus validate their existence and my effort). Kthxbai.” And so, without further ado, I present you with a very small gallery of “studio-esque” — that is, contrived and posed and planned to some degree, and not a live performance — photos of miss Erica Mulkey, aka Unwoman, from a shoot she hired me for mid last year. She has not made use of them yet, but I have her permission to publish them — go here for the full gallery.

Shooting and… shooting

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Just after I finished my Burning Man gallery I hear two gunshots very loud right outside my window; then two gentlemen sprint down the street, a motorcycle guns it down the street, followed soon by a big black SUV with engine roaring.

The below is what resulted: a man, shot in the head, three doors down from me.

This was shot from my window.

And this from the center of the street outside my door.

Not quite the update you expected, eh? I’ll make the full post about BM photos tomorrow; they’re online now if you look.

UPDATE: Turns out the man was the leader of the SF chapter of Hell’s Angels, and he did not survive the incident. I sure hope this doesn’t make this the epicenter for a gang war…

Burning Man 2008 — The Blight

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Double-rainbow over the Red Nose District at Burning Man 2007

The Blight will be located within Fandango this year, near 6 o’clock and Dart (directly behind The Wheel/Center Camp).

We arrive Friday the 22nd, and if all goes according to plan, will have an art car (acting as a mobile photo studio). We should be easily recognizeable.

What are you plans? Leave a comment below.