The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

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Departure & next week’s coverage

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Dust storm, Thursday, Burning Man 2007

I depart within the next few hours for Burning Man 2009 — we’re taking a leisurely trip up and staying the night in Tahoe — but we arrive early tomorrow afternoon. I will be updating TheBlight.net / Twitter / Flickr with updates throughout the week, wifi and conditions permitting, so check back often and see photos as the week unfolds.

You may absolutely use my photos for your blog if you A) give credit as “nightshade, theblight.net” and B) link back here. If you wish to use them for anything else, please contact me. I will reply as soon as I an able.

See you in the dust.

Fandango Placement, part deux

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

playamap

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

fandango

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.

A change of course

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Savannah, Raven.

White Witches — Savannah, Raven. Touch to view large (and larger).

For the last few years, several times a week could you catch me at some event or another, camera in hand. (You may have noticed). Though I’ve picked up many a trick over time to get photos sorted, archived, edited and uploaded in as expedient a manner as possible, it’s still a rather… large amount of work. And doing so has prevented me from experimenting with other avenues of photography, which I have wistfully lamented.

It’s time for something different.

By Streetlamp

Lulu de la Calamité by midnight. Touch to view large (and larger).

Vignettes and glimmers will be my focus for a spell, shooting in my (brand-new!) studio or on location, working with (mostly) cooperative subjects, as opposed to performers on stage. And I’ll be in control of the light for once. The above two photographs were shot Friday and Saturday night of this past weekend; I would call the experiment a success (if I may be so bold (and I am)).

This doesn’t mean you won’t see me out-and-about with some degree of regularity, like-as-not with camera in-hand — but if you do, I don’t want to hear an exclamation of incredulity on your part; for what else do I know how to do at an event, anyway? I just don’t want to have the responsibility and requirement to cover every act and aspect of a show and editing hundreds of photos later. Maybe I’ll get two shots instead, and perhaps they’ll be something completely different than before. However they end up, though, they’ll be on my terms, and I find that exciting (and a relief). Unless you want to hire me. In which case, we should talk.

So, do you have an idea that you’d like to turn into a shoot? Send me a note and give me your thoughts. I’m looking for models and locations and projects and what-have-you. (I reserve the right to be picky). I have a studio in Oakland and will work on-location anywhere in the Bay Area for the right project (or travel for the really right project).

In other news, I’ve updated my portfolio (with special higher-res versions).

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Spy on me on Twitter! Written last night while sipping San Francisco’s own Old Potrero Rye.

Bohemian Carnival & Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and ABC vs. DNA

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Gravity Plays Favorites at Bohemian Carnival

Photos from February’s Bohemian Carnival and Hubba Hubba Revue Mardi Gras are online!

Madame Chartreuse at Hubba Hubba Revue

You may have noticed by now that a very large portion of my photo galleries come from events at the DNA Lounge, the staple of independent underground performance and live music in San Francisco’s SoMa district.  You also may have noticed that they recently received an all-ages license, which is important as concert-goers are usually in the age group of 16-25, a large portion of whom are under 21. The DNA Lounge was originally denied the license, but won it on appeal. That’s when the funny business started.

The DNA Lounge has been accused of running a “disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals,” and are trying to permanently revoke their liquor license (essentially shutting them down). Besides the obvious “wtf?” such a statement should elicit from any thinking individual (“what right do they have legislating and enforcing morals,” I hear you ask) it appears they’re doing so not only in retaliation for appealing and winning the all-ages permit, but doing so by specifically targeting the gay and lesbian club nights.

From the DNA Lounge blog :

  • Though it is clear to me that ABC’s investigation of our gay events is retaliation for our successful conversion to an all-ages venue, the events they are citing us for were 21+ events.
  • The majority of the offenses they are charging us with were dancers flashing for just a few seconds. We’re talking about some guy mooning the audience for three seconds. That’s the level of these offenses.
  • The people doing these things were not DNA employees.
  • The ABC considers “several” fully clothed pelvic thrusts, as a part of a comedy routine, to be an illegal “simulated sex act”. There’s hardly a music video in the world that would pass their standard.

posted by Jamie Zawinski, owner. Read the full post to learn more.

The DNA Lounge employs people, and is a second-home for many of us. This petulant gesture by the ABC reeks of discrimination and retaliation, and is an utter waste of our tax dollars.

What you can do.

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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.

Photos from the first-ever Edwardian Ball Los Angeles 2009

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Whitney Moses in Dark Garden

Having not yet recovered from the tiredness built up from last weekend, Friday night I embarked on a whirlwind trip to LA with my good friends Nifer and Slim to do it all over again: the first-ever Edwardian Ball in those hot southron lands at the delightfully decrepit and partially restored Tower Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Being familiar with the otherworld couture of the cocktail costume party that is the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball that takes place yearly in Hollywood, I was curious to see how the LA installment of the Edwardian Ball and the costumes thereof would compare: I was not disappointed.

The weekend itself was a blur of fantastic things: we arrived late in the night and crashed at the Brewery, and then spent Saturday afternoon on a well-planned and better-executed thrift-store shock-and-awe campaign which resulted in bags and bags of magnificent wearable bits of awesome (my favorite score, found and suggested by Slim: a vintage tuxedo jacket with tails so old it’s literally falling apart, a perfect match for the Tower Theater). At the Ball I got to spend some time with Nadya and Meredith of Coilhouse, though we never found Zoetica for the group photo; I met many really great people, and this time — for once — shot no performance on stage (with the notable exception of Jill and Paul), eleccting instead to focus solely on my portraits which I felt much more important for an event like this where it is the attention to detail in each individuals’ costume, not something on stage necessarily, that makes the event what it is. I delight in the attendee-wide participation.

Sunday was simply the long-haul back up the 5, and was proceeding without incident until just before the Grapevine when I got a phone call from Paul Mercer whom, with Jill and Evil Sarah, I had just passed. Their thought was “Mr. Nightshade should have that license plate … oh wait, he does!” We stopped for coffee and gas in some desolate tourist trap (after a long dearth of nothing, there’s always a gas station with INCREDIBLY over-inflated prices for gas in the midst of absolutely nothing, so in desperation, you pay for it; a scant few miles up the road is a veritable oasis with a whole town and trees and restaurants and gas stations charging the state average price for gas. It’s really annoying.), and then off on our separate ways went.

I hope you enjoy the photos. I had a great time making them.

Edwardian Ball 2009 teaser

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

It’s off to the third night of the extravagant gala that is the Edwardian Ball, and though I had delusions about getting Saturday’s photos up before I left, and though they’re nearly finished, they shall sadly have to wait until tomorrow. I have but one thing to offer you as a stop-gap measure before you begin hounding me for imagery of this fantastic affair, and so I present you Meredith Yayanos, violin player and thereminist extraordinaire, as well as editor at the love letter to alternative culture that is the dark and beautiful Coilhouse Magazine.

Meredith Yayanos and her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Meredith Yayanos with her Penny Farthing at the Edwardian Ball 2009

Come back and look for photos from all three days of the Edwardian Ball online here starting tomorrow evening. And now, it’s off to see the Ghosts Project in the red velvet upstairs of the Regency Ballroom.

*** UPDATE ***

Photos frrom Saturday are now online — see them here.

A Year in Review Part 2 — 2008

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I shall continue where I left off in Part the First, no less tired this time around, but a scant few hours before my self-imposed bedtime — and if I don’t finish it now, then when? Indeed.

Once again, the full gallery of my Year in Review photographs can be seen here — I have selected one photo per thousand I shot all year (45,000 in all), picking ones I thought particularly interesting in the story they told, amusing somehow, or just a personal favorite.

The first image is Magdelene Veen, formerly of Abney Park, at the Emerging Illusions fashion show with Creatureform Designs; she reposted several of these photos titled “I am some sort of demon crow.” Her act was that of a ballerina; and this shot, though backstage, reminds me of the same flow and movement (though I’m not sure she even knew I took this).

We of course love the Dresden Dolls, those purveyors of punk cabaret and one of the first mainstream underground (yes, I’m aware of the contradiction) acts to combine musical and non-musical performance acts on their stage — for, in 2005, as a fan of the Dresden Dolls, how else would I have been introduced to Vau de Vire Society but by seeing them perform onstage alongside a favorite band? The rest is history. Pictured here is Brian Viglione at the Fillmore, where I was brought in to shoot the show (and I had dinner with Brian, Amanda and Meredith Yayanos beforehand: they’re all amazing sweethearts).

Hiding ‘neath the swirl of the skirt here is Leila Bazzani of Black and Blue Burlesque, performing with the Yard Dogs Roadshow at Lightning in a Bottle 2008. You may notice a similarity to a certain other photo of mine, which just so happens to be her partner in crime, Tuesday Blue.

Please see the rest after the cut (even if it’s just to browse the photos…).

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Two-Thousand Eight — a Year in Review (pt. 1)

Friday, January 16th, 2009

With 2008 growing colder by the day in the grave, it’s time to pay our last respects and take a quick look at the events that transpired during that time. It was a momentous year for me: I spent my first time ever without a plan, being homeless on a clown’s couch for two months whilst much rockstardom was had, until I got a call out of the blue and a job offer fell into my lap (after a technical phone screening and a grueling six-hour interview with some of the brightest engineers I’ve ever met). Some have said good riddance; I heard the same about 2007. Not so, here — 2007 was the year I hit my stride with photography, and saw extensive growth technically and in my relationships with performers, and ended with my graduation from University and my move to San Francisco (finally). 2008 continued the upward momentum, and every month it seems I can look back at the one prior and think, “Really? That’s the best I could do?”

The only fitting and proper (and believable) way I could discuss 2008 is through the use of photos. Briefly: in 2008 I shot 85 events spanning 104 days, totaling 45,000 photos. This summary contains one photograph per 1,000 images I took last year, with a brief vignette as to why I thought it pertinent or amusing. Everything is in chronological order. You can click here for the full gallery of images.

I ended 2007 and started 2008 I had the past several years, at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center with Anon Salon for Sea of Dreams. This year I was hired by Vau de Vire Society to work the show with them. I have something of a tradition of getting photos of myself in whatever mirror I can find, primarily through necessity: if I don’t get one, it’s likely no documentation will exist (people always forget to get pictures of meeee).

The Hot Couture fashion show marks the last event I’ll ever work for the Crucible as long as Michael Sturtz is running the show: on one occasion alone (at the Fire Arts Festival in 2007) he treated me more rudely than every other person at every other event I’ve ever worked has treated me (and that wasn’t the only event where it happened!). Other than him, I think the Crucible is great and does marvelous things for the community. I look forward to working with them again, either via a change in heart or a change in leadership.

Please see much, much more after the cut. (Really. I wrote a lot. At least skim the pictures?)

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