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Archive for the 'update' Category

Two Thousand Nine — A Year in Review

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

As the new year has come around, I thought I’d again bring you some of the past year’s highlights (see the post from last year). Two-thousand Nine was marked by two major changes for me: the first, that I actually got enough room for a full studio; and the second, more subtle but much more far-reaching, that I have adjusted my focus to higher quality over quantity (both in events attended and pictures taken). I’m no longer going to three shows a week and taking a million photos; rather, I’ll attend two and shoot a few score. So without further blather, here are my favorites from 2009 —

(Every image can be clicked to enlarge)

Jill Tracy for Constellation Magazine
Jill Tracy for Constellation Magazine
It seems fitting to start with one of my last images of the year, this portrait of the beautiful and talented Jill Tracy; after all, I’ve had a whole year to hone my craft, and I’ve hardly been sitting idle… Jill and I have been speaking of doing a photoshoot for years, and I’m quite pleased with the results which will grace the cover of Constellation Magazine, shot at her apartment in San Francisco. You may find some of her magnificently malevolent work at her website, JillTracy.com

Savannah, Raven.
Savannah, Raven
This photo of Dreamtime Circus performers Raven and Savannah marks the first official studio shot I ever took; the white of their makeup and costumes, provided by them, was a happy coincidence.

Quaintrelle Designs
Calamity Lulu, Quaintrelle Designs
It’s a serendipitous thing indeed to have as a partner someone as beautiful and talented as miss Calamity Lulu (who made everything you see in this Tudor gown), who now runs a costume and fashion line called Quaintrelle.

Eva for Quaintrelle
Eva, Quaintrelle Designs
Following the thread of both studio work — still a relatively foreign concept to me — and costume design is this photo of Eva, where the outfit and assistance directing comes again from Lulu.

Jenny Atomik
Jenny Atomik atop the Sunshine Biscuits factory
Jenny Atomik and Mike Estee came to my studio for a photoshoot, and it was only appropriate to use the architecture and neighborhood as a setting and backdrop.

HUMANWINE poster
HUMANWINE poster/flyer shot for show promotion
Visiting from Boston, I had the distinct pleasure of befriending M@ and Holly of HUMANWINE, whose music I’ve enjoyed for years. The concept and editing for this photo were done by M@ for an upcoming show in Boston. Go listen to their music here.

The Man burns, Burning Man 2009
The Man burns at Burning Man 2009, shot from a boom lift
Watching the burn from a boom lift — the best seat in the house — was an incredible (and fortuitous) honor. The story of how I managed to get up there was one of luck and timing, to be told another day. Thanks again to Cameragirl, Andy, and Gadget.

The DPW of Burning Man 2009 group photo
The DPW of 2009
This motley crew is responsible for the building of all the infrastructure of Black Rock City not provided by the participants themselves: the generators, the roads, the trash fence, heavy machinery (for setting up art, etc.), building the Man and Center Camp: the list goes on. But they also stick around after the event is over to clean up the detritus left by 50,000 people who, though good at policing their own trash, are by no means perfect. This image is a composite of seven photographs shot in quick succession with little to no direction from me (I just flipped ’em off to get the official DPW “salute”).

John Cervelli at Fourth of Juplaya
John Cervelli in the Black Rock Desert at Fourth of Juplaya
John and I went for a ride and a glass of wine after I finished a grueling two-day epic ordeal to get my blasted car out of the mud. The surface of the playa is treacherous: undisturbed, the dry lakebed turns from tan to white when there’s water beneath the surface as salt rises up from below; it’s subtle, and if you’re driving 25MPH and looking for a crossing over the railroad, you’ll quickly find yourself in the middle with a hard way out.

What my camera looked like after this year's Burning Man.
My camera post Burning Man
I am a very vocal proponent of relax and use your damned camera. This isn’t to say I go out of my way to damage my gear, but I don’t expend much effort to protect it, either: because everything you do to keep your gear safe is one more hindrance to taking a shot. And the harder you make it, the fewer pictures you’ll take. Many people refuse to bring their nice equipment out to Burning Man, safe guarding it at home instead (where it takes no pictures). Rather, they bring out cheap gear — and then, when it dies, use this as justification for not bringing out the good stuff. Counter intuitively, the high quality (and hopefully weathersealed) gear would have been just fine. It all boils down to this: did you buy the gear to sit on a shelf, or to take pictures?

Eva at the Edwardian Ball 2009
Eva at the Edwardian Ball
My favorite portrait from the four days of Edwardian Ball last year, this picture of Eva in her fantastic swimwear was hastily taken in the middle of the crowd in front of the stage. This year’s Edwardian Ball is rapidly approaching; do you have your costume yet?

Vau de Vire Society at Sunday Gorey Sunday Edwardian Ball 2009
Vau de Vire girls spin ’round the room
One of the most technically difficult (read: “lucky”) shots I took all year is this one of two Vau de Vire girls spinning around in big circles in an drastically underlit room in the upstairs lodge of the Regency Ballroom for Sunday’s Edwardian Ball.

Victor at the Fetish Ball
The fabulous Victor at Supperclub for the Marquis Fetish Ball
A frequent performer with Bad Unkl Sista, Victor can always be counted on for some of the finest costuming and makeup. This was just a quick snapshot on the stairs at Supperclub, where after plenty of contract wrangling, I was finally OK to shoot the Von Gutenburg/Marquis Fetish Ball.

Other than Burning Man, only three of the above images come from events, a marked departure from all of my previous years. I learned photography backward, diving headfirst into the chaos of parties and clubs and galas without ever meticulously working in a controlled environment; it just seemed the natural way to do things. These days, working in a studio is something of a double-edged sword: you have full control over everything, but it’s up to you to make it work.

2009 was great — here’s to 2010.

Burning Man 2009 photo gallery

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

The Man burns, Burning Man 2009

My photo gallery from Burning Man 2009 is complete.  You can find it here.

Expect a full post-burn report in the next several days.

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.

Live from the playa

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

$teven Ra$pa at Burning Man 2009
$teven Ra$pa at the Regionals Soiree

My third batch of Burning Man 2009 photos are online. You may see them here. (Photos are in chronological order in the set).

Tree, Burning Man 2009
Tree sculpture, Burning Man 2009

Deathguild Thunderdome at Burning Man 2009
Deathguild Thunderdome pranked as Hot Topic

Click here for the full gallery.

First photos from Burning Man 2009

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The Man, Burning Man 2009The Man at Burning Man 2009

It’s dusty here. I have some photos online; perhaps you wish to see them?
Nifer in her Carhart corset

Nifer in her Carhart work corset

It’s still early in the week and many pieces aren’t finished quite yet, so check back again soon for the next batch of photos.


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.

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.

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?)

(more…)

Upcoming Events

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Upcoming events in the next month at which I will be shooting ~

And then in December, still up in the air ~

  • Saturday December 20th: The Storytime Festival with Vau de Vire Society at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Upcoming Events and photos from LA Decompression

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

October Events:

  • Tonight: Attrition, Imprint and Unwoman at the DNA Lounge
  • Saturday the 11th: Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer at the Hypnodrome
  • Sunday the 12th: San Francisco Decompression
  • Friday the 31st: Queen of the Damned Ball, New Orleans

November Events:

  • Saturday November 1st: Endless Night, New Orleans
  • Saturday November 15th: The Crazy Hay Maze in Half Moon Bay
  • Saturday November 29th: Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, San Francisco

There will be many more, so check back for updates.

Photos from Los Angeles’ Burning Man Decompression ~

This past Saturday I wandered down to the arid* Southron lands (*except that it rained on Decom — again) for their very own Decom. Gooferman and a few members of Vau de Vire were down there already for another gig, and they joined Mutaytor, the Wandering Marionettes of Cirque Berzerk, and Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque on the Mutaytor stage. Pictured above is Eric Gradman of Mutaytor/Cirque Berzerk, clearly violating the “GLOWSTICK FREE ZONE” that Decom was declared to be this year. Silly clowns.