The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

Archive for the 'update' Category

New portfolio, Twitter, and more flipbooks

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

You can find a new collection of some of my better images over here. Images therein were shot from 2006-2008 (with one exception dating from 2003). The criterion for their selection is an entirely subjective one: they’re images I like.

Next up, to continue the theme of ubiquity: find me on Twitter.

The first flipbook here is of the Man burning a few hours late Saturday night — the burn itself was delayed due to high winds, which is why you see the fireworks streaking off to the right.


The Burn — Burning Man 2008 from MrNightshade on Vimeo.

The second video is from one of my favorite moments at Burning Man, the DPW Parade. Slim of the DPW was camped with us; as he was leaving camp early Saturday afternoon, he stopped in mid-step, turned and looked at me and said only: “DPW Parade?” My response was to grab my gear (dumping the spare lenses and such) and ran after him. It was epic.

DPW Parade — Burning Man 2008 from MrNightshade on Vimeo.

Burning Man 2008 American Dream photo gallery and post-burn

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Everyone asks me, “how was your Burn?” as if a single answer would suffice and provide a neat package so we could move on and change the conversation, like two people passing in the hall asking how each other is doing: “Good,” “good,” they say, without even slowing.

Such niceties are in no way sufficient for Burning Man — if you want to ask me how it was, you’ll need to narrow it down to a day, or better yet, perhaps one-half of any given day: then I can give you a “good,” or perhaps a “stellar,” “horrible,” “mind-blowing,” “wretched,” or the like. For I guarantee I could use each of these and many more to accurately summarize my experience this year. But to put it succinctly?

Absolutely fantastic.

Last year was quite wretched indeed for me: I had caught cold just before arriving, was horribly stressed out both with work and a nasty situation where I had to threaten legal action to a (former) friend, and coupled with that I was leaving early (missing the burn itself). The result of which was that I never felt that I had arrived, floating through the event and disappearing like a ghost. I was not pleased with the work I created, and barely had a good time. Clearly, I was doing it wrong. (Some images didn’t suck, however.)

This year, I did it right. I was with my friends in a tight-knit camp with lots of real-estate and know-how, who made food and built shade when I wilted in the sun or disappeared for hours to go shoot. I arrived early, relatively stress-free (as relaxed as anyone who likes to be super-prepared can be pre-burn…) and utterly without incident (thanks, Evan!). I had the support of one member of BM senior staff who lent me space in her trailer and her computer that could grab a wifi connetion (thanks a ton, miss Bex).

Some highlights?

The Wheel of Thwarted Ambition, a metal cage wheel with a wood fire inside that, when spun, showered embers across the night sky. It was a simple concept brilliantly executed.

Taking over for David Best this year, Shrine, and a crew of architects (including TukTuk) built the Temple, Basura Sagrada. It was an extraordinarily beautiful piece, made from over 90% found and recycled materials (hence “Sacred Trash”). You may recognize a similarity to the Tasseograph Trash Tea Temple from last year — it is by the same artist.

Shrine and his clipboard The Temple, Basura Sagrada

The DPW Parade during Saturday’s dust storm was a page out of Mad Max, and a hilariously epic good time with a ton of incredibly intelligent, creative people who love drinking Pabst and whisky while yelling at hippies. That, and they do amazing work in brutal conditions. From the DPW and Man Crew, SF Slim had, in the height of coincidence, set his gear down within the very boundaries of my camp (before anyone from Fandango village had even arrived) after they made him move from his temporary camp under the man (his home while they built it). He was quickly assimilated into the Blight and made a fantastic addition, and it was he who invited me out on the DPW Parade at the last minute: I grabbed my gear and ran. (I have your leather jacket, by the way).

Thursday at dawn at the temple is traditionally the White Procession, a solemn gathering of folk all in white to greet the new day at a sacred place. Anastazia (Bad Unkl Sista) had informed me she intended to do a performance; I was there and lo and behold, she did appear with a beautiful, dark and heavy butoh piece. However, I’m certainly one to appreciate irony, so when I spied a group of Pabst-swilling, song-singin’, Confederate flag wavin’ rednecks, and saw they were the White Trash Procession, I couldn’t help but laugh and split my shooting and attention between Anastazia and serious and the white trash and ridiculous. I don’t believe either detracted from the other; in fact, I think each helped emphasize and accentuate due to the extreme contrast (had they been actively interrupting, there would have been trouble). They were not fifty feet apart. It was definitely my day’s moment of zen.

Watching Farktronix (Sugar Shot!) and Evan (“Little Person”) with my friend Star channel Laurel and Hardy and take over the Red Eye Diner Tuesday night because no one was manning it and, apparently, the diner’s neighbors wanted grilled cheese. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into. The best part? A line of forty people out front who had no idea we were in no way affiliated with the diner. (To anyone from Red Eye who reads this: perhaps it’ll explain where all your cheese went…). Who wants a fuckin’ sugar shot?

Finally, showing up to the Dust City Diner late one night, and not fifteen seconds after stepping up to the bar, Kendra — one of the waitresses — calls out, “Is anyone here a photographer? We need a photo taken” and having my (rather large) camera being set down on the counter met with cheers. (It’s not often us photographers get cheered — ours is a background kind of work, appreciated (sometimes) much later). It was serendipitously awesome.

There are an infinite number of vignettes not told here, many good, some bad — for it wouldn’t be Burning Man without them, sometimes minutes apart. Am I glad to be out of the dust, heat, and wind? Yup. (I like showering at least daily, thankyouverymuch). Am I glad to have my life back for a while, all my spare time not eaten with a thousand projects and massive logistical undertakings, preparing for the apocalypse? Good lord, absolutely. Am I looking forward to next year? Damned right I am (though my camera may not be — see below. Thanks for Martin for the photo).

Pre-Exodus, Burning Man 2008

If you haven’t already, see my entire gallery here — 344 out of 3,116 photos (that’s 38GB, folk). You may feel free to blog my images (give credit as “Mr. Nightshade, theblight.net”) and link back to the gallery; I’d also be happy to sell you a print, or license for publication — contact me and we’ll work something out.

Dust, The Burn, and Exodus — Burning Man 2008 Update

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The Man burned as planned Saturday night, albeit a bit late, and there was doubt it could occur at all, the winds were so bad. The week began and ended in dust, with another day of choking whiteout to serve as a bookend to a week of otherwise fabulous weather. You never think of the weather as being so important as it is when you can’t escape from it, and the all-encompassing wind, heat, rain, cold, and dust dictates the mood and temper of the city.

The Man Burns late Saturday night

Sparkling pyrotechnics like fireflies drift out of the man towards the end of his life Saturday night.

DPW Parade at Burning Man 2008

Just before we departed on the (somewhat infamous) DPW Parade through Black Rock City.

DPW Parade at Burning Man 2008

This year’s DPW Parade was the first to occur in a whiteout, some said. We were stuck for over an hour at some points — thank goodness for the generous donations of Pabst and whiskey.

It is late, and well past time for me to drag myself to bed (but not after a shower I’m very excited to take)

Your Humble Narrator post DPW Parade at Burning Man 2008

Your humble narrator in the Commissary just after returning from Saturday’s DPW Parade.

More updates and photos tomorrow. Signing off for now…

Update — Friday at Burning Man

Friday, August 29th, 2008

The weather’s been beautiful this week. Connectivity to the Internet has never been more piecemeal or intermittent, so I’m keeping this brief. See my flickr stream for near 70 new photos.

The Temple Basura Sagrada at Burning Man 2008

Burning Man 2008

Live from the Dusty City – Burning Man 2008 update

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Bex Workman of senior staff

This morning greeted the new Burning Man arrivals (thousands and thousands of them) with a crippling white-out storm. While the wind isn’t as bad as it could be (gusts are currently up to 45mph, but 60 is rumored) the dust kicked up by all the newcomers is blowing straight over the city.

Pictured above is Bex Workman of senior staff at Burning Man, protesting against the wind: and that was yesterday, before today’s storm. The forecast (that I overheard in the daily briefing to the various law enforcement agencies (crap, nosebleed, standby…) this afternoon says the storms should continue throughout tomorrow until perhaps to mid-Wednesday, when “normal” Burning Man weather returns.

Half-moon over Center Camp Saturday night

I have managed to explore the open playa somewhat, by following roads created by heavy equipment and vehicles working on the various art pieces; but deviating from the tracks results in fishtailing and utter immobility. Then you have to walk your bike until you find suitable hardpack to get anywhere.

Dust be damned, today three of us donned miscellaneous European army jumpsuits and held up traffic, investigating contraband with a plastic squeeky dog an demanding papers; the two below joined our party and contributed to the shenanigans, entering RVs and frisking our detained suspects.

Dusty troublemakers

The Blight is still missing a core crew member, missing in action since an engine died; our camp is dusty but in good spirits. I returned today to find one of our tents upside down and mine barely holding together (I wasn’t aware fiberglass rods could bend that far) so we broke it down and covered it in 2.5 gal water jugs. I’m currently holed up with Bex in her trailer (spending way too much time trying to obtain a wifi connection) and drinking Moscow Mules. My apologies to anyone with whom I had plans, but I’m currently closed for business and am waiting out this weather.

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.

Updated Portfolio

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

October Bohemian Carnival, 2006

I just completed a big refresh of my Portfolio, so go take a look! All images are from the latter-half of 2006 until now, with the exception of one shot in 2003 that took third place in Minolta’s Photo of the Year competition in 2004.