In Dust We Trust

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”
— Neil Gaiman

We love to hate the dust. It gets into everything, it sticks to anything. What it touches is marked for the remainder of it’s  significantly shortened lifespan. I believe we ingest a lot more of it than we imagine. Fighting it — believe me, I’ve tried — is useless.

But I find that when I quit fighting and embrace the dust, and I mean truly become one with it and of it and in it, it becomes almost impossible to become actually dirty. And my camera gets a magical Shield of Immunity against playa, and so I go out and shoot what the dust reveals.

Hawaii CORE project

Dusty Couple


Balloonatic Rides at Sunrise

This morning I stumbled out of my trailer and was treated to a true delight: The Balloonatics, AKA the Burning Man Balloon Operation (Bi.M.B.O) had rolled into DisOrient  and were filling up a couple dozen enormous brightly colored weather balloons with helium.

That’s a lot of helium….and  I thought to myself, well, this is clearly worth an extended gander. They were planning on giving people rides as soon as they had enough of them filled up. As it turns out, this is a lot harder to do that one might thinks: The balloons are huge, and if the lines get tangled they become unmanageable. But the Balloonatics make short work of it and before long they have 20 balloons filled up and took them out to their staging area to get them ready to fly.


State Of The Art

12:01 AM Monday, August 29th 2011: must be time to burn. The calendar says so.

Burning Man is in full swing. There are hundreds…no, clearly thousands of auto headlamps visible on Gate Road, something that Danger Ranger once referred to as the “String of Pearls”. Swarms of clean people are pouring out of the radial streets onto the iinner playa…and I just saw one guy belly flop with joy into the dust. And the art. The art is up, and more is coming. I can’t see it all. I can’t shoot it all. I can barely even decide which of the 3000 images I’ve captured in the last few days to display here.

So, without further ado, here’s a small sample of what Burning Man 2011 has in store for you.

“Orgasm” by Brian Tedrick


The Playa is Really Big

As anyone who has walked back to camp after watching the sun come up out at the trash fence will tell you: the playa is big. Really big. Gigantic and huge to boot. But it’s even bigger than that. Really. Really. Big.

It’s so big the only way I can explain it is to show you a picture and hope that you click on it:

110 megapixel panoramic image of the Black Rock Desert

This is a 110 megapixel panoramic image I shot of the Black Rock desert last Wednesday. It’s made out of 42 individual images, and stretches all the way from the Temple of Transition all the way back to Gerlach. Click on the image to see the whole thing in high-rez interactive animated detail.  Requires Flash and a full water container. Extra sunscreen would be a good idea, too.

On The Road To Black Rock City

Today is the day that many of us have been anticipating for weeks or months or years: The day that we leave our default realities for the playa.  After  all of the packing and preparation,  we’ll get into one kind of vehicular pod or another and scurry off to the desert, fixated on just one thing: getting to the other side of the Greeter’s station.

Rites of Passage is my 12th burn. I’ve often wished that I “had time” to stop in some of the beautiful places we pass through on the way to Black Rock City. After I made it into California I noticed that the stars were amazing, and the moon was starting to rise and had to stop and take it all in.

I find the Surprise Valley to be especially beautiful. This year it was just starting to get light as I made my way over Cedar Pass and I saw that a spectacular sunrise was about to unfold, so I pulled over and shot this four-frame panorama.

A little further South is Eagleville, and the sunrise was still indeed amazing.  I caught the tail end of a Burner’s Airstream in one of my photos.

And then the sun was up, and I was in Nevada, and that’s where the cattle grates begin to appear in earnest. That’s when you know you’re getting close to home.

Speaking of home I know you’re all thinking, gee, Holden, this on the road stuff is great, but how about some photos from the playa? Well, I’ll leave you with this one, and promise to post a bunch more soon….as I write this the sky is just starting to get light and there is some amazing art that I need to go photograph.