Operated by John-Riley Harper. Dedicated to archiving photography from Utah's underground scenes, as well as other personal projects.

Programming the Eye: How Cultures Read Photographs Differently
I've been reading the Indian photography magazine Better Photography voraciously in the past few weeks. The writing greatly outpaces any local photo magazines (i.e., mags from the United States). Better Photography adds real criticism to the discussion and I recommend it to any photographer interested in gaining thicker skin.

Better Photography contains a section where professional photographers analyze reader photos. They rarely love any, but give reasons and try to be honest about their reactions. I was struck in one by a word I keep seeing in the publication: loneliness. The commentary (in pink, below) says the photo depicts "a sense of the long, lonely road." This is just one example, but I've seen it throughout the publication. This time it finally bubbled up on my mental radar.

The Indians look for or find the quality of "loneliness" very often in photographs. Each time, I've nodded my head and subconsciously said, "Well I suppose that could be; sure, loneliness." But loneliness is never something I would have immediately identified as a value transmitted through the photo. From an American perspective, I could just as easily see those photos as conveying quiet or stillness. 

[Example pulled from page 97 of Better Photography, May 2013.]  

I suspect that the overpopulated nature of India makes these remote, isolated scenes alien and strange to viewers there. In America they are not so rare, and since we see empty scapes so often - and feel a variety of emotions within them - casting a solitary photo with certainty into the category of "loneliness" assumes too much. Here, it could be a morning walk, a hike or jog, a camping trip. There are two people at the scene, after all (photographer and subject). It's not loneliness at all. The person has company. Alternatively, photos that are much more common to the Indian - populated with such a density of figures that I can't help but feel awe - seem alien and strange to me. The crowded scenes of India, filled with people performing intimate behaviors in public, simply don't happen here - or at the very least would require creeping stealth and borderline stalking behaviors. There they are common. Here they are rare. 

I love how, by looking at how other cultures read photographs, you can sometimes get a sense for the way eyes get programmed differently. An empty photograph conveys a much different feeling to someone used to empty space. 

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A Lesson in Prioritizing and Reportage
I sat down on the frontrunner five minutes after I was scheduled to sit down. The marquee had said it was delayed: UPRW work. I put my bike in the the bike rack and started to overhear a conversation from a person two seats away (nobody in between.)

He relayed "This is the third time I've sat on the bike car this week. We are going to need to get another bike car because this one is almost full. Uh-HUH. It only has two slots available." He commented that almost all the bikes had locks attached. He confirmed questions (which I obviously could not hear) with an "uh-HUH," a highly accented second syllable--almost like a flattened hiccup. Very interesting indeed. Who was this person?*

I thought at first he was employed with UTA, a high-up decision maker out gathering data, finding problems, prioritizing them, and relaying them back to decision makers. Maybe he was part of this UPRW maintenance team, whatever that is. It was immediately obvious that he had an extremely matter-of-fact, highly observational mind.

I, of course, was also furiously attempting to transcribe what I could hear. He switched to making comments on the wifi, telling them how many times it had gone down. "Okay.  Alright.  It was since last week. . . so it's refusing my connection. That tells me that it has lost whatever a router or whatever it is, it's lost a connection with ... on this car.  Okay.  every so often you'll pass a little building. In each of those little buildings I'd put a little cell tower, a Wi-Fi tower to make it so that the train could communicate along itself.  The low bid . . . I don't know who that bidder is, but take . . Uh-HUH. My Wifi just dropped... so much off my phone. Now it's dropped off my iPad."

He sounds like an intelligent person, prioritizing the right things. Then he said, "All I can do is to call and complain, so that's what I'm doing.  I'll let you get onto the next person." This man wasn't a decision-maker after all! He was just an ordinary guy.

The person on the other line asked him some more questions; they talked a bit more. He was someone who advocates, much differently than someone who simply calls in to bitch. He keeps good records, has a clear mind, and this effectively helps to keep advertisers honest. He's a very interesting person for society to have. He ended his conversation by making this apparent, "Start working on these cars, get the internet working, or stop advertising that Wifi is on the train.  Okay.  Well, time for me to get off.  Thank you.  Bye bye."

My own mental strategy is to never really believe advertisers in the first place. I have pretty much given up on getting good wifi on the frontrunner and use the time to write, draw, or read PDFs. I usually think to myself, "That would be really hard to get wifi working; they're doing their best; hopefully it'll get better slowly." But I like this guy's approach. If you advertise that the Frontrunner can hold bikes, it better be able to hold bikes.

*I asked him if he worked with networking as he left, and he said yes, that he used to run an ISP in American Fork before something had shut it down. Something was sad in his voice as he said it, as if something wretched had happened with the ISP and I was bringing up an old ghost. I think UTA should hire him.


Childs' Apocalyptic Planet and Its Effects
I've been reading Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs. The book is hitting me on two levels. On one, the information is incredible. It seems to be the first information I've seen that feels outside the tenacious battle of the global warming debate. It does this all the while giving deeper explanations of the various fates - past and future - of the planet. Childs also resonates with a much different perspective of time, one that allows an impression of a much longer, older, more dynamic and varied earth to settle in. The facts are extraordinary gifts. 

For example, in one chapter where he experiences life atop five thousand feet of ice in Greenland, he talks about the gusts of winds that condense moisture into snowflakes and then bashes them apart - again and again - every hundred and fifty feet or so. This process purifies the water to the point that it is poisonous to drink - the water leeches salts and minerals out of cells. This property of water is a familiar wow in a science classroom, but I had no idea it could come as a result of natural processes. 

Just now, thinking over this process - water purifying itself - it flies in the face of the concept of entropy, something I've always had a hard time getting to gel. I just don't buy it. Order seems to be an evaluative opinion, almost an aesthetic preference. Disorder is matter that we want to clean up and sort. But what makes one qualitatively different from the other? 

There's the common example of the bedroom that I've never liked. Here, entropy is the process by which your room becomes a mess; you cleaning it up is the energy input that restores that order. Another example is mixing salt and pepper. It's easy to mix up but difficult to separate. Well, isn't that what happens on the top of the frozen block of ice that Child's writes from? The purification of snow by natural processes shouldn't happen, according to these models. But it seems that natural processes both salinate and desalinate. The energy input is the same. I'm sure there are some ways to nitpick it apart and change the conversation, but it's a noteworthy fact, a crucial understanding of what's possible on the planet. 

The second level that the book has touched me on is Craig Childs as an author. I try to uncover his process, and he leaves many clues. He seems to have a notebook with him all the time and writes furiously in it on a daily basis. My sister met him on a project and said he was always scribbling in his notebook. He has probably written her into a story somewhere to be published someday or not. 

This passion, this engagement with writing is something I envy. I am always wishing I could write more often and more intensely, but I rarely get around to it. I even try notebooks - to carry them around with me, but for some reason it only lasts a week at best. His words are a reminder to not give up. I need to keep writing and throwing things into the world. Writing solidifies thought. It makes it more real. It allows you to ponder yourself. Writing illuminates thinking errors. 

Not everyone may be like this, but thinking is so easy, so quick, that it leads to a certain kind of arrogance. Only when I start writing things down do I realize that I don't understand them nearly as well as I thought I did. I come to see that my fleeting inspirations are fragmentary. They are not long enough. They don't connect. They are small. They make so much sense in the moment but they are too playful and thin - confetti in my mind. 

Only by writing can you really evaluate the merits of your own mind. Without that arrogance assuming you have it all solid and together, better habits of mind can be developed. Practicing writing is practice in thinking. 

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Stadium of Fire from Above
Halfway up Cascade mountain and the fireworks beneath me register no change at all on my camera's exposure reading. [The photo above shows two or three large fireworks going off as a forest fire (started by fireworks) sends a cloud of smoke into the air.] The city is simply too bright. Its battalion of continuous, 24-7, 360° light sources make the yearly hooha rather ridiculous. Shopping malls clearly outshine the Stadium of Fire. Streams of cars going rapidly from some visual event to another are roughly equal and just as visually impressive as the teeny balls of glittery light.

Fireworks are supposed to stand in for the grandeur and glory of war - the canon boom, missile flare, and exploding shrapnel - but I can clearly hear semis revving over the din. Aren't we past this, as a culture and a nation? What are we trying to prove? Are we simply trying to scare the birds? They have seemed distressed up here. The crickets take no note as far as I can tell.

Maybe it's for the "magic," the twin enchantment and cultural education of our children. I remember loving them early but got bored after just a few years. It was one repetitious affair after another. I was sleepy. It hurt my neck to see every last ember and sparkling source of ooooh. The displays were not anything amazing after two or three times. Kids can be entertained and enchanted, but only temporarily. A rock and a stick, an interactive device, is endlessly fascinating. Fireworks displays turn the sky into a television screen. So it's for the adults, a certain subset of adults for whom this holy day somehow galvanizes. They see it as a necessary indoctrination of patriotism.

I farted on the way down, then realized that I couldn't smell it. All the air smells like flatulence. I look up and notice another mushroom cloud of smoke coming up from Alpine. The fire must still be burning. I hear gangster rap techno blaring and scan with binocs for the offenders below me on the trail. Deer eyes meet mine. Caught in the middle. Through the oscillating darkness, it moves up off the trail and dissipates. It must be terrified and I'm not helping.

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Fetishization of Female Virginity
Here is my major work of this semester: the fetishization of female virginity. I wish I could do more, bring more insight - or perhaps less in order for people to not get overwhelmed. In any case, it was another experiment in communication of an exploration.


In search of a Keylogger
I need a good analysis tool for my own keystrokes. I need to be able to see what I have typed. I need it visible on the screen. I want my strokes, also, to be saved to a text file. Unfortunately, tools that do this have been branded keyloggers, a vicious tool used by the unscrupulous, the obsessively stalkish, and the criminal.

Why do keyloggers remain in the murky, hacker-esque shadows of the internet? I am now on my third serious research attempt at finding a good program that can capture keystrokes, and it's the same scary landscape that I've run up against before. Once I had found an excellent tool only to have the idiotic Mccaffe antivirus program detect it as malicious and delete it without my permission. It was a work computer so I didn't have enough access. I could never get it back and now I've forgotten what it even was. :( Oye.

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Configuring a System for the Transcription of Recorded Interviews
J ust recently I set up a new computer for transcribing... again. I found myself scrambling all over the place to find the programs that I had put together years ago to make the job easier. This is a note for myself if I have to do it yet again, but it also might be useful for others who are looking to get set up for typing audio files. I mainly transcribe interviews for faculty at a University. They demand fairly accurate, word for word, sigh by sigh transcripts so they can analyze the data as objectively as they can.

Playing the Audio:

I use winamp for playing the audio files. Winamp has an incredible amount of customization options and also allows global hotkeys to be set. This means that I can stay in the typing program and use shortcuts to rewind, pause, or fast forward. Before I figured that out I had to do the very annoying alt+tab / left arrow to rewind in the program / alt+tab to get back to my typing program. I use the dvorak keyboard layout so I bind my rewind, fast forward, and pause to keys that are useful for me, but qwerty typists would probably want to put them in places handy for them. To set them, hit control + p in winamp and click the left menu item that says "global hotkeys." My particular bindings are:

alt + h -> rewind
alt + t -> fast-forward
alt + c -> pause/play

Of course, this can be found at:

Preparing the Audio (optional) :

Sometimes, if the audio has quite a bit of noise I use Sony Vegas to process it. Their noise reduction plugin can take out low hums, high hissings, etc, and their 4-band EQ can allow you to put a spike in the 2300 kilohertz region where a lot of verbal information lays. This can really help reduce forehead wrinkles and wear on the rewind key. Obviously this program is expensive, but if you have an audio background, this little step can save a lot of time and effort later.

Customizing Winamp:

I add two plugins to winamp, the first is pacemaker, and the second is called repeater. The pacemaker plugin allows you to slow down the audio (or speed up if the speakers are quite slow.) Once it is installed, enable it by going to the winamp preferences (control + p) and under the plugins, click the area for dsp/effect and simply click it in the righthand box. The install download is here:


The repeater plugin allows you to change the number of seconds that is rewound or fast-forwarded with each keypress. This plugin is only for the super anal-retentive, like myself! (Normal rewinding, at five seconds, is usually adequate, but if you find it rewinding too much, those wasted seconds add up.) Once it is installed, you change the seconds rewound by right clicking on the actual rewind button in winamp. More options can be found by configuring the plugin in the winamp preferences (control + p) and going to the "general purpose" area in the plugins category. Click the repeater plugin in the righthand box and click configure. The repeater can be found at the following url:


I use TypeWell, an abbreviation system/program that is used at hundreds of schools for doing real-time transcription in classes for the deaf or hard of hearing. They require completion of a training ($400) before one is allowed to purchase their software. Prices for various licenses range from $100 to $600. I think it's quite a good program, using decades and decades of theory to build a strong abbreviation system. I was into Gregg shorthand as a kid and it was a delight to see that they use some of those old ideas. The TW system also derives from the competition between it and other transcription programs, but even neater: they use some of my own ideas for building a quicker system (I've been focusing on techniques to reduce use of the spacebar). You can customize and add your own abbreviations, too, naturally.

As far as speed, my coworkers and I average between 90 - 120 wpm although sometimes, when the groove is on, some of us can get to 140 wpm runs for a good 5-10 minutes. More information about TypeWell can be found on their site:


Of course, you don't NEED TypeWell to transcribe. You can use any program you want to tap into. You could even use notepad combined with a program like ShortKeys to build an abbreviation system from, or type without abbreviations at all. I would recommend MS Word over notepad due to its autosaving features and all its other jazz.

Sharing the Files:

I use dropbox for aligning a folder with a client. That way, they can simply drop an audio file in their folder and I can drop the transcripts in the same folder when I'm done. Easy as pie to pipe. Pretty much everyone is aware of Dropbox at this point, but if you don't, use the following link to register, it'll reward both you and I with 250 extra megabytes. :)



I think that's all! If I think of anything else to add, I shall.

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On HDR, Flatness, and Nostalgia
HDR Efex Pro is a new HDR program being pumped and drooled over by the various hype sites I read and drool over. These sites are, of course, set up to whet the lust of people who want to make other people think the images they take are breathtaking, soulful, and moving. Aside from the Kwik-E-Mart name (brainstorming sessions must be grueling), the following line in their promo video annoyed me: "We've been taking pictures of interesting places and they just come out FLAT." What do these brave capitalists mean by the term? FLAT's technical relevance has been consumed by that ever pressing need to find a new synonym for "uncool." It's opposite is the antimonious expression that describes a photo that "pops." What I mean by saying it has no relevant technical associations is actually much worse. What HDR technologies actually do is flatten extreme exposures so that shadows no longer shade and highlights no longer flare and blind. They flatten images! They pop by flattening! Something like a LDR, a low dynamic range image, would be less flat (and possibly "pop" in its own way). The marketers simply know that flat = ugly/drab/boorish, and therefore would never try and argue that it's actually what they are selling. The viewer (you) is welcome to make a judgment before proceeding to the next paragraph.

What HDR technologies really show is that the culture I belong to is afraid of the world, the world in which reality "pops" our pixels out of rational bounds making everything look scary, the photographer untalented, or even a "negative" person! If you make an ugly picture, chances are that you have an ugly outlook on life. Either that or you're inept. When did we become so terrified of the battles within? Beauty for a while was the idea that images brought viewers to a point of understanding the overwhelming, overpowering nature of nature and the closeness of death - they called it sublime. It was, at least, an attempt at reconciling angst. There was an attempt to face the extremes.

Another thing the promo video explains is that you can blend your exposures together it makes them look "more like what you really saw when you took the photo," then proceeds to show cityscapes that look gleaming, vibrant, colorful, and plastic. Although your city may be fine the way it is, the images demonstrate a mild inferiority complex. They announce to the world that you don't live in a shithole. As if! The subtext reads, unfortunately, that you are mildly delusional and live in a world where memory is hijacked by nostalgia, or that your city isn't good enough without teams of programmers prettying it up and hiding any blemish. Beauty now means tamed, submissive and presentable to the parents. Beauty - Bah! I'm tempted to eat a couple boxes of raisins, bags of prunes, and cans of corn and use their software to really "pop" and "make exciting" an HDR mesh of my own diarrhea.

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Winter Solstice Celebration and Goodbye to Denali
I find myself scouring my photo archives for images I know I've gotten but have no clue what year, camera, or occasion they might be from. I spend hours flipping through folders, reminiscing and discovering goldie oldies that I can embarrass friends with by posting them on facebook pages. I'm currently in the middle of hunting for old photos of not a human but a dog, Denali, who recently passed away and was the main focus of a Winter Solstice celebration (photos below). I know I've seen this animal off and on for years, clicked at it here and there, but have pretty much no clue when and where.

Sometimes my long hours of photo searching jumps a level and turns into google research on different organization schemes or ideas to make the hunt simpler. For instance, life would be so much better if facial recognition software was available that could search through my image database, tag, and pull images back that belonged to whomever. It turns out that apple's iPhoto has already thought of this and integrated something like it into their services. I've looked and looked for the competitor's response but nothing yet (although someone on chimed in the comments for a youtube video that F-stop for the GNOME desktop might have it in the works.) However, however, the iPhoto Faces program has been out for about a year and there's not much talk about other programs bringing it in. I guess it's time to learn how to run mac programs on a PC. I never thought I'd say that! Anyway, enjoy a couple photos from our Winter Solstice celebration:

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New Years Eve 2009 - Zeus's Chop Shop
Photos can be boring and complex at the same time. The trick is figuring out how to affect others into thinking about certain ones as the latter. I might dismiss an image and skip through it for reasons that are completely unrelated to the reason it fascinated someone else. Different ideas are for different people novel or cliche. That's why it is scary to look into a photograph for too long. You begin to get a warped sense of its importance and relevance. For example, the first image in the set (about 400 photos that evening) was picked because it had a decently interesting subject, a pretty color palette, and some background figures that struck me as "interesting enough" as well. It made the cut, but my decision was split second and hopefully matches the mindset of the average information starved peruser. It's funny, though, how big of a story can be created with the long look applied.

If we elevate it from being more than just another random party moment caught digitally, the photo can be seen as a psychological triad. The dancer caught in a prayer is clearly the subject, with alternate selves that depict not devils and angels on either shoulder, but an angel in the center stuck between the devil and the apathetic hedonist. I like how the prayer posture is similar to the moment before a diver hits water, only the splash will happen in one of two heavens above. One is a void of exploration and cold science and the other is fluffy, pink, and filled with pleasure. But both are barred, caged, and restricted (or do the walls keep the heavenly in?). One of the symbols most visually packed with information is the eye simply based on its directionality. The triad is engulfed in an odd lover's triangle. The hedonist looks randomly about; the devout peers inward; the devil maintains a pretense of ignorance. They seem to be looking at no one in particular yet are all aware of each other. The symbolism with the wrist bands and admittance - about who has paid to be there - can bring about other complex themes.

Some photographs are easier to do this to than others. And most seem to be trying not hard enough at all. But I recommend a deep look at images every now and then because it is always surprising what tasty treats they can be, even the most banal. Here's fifty from my third involvement with Zeus's warehouse, on the New Years night of 2009.

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X-Mas Disco
The nightlife implies a shadow world, which is why artists like Frank Miller strike chords with the bleak contrast of black and white. What is hidden in the black - and burnt out in the white - reveals the key component of the night: ambiguity. Just as photography mimics the brain's system of memory, shadows and quick bits of detail hone in to represent memories of the night. Technically speaking, this is why most flash photography fails. It reveals too much and by doing so constructs a distorted image and warped perception of the experience. It would be like using an X-ray camera to photograph a football game (although other, deeper truths may be revealed in that project). Attention to all details might portray the world of the autistic whose tragedy lies in not being able to simplify the grass into the concept "lawn" and succumbs to the overwhelming visual onslaught of every blade. It does not connect with the more common mental habit of simplification, erasure, and categorization.

One of my struggles is to try and represent the little bit of detail that can turn a swirling scene into a slight articulation of the removal of ambiguity and to expose a few of the multiple readings possible in the instant that light flicks out and breathes meaning onto objects. The teeter-totter lies between the one side that looks like a beginning art student's third roll of film that elevates their psyche into a sad delusion of the artistic, hazy, dark, subdued and meaningless abstractionism, and the blown out crystal clarity and pock-marked boredom that happens once said person buys a flash. Sometimes I tip to one side and others to the other. The perfection in the middle is rare. This time I think I tipped to the side of the tipped to the side, hazy, out-of-focus, noisy, and artsy-freaking-fartsy.

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White Party(ies)
I'm back to the 40d since my 5dmarkii was yanked (maybe I'll post more about this if I can get out of my depressed funk) and therefore I am back to fighting an enemy I had pushed into the corner a bit: noise. Of course, even with superior sensors, noise is always an element when trying to get the most out of every photon. By bumping up the ISO, the sensor starts to get much less choosy about what counts as a triggering, data filled pulse. I really hate noise. I'm attempting to do some batch noise reduction on the photos from the white party. Getting the process down has thrown me into the funky world of learning the different kinds of noise. There is luminance noise as well as chroma noise. It makes sense that there could be two types of errors because we perceive light both in the type of color of light (chroma) as well as its brightness and intensity (luminance). Chroma noise doesn't seem to be much of a problem, but in the dark depths of the nightlife life, luminance is hell to counter. I didn't dare shoot over an iso of 500. High sensitivity and big sensors seems to be the best way to be able to achieve any kind of decent depth of field, but those toys are so many paychecks away. Anyway, I batched some noise ninjitsu into these files, so I hope and pray they don't look too processed. Here are photos of the 9th annual white party at the Depot:

And the party continued at Zeus's urban temple. I got my second wind at about 8:00 in the morning as I realized it was bright outside and danced myself sweaty silly! Such a good night/morning!

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Bass on the Beach - Bass Camp
The struggle to gain control over darkish environments is an obsession and a curse. Initially I thought that the most important aspect in order to push the edges of light was to get lenses with very wide maximum apertures. I ditched zooms because their limit (something to do with the space needed for zoom mechanisms) was f2.8. I transitioned to lenses which which could push 1.4 and above. This helped for two reasons. The first is the obvious: the bigger the aperture, the more light can hit the camera's sensor and thus, the brighter the possible exposure in a given lighting scenario. Secondly, the big hole aids in another perilous aspect of low light shooting: focusing. Getting a good focus in low lighting situations is what I spend most of my time gritting my teeth over. Having a wide aperture lens can help you achieve focuses easier(regardless of the F-stop you may happen to be shooting at,) because the aperture only tightens when the shutter is pressed. It's at its widest when focusing.

Now, there's a big downside to shooting wide open. The depth of field is hair-width thin at f1.4 or f1.2. So, while it's a bit easier to focus, shooting moving subjects can get incredibly frustrating because anything that takes a subject closer or further from the focal plane will ruin your conceptualized focus. This causes the amount of blurry, unusable photos to skyrocket.

The next solution is to bring your own lights. I, for a while, started collecting party lights and bringing them to locations simply for the fact that I could get more usable photos (while "elevating the party to another level," too). It's a gonzo journalistic approach and one that I don't mind, but requires a lot more energy investment, variety, and perhaps even permission. So, the next stage was to bring my own strobes and place them in strategic mounts to fill the scenes with drama. The advantages are that you can stop the aperture down to something more flexible like f4.0 or whatever and then use shutter dragging techniques to get a decent mix of ambient and sharp lighting. However, doing remote flashes (or even on-camera flashes) has the potential to completely change the way a scene is viewed, which destroys the images as seen in the natural setting - which might be what the photo hunt was all about. Flooding a dimly lit area with a flash of light will make everything bright. If you were impressed by the light wafting down to hit someone's cheekbone as they walk through a doorway, the results of using strobe will probably fail. One solution is to use lights on 90 degree angles in order to just catch the rims of faces, which should preserve a lot of a scene's original color and chiaroscuro but add that little hint of focus and sharpness. It's an alright technique but it means constant manipulation of the lighting direction and placement as photo goals are met (or fail).

Of course, these techniques only push the limits; they do not announce victory over them. Recently I realized that the true power lays not in the lens's aperture or personal light strobes, but in the sensor's sensitivity. ISO. With an ISO that was, say, ten times more sensitive without noise, most of the lighting limits would go away. Of course, physical limits (ie. the limits of the laws of physics) seem to be maxing out, although hopefully new technologies will continue to whittle away at the noise inherent in high-ISO captures. There is kind of a "high ISO war" going on between Nikon and Canon at the moment, and although it leads to huge increases, each technological revolution only helps gain a stop or two. Significant, but more is desired so quickly. The other way is via higher megapixels, because if you can keep noise ratios the same while the megapixel value increases, noise becomes smaller and less noticeable.

So those are some initial and general thoughts on pushing the darkness away from the successful images. I have more that I'd like to go into soon, but I'll leave it at that for now. If anyone has any low-lighting shooting tips, I would really appreciate them.

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Tommy Atoll
I did this audio project with a bizarre but amazing homeless guy, Tommy Atoll. This is the result of editing down from two separate interviews about an hour long apiece. Haha. It was fun to try and make his hilarious, wandering spiels into a narrative. He needs to be famous! Actually, I guess he is, as he says he's donated 550 million dollars to charity from his album sales.

Tommy's Not Crazy!

For those fascinated by this guy, I have some other unedited short clips. After he talks up his music make sure to listen to it to see if it meets your expectations. :)

Tommy Likes Mormons

Tommy On Abortion

Tommy's Not a Rapist

Surfing Like Making Love

Male Model

Tommy got shot!

Tommy's worth 550 Million!

Tommy Live on Guitar!!!

People need to use samples of this dood in their techno music!

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Element 11: Transformation
I was ready for it. I'll write up some narratives when I'm better rested. :) Ie, never.

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Evolution at Wind Walker Ranch
Ninety photos in the set above. I'm either getting lazier or giving into the demands of others. My editing has gone to shit. People want more, more more. The vote is in and the decree is quantity over quality, although I'm a firm believer in the power of cutting down. Eliminating the zillions of blurry photos, or uninspired ones, or dismal failures full of boredom, or disgustingly biased and unrepresentative photos (yes it's true!) allows me to look better than I am. It certainly allows me to look better than others who post every single one of their "artistic masterpieces" - blurries, blackies, whities and all. But I should probably cut down to 50 like I was before. Next time I'll bring you all LESS, LESS, LESS!!!

So, I missed out on all of the truly cool, excellent events and opted for sleep instead. The main DJ act was The Spacemen (were The Spacemen?), who are supposedly humans who dress like freakish alien gargoylic aliens and wave their tendrilled fingers around like mad, to the beat, and appear very "alien." You'll not see any photographs of them from me! I also missed the main fire event up at the Wanderlust area, opting for sleep instead, oh those lovely z's. There was, assuming I can trust those who made me jealous, fire jumproping... as well as spinning and burning and dancing and flailing about. Cowboys and Indians made an entrance. And there was talk of finding teeny-bopper raverlettes and combining them with an equestrian for fun and perhaps profit. My main contribution was waking up the next morning, wandering around with a bag filled with colorful and lacy fabric, and enlisting some help in order to throw the said fabric over Clayton's geodesic dome. It was pretty. And sweet. And bitter. Sweet.

It is now time for resolutions. I've committed to resting the entire week so that I can pound my body into the ground and never stop shooting and shouting this weekend for e11. I'm hot and bothered and hopping mad at my laziness (but also happy). In vengeance, I'm gonna go crazy psycho machine pumping greased up steamy mad!

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Desert Rocks Festival
You've heard of those fat shaking machines? They consist of a big rubber bands that are yanked left and right, jiggling the jiggly areas which vibrates the frustrating fat away. That way you can get fit while perusing TV, munching low-fat chocolate bars, and huffing down to the day job where you sweat behind screens for the remote controlled predator and kill Iraqis patriotically. We've all been there. But that lucky Goldilocks found the right temperature after only three tries. I can never find the comfy medium. Everything's either too much or too little. My own chocolate laxative relates to socializing. I want to be able to be social, but only when I want to be. And socialization, although I should know by now, leads to others reaching out to me rather than me reaching out to them. I mostly like the me reaching out. So, then, Goldilocks is either lonely - and calls everyone she knows in order to find something to do, or Goldilocks is swamped with the outgoing social searches of others. Last weekend I found myself swamped by the latter problem. So I ditched everyone and headed down in search of my own connections. It was a blast. I took a few pictures.

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The Superhero Lounge - (e11 fundraiser)
Superheroes - those masked and caped social outcasts who live in schizophrenic fantasy worlds of daisies, chainsaws, and narcissism are now mainstream. Batman: The Dark Knight represents a geek's wet dream: the object of their introverted/egocentric adolescent infatuation - the comic book - became animated, got a television series, began launching piss-poor action movies by real people - some of who were 'actually hot,' and became "good." For the first time ever, girls started appearing at comic book conventions. Even though the girls were paid to be there, the superhero has finally been deemed worthy as a worship object. To help people know how to behave, injected into the Dark Knight's plotline were obsessive fans who dressed like Batman, too. It was comic book culture's ploy to model a mainstream reality that worships them. Has it permeated to the inner bimbo? Has the superhero really a fashion icon that influences trends like Hollywood stars, Michelle Obama, and ANCO? If so, comic books have transcended the shunned corner of the nerd to the level of Greek mythology. They are the stories told over an over. Have they become our myths? Is youtube the new 'word of mouth'?

Peek inside the photos to the Hero Lounge. I first heard about this place through Joe Frank, who would watch, absentmindedly, as a McGuyveresque action star planned and executed dashing escapes on the television. He identified with the character on the screen. He wanted him. He looked for him. He found him, at the Hero Lounge. They, in the natural but exciting and brand-new way, became lovers. They honey-mooned, crooned and looked at each other in amazement and awe. But enchantment dissipates and soon indifference and boredom began to permeate. The aura of celebrity chain-whipped knuckles. There they are.

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Cacophony at Seabase
It was the castle to withstand wind we built in the desert to celebrate entry and exit into life. The wind roared endlessly all day, and I only felt peace for a few minutes as I woke up slowly. Then the eggy sun heated that air up again and the air whirred as it was beaten by the photon blender. You can only capture the visual aspects of wind when it hits things and makes them defy gravity. Photographs can't capture the sound or the motion. Last time I was in this desert, it did this:

and threatened to carry off stages. But the castle held. Only the flags on top and streamers behind revealed the torrential quantities of air tearing past.

For those confused by the photos, I'll give a more descriptive, informative summary. The event was instigated by the death of someone who has been actively involved in the burn community and who did not want the grimness of a funeral to see him go but rather a celebration. That's why the military made an appearance. The flag ceremony was actually quite moving - I was emotionally affected throughout but when Hope was given the flag, she let out a scream of joy and celebration, the crowd followed suit, and then: music began, thumping away into the desert air.

What struck me about this event was how metaphorical the castle became. It was a representation of the life of the individual. It was created out of donated wood, brought together with the energy of volunteers, yet was something no one could predict. There were no images or blueprints drawn. It was made from casual, natural inspiration. It became bigger than itself, was celebrated, and music played throughout it. But the most crucial and emotional aspect was that it was taken away from all the celebrators before we were ready for it. People wanted to continue playing on the castle, listening to music and bands playing from it, yet it was taken before its time. We watched it burn magnificently, felt its warmth, but there was something tragic. As the coals began to burn low, we were all aware not of the castle, but the lack of the castle. It allowed us to all feel a sense of group loss. We all experienced the vibrancy and then the void.

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Provo for Palestine - 1st Event!
I recently joined up with a little group in Provo that has sprang up as a response to the recent bombing in Gaza. What I think so so cool about the project is that they are not looking particularly to meet fourth order Maslow needs, the food/water/shelter stuff, but to hit at the first order. I don't know if that seems silly, but I like the idea of addressing needs (art IS a need) that go beyond day to day survival and allow for human expression that connects widely disparate times. No offense to Americans (well, maybe a little), but considering that art is usually at its best in the midst of turmoil, boiling violence, and fear, the spoiled, pale-green, super toddlers that we Americans are probably make some pathetic creations compared to what the Palestinians are capable of. The purpose so to open a communication conduit between artists there and artists here, and to raise money to donate for art supplies and that sort of thing.

We had our first event on Wednesday. Food was cooked (tabouli and this other "meat bread" thing) and we paired up with the Provo Cafe, Pennyroyal in order to show a documentary and hear an intro by the filmmakers. It was a success! 98 people responded on the facebook page Event page, and although not that many showed up, it still was a pretty decent crowd for a group that has just started making connections. I didn't have time to take many pictures, but there are a few.

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Gravity's 8th Consecutive White Party
A white party. It sounds almost racist. But wrongs become righted when you find out it's all done under a black light that actually makes everyone blue. Serves us right for being martians. It's a great theme party because everyone has at least a white t-shirt. It's pretty much a chance for all those guys who show up everywhere in blue jeans and a thin white t to be in the in instead of "too cool for all that fashion bull." Of course, what I love to see are the amazing ways that people creatively intertwine the theme's limitations with inventiveness. Blue hair or pink hair becomes all that much shocking.

On the lighting side, I really need to investigate the effects of blacklight on photography. Blue always seems to be a wavelength that interacts in strange ways. It's the most high energy frequency, of course, so that may have to do with the way it skews and burns out in places. Blue seems to rip less sophisticated sensors apart. Try looking at blue televisions or led's with a cellphone camera. Check out the photos above to see what I mean! Especially <this> one. Those are led's, and so perhaps it's just that they are so small and bright that they behave differently than anything else. If anyone has resources or knowledge I'd love to know more about the phenomenon.

OPP! (Other people's photos):
Jeffrey McGrath
Eric Hamilton

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Halloween Weekend - Jackasses & China Blue
I almost didn't make it for Halloween! Schoolwork has risen and I've been too bogged down with homework AND trying to sew a costume at the last minute. I failed, ran out of time, and decided to just go anyway. The night before I had dressed as a wrestler disguised as a car reflector - you know those ones that keep the heat out of parked cars? But for China Blue's party I was going to be Jolly Old St. Nick. It couldn't be done in time, so that look'll have to wait until Christmas or next week or sometime. Jen succeeded in becoming a peculiar puppet with a puffy head. Now, today, daylight savings has ended and time has shifted. If I try to forget, maybe tomorrow I can sleep in for an extra hour.

Oh, also - I tried doing my first photosynth, and it's of the China Blue house. Check it out by clicking photosynth. You have to install the plugin, but it's really cool once you do. It let's you explore through a point cloud of 2-D images in order to get something like a 3-D feeling. I added about 130 images but they are only 40% "synthy," so there are a lot of disconnects and many different sets. But that's ok! You can still explore the living room that goddess and mistress Charity destroyed! Wahooo!!

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-= Yun Yun Fashion and Nate's Dirty Thirty =-
Just like this country's banks, I am now in debt. But I have a camera again, which makes it worth it. I just hope I can get out again soon. So, Jen's fashion show was amazing! I was a model in it, so I didn't get many pictures, but Caitlin was amazing enough to shoot and she should have her stuff up later this week. I can't wait. Thanks to all the models! We had four boys and six girls, which I think is great because girls are so often overrepresented. I'd much rather have both sexes be put under whatever gaze it is that takes them in. Also, Breana was wonderful for doing make-up. As well, two people helped do hair styling - Alex did an amazing job coming at the last minute and doing hair with her friend Autom. It was a big production - and all for five minutes of us strutting our stuff inside of the much larger show, an October Evening. We were one of about 15 different groups lined up to entertain.

After the party I went to Nate's dirty thirty birthday with a few who still had energy. I actually should have gone to bed, but I stayed up all night anyway. Who can beat pudding wrestling in a dimly lit garage? The interactions were furious. And I got to take some photos again! Check em out.

I also used a slide show automation tool, animoto, to make the following:

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My Backpack has Flown Away
About two weeks ago, while sleeping under the full moon in a canyon, someone broke into my car and took a backpack which contained the cameras that pretty much motivate my life*. When things are stolen from me, as has happened before and will happen again, I always at first give myself a materialist reprimand. What business do I have in emotional attachments to objects? Tom Waits relates, "There's nothing wrong with her a hundred bucks won't fix," and it's essentially the same with me (although a bit more). I read about the depressing decline of marine life and know my problems are so superficial, selfish, and materialistic. So, I really don't want to worry about starting over or anything like that. The time away from a camera will give me some time to think about what I want to do once I rebuild a bit. One positive thing that the loss has showed me is that that people care! I've been astonished by the response from people who actually give a shit about my work. I really never expected anyone to care; perhaps even a few would be happy that I'd stop the ceaseless glassy interjections, tired of being hunted and snapped at. But Molly's response [link] showed me otherwise.

Soon after Molly's comment, others replied with their own concerns and outrage. Courtney replied with poetic, angry sentiments. [link]. Soon Lorraine [link] made her contempt known as well. And then, in a crazy bold move, Nate Hansen, [link] who has been throwing the Easy Street parties, chimed in - not just with outrage - but he set up a Paypal donation account for anyone who wanted to throw dollars at the problem. It's not as if I even REALLY care about the money (of course, money WOULD pretty much solve my situation but I know cash ain't free), the fact that people have taken time out of their lives to care about my own little misfortune has given me more than enough energy to simply say: Rebuild! Go a bit deeper in debt and get a new camera as quick as can be! I'll be back on my feet before I'm missed too much!

Thank you, everyone!

* Particularly, I lost 1 canon 20d, 1 canon 40d, 1 24 1.4l lens, 1 50 1.2 lens, a pocketwizard, two small softboxes, an 8gb compact flash and a couple of 2 gig cards, a bunch of eneloop batteries and bp511s, a brand new pair of prescription sunglasses, and a tan Jeep backpack. Keep your eyes out on the look out!

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Uncle Uncanny's at Wind Walker Ranch
Uncle Uncanny's music festival was small enough that you could get around to see everything, but big enough that doing so was more than likely to cause exhaustion, fatigue, and loss of sleep. With larger events you just have to give up and acknowledge that there are more experience available than obtainable, but with this you could perhaps get close. We arrived just after a torrential downpour had made mini-flash floods sweep across the place, but because of the dark and the absorbent desert sand we couldn't see a sign of it. So the earth felt alien and unexplainable to tip-toe across, non-solid and squishy under foot. Music, shadow dancing, and sleep commenced.

Inspired by the wondrous Circus Pandemonium, I set up a trapeze and then proceeded to just about break my neck. After blacking out, waking up, letting the blood dry, and then running into the sunset with my camera in hand, I ended up at a sweat lodge. And this is where my story really begins. I've been to quite a few lodges before and they have usually been free, creative places to express and explore and get to a point where you almost pass out. I love the sounds you can make inside them when you can get everything out of your nose and throat and just have these resonant open air canals. Sometimes there is a bit of mysticism and oddness, but I usually ignore that.

China Blue resident Starman was running the sweat, and to begin he asked if anyone had a song to share or something to say. I was there in part because I wanted to meditate on my neck injury, give it some rest, and "cleanse," so I said that. The person to my right, in a beautiful Irish accent, said that he wanted the lodge experience to help think about how to better know when to assist other people and when to keep silent and stay back, for their own spiritual or experiential growth. I agreed in my mind that this was a challenging boundary to figure out. It butts the ego itself against the instinct to baby others against letting them figure out everything on their own. I felt satisfied that I was in good company.

And then the weirdness began. I wanted to open the conversation up to allow for responses to people's statements. I did not want the dialogue to simply be people on their own soapboxes, so I began talking about how I hoped it would be an environment where people could respond to what others said. The Irishman's response was something like this: criticizing other people meant that you did not accept what they had to say, which meant that you had your own worldview you wanted to spread in the world; the critique of others was the reason why there was so much violence, bloodshed, and war in the world.

I was stunned. I'd always thought that wars are only fought because people do not ask enough questions. The leaders and those in power very love this mindset. People with weak foundations are afraid of being questioned. And then we heard about how the universe was split into two genders, male and female. And then we hear about how humans are beings of light, made of photons. It's ridiculous. You won't find a physicist alive that would agree with that. Regarding gender, it's more social than anything else - and a recent one. To be even looser and say that the universe is divided into sexes - male and female - is just as silly. These are categories based our own view and the fact that most can be easily put into on or another box. It's comes down to one having a large reproductive cell and the other having a smaller one. For much longer than sexual specialization has been going on, life has continued through asexual means. There are all sorts of sexes in the natural world. We shouldn't believe these silly sorts of analyses simply because they make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Never let the aura of a situation stop you from calling bullshit!

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Amazing Jellyfish - Fundraiser
The care and time that so many people put into costumes is a little bit overwhelming. I mean, you hear about a jellyfish themed party, but you don't expect to see people dressed up as them everywhere! I counted at least five people who had modified tentacles on decorated umbrellas. How compete? I, myself, stole Jen's newly-minted jellyish shirt and so I felt I'd approximated at least the texture and colors of the jellyfish. But it was so little compared! I think one of the best quotes I heard was from someone commenting on her friend's excuse for not coming: "I'll have to take forever to get ready!" The response was, "You don't even know what it means to get ready for a party. I've been working all week just to get ready!" Additionally, the place was adorned and decorated with jellyfish of all sizes. A geodome was jellyfish themed, the dj booth was a mobile jellyfish that could drive, they decorated the walls, and little blinking baby jellyfish were on fingers all around.

Oh the jellyfish! They are my second favorite marine invertebrate (next to the wondrous octopus, although the mantis shrimp and the sea cucumber are pretty captivating, too). I've always wanted one for a pet. Just look at these gorgeous things.

For more information about the mobile jellyfish from the year 12000, check the group's website.

The performers were Circus Pandemonium!

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Water World @ Easy Street
Here's a small set from the latest Easy Street fiasco. This one included water in liquid form, indoors, which seemed to quickly turn to steam. Still at 5:00 in the AM the place was sweltering. Humidity just makes raw heat feel oppressive. It's the inverse of sitting in the sun's chromosphere, over one million degrees centigrade, hotter than the surface, but not enough particles to pick up the heat and even feel. Yeah, so it was like the inverse of that.

I wasn't there for very long - I had a trip to the black hole (in white canyon, southern Utah) the next morning even though thunderstorms were making that trip dangerous and uncertain.

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Desolation Canyon on the Green River
This set has been like, published, and can be ordered as a cute little book from Blurb. Click!

From the photos it might not be apparent that this river trip was not just an everyday occasion. It wasn't like all the others! This one was unique! (Yes yes, I know that we are always heroes in the center of our own universe, and we feel that our own experiences are more fulfilling, rich, and poignant than others, but there's something almost Disneyland-like about the "river trip" that I don't love, they seem somewhat formulaic in spirit and the photographs almost always look the same).

But anyway, beneath our river uniforms - the anonymizing elements of life vests, helmets, and sharp sunlight on a one way track - it was a reunion of friends who had not seen each other for years. Some had not done the trip for ten years, others had done it every year for the past twelve. It was a group of 26 quite amazing people who met for relaxation, adventure, conversation, and a common enthrallment of and in powerful forces of nature. The smoothness and calm of the river can easily become a violent, life-sucking force. It's a metaphor for the fragility of our relatively calm planet hurtling through mostly empty space. One small thing goes wrong and it's all over. So, we slid through a groove in the rocks that had been set down from the Oligocene and popped out even longer ago, the late Cretaceous. It was relaxed yet rigorous, sacred and profane.

For further information, I'll refer to Jas's page on the trip.

Brandon, a rafter/photographer on the trip, also has pics: click!

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Rainbow Gathering '08.
I spent seven days at this year's rainbow gathering, which was in Wyoming this year.

The biggest question I have returning from the rainbow gathering is this: what was the impact on the mosquitoes!? I, myself, noticed a dramatic shift in the cleverness of the mosquitoes after about four days of battling. The early ones were lazy. I must have killed hundreds. Jen, sitting in one place while people were balancing rocks around her, killed one hundred and five, placing them in a morbid graveyard which was intended to warn the others. But after three days of massacre and blood exchange, they would not simply land. They would hover near, test their landing pad, and would require much attention.

Humans were driving evolution by killing the careless. The arms race had begun. If we had been able to stay I'm sure that we would be able to have conversations with them in 100 years.

The stories from spending a week with thousands of people are endless. I could write all night. There was death camp, the warriors of light, searches for people, rock balancing, wacky mysticism, my own secular preaching, nonchalant nudity, incredible and continual acts of altruism, and loud people.

Loud people. When you get so many people together you are quite certain to have a number of annoying ones. And the fact that they are prominent and vocal makes them seem to be more numerous than they are. I mean, some of the kids there were downright coarse. A 15 year old girl's voice could sound like a raspy 40 year old, screaming out constant obscenities. I couldn't believe it at first, but eventually I simply slept through the pre-dawn "good morning!'s, fighting dogs, and incoherent thundering.

It makes sense, though. I mean, what is the rainbow gathering but a collection of numerous regional outsider groups. Most of the people don't fit in, are socially awkward, and have antisocial tendencies. It's an odd mix, and some will always feel like outsiders even among a throng of thousands of others that feel the same way.

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Bassnectar in Utah!
Bassnectar blew away all my expectations. Thank you: Chis Sick and all the others, for getting this organized and bringing an amazing party to the local area. Click the image above to get to the page of images. What follows is little more than my own thoughts on the photographic progress. It's probably boring to most and so it can certainly be ignored; writing is simply a way to articulate and reduce ambiguities in thought, and so I need it.

Bias is a complex issue in photography due to contradictions in the way people ingest and understand photographs. On one hand, the objective factuality behind a given image has been popularly dethroned; most people take for granted that photographs are only small slices in time aimed at a narrow field from a single perspective and mind frame. Although internalized, it seems that even deeper within the collective gut still lives the weird little feeling that - still - there is an objective truth being represented in an image. People don't seem to mind if a photograph makes them more beautiful than they really might be, but cringe when faced with the opposite. People don't tend to object if a photograph skews a memory into one that is preferred. And as we know, photos can become stronger than memories, coloring and shaping them. The picture becomes an unchanging reference point as our recollections slowly dim. If we gain much of our own identity through our own memories, that means that photographs - to at least some degree - have the power to alter who we think we are and were.

I am often amazed at how easy it is for a bias, a world view, to be spread by the process of selection. For example, although just about every club has a vastly disproportionate male/female ratio, photographs produced from these events would lead one to believe otherwise. It's the "chicks equal rockin' party" bias. Look at any photo set and count how many times a female is the focalpoint. These sets distort reality in a way that is obvious, but what about the biases that aren't so?

I don't post every photo I take. (Some people do, but I mostly put that down to laziness rather than a desire to be more objective.) It's been a matter of personal discipline to pay a lot of attention to editing down, especially to ease the suffering of viewers who might otherwise be met with blurry swarms of photographs and hordes of repetitions. However, as a goal, I attempt to represent - through 50-odd photographic perspectives - a kind of summary or approximation for what I felt encompassed the "vibe" of the night. By doing so, I may be removing images that actually did represent the night but did not represent what I wanted the night to have meant. Take the following two pixel puddles:

The first images was selected for the set. The other was eliminated and would never have made it to the glow of lcd screens if not for this particular digression. The photos are similar in composition and only a split-second apart, but the meanings are radically different. In the selected image, the focus is on camaraderie; the other takes on a sexual tinge (by freezing time, there is no way to know how long this hug lasted; it may have only been a moment, but the impression is that it could be lasting forever). If I was a club owner who wanted to portray a place as sexual dynamite or a pheremonal paradise (as many do), my selection would probably have been inverted. By examining both, the case could probably be made easily for my selection being the "truer" in representing the actual relationship of the two females, that they are indeed good friends and not overtly into one another. But does the trueness of their relationship reflect the truness of the party?

The image was selected because it captures a rare, semi-intimate moment of joy between two people. Was the night completely filled with these kinds of moments as a viewer might be led to believe? I've heard people say that my photo sets made a dismal party appear "off the hook". So where is the truth? My desire to make impressive looking photo might bias the actuality of the party. If photographs aim to be some sort of documentary record (or even anthropological), these questions must constantly be asked. My set could have easily been shaped to give another impression. Any photo set anywhere is produced from the biases of the photographer and a reality - or a desire for a reality - that existed in their head.

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Utah Burn - The Worship of Ganesh
Combustion needs only oxygen and triple digit degrees. I've never seen a fire as big as the effigy of Ganesh, and yet, I ended up running straight for it. Those flames had to hit over one hundred feet in the air. I mean, look at those little people. Now, look deeper. I had some of my flash equipment clamped onto that little pile of palettes which were perhaps some 35 feet away from that mighty proboscid.

Now, look deeper into that mesmerism. I had flash equipment clamped onto that little pile of palettes. They were perhaps some 35 feet away from that mighty, wooden proboscid. The flames spread exponentially with my worry, the crowd backed up further and further, and then someone exclaimed, "Oh my! The palettes are starting to smoke!" If wood was smoldering, what would it be doing to beloved plastic? I darted desperately to the safety team, who said no way they were going in there but I could certainly run for it if I wanted to. And that's why I ended up tearing straight towards the blazing, face-searing, air-blasting inferno. I tugged the palette, trying to dislodge it. I slipped in the mud, feeling the fool in front of hundreds of onlookees. With the heat overwhelming me, I attempted a few seconds of relief by ducking low behind the small wooden barrier. The realization sunk in as to why the choice to jump from burning skyscrapers was so preferable. With morbid, frantic thoughts licking my brain, eadrenaline kicked in and all my body focused on ripping that little wooden square out from amongst its smoldering friends and across the soggy dirt back to where the fire controllers awaited me with Mai Tai's. I was slightly in shock after that experience and put the dripping plastic that used to be my pocketwizard in my car. All desire to shoot photographs dropped away. That may explain the lack thereof.

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Bleached Beach
I don't usually do sets of my non-journalistic hobby - posed photo shoots. My goal with them is usually only one or two well-worked photos for my portfolio and to slap up on deviantart. But yesterday was interesting because I was with a group of friends and we ended up doing photos of each person in the same place, but with different ideas behind them all. So, there is more diversity and it seems to make up enough for a fun little page of pics. That and that those involved will not accept less.

Thanks Charity, Micah, Molly, and Jen!

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Apocalypse - @ Easy Street
I thought it was the end of the world, or at least the end of the day. Calvin and Hobbes made an interesting impression on me: I wanted to doze away in a soft bed. That's no party attitude! Buuut, my bed has been underwater for the last two weeks, only saturday was it laid horizontal again, and I've missed it. So, my exhausted body thought the world was going to be over and I was almost glad it would be, until I stepped into the reality of the Apocalypse! It awoke me. There was so much energy that I didn't even think of hitting the sleeping bag until 7:00. What amazing installations, lighting, music, and people. And oh Stosh, thank you for light-proofing your little dungeony room. I had no idea it was 2 in the PM until I opened my eyes and yawned.

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Blasphemy - Dress to Confess
It's a great place to be, or a great life to live, where the combustions of many materials illuminate the shadows of the earth . We'd call that nighttime, but laser beams, burning ethanol, and the LEDs of St. Nick find it a time to compete with the sun whose back is turned. We have become connoisseur's of the commodification of light. It is delicious and we would pay and give and pray and sacrifice and war for it. The laser beam, especially, is an intense, vibrant, interactive lover. I have always loved it adored it worshiped it but it needs atmosphere to really rouse its romance. It ripens under cigarette smoke and synthetic fog. It bounces off your sweat. It rewards and allows the eyes to feast on the sensuousness of photon fillet. I wish to write to orchestrate an ode, but that would foretell an end. Ew. There is no end to that perfect laser beam. It goes on forever. It is starlight under a perfect snoot, an emerald or ruby roscolor strip between. And to frame this paradise in the oscillating, mortal night - hydro carbons burn like sugar, dancing among undulating flesh.

Oh! And happy birthday Nina!

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I just got back from an amazing trip to Havasupai. Does it get annoying, dear reader that everything is so goopy and "amazing" all the time? I mean, I guess that since the gothic online journals of depression and tears have gone out of style there isn't as much moping. Ya gotta contribute positively to the global conversation now-a-days. But still, things shouldn't be all popcorn pink glee-fests. So hmm. What was awful? I get cold too easily. I was a wuss and didn't jump off the waterfalls. We had to wait a whole day to go to the sweat lodge. I got in some fights, verbal ones. I wish I was better at card games. But wow. Those were hard to think of. I made lots of friends and had fun conversations and the car ride rocked! AugH! I'm getting caught in the positive frame of mind again! Goodbye. I'm going off to mope!

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Mindhum Corporation presents - Field of Dreams
This is insane, inane. I really have absolutely no time to write a writeup, or hiccup. Maybe I'll do one long after the fact. Maybe now! But not now. Now I'm getting caught in the endless eternal rhythm of writing exactly what my mind wishes my fingers to say. It's not anything but. And I think that perhaps I will never graduate past it. It's a gradation, the graduation.

And on another note, I hate how some people want to extricate deliciousness from pathetic phonemic similarities. A professor asked today, in his mindless mundane way, what were the differences between individuality and individualism. I was working, so I couldn't snap off his nose, ears, and lips, but I wanted to say that the only real similarity was the coincidence of being spelled with many of the same letters. He went on to spread lies and total confusions. But that's what he's paid for. I get paid to observe politely as propagandists sink their claws into the stupid.

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Mindhum Corporation Presents - The Dionysius Festival at Eeeasy Street
There are photos of me! I really haven't had any new photos of myself for ever, but luckily a few commandeered the camera from my hands and went shooting mad: John-John, Penelope, and Molly. Thanks to Jen for fixing me up with some rocking hair, and Savers for the raw materials. I was slightly sick at the outset of this party, but I decided that I would try to beat it with my own energy. So I partied it up, passed out a little after 7:00, and really felt my mind was stronger than the little bacterial colony that is my body. It turns out that the brain is only good at tricking itself from the pains of reality for so long. I slept all day yesterday and today I've slept more. So that's why I am done typing. What I've got so far was hard enough. The end.

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Luv2k+8 - Raytraced Prod. - Saltair
Photographs tame the memory. They solidify a space which was much more vibrant. First of all, they are such scattered instants, selected for compositional clarity, color aesthetics, and pyrotechnical wow. On one level, the photographs are so far removed from the experience that they lose any connection with what they might mean to be "documentary." Sometimes the camera clicker wants to represent that moment that happens so often when glancing around, things fall into place, and some image just gets burned into the brain. Most aren't frantically searching to encapsulate the eyelash flash, and so the scattered assortment of accidents and unintention that are produced feature a drive alien to the motivations of others.

But maybe that's good. There is no unified objective, after all. The removal from that sort of intent could perhaps do something else. If it is not possible to catch what is in the internal subjectivity, then some sort of real truth might arise, might bubble up from the void. Intent does, in a way, destroy the documentary function of photography. But then it comes down to selection, searching for secrets in the faces of all these strangers - and friends; looking for disparities and contrast; finding stories that might never have been; selecting for what was mentioned above, composition, color, and light; all of which bringing personal opinion, a personal aesthetic, back to mix. Some avoid this problem and post every photograph taken during the night. It doesn't eradicate the problem, though. Every time you snap you select. Videographers only have to deal with the subjectivity of aim. They don't have to worry, until editing at least, about preferences of time.

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Back to School Prom - Rave - Mindhum Corporation
One of the more vital elements of rave culture lies in the way it transforms space. The most hotly sought areas have always been warehouses, shopping malls, old churches, and other arenas that, and here is the important word, obviously serve other masters in the light of day. These are the parties that are remembered. And it distinguishes raves from clubs. Ravers feel a bit dismal at clubs because, come on, they were built for the purpose of dancing. There's nothing revolutionary there. The quality of a party can be in some sense determined by how far from the original use of space a production company can go. Obtaining and transforming space is the essence of the scene.

The first photograph in the series necessitates close examination. It begins the metamorphosis of what could be passed by easily as a place other than a greasy patch for parking cars. As the series progresses, the garage converts more thoroughly into something else, is pushed further and further from its original state. Flags become anti-props. Brooms are still-reeling implements of transition. An illusion of sophistication sets in - which illustrates the plasticity of the term. The costumes contrast with and create a new reality. Energy rises. And, eventually the original scene is forgotten entirely; some never knew it. And thus, the butterfly emerges.

But that is not all. Every rave is refreshed by exit. Cinderella is seen for her cinders again. After it is all over, people leave through garage doors and glance back on that which holds back the paradox inside: black, corroded steel, bruised brick, and a faded sign that reads a yellow page appeal. The secret is safe.

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Part II of Molly's Walls
Changes have overtaken our beloved culture. The interaction between the individual and the immediate area around him or her - the living space - has been partitioned to specific focal points of connection, as civilization has crescendoed: the sink, toilet, doorknob, toothbrush, television, toaster and dresser drawer are the touchable tips that remain. Beneath which are the areas of atrophy. Much of our living space is interacted with in the most minimal manner: expanses of walls, the sea of ceiling, behind desks, of decorations. The keyboard interface collects our dripping dead cells but the dust from the air around simply falls untouched, like the moon's surface, on the rest.

These pictures presented mark a precise pressure aimed directly at reuniting with the seldom scratched surfaces. We worship the walls in which we live by celebrating upon them. The square dimensions that regularize our lives become bent and top merges with side, front, and behind through color, texture, and abberation.

Our collective clawing and stroking attempts to make sacred the mundane. We offer sacrifices of virgin drywall, untouched. We are baptized in an inversion of ritual, the walls the riverbed and the paint the plunge. We know that we are manifested with spirit because it takes days to rip out and takes our hair with it. We are no longer the same nor similar nor sane.

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Demolish wha 'tis to be Devestated - Part I

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Molly's Mad House of Decadence
by Lindsey Nelson

It could have been a tranquil holiday tea party, but as all signs of decency and decorum decayed, the night was sucked into a turbulent downward spiral of depravity and debauchery. What manner of shamelessness could account for such licentious derangement and disturbing mania? What barbaric madness could have possibly disabled the frontal lobes of these poor fanatics’ brains, leaving them drooling, corrupted, and degraded? An examination of the abundance of rich detail offered in these photos leads me to this irrefutable hypothesis: these people are in the lewd and spastic throes of helpless devotion to Dionysus himself! {Dionysus is the Thracian god of wine and revelry, madness and ecstasy.}

They say that the divine mission of Dionysus was to bring an end to care and worry. What a smashing success, in one house at least, for one night. Look at the pictures; you can almost see the divine satisfaction of the god, smiling down upon the insolent drowning of inhibition, the orgiastic frenzy, and the unabashed disorder. And although it’s never specifically mentioned by any scholar of theology, I am nonetheless convinced that eggnog baptisms were among the standard tenets of Dionysian worship.

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Trey & Joules' (sp) birthday bash (w/ strippers!)
I was (and perhaps still am) a naive simpleton, virtuously virginal: I'd never yet been to a party with strippers. This changed last weekend. I feel a little bit silly even mentioning their presence or state of dress because I actually don't really like to make a big deal about nudity. But I guess that sometimes it does elevate things to a certain level of comic hilarity, vibrant sexuality, or at least passing interest. It's sad that the word, "stripper" even has a "sleazy" connotation, but it does and that's why I find myself trying to defend my interaction with it with the staunch morality of my very being (ha). I actually felt that the taste was positive, there were no issues such as degradation or masculine dominance involved: it was joyous celebration. And anyway, the crowd was anything but lecherous, they were a creative, bubbling mass of beautiful, humanistic love.

But still it (the event) operates in the conceptual realm. The women who stripped removed themselves from personhood for a short while and they became images, objects, ideas. Their humanity was stripped away until all that remained was the stripteaser, the birthday suits for the birthday boy. I guess what it comes down to is that we humans really are not so much living beings but concepts that play out against each other. Sometimes they bump, sometimes they explode, but mostly they remind us of other images so we can know what our roles are and perhaps play within them, all the while tantalized by projections into the flowing symbology around us. What we saw and participated in was the idea of people who take off their clothes and smile and frolic while other smiling, laughing people watch while still others cringe in embarrassment as soft, naked body parts are squished into their faces. It is all a scripted play in the exchanges of attention that is our currency. We watch, we listen, we perform all at once.

It's only later that we contemplate. If you find it difficult to make sense of your senses then perhaps the images below can help put a fix on those shifting, intangible thoughts. But probably they can't. :)

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The Porn Star Ball
I've been going to pumped-up amplified and filled to the point of bursting parties lately, and so the rave last night was a nice break. There was room to dance, room to move, room to get around. Big parties are intense but I would say that the Porn Star Ball was perfect if you wanted to dance and have fun without exploding your 5-senses. I took a bunch of pictures but, sadly, feel I was left with mediocrity. But please, judge for yourself:

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Tiny, Melissa, and Kyla
Here are a few of the selected images from a recent shoot.

And then here are all of em.

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