It was a great honor to have CORVA (California Off Road Vehicle Association) request permission to reprint my Off Road Basics: Trail Etiquette article in their July newsletter Off Roaders in Action because it gives me credibility in the off road community, especially when I see an article written by Tom Severin, who I hope to profile later this year, in the same issue. The article was originally published in DrivingLine (thank you to Nitto Tire for allowing the reprint) where it caught the attention of Kim Carpenter, CORVA's VP of Education. CORVA is a non-profit organization that works with land managers throughout California such as the BLM and the NFS for responsible off-highway vehicular access and recreation opportunities, as well as educating members on rules and regulations, promoting cleanups and trail maintenance projects. Just about everyone in the California off road community is a member of CORVA.
But I have to admit that it feels strange to see one of my articles without the photos. After all, I am a first and foremost a photographer. I enjoy writing the stories that accompany my photos and I never honestly thought about writing as a stand alone pursuit. At times I've even wondered if Lori the writer/author/journalist was detracting from Lori the photographer, especially when I'm busy chasing photos for a story instead of photos for the sake of art. So I wasn't quite sure what to think about having an article published without the accompanying photos. But on the same day my article was published in the CORVA publication I happened to listen to an interview with David DuChemin on Faded and Blurred. Jeffrey Saddoris asked DuChemin about how he felt when he realized that he was becoming as well known for his books as he was for his photography and the effect of adding the title of Author to his C.V. on his career trajectory. DuChemin responded that "I sometimes think that people can peg that about us before we're willing to say so about ourselves."
Listening to the DuChemin interview made me realize how insanely blessed I am that people are willing to pay me to share my experiences and stories about something I enjoy so much, whether in photos or in words. If sometimes it is in words only, that's perfectly fine with me. It's an endeavor that I hope will continue to evolve.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Had a fun shoot last night with Big Wik of SURTHRIV. The word is a combination of Survive and Thrive and the site has articles and a forum about preparedness, wilderness survival, camping and other outdoor activities. Check it out if you're into those kinds of things (and most Jeep/off road people are).
We were doing the shoot for an upcoming article I'll be doing on off road trailers because Dan has a really cool off road trailer he custom built. Since it's too hot in the desert this time of year we went to one of the local foothill canyons so we could get the trailer off camber and show off its capabilities. In the canyons you lose daylight long before actual sunset when the sun dips behind the mountains. As soon I noticed that we were about to lose the light I convinced Dan to let me get a shot of him in front of his Jeep. I didn't want to ask him to re-position his Jeep and trailer yet again because he had already done so many times for me, and anyone who tows a trailer knows that turning it around isn't the most fun thing to do. So I had to balance some tricky light, with Dan and his Jeep in the shade and the hills brightly lit him. I was using my quick-and-dirty one light set up. It took a few tries to get it dialed in but in the end I managed to pull off the slightly edgy hard look I wanted. It's not a lighting situation that I recommend though!
I love the fact that my 7D can wirelessly trigger my flashes because it makes it easy to use off-camera lighting in the field (or my studio lights) whenever I want with minimal set up, it's perfect for the fast-paced shooting I typically do. But truthfully the whole line of sight thing with IR triggering is getting old, especially when I'm shooting things like the interior of a vehicle and I don't have an assistant. I really need to get radio triggers. A few years back I was using the (cheap) Cactus triggers in studio, and while I never had any reliability problems with them, they just aren't sturdy enough for the type of abuse my gear is put through out on the road (jammed in the back of the Jeep). I've seen good reviews of the Yongnuo triggers, but I'll probably end up going straight to Pocket Wizards unless someone/something convinces me there is an acceptable reliable substitute. I don't care about E-TTL because I always use manual flash settings, it needs to work with a mix of different strobes as well as my Broncolor studio lights, and I sure don't want something like the Photix Strato Multi a friend has which requires her to put the strobe on her camera first to start the communication process, then remove the strobe and attach the transmitter, and repeat the process any time they stop communicating (which according to her, they do often). I do not have the patience for that!
Anyone have any input on recommended radio triggers besides Pocket Wizards?
Monday, June 30, 2014
What photographer doesn't love to shoot old abandoned cars? This beauty was in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, not far from some old farming equipment. There is no badging left on it so I'm not even 100% sure what it is, but someone on G+ had mentioned that it would make a great rat rod and I agree.
I took so many photographs while I was at Carrizo Plain at the end of April (was it really that long ago?? May and June have flown by!) that I'm just slowly working my way through them whenever I get a chance and I've hardly made a dent. My story about that three day off road trip kicked off the Ultimate Road Trip monthly series at DrivingLine and can be read here The Ultimate Road Trip: Off-Roading at Carrizo Plain. I know that rain, wind, and sand storms isn't exactly everyone's idea of the ultimate road trip, but for an adventurer who loves to explore like I do, this was definitely one of my all-time favorite trips and I can't wait to go back. Not to mention that stormy skies are great for photography! It's a lot of fun if you do it with others who have a great attitude. Like my favorite saying goes, "The only difference between an adventure and an ordeal is your attitude.".
My other recent photos and stories on DrivingLine are two more articles in my series of Off Road 101 for beginners Off Road Basics: Trail Etiquette and Off Road Basics: Post Trail Vehicle Maintenance, and photos and a summary of the 2nd Annual Asuza Canyon Family Fun Day which featured some insane rock crawling competitions.
July is shaping up to be a busy month of shooting for me and I find myself already wondering how to fit it all in, but I have some really fun stuff coming up (even if it is work). I think I'm due for another escapist weekend soon so I can shoot merely for pleasure, just need to find time to fit it in.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Whenever a writer I like quotes another writer, I always try to find some time to check out their work. I think it was Edward Abbey who led me to the powerful words of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, which perfectly expresses the feeling I have as I wander around these old places...
"Rise up to be born with me, brother...
Tell me, “Here I was punished,
Because the jewel didn't shine or the earth
Didn't yield grain or stones on time.”
Show me the stone you fell over
And the wood on which they crucified you,
Make a spark from the old flints for me...
I come to speak for your dead mouth. "
~From the Heights of Maccho Picchu
Pablo Neruda, as translated by Jodey Bateman
Prints available here
Monday, June 2, 2014
I can't help but think of ships every time I see these threshers, great giant ships sailing vast golden seas of grain.
I know that this one is currently sitting on a barren expanse of desert sand, but work with me here.
When I visited the Goodwin Education Center last month during my visit to Carrizo Plains I learned that all of the old farming equipment scattered throughout the area might not be there much longer because of the solar energy plan. As explained to us by one of the rangers, many of the old farms are located in areas that are protected for birds and wildlife, but there is no protection status in place for the historical cultural artifacts on the lands that are now owned by the solar company. At best, if someone wants to spend the money, some might be moved to exhibits, at worst they might be removed and destroyed. This breaks my heart because seeing something in a museum, or behind a fence with an interpretive sign nearby, doesn't compare to seeing it in situ and letting your imagination run free, envisioning what life was truly like back then and how hard it must have been to scratch out a living.
If you're truly in it for more than just the sake of making photos, if you care passionately about the subjects you photograph, it is a bittersweet feeling. There is a sense of honor and respect in knowing that you just might be documenting some of the final days of an important piece of our culture and history, and a feeling of profound loss knowing the same. It instills a sense of urgency.
That is why I like to create both documentary images and fine art creative images. This is what it looks like; I hope to return soon (under different weather conditions) to capture what it feels like.