Midlife Simplicity

A journey from more to less.

Category: photography

Burning Man Radio Recap

template joomla pour site de rencontre Last week I called into the Paul Duane show on K-Talk 630 as Paul was discussing his Burning Man experience this year. I’d originally called to make a brief comment, but ended up on the show for close to an hour-and-a-half, I think. You can listen to the show here:  http://www.paulduane.net/2015/09/burning-man-recap-with-steve-conlin/

Paul Duane -The Flaming Fool

like this Paul Duane -The Flaming Fool

Website And you can view the photos that illustrate much of what was being talked about here:  http://midlifesimplicity.com/2015/09/burning-man/

97 rencontre  

An art installation in the playa. Paul Duane interviewing participants.

dating website mental health problems An art installation in the playa. Paul Duane interviewing participants.

Steve Conlin - photo by Paul Duane

conocer chicas por line Steve Conlin – photo by Paul Duane

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Post Emmy’s Tacos

http://havanatranquility.com/daeso/1573 As the Uber driver in a black Kia Forte pulled up to 900 Vine in West Hollywood,  I glanced back at the line of the taco stand to see where the woman in the glamorous red dress stood in relation to the window where you place an order.

“How the hell did he get here so fast?” I said to myself.  Thirty seconds at 1:30 am on a Sunday night in West Hollywood? The fact of the matter was, Uber and I had been having issues all weekend. Lost drivers, three-minute waits that turned into 15. Shared rides that, due to my inexperience, should have been shared but weren’t. My first weekend depending on Uber had been quite an adventure. And now here I was with my Emmy date in line for tacos and my Uber driver promptly here like superUber.

“Hey, that was fast! We’re in line for tacos and might be another few minutes, do you want to cancel the request?” I asked the driver.

“Nah, I’m good. I’ll just pull up back here and hang out. Take your time,” said the dark-haired man in his late twenties.

I looked back to the  Cactus Taqueria from the corner and saw the following scene:

taco-1

My Emmy date in her red dress, barefoot at the window placing her order. What you don’t see is that I’m wearing tuxedo. I think by this time I’d ditched the bow-tie to a pocket. Needless to say, we stuck out just a little bit on this particular street corner in the early morning hours in LA.

We’d been driven to the taco stand by a friend who was headed home.

When I noticed that my date in the red dress was shoeless, I realized she’d left her shoes in our friend’s car. In the interest of expediency, courtesy to the Uber driver and simply just to not forget, I went to the car and got them out and started carrying them around.

bash-41

So if you’re with me here, there’s a lovely 6-ft tall woman waiting for tacos in a beautiful red dress, there’s me in a tux walking around with a pair of glittery 5-inch heals and then there’s all of the usual suspects of a taco stand in West Hollywood at 1:30 am on a Sunday night.

As my lady in red stood and talked with our friend, I found myself cornered by another patron asking about the Emmy’s and where I was from, etc. I excused myself when I heard the order of tacos being called out and headed over to reconnect with the other two.

As I neared, a man standing behind me said, “You’re a good man.”

Huh?

I turned and a guy was standing behind me sort of shaking his head.

“Thanks, but what makes you say that?” I queried.

“I would’t be carrying those shoes. You’re a good man,” he repeated.

I laughed. “A man has gotta do what he’s gotta do,” I offered.

“Oh I get it!” he laughingly said.

I laughed again.

“Ha, I don’t think you do,” I thought to myself. He had no idea the story behind these shoes, this date, the situation at all.

He had no idea that I’d spent a few hours shopping for those shoes over the last couple of days or how’d they made my date arguable the tallest woman at the Emmys that night! He didn’t have a clue that we weren’t in a ‘relationship’ and holding shoes wasn’t an attempt at doing what needed to be done to insure getting laid. He had no idea that my date was more comfortable at Burning Man than the glitz and glamour of Hollywood though she pulled it off in stunning fashion. There was a good chance those shoes would never even be worn again. Nope, he had no clue.

So I laughed it off. As I considered how many other times people have had no clue, we piled into the Uber and headed to Santa Monica. Once there we got back into our taco eating clothes and we ate tacos, chips and guacamole. We talked and lamented how fast the weekend had gone and how much it sucked to be leaving California in morning. With a ‘good night’ we fell asleep.

The stranger from the corner did have one thing right though. At that moment, for different reasons entirely, I had felt like a good man.

 

 

 

Burning Man

I’m no longer a Burning Man virgin. After seven nights and six days in the Black Rock City (BRC) I feel confident that I got a good feel for the Burning Man experience. While I think that there is no way two people could go to Burning Man and come away with the same experience, thoughts or memories. I think everyone can have a similar sense of wonder and awe. The scope of BRC, the playa and the few afternoons of relentless wind are things I think will stick with most attendees.

I went to Burning Man this year with a pretty good understanding of what it is. I’d been thinking about going since the late 90’s when several of my friends attended many years in a row. Each year there just seemed to be something else I was committed to or I didn’t have anyone to go with or any number of excuses popped up. In 2015 I had none. I committed early in the summer, found a ticket and made it happen. Along with a friend, Paul Duane, and a place to camp, Cosmic Recess, I headed out. After a drive that totaled about 20 hours (including 8 hours of delays) I found myself on the playa of the Black Rock Desert.

More waiting, but at least you're on the playa. Starts to feel like you are "at Burning Man."

More waiting, but at least you’re on the playa. Starts to feel like you are “at Burning Man.”

I had an idea, but there are a few things that I hadn’t expected. The first was the shear size and scope of Burning Man. The second was the amount of things to do while you are out in the middle of nowhere for a week.

I live in a city of about 79,000. There are about 70,000 people who attended Burning Man this year. I kept trying to imagine what would happen if the city I lived in simply moved out into the desert in three days in to roughly seven square miles and made a go of it. It was impossible to even consider. Can you envision seven square miles filled with RVs, tents, porta-potties, DJ’s, skating rinks, art, etc.?  I thought I could. I was wrong. Burning Man is big. On top of the RV/camp section there are another seven-plus miles of art installations in open playa. I would estimate that I saw about 30% of the Burning Man event and much of that was just a walk or ride-by.

The playa.

The playa.

When I arrived at burning Man I truly had no set agenda. As you hit the gate, and they collect your ticket for entry, a gate attendant hands you a book that lists every event on each and every day by time. It’s a fairly thick book there are all kinds of things to do. I like to say you can go from having an orgy to listing to a Ted talk and everything in between. I never opened that book until I got home. My intention was to turn off my watch, turn off my phone and simply go with what moves me. I did have an inkling that every night I would want to take out my camera while the light was nice. I quickly found out that I wanted to have a camera with me at almost all times. Burning Man it is very visually stimulating. What follows are a ton of photos representing a relatively loose at it of all of the pictures I took during the week.

Some are portraits of people I’d met there, some are random people I walked up to, some are just the scenes that I saw. Thanks to everyone who was so kind and willing to be photographed. I hope you like what you see.

BRC-114

Some of them are not safe for work. You have been warned.

Again, NSFW pics do appear in this collection. If you are not comfortable with the human form in a non-clothed state, please do not go forward and try to avoid your mirror when you get out of the shower.

From I-80 it took 8 hours to get to the playa. 109 miles.

From I-80 it took 8 hours to get to the playa. 109 miles.

Waiting.

Waiting.

On the playa. Speed limit 10. Headed for the gate.

On the playa. Speed limit 10. Headed for the gate.

Pee break. You can not pee in public or on the playa. Leave no trace.

Pee break. You can not pee in public or on the playa. Leave no trace.

Pastel skys and the need to go.

Pastel skys and the need to go.

Our first visitors. Claire from Spain and Fred from France and England.

Our first visitors. Claire from Spain and Fred from France and England.

Claire, Fred and Paul.

Claire, Fred and Paul.

Five Wives Vodka makes quick friends.

Five Wives Vodka makes quick friends.

Art cars are plentiful on the playa and can be just about anything you imagine.

Art cars are plentiful on the playa and can be just about anything you imagine.

Art car

Art car

Our camp, Cosmic Recess, was a playground in the desert. Slides, swings, etc.

Our camp, Cosmic Recess, was a playground in the desert. Slides, swings, etc.

Swinging at Cosmic Recess.

Swinging at Cosmic Recess.

I think he works out.

I think he works out.

BRC-16

Talk to God. Evidently there was another booth where you could be God and talk to the folks using this booth.

Talk to God. Evidently there was another booth where you could be God and talk to the folks using this booth.

BRC-18

bikes bikes bikes

bikes bikes bikes

There was so much to do that when you had a party and were giving away free alcohol, you literally needed a carnival barker on the corner to entice people to come in.

There was so much to do that when you had a party and were giving away free alcohol, you literally needed a carnival barker on the corner to entice people to come in.

necklace

necklace

Cosmic Recess playground.

Cosmic Recess playground.

Cosmic Recess playground.

Cosmic Recess playground.

BRC-25 BRC-26

I think the blue lipstick caught my attention.

I think the blue lipstick caught my attention.

BRC-28 BRC-29

The Temple at sunset.

The Temple at sunset.

BRC-31 BRC-32 BRC-33 BRC-34 BRC-35 BRC-36 BRC-37 BRC-38

An art installation in the playa.

An art installation in the playa.

BRC-40 BRC-41 BRC-42 BRC-43 BRC-44 BRC-45 BRC-46 BRC-47

The Pilot Fish. An art car that called our camp home. It was our ride once in a while as well as a beacon for campmates when at an event in the playa.

The Pilot Fish. An art car that called our camp home. It was our ride once in a while as well as a beacon for campmates when at an event in the playa.

BRC-49 BRC-50 BRC-51

The Totem of Confession that eventually burned with Timothy Leary ashes in it.

The Totem of Confession that eventually burned with Timothy Leary ashes in it.

Giant typewriter in the desert.

Giant typewriter in the desert.

Temple

Temple

BRC-55 BRC-56

Lounging under the parachute. Paul Duane.

Lounging under the parachute. Paul Duane.

BRC-58 BRC-59

Paul Duane preparing to give a little advice.

Paul Duane preparing to give a little advice.

Advice seekers arrive from the dust.

Advice seekers arrive from the dust.

BRC-62 BRC-63 BRC-64 BRC-65 BRC-66 BRC-67 BRC-68

I stopped this woman and asked to photograph her. Her response caught me by surprise. "I came by myself and I wondered if I'd have any pictures of me." I hope she finds this one.

I stopped this woman and asked to photograph her. Her response caught me by surprise. “I came by myself and I wondered if I’d have any pictures of me.” I hope she finds this one.

... and this one.

… and this one.

BRC-71 BRC-72 BRC-73 BRC-74 BRC-75 BRC-76 BRC-77 BRC-78 BRC-79 BRC-80 BRC-81 BRC-82 BRC-83 BRC-84 BRC-85 BRC-86 BRC-87 BRC-88 BRC-89 BRC-90 BRC-91 BRC-92 BRC-93 BRC-94 BRC-95 BRC-96 BRC-97 BRC-98 BRC-99 BRC-100 BRC-101 BRC-102 BRC-103

Awesome, fun, friendly sisters from Poland.

Awesome, fun, friendly sisters from Poland.

BRC-105 BRC-106 BRC-107 BRC-108 BRC-109 BRC-110 BRC-111 BRC-112 BRC-113  BRC-115 BRC-116 BRC-117 BRC-118

One Job.

One Job.

BRC-120 BRC-121 BRC-122 BRC-123

I don't even know what was going on and never stopped to find out.

I don’t even know what was going on and never stopped to find out.

BRC-125 BRC-126 BRC-127 BRC-128 BRC-129 BRC-130 BRC-131 BRC-132 BRC-133 BRC-134 BRC-135 BRC-136 BRC-137 BRC-138 BRC-139 BRC-140 BRC-141 BRC-142 BRC-143 BRC-144 BRC-145 BRC-146 BRC-147 BRC-148 BRC-149 BRC-151 BRC-150 BRC-152 BRC-153 BRC-154 BRC-155 BRC-156 BRC-157 BRC-158 BRC-159 BRC-160 BRC-161 BRC-162 BRC-163 BRC-164 BRC-165 BRC-166 BRC-167 BRC-168 BRC-169   BRC-174 BRC-175 BRC-176 BRC-177 BRC-178 BRC-179

I loved the look of these two as they walked toward me. I'm happy that the pictures captured what I saw.

I loved the look of these two as they walked toward me. I’m happy that the pictures captured what I saw.

BRC-181 BRC-182 BRC-183 BRC-184 BRC-185 BRC-186 BRC-188 BRC-187 BRC-189 BRC-190

Martian

Martian

BRC-192

Zaphod - builder of the pilot fish.

Zaphod – builder of the pilot fish.

BRC-194

David and Dixie

David and Dixie

BRC-196 BRC-197 BRC-198 BRC-199 BRC-200

Marsha

Marsha

BRC-202

The Pope at the Tiki bar.

The Pope at the Tiki bar.

Cupcake

Cupcake

This gentleman is the maker of this art car as well as the Medusa metal work you'll see in a different pic. I need to find his name.

This gentleman is the maker of this art car as well as the Medusa metal work you’ll see in a different pic. I need to find his name.

BRC-206

Marsha

Marsha

BRC-208 BRC-209 BRC-210 BRC-211 BRC-212 BRC-213 BRC-214 BRC-215 BRC-216 BRC-217 BRC-218 BRC-219 BRC-220 BRC-221

Jared and the accordion.

Jared and the accordion.

Jared and the disco ball helmet.

Jared and the disco ball helmet.

BRC-224 BRC-225 BRC-226 BRC-227 BRC-228 BRC-229

Suzy Q - we spoke for hours in the dust storm with our eyes and faces covered. It was good to see a face after the wind subsided!

Suzy Q – we spoke for hours in the dust storm with our eyes and faces covered. It was good to see a face after the wind subsided!

BRC-231 BRC-232 BRC-233 BRC-234 BRC-235 BRC-236 BRC-237 BRC-238 BRC-239 BRC-240 BRC-241 BRC-242 BRC-243

Paul Duane seeks shelter in the dust storm.

Paul Duane seeks shelter in the dust storm.

BRC-245 BRC-246

Orgy Dome. Yep, it is what you think it is.

Orgy Dome. Yep, it is what you think it is.

Orgy Dome events.

Orgy Dome events.

BRC-249 BRC-250

Temple

Temple

Temple

Temple

Temple

Temple

The front porch. These folks love to sit on their porch and people watch. Sounds like a perfectly acceptable Burning Man activity to me.

The front porch. These folks love to sit on their porch and people watch. Sounds like a perfectly acceptable Burning Man activity to me.

BRC-255 BRC-256 BRC-257

Paul Duane

Paul Duane

BRC-259 BRC-260 BRC-261 BRC-262 BRC-263 BRC-264 BRC-265 BRC-266 BRC-267 BRC-268 BRC-269 BRC-270

Temple

Temple

BRC-272 BRC-273 BRC-274 BRC-275

Cousins on the playa from Denver and New Orleans.

Cousins on the playa from Denver and New Orleans.

Michelle.

Michelle.

BRC-278 BRC-279 BRC-280

Barbie Death Camp

Barbie Death Camp

BRC-282

Fire Tuba.

Fire Tuba.

BRC-285 BRC-286 BRC-287 BRC-288 BRC-290 BRC-289 BRC-291 BRC-292 BRC-293 BRC-294 BRC-295 BRC-296 BRC-297 BRC-298 BRC-299 BRC-300 BRC-301 BRC-302 BRC-303 BRC-304 BRC-305 BRC-306 BRC-307 BRC-308 BRC-309 BRC-310 BRC-311 BRC-312 BRC-313 BRC-314 BRC-315 BRC-316 BRC-317 BRC-318 BRC-319 BRC-320 BRC-321 BRC-322 BRC-323 BRC-324 BRC-325 BRC-326 BRC-327 BRC-328 BRC-329 BRC-330 BRC-331 BRC-332 BRC-333 BRC-334 BRC-335 BRC-336 BRC-337 BRC-338 BRC-339 BRC-340

The day a dead bird photo became my most liked on Instagram

People are such odd creatures-myself included. But as a group they can be even more odd than individuals. I think maybe this is because you notice the real odd-ball individuals, but the oddness of a group makes its appearance in more subtile ways.Today the oddness of people as a group made itself apparent on my Instagram page.

I don’t have a huge amount of followers, around 600 at last count. I’m not some sort of Instagram “celebrity” or do I post specific pictures about a specific topic. To be honest, since I have no cute baby pictures to post, I lean toward taking and posting a lot of pics of my 14-year-old dog along with an occasional scenic picture or even selfie once in a great while.

monument

Sometimes I’ll post a pic of a friend or even a pic of me and Charlie, the aforementioned dog.

butchers

Most the time I’m just posting whatever presented itself on a given day without much thought behind it other than, “It’s pretty. It’s cute. It’s someone I know.”

Pretty much how most people use Instagram.

“Hey, look at this, because I did and now I want to tell you about it.”

charlie

Obligatory cute dog photo.

On average I’d say I get 10-50 likes on a particular photo as I figure that’s about how many close friends and family I have at any given time who are willing to stroke my ego and double-tap a pic for a little heart symbol to pop up. They give and get a little in return. Every once in a while, my dog seems to do something that strikes a cord and I’ll suddenly see 100 to 200+ likes.

I quickly think, “Awe, dogs and babies! The key to instant ego strokes on Instagram. Please understand that I’m man and I don’t have the option of throwing a half-naked pic of myself up for a quick ego boost! Surprisingly, when I have thrown up the occasional pic of a hot woman, not in any state of undress, I get the same number of likes on the pics as I would most my pics. I’d like to think that says something about my friends but I’ll save that for another blog entry.

Okay, I think I have sufficiently buried the lede here.

Over the weekend I was in Malibu, CA and decided to take a little stroll on the beach. I took my Canon 5D Mark III for “real” pictures and my iPhone as I normally would. As I walked down the beach and took typical pics of birds, sun rising, fisherman or whatever caught my eye as visually interesting I cam across a dead bird on the beach and walked past it.

After a few steps, I thought, “That was kind of interesting.” I returned to the bird laying in the sand. It had obviously been dead for a while. the manner in which it rested became very interesting to me and I reached for my phone and snapped a pic. I didn’t even use my “real” camera. It was just something I wanted to remember for some reason.

bird

I continued my walk and thought little more about the decomposing bird. When I returned to my campsite I was looking through the pics I’d taken and this image struck me is really unique. I liked the position, the tones, the striking beauty in the face of the obvious death.

So what to do? Instagram it of course.

Over the last 4 days, I noticed a consistent stream of likes for this photo. It made me start pondering what is up with that? Did people simply see the same thing I did? Is there a subculture of people who dig dead birds out there? I don’t think a live bird would get anywhere the same amount of likes. At the same time, I posted the same pic on Facebook and no one has liked it. Is it that none of my friends like dead birds while a lot of, evidently Spanish speakers, do? Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 5.02.08 PM

As of this afternoon, this pic became my most liked photo of my 650 Instagram posts and I find it as strange, beautiful and odd as the picture itself.

Feel free to follow my Instagram page:

http://instagram.com/steve_conlin_photo/

 

 

 

 

Memories generated by things

zephyr

Photographer Pedro Meyer released a photo CD in 1991 called I Photograph to Remember. Over the years that title has become my mantra in many ways. I often use photos I’ve taken to remember people, places, events, etc. I imagine I’m not too different from most people.

There are times I wish I was one of those rare people who can remember everyday of their life and are able to instantly access it. I simply am not. Photos to me are like bookmarks that seem to fire up the area of my brain associated with that memory. Otherwise it just seems to take a lot of effort to access them.

As I’ve been cleaning out boxes and drawers I’ve come to realize I’ve hung on to some pretty silly items over the years for much the same reason. Whether it was a bracelet or necklace from some part of the world, or a receipt for a big purchase, or a private club membership card like the one above, they’ve all been sitting in a dark little corner of my house waiting for a ray of light to hit them and reflect into my eyes to active a little part of my brain reminding me of something associated with the item.

Kind of funny.  I know the memories are in my brain but I’ve convinced myself that some sort of physical item is required to trigger the thoughts. Perhaps, I’ve just grown lazy and know that these things at least help in getting those synapses firing.

When I stumbled upon membership card from 10 years ago to a “private club” that’s been closed for 544 weeks. (See Bill Frost’s continued tracking of the state of the Zephyr Club) it brought back a slew of memories from many nights at one of Salt Lake City’s most revered bars that closed in 2003.

I had flashes of the many nights spend in the two-storied Zephyr Club watching bands like the Young Dubliners, Robert Earl Keen, Leftover Salmon, Buck Wheat Zydeco, Darden Smith, Chris Whitley, Maceo Parker, Michelle Shocked, C.J. Chenier, etc.

ticket

I remembered specifics like the night some girl stole my hat while I was waiting in line and ran off with it. Or the night I had to leave a show early to go to the airport to pick up a friend at the airport that was flying in from Kentucky. I remembered my friend Jon meeting his future wife there. I remember always getting there early so we could get the table we liked to sit at. I remember given drunken people rides home and I remember staying in Salt Lake City after many shows for the same reason.  I remember seeing friendly faces who were all there to have a great time.

One night just before Christmas Robert Earl Keen was playing. About midway thought the set, about 100 people in Santa Clause outfits came through the door and filled the dance floor. What had been a full venue turned into a crowded dance floor of Santa Clauses all toasting Shiner Bock beer to one another. REK ended song the song he was playing and, in a bit of shock, said, “We were going to play this later, but now seems like the time.”

Seizing the moment he and the band broke into Merry Christmas from the Family. It is a fantastic memory of the Zephyr Club. It could have only been 50 people in costume, but the way I remember it, it was nothing but a sea of red, long-necks and smiles for that song. A couple of songs later, they were all gone.

I enjoy listening to James McMurtry’s Live In Aught Three recorded mostly at the Zephyr Club. The  very first time I heard McMurtry he was playing solo in Waterloo Records in Austin trying to get people to buy his first album. Year’s later I was lucky enough to attend both nights of the recording. You can read McMurtry’s thoughts on the Zephyr Club in an archived Salt Lake Tribune article from 2004.

ticket2

I spent many nights at the Zephyr Club. Many memorable. Many lost to the short-comings of an aging mind. More than anything I remember them full of good music and good friends. And while I know things, like the card above, don’t hold my memories, they sure do help me recall them.

As part of the exercise of getting rid of stuff I find myself confronted with this often. How long should I hold on this worthless card from the days when Utah was full of private clubs.

For this of you who aren’t from Utah, this was time when you had to an annual membership due just to enter a bar – hence private club. If you didn’t have a membership or weren’t the guest of someone who was, you couldn’t get in. It was pretty silly. Those days are gone now, thank God. I’ll tell you the stories of only being able to be served mini-bottles like on an airplane some other time.

So how long? The answer is as long as it has value to me I guess, but it seems so easy to “give things value.” We do it all the time. The approach I’m taking is that if something is basically worthless – meaning no one would pay me anything for it, it is going on the garbage. Like this card.

I value its place as memory jogger, but I have a feeling simply taking a picture of it  and looking at the picture at a later time will serve the same purpose.  It’s a risk I’m willing to take. All my adult life I’ve been photographing to remember.

 

 

Cameras must stay

Fuji X Pro-1

Fuji X-Pro 1

Over the past few years I have tried to be cognizant of what is important to me in my daily life. I’ve come to the conclusion that my cameras must stay.  They won’t stay in a manner that they have in the past. As I worked on simplifying my life, I think it began to impact my photographic technique.

I used to want to carry around a big bag and have any lens needed at my fingertips. In the last year or so, I fell in love with shooting with a 50mm lens (or equivalent on certain cameras like the one above.)  If I don’t like what I’m getting from where I’m at, I do my best to move to where I want to be.

In many ways we live in an age where you can probably just carry around your phone for most photography and I do use my iPhone a lot. The convience is great, but I still like to have a “real” camera handy for events that have great significance to me or are work related and optimal image quality is desired.

Photography seems to be a gadget rich path whether a hobby, profession or habit. I’m shedding as many gadgets as possible.

From the perspective of overall lowering the number of my physical possessions, the cameras that I use will stay. A few lenses will stay. A strobe will stay. I will get rid of most of the other stuff.  The cameras that are 50-plus years old and have been in a box in my basement for seven years will go.

 

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