Photographers: Photographing BM question

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Photographers: Photographing BM question

Postby winebuff » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:44 pm

I do photography and know you cant sell the photos from BM but do most photographers or people in general bring their regular camera equipment to record it and protect it somehow or do they bring low end equipment? My camera is close to $5,000 with one lense and want the best pics but cant afford to have it ruined. Any suggestions? Thx!
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Postby rodiponer » Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:54 pm

Hi,
I saw some folks with expensive cameras who wrapped the various orifices, holes, and seams in black tape. Gaffers tape, I think, because it doesn't leave a mess when you peel it off. Test it first, or maybe try a self amalgamating tape, like rigging tape (for sailboats), which only sticks to itself and definitely won't leave any guck on your camera.

Some people also had their entire camera in a bag, with just the lens filter poking out of the bag. Others had a bag just covering the lens. This might be a good idea if you have a large zoom that gets longer when it zooms, since it has to suck air in to get bigger like that. A prime lens or a zoom with an internal moving element probably doesn't need a bag, since it's not pumping air when it moves, so tape around the lens mount is probably enough.

From the amount of fine dust in the air, even inside our car, I would either pick one lens and leave it on the entire event, or go 80's Japanese tourist style and bring two or three camera bodies with your favorite lenses on them.

For what it's worth, I brought a Nikon D300, but only took about three photos. I needed a break from my usual mental world, which photography activates for me.
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Postby mdmf007 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:28 pm

tough pickle -

You know how to take good photos, with good gear, but the playa is the antithesis to anything electronic or with intricate parts.

Theres a thread here somewhere about this very topic, so id try a general search for it.

Im no professional and use point and shoot digital for all my stuff.
My professional buddies spend a lot of time with the 20K box of goodies and damn near build clean rooms to work on their cameras in the evening. One uses an underwater rig on his Nikon, its digital, shoots awesome stuff and he is able to plug in external cards and batteries without opening the rig.

It adds 3-4 pounds to the rig, and doubles the size but he swears by it. experiment with setups and see what works for you.

budget a professional cleaning as well, unless you can dissasamble yuour rig completely an do it yourself.
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Postby Sham » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:51 am

There are 3 professional photographers in our camp and they bring kick-ass expensive cameras with them, including 3-D, and a professional movie camera for filming the event. The photos and filming have been incredible, but I always bring my small digital camera for ease of use, and because it's light to carry. My photos are of course not as good, but worthy of framing.

A good test for the dust on your camera would be to empty a vacuum cleaner bag into a plastic garbage bag along with your expensive camera, and shake it for 12 hours to see if the dust causes any problems. The all day dust/wind storms can be intense.

By the way, I don't think I gave you an official welcome and a virtual hug. Welcome and I hope everything comes together and we see you in 2010. :D
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:28 am

One uses an underwater rig on his Nikon, its digital, shoots awesome stuff and he is able to plug in external cards and batteries without opening the rig.


my friend megan used this exact set-up with great success...

she pretty much never took it out unless it was to switch lenses.


rule of thumb, if it's dishwasher safe, it's playa safe...I.E. if after the event, you can run whatever it is thru the dishwasher without damaging said item, then it probably will do ok out there.

keep that in mind.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:11 am

Shambala wrote:My photos are of course not as good, but worthy of framing.
I am shocked by how good digital cameras are in general. It's like I took a couple of serious phtography courses, but I didn't. Now all I need is the "beam German and Czech into my head so I'm fluent" tech to come on line, and I'll be a happy fish.
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Postby dr.placebo » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:02 am

For what it's worth, I've shot digital on the playa since 2002, and with the same camera (Canon Digital Rebel XT) since 2005. No problems, no professional cleaning. I've also been careful.

1. Do not change lenses on the playa.
2. Keep the camera in a good camera bag at all times when not shooting pictures.
3. Do not take the camera out of the bag when there is visible dust around you.
4. When not in possession of the camera keep it protected from the sun, the dust, and from prying eyes.
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Postby Isotopia » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:39 am

Unless one is in the habit of taking care of their equipment in extreme conditions I'd go with the underwater shell. I know of at least two people who, when they go, NEVER take the the lens off for any reason. They make it a point to choose a generally flexible lens that provides reasonable wide angle and zoom properties.
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Postby Homiesinheaven » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:09 pm

here are two discussions from pro photographers on this common question:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carnivillain/2827287540
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgoralnick/2840320194

bottom line is:

A - pro cameras dont get ruined at Burning Man even when completely exposed and
B - are you a photographer or a pussy?

i kept wet wipes with me the whole time and cleaned my camera whenever i had down time. dont live life in fear, get the shot. ;)
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Postby gyre » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:23 pm

Rodi, how do you like your D300?


I use a plastic bag over the camera when not in play and don't shoot in high dust.
I mostly use film.
I leave the pro camera at home.
Some don't.
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Postby rodiponer » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:22 pm

gyre wrote:Rodi, how do you like your D300?


I really like the D300, but it's easy to like because it's also the nicest camera I've ever owned.

But... if my goal was something more like art, and not just snapshots of my kids growing up, then I would stick with a Nikon FE2, or trade the D300 for an old Hasselblad. Not because I like film, but I like how the larger film/sensor size changes the geometry of the camera and yields a shallower depth of field and a sense of space. Even casual snapshots on 35mm look more 3D to me: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yfblcj9

We must all work within the tools we have. I think my preference is because I've grown up using a 35mm or 6x6 sized film plane. So I feel like the mini sensor on my D300 has a cramped, clinical feel. You have to use a long lens to get a shallow depth of field, which compresses the space and makes the photo feel too tight to me. To get a wider view you have to use such a wide angle lens that the depth of field is huge, so the photo tends to look sterile and lacks a feeling of space. I've noticed that my favorite wide angle shots with the D300 recreate that feeling with reflections in the cheap lenses I use: http://tinyurl.com/yh3qpxg

And maybe I am nostalgic, but I think blown highlights on film, the way they tend to reflect inside the film and add a glow, I think that looks really good. The way digital blows highlights doesn't have the same emotional appeal to me. This would never look the same with digital: http://tinyurl.com/yfb34pt
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Postby BitterDan » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:49 am

My Canon 50D has no problems and did not need professional cleaning after BM09. I walked around with it IN a dust storm. I do not remove the lens and keep it in my backpack when I'm not shooting.
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Postby Delrious » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:42 pm

Has anyone actually ever had a camera ruined at BM?

I was totally paranoid about bring my good stuff to BM after hearing all of the talk on these forums about how to protect them on these and other forums. However, at some point I just said fuck it and stopped caring and it turned out it didn't matter at all. Dust isn't just in the desert...Modern cameras can deal with it.

-I brought both a 5dmarkii and an XSI. Both got pretty coated with dust but were easy to clean after.
-I shot during several heavy dust storms
-I changed lenses about 12 times
-I often used a wide angle zoom (though I tried to keep zooming to a minimum)
-I did get one really bad dust spot at one point that couldn't be taken out by self cleaning. I cleaned my sensor with an arctic butterfly np (while gritting my teeth).
-I got some really nice stuff (http://www.vimeo.com/6636389)

I think as long as your camera has a self cleaning function, it's not a big deal. Worse case scenario - you have to get a professional cleaning after.

Next year I plan on bringing a much more extensive setup...dust is the least of my worries.

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Postby Delrious » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:47 pm

"B - are you a photographer or a pussy?"

Exactly.

(I give up trying to use [quote])
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Postby gyre » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:18 pm

Delrious wrote:"B - are you a photographer or a pussy?"

Exactly.

(I give up trying to use quotes)

Enable bbcode and smilies on your profile.
I recommend enabling email too.
Preview should test everything.
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Postby ibdave » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:05 pm

Delrious wrote:-I got some really nice stuff (http://www.vimeo.com/6636389)

Ben


Here"s the link...

Nice work BTW.. :wink: :wink:
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Postby Delrious » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:05 pm

gyre wrote:
Delrious wrote:
Homiesinheaven wrote:B - are you a photographer or a pussy?


I'm so glad I know how to use quotes on this forum.

Enable bbcode and smilies on your profile.
I recommend enabling email too.
Preview should test everything.


Thanks! :oops: :idea: :oops: :idea: :oops: :idea: :oops:
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Postby bentang » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:46 pm

[quote="Shambala"]There are 3 professional photographers in our camp and they bring kick-ass expensive cameras with them, including 3-D, and a professional movie camera for filming the event. The photos and filming have been incredible, but I always bring my small digital camera for ease of use, and because it's light to carry. My photos are of course not as good, but worthy of framing.

A good test for the dust on your camera would be to empty a vacuum cleaner bag into a plastic garbage bag along with your expensive camera, and shake it for 12 hours to see if the dust causes any problems. The all day dust/wind storms can be intense.

By the way, I don't think I gave you an official welcome and a virtual hug. Welcome and I hope everything comes together and we see you in 2010. :D[/quote]

Can you post the URLs for your 3 prof photographer friends? Thanks!
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Postby bentang » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:54 pm

I would agree. I brought my two dSLR cameras to the Playa, and they are mostly fine after some careful cleaning. I built a custom "camera condom" out of an REI dry bag. It worked OK, for a day or two. But I got frustrated, because it was difficult to make exposure adjustments and would slow me down while I'm shooting. Both are not really acceptable if you're a photographer.
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Postby winebuff » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:59 pm

I appreciate the input. I too was, am, waffling on whether to bring the good camera but I want the shots! This is probably one of the best places to shoot in the world I bet. Havent been here yet but will be no longer a virgin in 2010. Yay! I took a bunch of shit from people on another post when I talked about photographing bm. There are alot of people that believe you cant experience bm through the lens. I disagree. I think there is a fine balance to everything you do. You take some pics, while asking permission if needed, you have a drink, take some pics, adjust your elephant head, shoot a pic, take a drink, take your top off, shoot a pic..... lol
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:47 am

Yeah, the people that say you can't experience BM through a lens are not photographers and probably don't view photography as an artform.

One has to wonder how many of the anti-photography folks "secretly" go back and relive some of their memories through the photographs that others have taken at the risk of their gear in the environment. I know I have seen positive responses to some of my shots by some of the very same people that have issues with cameras at the event.

In terms of gear, I have done very little in terms of protecting my equipment. I taped up my D70 back in 07 utilizing gaffer's tape and didn't make any lens swaps and shot the entire event on my 18-200. In 08, I brought out my D300 and kept the same lens in place and did not utilize any extraordinary precautions other than wiping the camera and zoom tube down daily and hitting it with a blast of air occasionally.

I wanted some night shots this post event and did some lens swaps on the 300 bouncing between my 18-200 during the day and a fast 85 or 50 at night. I picked up a little dust on the sensor, but nothing too bad or that couldn't be touched up. I have had worse happen by swapping lenses in cleaner environments because I did not swap as fast as I practiced for on the playa. I was averaging about 3 to 5 seconds for a lens swap out there. :)

If you are concerned about trashing a high dollar camera out there, buy insurance for it. I picked up $12k of coverage on all my gear through my homeowner's policy with Allstate for less than $200 a year. It has already paid for itself in spades after I had some gear stolen in Dallas.

I am hoping to add a D700 and some faster zooms to my line up if the possible upcomings on the horizon pan out for me and my company and if I do, they will all be there with me in 2010.
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Postby winebuff » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:52 am

Capsmashy, I LOVE YOU! Thank you so much for your kind words. I did get ALOT of shit from some people here who will go unnamed about shooting BM and "not being present". I have to admit, it left me a bit hurt. The digs were deep on their part. You just made my decision. I will go for it, use gaffers, bring the air and not change lenses unless absolutely necessary. I have a 24-105 that will be the main lens but bring a 17-40 if needed for the wide shots. I am ALWAYS respectful when I shoot people, always ask with kids. I am actually a nice photographer :) Thank you for your nice and encouraging words. You made me day. Good karma to you.
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Postby gyre » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:09 am

Smashy, are you on any of the digital forums?

I do find I focus on things very differently when I am shooting.
I try to shoot things that are mostly missed by the masses of pictures.
Theme camps are oddly under covered.
Marc Merlin has been good in this area.
Friends are another area where I want my own shots.

I take my older film camera and leave the pro camera home.
I miss the long lenses though, occasionally.

I mostly use film out there, except at night.


Nothing wrong with taking pictures, but it definitely changes my attention when I am doing it.

It was fascinating to watch, a few years ago, when all the war photographers showed up at burning man after the early burn.
I watched one guy spend a half hour on one piece of fire art in camp.
There must be some very interesting photos coming out of that point of view.
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Postby winebuff » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:24 am

Are there digital photography forums regarding just to BM here or are we in it now? :roll:
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Postby gyre » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:27 am

I don't know of any just for burning man.
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:59 pm

winebuff wrote:Capsmashy, I LOVE YOU! Thank you so much for your kind words. I did get ALOT of shit from some people here who will go unnamed about shooting BM and "not being present". I have to admit, it left me a bit hurt. The digs were deep on their part. You just made my decision. I will go for it, use gaffers, bring the air and not change lenses unless absolutely necessary. I have a 24-105 that will be the main lens but bring a 17-40 if needed for the wide shots. I am ALWAYS respectful when I shoot people, always ask with kids. I am actually a nice photographer :) Thank you for your nice and encouraging words. You made me day. Good karma to you.


:) My pleasure.

You will see a lot of big talk on this site regarding various topics. Eplaya, regrettably, is a pretty tough room to play in some days. It would be nice to see it have the same kind of openness as one finds out in the desert, but I think the anonymity of a keyboard enboldens some to be webwarriros.

In the past three years I have been attending the event, I have never had an issue over taking photos. I always ask if I am shooting portraiture style or I go up to them after the fact if I am shooting candids and let them know and make sure me taking their picture was okay. No one has ever said no or minded that I took their photo.
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Postby goathead » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:08 pm

winebuff wrote:Are there digital photography forums regarding just to BM here or are we in it now? :roll:


here is one of the best on the playa.

viewtopic.php?t=32190

tristan does some amazing work.
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:08 pm

gyre wrote:Smashy, are you on any of the digital forums?


I'm on a few but I lurk for the most part. I keep a gallery maintained on flickr for my public stuff.

I do find I focus on things very differently when I am shooting.
I try to shoot things that are mostly missed by the masses of pictures.
Theme camps are oddly under covered.
Marc Merlin has been good in this area.
Friends are another area where I want my own shots.

I take my older film camera and leave the pro camera home.
I miss the long lenses though, occasionally.

I mostly use film out there, except at night.


I plan on lugging out my dad's old Polaroid landcamera in 2010. I discovered it too late in the storage shed to get film for it prior to this past event.

I have very little rhyme or reason in my photography while out there. I plan on one thing and wind up doing something completely different. I really want to set up a small photo booth, maybe even something mobile with a trike, and invite people in for pictures. I might try to get that accomplished for 2010... you know, add it to the list... :lol:

[b]Nothing wrong with taking pictures, but it definitely changes my attention when I am doing it.

It was fascinating to watch, a few years ago, when all the war photographers showed up at burning man after the early burn.
I watched one guy spend a half hour on one piece of fire art in camp.
There must be some very interesting photos coming out of that point of view.


I tend to get pretty involved if I am concentrating on one subject theme so I can completely understand getting engrossed for 30 minutes on a single subject looking for that one magic moment to capture.

When I shoot fire performers in Dallas, I spend more time looking over the top of my camera then I do through the lens. If its someone new for me, I'll watch them do a few routines before I get the camera ready to get a feel for their flow. I have had a core group that I have been shooting for over a year now and I am able to anticipate a really good shot because of how familiar I am with their style.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:15 pm

CapSmashy wrote:...maybe even something mobile with a trike, and invite people in for pictures. I might try to get that accomplished for 2010... you know, add it to the list...

If you do, please find a way to make it wheelchair accessible. I know I said I didn't want people to try and boost me into the one that came by the Booby Bar, but secretly I'm tired of having to cut short my experiences in that way.
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Postby gyre » Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:58 pm

CapSmashy wrote:
gyre wrote:Smashy, are you on any of the digital forums?


I'm on a few but I lurk for the most part. I keep a gallery maintained on flickr for my public stuff.

I've talked a little with someone in Dallas that shoots nikons.
I thought it might have been you.


CapSmashy wrote:
gyre wrote:Nothing wrong with taking pictures, but it definitely changes my attention when I am doing it.

It was fascinating to watch, a few years ago, when all the war photographers showed up at burning man after the early burn.
I watched one guy spend a half hour on one piece of fire art in camp.
There must be some very interesting photos coming out of that point of view.


I tend to get pretty involved if I am concentrating on one subject theme so I can completely understand getting engrossed for 30 minutes on a single subject looking for that one magic moment to capture.

I may do the same thing myself.
It was just interesting to see these guys, obviously skilled in 'shoot and run', and what they chose to focus time on.
New people and they have the same shortage of time to see everything, as everyone else.
With all the big art, he was in our camp working to get a small piece of the fire art.
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