Steve's Burning Man Images - 2010 - The Man

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I had just about finished setting up camp on the opening Monday of the event when the rain started. I retreated inside my plywood "headpod" structure to wait it out. With it being late afternoon, I knew there was a decent chance for a rainbow. The rain was fairly heavy for the desert. Drips came in through the joint in the roof. I put a bucket down to catch them, so as not to soak the carpet. I was tired from the all night drive from Portland, and the hard work of establishing camp in windy conditions. Still, can't turn down a chance at a rainbow. When the rain slacked off, I went back outside. It was too muddy for the bike, so I slogged across the mucky surface, down the 4:00 street to the open playa. And there it was! Although I wished for a better angle between the man and the rainbow, no complaints. There are some other rainbow shots scattered through the various categories on my site this year.

I like using a graduated neutral density filter in this situation to allow for both sky and details around the base of the man. Without the filter, most everything below the horizon would be too dark.

One evening, I was in the vicinity of 6:30 and Esplanade and noticed the moonrise near the man. I was planning on doing some moon/man shots this year but did not have the gear I needed at the moment. The next night, I checked my notes regarding the time of the moonrise and returned to the same location. Gear included the Canon 5d Mark II, a 300mm f/4 L lens and 1.4X converter for total focal length of 420mm. Also tripod and cable release.

For the next hour or so, I dialed in different settings to try to capture the perspective of a large moon coming up behind the man. It was very challenging for several reasons. I wanted to see the details on the moon and have the man also be as much in focus as possible. The moon moves enough that you can't use a slow shutter speed. Its difficult to use a low f-stop to make shutter speed faster because you lose depth of field.

At one point, I could hear people yelling stop, stop, stop! In my periphery I saw an art car approaching, so I grabbed my gear and took a step back. It was a close call. I admit, I should have been better lit - although, I did have some blinkies on, enough that the passengers at the front of the car could see me and call out to the driver. They brought the vehicle to a halt about a foot or 2 away. No harm done.

As the moon rose, I had to walk towards the man in order to keep the moon behind the man. This made the moon appear smaller in perspective. Somebody came up to me and said that the scene before us was "epic" and that the moon had never come up behind the man before (seriously). I thought about trying to explain how its possible to position yourself so that the man is between you and the moon on most any moonrise. However, I was too immersed in the photography and I decided that he might be better off in the belief that this was an exceedingly rare celestial occurrence.

One of my best shots was at ISO 3200, f/16, 1/256th sec. Some of the grain in the image is due to post-processing. Some is due to the high ISO.

Another perspective I wanted to get was the man completely framed up against the mountains. Most man photos have a lot of sky, so I thought the mountain shot might be unique. These might have been better with different light maybe earlier in the morning. They were taken from about halfway to a third of the way up the 4:00 street.

In prior years, I had seen other photos of the upswing of the man's arms. You really have to be very prepared in order to catch this. I think I took 3 photos at 5 seconds each, and this was the best one. I like how it came out except that the man is overexposed. Next year, given the opportunity, I might try using a graduated filter to darken the man while alowing more light on the base. There's something odd about planning ahead for what to do during a 5 second interval a year from now. Also, be aware that there is a lot of post-processing of this image to bring out details.

Dust was blowing in as the fireworks progressed, this caused the flares to have the nice soft highlight bubbles.

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