Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Art Installations
Burning Man 2001

Mort's door photographed from the ground with the illuminated 'Man' on the horizon and as a prop for the Semester at Sea reunion crew  (Canon G1 left and Canon 24-mm right, August 2001).

Many of Burning Man's attendees arrive with some form of art installation to grace the playa. For instance, my campmate Mort arrived with a lovely, polychromatic, carved door frame complete with door on hinges. This portal was staked to the ground opposite our camp, just on the playa side of the Esplanade. It was a delightful object to watch as many who passed chose to engage the door: by crossing its threshold, posing for photographs, or concocting scenarios of welcoming folks to the playa presented as the door was opened. Several professional photographers used the door as a prop including a memorable session featuring a young nude model and the door's septuagenarian creators. On another occasion a five-person film crew arrived and shot a couple of scenes for their Super-8mm movie. All told, it was great fun to watch and certainly part of what makes Burning Man special.

Closer views of the large, collapsing nautilus-like tent. This was a particularly handsome structure for its pleasing silhouette on the horizon and its clear expression of materials (Canon 24-mm, August 2001)

So it turns out that there was something of a hierarchy in the siting of projects on the playa. The outer rings of Black Rock City were predominantly residential while areas near the Esplanade were deeded to 'Theme Camps'. The Theme Camps were often centered on an art or performance premise and thus earned the public edge of the inner playa. The inner playa itself was a canvas for the placement of art installations ranging from arrays of colored banners and pseudo-sunflowers to pavilions made of flaming members and a chapel made of translucent recyclables. At the center of the inner playa was the Burning Man effigy itself.

One day a large field of cutout sunflowers on stakes appeared on the playa. The individual 'flowers' were about two feet tall and made an impressive presence. In the left image you can see the bright spot associated with the opposition effect - complete with a center shadow. Just beyond the bright spot you can see a paralight airfoil being inflated in preparaton for evening flights (Canon 24-mm, August 2001)

I took my new Canon G1 digital camera (with 1 Gb microdrive!) to the playa but did not take it out very often due to concerns regarding the blowing dust. The two shots below are examples of ground shots taken with the G1 when the early morning air seemed clear. I am generally quite pleased with the new camera.

Ground-level views of the banner array (pictured above) and Mort's door (Canon G1, August 2001)

Creative self-expression was manifest in activities as well as objects. A group that illustrates that point quite nicely is the Lamplighters, a guild of folks who maintain a system of lighting standards that hold two to four Dietz kerosene lanterns each. The Lamplighters provide a fine bit of theater during their evening lighting routine and the cleanly detailed standards delineate the Esplanade and centerline axes in fine style. And of course, the Dietz lantern itself is a venerable object. 


The Lamplighters on parade to their evening duties with the lamp standards stretching out beyond them (image pinched from the Lamplighter's Lounge WWW site) and a midday detail of the lamp standard  (Canon G1, August 2001).

One morning I was taking advantage a dust free period to shoot a couple of rolls out on the inner playa and I came across a pair of lamplighters as they were retrieving Dietz lanterns from the standards for whatever their daily maintenance routine. I only had a few moments to shoot as they demounted two lanterns from a nearby standard. In retrospect, I wish I had followed them for a while and taken a greater variety of shots - particularly from a lower height. This is why 'next years' exist

Overhead views of two Lamplighters during their morning gathering of the lanterns for refueling and maintenance. The trailer visible in the left image holds forty or so of the lanterns (Canon 24-mm, August 2001)

Additional images of this morning maintenance scene are here and here.

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