25 November, 2009

Burning Photos

I know it's old news by now (over a year old), but every once in awhile I think about the photos I lost at Burning Man when my camera disappeared in the throng of people circling the smoldering ruins of the Man, after I had stripped off everything to join the festivities. As amazing an experience as Burning Man was, losing that camera is an unfortunate scar on the event. Not that I blame Burning Man for it, though. It was just a sad twist of fate.

But the photos I took there were once in a lifetime (unless I ever have the opportunity to go back). Not only was it Burning Man, which is a completely unique event, but it was also in the middle of the desert. When am I gonna find myself in the middle of the desert again? What a location. And furthermore, it was one of the few places I know of where you can roam naked through crowds of people, without hardly attracting a second glance, taking pictures as you go.

Speaking of which. I remember taking a few pictures out in front of Center Camp. I set up my camera beside my bike (you should have seen the contraption I built by combining my sun umbrella with the bike, and my attempt to anchor it enough to prevent the whole damn thing from blowing away in the wind), then went and stood center frame, with the camp behind me not too far in the distance, and the regular passage of people to either side of the path I was on. I remember some guy biking between me and the camera during one of my attempts, and I'm pretty sure he ruined the shot. Not his fault, I know, just a funny and somewhat frustrating coincidence.

I also took some great shots in the middle of a dust-storm, with me just far enough away from the camera to be partially though not wholly obscured by the dust. The dust in those storms was like a granular fog. I also remember getting some cool pictures of a dust devil that roamed through the city - I was at a perfect vantage point to get the perspective of it against the city, from just inside the border of the central circle of the playa.

Other shots I'll miss are the ones I took out on the deep playa, both during the day and during the night. During day, I took some great 'walking on the moon' type shots, including one with me in a despairing pose, which I already had a title planned for. I don't remember specifically what it was going to be, but it involved a cynical reference to friends/companions/guidance from others, that sort of thing. The idea being that some people say that everybody has somebody, when in truth there are some who are truly alone.

At night, I took some amazing shots. I don't know that they'd turn out that great, given the perspectives involved, but they'd be an awe-inducing reminder of the view from the trash fence deep playa at night. The city glowing and pulsing almost beyond the limit of hearing, spread out flat along the horizon at a wide angle, but squished vertically onto the surface of the earth, with an immense stretch of darkness above and below. Or, I might have tried to take shots of the stars, which were absolutely gorgeous from all the way out there. I don't know if that camera I had then was up to the task, but the stars were gorgeous regardless. You could see the Milky Way clearly. Too damn romantic a place to scope out without a date, but then again, it really makes you feel small and alone in the universe.

Even if I couldn't get the camera, or more importantly, the photos back, I still can't help being curious as to what happened to it. Was it tossed into the fire? Did it otherwise find its way into the fire (e.g., kicked unintentionally)? Was it picked up by someone? And if so, what was done with it? Was it tossed out? Was it 'refurbished'? Were my photos just deleted, just like that? Or are they still out there, somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered by historical anthropologists thousands of years from now? And what was with that one guy who emailed me after the festival, in response to my Lost & Found inquiry, who claimed to have my camera, but never responded to me after that? I never did get my camera back... What was it all for?

Questions of a thousand dreams...

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