Friday, December 30, 2011

Alum Creek by Day

Ethel and I found ourselves in Reno over Christmas weekend, and we decided to spend the morning of Christmas Eve hiking up a canyon that we frequently run through.  This canyon is usually snowbound through the winter as it sees no sun, but the lack of any snow combined with cold temperatures changed the landscape quite a bit.  Alum Creek managed to freeze in place, a rolling, bubbling white ribbon snaking its way through the canyon.



Tumbleweed Island

Roots and frothy ice

Alien landscape

Ice room


The section of the canyon we like to run is steep, but it's only a couple miles long and we're usually through it in 20 minutes.  Walking sure slows the pace!  By the time we made it to the waterfall at the top and then back down, 3 hours had gone by.  The best part is that the waterfall absolutely warranted a return trip under the cover of darkness; those photos are up next.

Here's to hoping everyone has a brilliant New Years holiday.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gray Area

Some time ago, I got invited to take a peek into a facility that represents a huge cultural taboo as well as a source of endless debate on States' rights, legality, and morality.  I'll go ahead and stop you now if you're looking to pick a fight on any of those preceding points, and also add that this post is about drugs, so there's your fair warning.  My obvious disclaimer is that the crop in question is one that I neither use nor possess, and that I have no ties whatsoever to the facility in question or any others like it, so don't be getting your panties in a wad.

So, on a weekend morning in the not-too-distant past, I was driven to a building in California that housed a legal marijuana grow operation.  This nondescript structure stood out in no way from the surrounding buildings, and until I was led past some sparse furnishings and into a warm, humid, and tight space that housed some number of flourishing pot plants, it could have been any old flat.

There were patient prescriptions posted prominently on the wall, not unlike a restaurant's business license, except that these allow the operator to cultivate six plants for each scrip.  The walls were otherwise littered with watering and lighting schedules, with tabulated details lining out the specific methods designed to maximize the yield from each plant.  The crop from these plants was wholly processed on-site, then transported and sold to the cannabis clubs in the Bay Area.

In the eyes of California, this entire process was legal, but the current federal legislation directly contradicts California, creating a rather sticky gray area that is simply the reality for any of the thousands of growers in the state.  They play by California's rules, all the while hoping that their specific operation isn't large enough to garner any attention from the Feds, who make a point of swooping in on big grow operations just often enough to keep the war on drugs alive in the media.

The money is great; revenue per square foot eclipses what most shopkeepers or factory owners could only dream about.  And without doubt, the successful growers ain't your average hippies.  Fanatical about the particular strains they cultivate, they provide each and every plant with rabid attention and care.  It's all about yield, and every detail in the growing space is tended to with maximizing yield in mind, from thermal efficiency and light color and coverage, to fertilization and tricking the plants into as many grow cycles as possible.  Finished product is shipped to labs for analysis and documentation, the results of which are provided to the end users in the clubs.  The nuances between each strain are prized features, branding if you will, and cultivation of sought-after strains is a matter of pride.

So that's all well and good, but why the hell was I there?  Because, up close and personal, it's a fascinating and beautiful plant.  I had jumped at the opportunity to photograph the operation, and it turned out to be more of a glamor session for the grower's babies.  He pointed out the differences between the several varieties he had, and I got absolutely as macro-nasty as I could in the limited time I had.

After ducking my head and camera and flash between as many of the plants as I could, my time was up and I was driven back to my car.  It's a mighty curious standoff between the State and the Feds, but until it's resolved, growers will do what they can to reap the rewards without drawing too much attention.

We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming now.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plan B

Mirroring life, sometimes we leave the house with a particular goal in mind, only to return with different and unexpected bounty.  Such was the case last Saturday, when Murphy and I saddled up hours before dawn with every intention of photographing an eclipsed full moon setting over the Lake Tahoe basin.

Instead, we observed two forces working against us: first, the fact that a totally eclipsed moon ain't that bright; second, that a bank of low clouds at the horizon rendered the highly-preconceived, lack-of-sleep generating, shivered-for Money Shot an utter impossibility.  Of course, confident 'til the end that fortuitous conditions would prevail, I didn't do a whole lot with the other interesting phases of the eclipse.  Here's the best:

Hiding behind Earth

Then, the sun rose, and I was tempted to stamp my feet back to the car furious that I didn't have a photo of the setting eclipsed moon.  With a bald eagle making a silhouette across it.  In the shape of Jesus.

Instead, I looked around a bit and saw some other cool stuff.  This next little animation I'm a fan of, and I think it'll turn into a neat series of prints, as there were a couple other similar shots nearby that worked out equally well.

Granite, revealed

Finished with the first stage of salvaging the super-early morning, we retreated to the Old Post Office in Carnelian Bay for a fantastic breakfast before the customary hordes arrived.  Salvage complete!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Discard Pile

I'll do my best to keep graphic macro photos of decommissioned body parts to a minimum, but this was just too good to pass up.

Little icebergs

Ah, wisdom teeth, we hardly knew ye.  Fare thee well!


Sunday, December 4, 2011


Every so often, I feel like seeing if I can improve upon previous results I've gotten with that big thing dangling in the sky.


Most of the time, it's a frustrating and fruitless pursuit, but once in a while, it works out!


Sunday, November 27, 2011


I hope you all got your fill of whatever you may be into this past weekend.  For me, it was excellent food, a good deal of catching up with cool people, and lots of time atop my bike, soaking in our unseasonably glorious weather.


I took it pretty easy on the food but rode myself into oblivion.  Hey, gluttony takes many forms.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Snowy CX

I had the pleasure of spending my Sunday morning spectating at Murphy's first cyclocross race here in Reno.  If you've never heard of cyclocross, these 18 seconds at Youtube will sum it up well.

Anyhow, a few of Reno's familiar faces turned up to hammer away in the snow and cold, and it turned out to be a better morning for weather than we expected.  The course wound its way around the campus of Clayton Middle School and was most expertly organized by the Reno Wheelmen.

Poor little munchkin

Ethel navigates the sidehill

Ben rocks the single-speed to a dominating victory

Excellent form on the stairs

Nate powers onto the flat

Brian peers down the hill

As is typical with races like these, riders of comparable experience levels are grouped together, and then those groups are combined into each race to prevent it from dragging on all day.  So while Ethel was only being timed against the other women in her group, she was out racing with the boys and mixing it up with everyone.  And she won her women's race!  She just may have a knack for this sort of thing :)

We were well clear of the big fire in Reno, and are most thankful that the hardworking firefighters saved as many homes as they did.  The damage could have been far worse, as it was a perfect storm of conditions for the massive inferno.  Here's to hoping that everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving, or at least a restful few days away from work!


Thursday, November 17, 2011


These are the product of an uproariously inappropriate Mad Men-themed dinner party at Josh's house.


Ethel and Heather

Josh, the cocktail tycoon

Yours truly



I've never watched Mad Men, so I just wore a suit. Close enough... Curiously, after three and a half years, this was the first time Ethel had ever seen me with a part in my hair.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

ITU World Championship

The earlier part of last weekend's odyssey was a quick trip to Las Vegas for the opportunity to photograph the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, a race boasting world-class athletes and much of the storied Silverman course.  This opportunity was one I couldn't pass up since it included a media motorcycle, and as we all know, access is everything!

I met up with a mate from New Zealand, Pete (and his fiancee Alex), and was able to crash at his homestay, courtesy of a lovely Aussie named Margaret.  Hi to all of you if you're reading this!  The night before the race brought a change in the weather, including a rainstorm.  We knew that the storm would clear by morning, but none of us knew just what an impact that blustery pre-race day would have...

Lake Las Vegas, waters never to be plundered

As we were walking up to Lake Las Vegas on race morning, rumors were abuzz that the swim had been canceled.  Sure enough, they held true; the storm's influence on the air temperature, as well as the rain's influence on the water temperature, put the combination of the two off the ITU's chart of contingency plans, and they demanded that the swim be canceled.  If I had been racing, I would have had my own emotions and reaction to deal with, but instead of a backpack full of spandex, I had a backpack full of photo gear, and that meant I got to observe how everyone else dealt with it.  For every strong swimmer who was absolutely furious (like Pete), there was another weak swimmer grinning from ear to ear and jumping up and down.

This race was scheduled to be a 4k swim/120k bike/30k run, and as such, the swim is proportionally longer than it is in most other recognized triathlons.  Strong swimmer?  Open up a gap and laugh all the way to the finish.  Weak swimmer?  No matter how strong on land, highly unlikely to claw your way back into contention.  Taking the swim out wholly changed the race dynamics for age-groupers and pros alike.  The call was made to start the race on the bike with 5 seconds between each athlete.  This also had the effect of each racer not necessarily knowing where he or she might stand with other racers out on course, at least without doing lots of math, which certainly isn't my strong suit after 6 hours racing in the red...

Lots of expensive wheels lie in wait in T1

So...the media motorcycle: meet Tim.

Hi, Tim!

Tim proudly piloted a BMW 1150 GS, a ripping all-road bike with camera gear-friendly Peli cases for saddlebags.  Score.  Tim, being awesome, was keen to go all across the desert to get the shot, and was a great buddy for the day.  We only got pulled over once, and that was for me doing the responsible thing, namely riding backwards on the bike to get The Shot.  Whatever.

Anyhow, Tim's radness mostly took my mind off the photos I had scoped out the day prior for the swim.  So onto the bike we go...

Jordan Rapp (USA), Massimo Cigana (ITA), and Sylvain Sudrie (FRA) maintain their 12m draft zone

Rapp opens up the throttle to hurt Cigana and Sudrie

Further up the road, Martin Jensen (DEN) leads solo

Jensen opens his gap on the others

The Rapp group crosses a bridge on the way out of Lake Mead National Monument (90mm TS-E, in case you're photoshop trickery here)

Joe Gambles (AUS) leads his group including Michael Raelert (GER) through the Three Sisters (of Silverman infamy)

Gambles tops out the third Sister

Unidentified racer absorbs Cancer Waves along the Bike Path to Nowhere

I have to admit that the huge hookup of the motorcycle got me caught up in following the race more than I intended.  My Plan, since I wasn't working for any particular media group, was to make a handful of rad photos instead of following the leaders, but the shortened race and its quick pace threw me off, and I don't think I did the course the justice it deserved.  Furthermore, the midway bike turnaround for this race skipped most of Silverman's ridiculous scenery.  Enough with the excuses.  On to a few run photos.

Perfect handoff for Kelmerson Buck (BRA)

Caroline Steffen (SUI) casts a long shadow

Leanda Cave (GBR) ticks off the miles

Raelert hasn't quite rejoined consciousness in the classical sense yet.  Pretty impressive that he still ran nineteen 6:20 miles in that state (he claims to not remember anything after halfway on the bike)!

Pete and his futuro-shades

In the end, it was a solid victory for Rapp, who ran down Jensen (eventually 4th) on the run and also held off Gambles and Sudrie.  On the women's side, it was a 1-2 for Great Britain, with Rachel Joyce and Leanda Cave taking home top honors.  They had lots of lead changes on the run, and Meredith Kessler (USA) and Nikki Butterfield (AUS) rounded out the top 4.  Again, a bummer for all involved that there wasn't a swim, but that's what the racing gods had to offer that day, and not much else can be said about it.

So that was the race.  Pretty darn fun.  After a few hours laying low at Margaret's house and charging my batteries (literally and figuratively), she dropped me to the airport and I headed back north to continue the rest of the odyssey as previously documented.  What a weekend!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Root Society + Korg 3.0

Last weekend was indeed as ridiculous as the oracle of sleep deprivation had foretold.  We'll start with the latter half of the odyssey, purely because these photos got finished first!

Root Society has been a stronghold of the Burning Man music scene for many years, and although they skipped 2011, they're still revered for the world-class lineups, top-notch sound, and unfettered atmosphere of fun they provide.  And I hear they'll be back next year...

Thus, it should come as no surprise that when they took their unique brand of party on the road and visited Reno to host a night of beats and fundraising for Korg 3.0 at The Knitting Factory, supplicants turned out in droves and the music kept on 'til the wee hours.

Root Society is the brainchild of Jefr Tale, a most interesting dude whose successes in his day job allow him to fully engage with this extracurricular passion of his.  A connection on the playa with Grant half a decade ago turned into a friendship, and the early seeds were sown that resulted in this amazing party.

Enough blabber.  Go-go dancers and bright lights and shiny things are calling us!

I believe it's -actually- called the Ho's Nest.  DJ Erik Lobe underneath.

Shakin' it

Go-go above the crowd

In the spotlight

More go-go

Jefr works the beats


Gratuitous self-portrait with Jefr

Lights, lasers, and dancers

Grant -might- be excited

Kinda like the bat-signal

Stripe makes their dirty magic happen

Still a healthy crowd at 3am

I had the huge hookup of an all-access pass.  The opportunity to go anywhere and do anything for the photo was addictive and I ended up spending about 5 hours charging around.  It's also way quieter up on the stage!

As promised, the necklaces previewed in the last post were available to those making donations, and I saw an awful lot of them dangling off necks throughout the night.  I'm quite sure it was a successful fundraiser, but far more importantly, it was an amazing night of music and dancing and friends!


Past Detritus