Burning Man 2016: Portraits of a Camp

Burning Man 2016: Portraits of a Camp by Diana Southern and Ian Norman

I say this every year, but I say it because it’s true. The people are what makes Burning Man such an incredible experience — friends and strangers alike. I don’t know what my Burn would have been this year without that group spiral hug at the Hug Deli, the helpful strangers who lowered me back down from that MAGIC artpiece I climbed, or the hilarious nude portraits we captured of some of our spontaneously sparkly friends.

In my three years of burning, I’ve found it’s the people closest to you — your campmates — who have the biggest impact on your Burn. You camp together, eat together, explore together. You experience Burning Man together. So this year we again turned the spotlight on our campmates for a sunset portrait session in the open playa.

With 14 Burners, ample booze, and a brief appearance by “El Guaco” (I still can’t believe I missed that), Ian and I did our best to capture the spirit of our Burner family on camera.  Continue reading

Escape Campervans Review: Los Angeles to Death Valley (and why we don’t recommend Escape Campervans)

Escape Campervans Review and Our Trip to Death Valley

Let’s visit a popular U.S. National Park in peak season at the last minute! Yeah, that sounds like our travel style. And that’s how our conversation started two weeks back when we decided we had to see the Death Valley Superbloom.

All advance reservations for park accommodations were full. We could try our luck at a first-come first-served campsite, but we didn’t really feel up to tent camping this trip. So we decided to try something new: the rental campervan.

Despite paying more than we should have (no thanks to Escape), we had a good time on our trip. Want to know what the campervan life is like? Keep reading to find out! (More on why we don’t recommend Escape Campervans, too.) Continue reading

The Superbloom of Death Valley National Park: A Photo Journal (California, USA)

Death Valley Superbloom Spring 2016 on North to South: a Photo Journal

After receiving substantially more rain than typical in the 2015-2016 winter season, Death Valley National Park is experiencing a rare “superbloom” of wildflowers. The last superbloom event was 11 years ago, in 2005.  Since missing this year’s superbloom could mean waiting another decade or more before it happens again, we knew we had to go see this rare event.
Continue reading

The Magical Landscape of White Sands National Monument: A Photo Journal (New Mexico, USA)

The Magical Landscape of White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA

This year Ian and I checked a HUGE item off our bucket list. We can both now officially say we’ve visited all 50 U.S. states. (Hooray!)

We’ve explored a LOT of the U.S. this year — even amplifying our goals to include visiting all 50 states in one year’s time — and every time I tell people about our epic quest, I always get asked some version of the same question: Which place was your favorite?

Well, if you limit me to a certain number, I’ll have trouble answering, but White Sands National Monument is absolutely 100% somewhere on my list of favorites. (Funny, because our visit there was completely unplanned.) And while I could go on and on about how amazingly surreal and magical the scenery is there, I think the photos will give you a better idea. So I’ll let the scenic photos do most of the talking… Continue reading

[VIDEO] Just Released: Burning Man 2014 Caravansary — Now Who’s Ready for Burning Man 2015?

A year has passed since last year’s burn, so it was high time we buckled down and finally edited our footage from Burning Man 2014. And with Burning Man 2015 starting tomorrow, maybe the timing is perfect after all. Hope you enjoy!

Burning Man 2014 Video by Ian Norman

Cameras: Sony a7S | Sony a6000

Lenses: Sony E 20mm f/2.8 | Voigtlander 21mm f/4 Color Skopar | Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton

Unfortunately, we somehow lost one of our memory cards last year, so we’re missing out on some memories, but I think we still had a good amount left. Don’t you? Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Two (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas)

U.S. Road Trip Week Two: The American Southwest -- Arizona, New Mexico and Texas

Two more National Parks and three new National Monuments, including the most beautiful (and surreal) place I’ve ever seen! Week two of our summer road trip took us all the way from Arizona to Texas, with a scenic desert drive through New Mexico on the way.

Below is a photographic re-cap of our second week of road-tripping across the U.S. in our little red Yaris. Read on for beautiful white sand dunes, cacti that actually look like the ones you drew when you were a kid, and a couple of neat ruins speckled about the American Southwest!  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: Wanderlust and White Sands (White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA)

Shot of the Week: White Sands National Monument sunset hike

Roaring wind. Rippling sand. Rolling dunes. All were present on the night we backpacked out to our backcountry campsite at White Sands National Monument. As luck would have it, we’d gotten the last available site. And we were grateful. Otherwise we’d’ve had to backtrack 30 miles toward Las Cruces and the nearest campground.

Up and over and in between the dunes we hiked, each carrying our backpacks, cameras at-the-ready. It took us 45 minutes to get to our campsite, racing the setting sun. We set up camp, took off our boots, and set out barefoot for the top of a neighboring dune, getting in just a few more photos before darkness and the evening wind settled in. We’ve now completed week two of our cross-country U.S. road trip, and White Sands stands out as one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. It was magical. Enchanting, even. If you’ve never hiked over sand dunes before, add it to your bucket list. It’s surreal.

This photo was taken on May 18th with the Sony a7 II and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar III lens. Continue to view full photo.  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: The Grandest of Canyons (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA)

Shot of the Week: The Grandest of Canyons (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA)

One week into our road trip, and we finally made it to the Grand Canyon! Before this visit, I’d been there for a brief stop along one of my many journeys between St. Louis and LA in college, and Ian had only flown over it in a plane. It was time for both of us to really see this place. And see it we did, in the sun, rain, sleet, hail and snow!

We camped for two days at the South Rim’s Desert View Campground — a deal at just $12/night — and endured cold, snowy weather inside our warm sleeping bags and tent (see more of our camping essentials here). After roughing it at Lake Mead and Williams the two previous nights, I was SO happy to finally be staying at a place that had showers (thought it did require a 20+ mile drive to the other side of the park). It was also the perfect, iconic place to round out week one of our all-American road trip.

This photo of the Grand Canyon was taken on Thursday May 14th with the Sony a7 II and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar III lens. (Continue to view full photo.)  Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week One (California, Nevada and Arizona)

U.S. road trip week one recap: California, Nevada and Arizona

We’ve hit the one-week marker on our U.S. summer road trip, and I’ve already got ambitious dreams of visiting each of the 49 states we can reach by car. Do you think we can do it? I do! But to start, here’s a photographic overview of our first week on the road.  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: Desert Shenanigans (Jawbone Canyon, USA)

Shot of the Week: Christmas Tree Burn in Jawbone Canyon 2015

What do you get when you combine fire, truckloads of Christmas trees, ample libations, a 10-ball roman candle, Santa, a full-size school bus, an acoustic guitar, and a ton of people you know — plus even more you don’t know — summing up to a crowd of (probably) over 100 people? (Did anyone count?)

A recipe for disaster? Maybe. But we survived. And the answer’s not Burning Man, either. But it’s similar… (read on to find out!)

The above photo was taken with the Sony a7s and Sony E 10-18 f/4 OSSContinue reading