a photograph of the setting sun through one of a series of gates - an art installation at burning man 2014

The Road Ends at Black Rock City

In Burning Man, Travel by DustinWong

Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV 2014 

Burning Man, the final stop of my 4-month long road trip brought me to the harsh living conditions of the playa, aka Black Rock City, about 100 miles north of Reno, NV. I had just come off a photography segment which included Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons. I was physically exhausted, which is not a good way to start Burning Man. After spending a couple of days in Reno gathering some supplies and getting some rest I was ready, and I made my way into the festival. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Burning Man, it is a week long art festival held annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. People who attend, or “Burners,” must bring everything one needs to survive (including water) and then pack everything out. Radical Self-Reliance & Leave No Trace are two of the festival’s ten principles

Because some 70,000 people come to the event on a two lane highway, getting in and out of the festival is often a challenging experience. From where the road ends and the playa begins, the Man can be seen miles away on the approach to Black Rock City. This year I was lucky to enter on Sunday morning just after gates officially opened with only an hour delay in line! This is very smooth compared to the nightmare delay burners had the next day where rain caused the roads to be closed sending people through a 22 hour ordeal involving being sent back to Reno and standing in an epic multi-hour line for will call. Yikes! Tip: get paper tickets – always. 

Our camp’s theme was “Love Alway” which is inspired by Charles Bradley, a funk/soul/R&B singer (think James Brown) who lived a vagabond life in poverty and was discovered in his 50s. His gut wrenching lyrics and soulful style demonstrate what a heart that remains pure through struggle is capable of. After his performance at Sasquatch Music Festival he spoke to the crowd and reminded us to always choose love. Being illiterate, he signed my friends shirt “Love Alway” and the rest is history. 

Burning Man 2014
Camp Love Alway
 
This being my second year, the initial shock and awe of the event was not present, but I was excited to return and have an entirely new experience. Similar to last year I shot with my 5D mkII and 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Protecting one’s gear is a must out there, but it’s not that difficult. Some gaffer’s tape and a camera rain bag does the trick quite nicely. I also try to keep it in a backpack when I’m not using to it. Also if you are riding around on a bike, make sure there is adequate padding for your camera in case the bag falls out of the bike basket. If you have a DSLR, never change lenses outside. In fact try not to change lenses at all. Even in the relative calm of a clean RV there is still a ton of dust floating around that can fall on the sensor. If you must change lenses, you should plan on sending your gear in to be professionally cleaned after. 

It was a visually stunning event yet again with just about every scene at any given time of day worthy of taking a picture. The lighting conditions change through the week so each day brings new opportunities. I took out the camera when I could but I tried to preserve my energy to last the whole week. I ended up coming down with a head cold (like many others) on Friday and the dust was so bad that I felt I had to get off the playa. I left before the Man burn and Temple burns. Even though I missed those two great events, I still had a complete experience at Burning Man this year. The highlight was meeting and making a connection with a group of three ladies who randomly asked to join our camp. In the end, it’s the people who make the journey that make the event what it is. Here are some snaps that I got off while making my way around the festival. I hope you enjoy them, and I encourage you to share this blog post with anyone who might find these pictures inspiring. 

Click on any photo to view the larger versions. Or check out my updated minimalist tumblr page for a smoother viewing experience. 

And my friends, remember “Always Choose Love” 

Embrace BurnBurning Man 2014
 

A lot of LOVE in Black Rock City
 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Burning Man 2014
 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

El Pulp Mecanico
 


 


 

Burners Chill out in the Mouth of this glowing fish art car
 

Burning Man 2014
 

Burning Man 2014
 

Burning Man 2014
 

Burning Man 2014
 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

Burning Man 2014
 


 

Burning Man 2014