IRIS OPAL

Iris Opal is everything a photographer could hope for in a model. She’s beautiful, but her look is unique. She shows up on time with a smile on her face, and is pretty much up for anything. She’s also smart, and fun to hang with. I don’t shoot with her nearly often enough. 


Talyn Stone introduced us late 2012. She had an idea for a fun BDSM-themed shoot of them in my clawfoot tub. I was only too happy to oblige, and they came over late in the day and we made magic together. Iris had never modelled nude before, and I was pleased later when she told me that I’d made her feel so comfortable that she had no hesitation when the time came. 



When you have one beautiful model in demand, getting them in front of your camera can be like herding jackrabbits. When you have two, it’s like herding jackrabbits from a hot-air balloon. So I haven’t been able to get Talyn and Iris together since then, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!


Our next shoot was at an abandoned farm a few hours SouthEast of Edmonton. A lot of models would balk at the idea of modelling for infrared nudes in an empty tub in the middle of nowhere, especially when you want to shoot it with a variety of wide-angle and fisheye lenses, which don’t have a reputation for creating flattering portraits. Iris, as always, was fearless and we managed to get some great shots! 


Next up, under a train trestle. Lots of climbing involved, and mosquitoes swarming everywhere. After the first attempt, where either dead batteries or forgotten cards (can’t remember) forced me to shoot with an iPhone, Iris was still up for the second attempt! 




Her exotic, somehow unreachable, look can bring tremendous mystery to shots. Even a simple hallway mirror looks a little otherworldly. 



Iris in my basement’s Creepy Room. Laser-cut spider web pasties. 


Our first location didn’t work out, so we just toured around until we came across a mildly creepy empty parking lot. 


Talyn Stone

If someone asked me how well I knew Talyn Stone I could give three possible answers - very well, fairly well and not at all - and each would be equally true. It's not that she cultivates an air of mystery if anything, she's entirely straightforward. To wit:

She's never boring.

My first shoot with her was an idle 'hey do you feel like shooting?' type of arrangement. I'd come across an old movie light from the 50s, and thought it would make a neat prop for something gritty. I'd been eyeing Talyn's work, and had contacted her with a couple ideas, but the movie light seemed perfect for a quick 'getting to know you' shoot.

When I dropped her off that night, I realized I'd met one of those few people who have true charisma.

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The next time I shot Talyn, it was in my claw foot tub, with Iris Opal - who will be subject of a future blog post, to be sure. What I took away from that was Talyn's almost maternal protectiveness of Iris.

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Since then I’ve shot with her a few times, and sometimes we just hang out. She’s half my age, and we don’t have lots in common, but we seem to enjoy each other’s company.

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I love this smile. That’s one of God’s great smiles.

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Shot with a Leica M9. Does have that Leica glow.

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After the battery in the Leica died, I grabbed my Canon and she slipped on a wig and we headed out into the snow. This one is a little more ‘processed’ looking than I usually go. I was tinkering in Nik software. :) Sometimes you just gotta have some fun.

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We shot one day for Vandal X clothing.

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Talyn was changing and I opened my back door to let in some light. She declared, “I want to be fuckin’ naked in your backyard!” High fences make good neighbours.

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Some location shooting June of this year. 

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Infrared.

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Reviewing photos on camera. I often comment that Talyn does the most innocent nude I’ve seen. Not that anything about her seems innocent in the common use of the term. What I’ve discovered through years of nude shooting is that most people change somewhat when they disrobe. It’s in our nature to throw up defences, and very few people can be entirely un-self-conscious. Talyn can. It’s pretty cool.

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God bless her, she gives good snarl.


False Advertising In Regards To Waffles, and a Trip To The Valley of Fire.

First things first, some infrared pix from the Salt Flats and the Racetrack Playa. 

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Moving on to the following day...

After we left the Racetrack Playa, RR and I headed back to Las Vegas. I did a quick Expedia to find the cheapest motel, and it was Sam's Town. Another reason I wanted to stay there was because they had bowling lanes and salons, and I liked the idea of getting RR all dolled up and then throwing her in a corset and bowling shoes and taking some pics of her bowling. 

Unfortunately, by the time we got to Vegas and got settled, our main concerns were: Food. Sleep. But first I had to return the rental and pick up my Toyota. Fox Rent-a-Car helpfully expedited the process - when I dropped off the Jeep, a young man did a two-second three-sixty and said, "Yeah, OK." He ripped a form from a pad and handed it to me. "Go talk to that guy." he said and pointed to a booth. We were on our way.

It was late by the time we got to Sam's Town and room service was unavailable, so I headed down to TGI Fridays and got us some grub.

We were both pretty exhausted by this point because I have very little recollection of what, if anything, of interest happened. I have a vague recollection that funds were running low and I was starting to mooch off of Renee a little.

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Preparing for sleep at Sam's Town. Note the laptop, which never gave her a second's peace.

The next day we headed North, to the Valley of Fire. It was our last shoot, and then Renee was off to Palm Springs to catch a plane home.

On the way out of Vegas, we stopped at an IHOP. I have to take issue with their chicken and waffles, because the chicken came on one big waffle cut into quarters. So it's either chicken and waffLE (singular) or chicken and waffle sections. In any event, the food was good.

The Valley of Fire is on the Moapa Indian reservation about an hour Northeast of Vegas. You take a quick jaunt off of I15 and once you cross into the reservation there's a large convenience store and gas station. A few minutes more east and you see the fiery red rock faces. We got into the park and paid our entry - it's on the honour system, you put $10 into an envelope and then pop it into a slot on top of a wooden box.

It was getting late and we were tired. Renee had slept most of the trip, but when we entered into the valley itself, I nudged her thigh. I knew she wouldn't want to miss this. We stopped at the information centre and had a look at the map - we knew we only had a couple hours at most until the sun went down. We chose the White Domes as our destination. It was the furthest, so was most likely to have only very few visitors.

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We were mesmerized the whole drive. It was amazing. When we finally got to the domes, we headed down into a small gully and clicked away. Finally we found a good spot for pix and I shot a few of Renee. The last few days of hiking, driving, shooting, hiking, driving, shooting, then working into the night while I snored away had gotten her pretty worn down, but she still delivered.

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We both clicked cheerfully away.

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 After we were done shooting in the gully, she climbed a trail upwards, and we came out on top of a cliff next to an enormous rock face. Seeing an abutment out over the canyon, I suggested she climb up and model nude for some shots. She agreed. For best shooting position, I stood about a foot away from the edge of a cliff. My fear of heights is well known, and we joked after about who was most scared up there.

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I love these shots, but they do have a Wile E. Coyote thing happening.

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I reiterate: A magnificent butt.

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Quick snap of RR looking kind of intrepid. Little soft, sorry.

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On the way out as the sun started to descend.

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Some more IR.

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We decided to clear out. Sandpeople are easily startled, but they'll soon be back, and in greater numbers.


It's indicative of how wiped we both were that I have very little recollection of our drive to Palm Springs. I do recall that Palm Springs does that thing where they have quite a few similarly-named streets so that you can drive for several hours on Elm Grove Lane and then realize, nope, you want Elm Grove Street.

We finally found our Motel 6. I checked us in and saw a brochure for Disneyland. I went back to the car and handed to to Renee. "Look, Disney has a theme park now!" Groggy and exhausted, RR thumbed through it and replied, in all seriousness, "Yes, I know about this."

We got some wifi, did some internetting and hit the sack. Me long before here. As I drifted away, I heard her tapping away once again on her laptop.

The next morning, I set out early while Renee showered to explore a Palm Springs camera store. Closed. Not 'not open yet' but empty and vacant.

I went back to the motel to pick up Renee to deliver her to the Palm Springs airport. As we loaded up the car, a Cadillac the size of the USS Nimitz, bearing Texas plates, pulled into the lot. A squat, mean-looking old man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and his wife, disembarked and headed to the office. He left the drivers-side door wide open. All I could think was, "As flaming gay couples are to San Francisco, so too is this to Palm Springs."

We had a quick breakfast at Elmers, where RR ordered German pancakes. She needed to get to the airport, so we ate quickly.

Here is a link, in case you want to know what Renee's opinion is of German pancakes. I can't find the video to embed it, sorry!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152587528695344&set=vb.810720343&type=3&theater

I dropped RR off at the airport, gave her a quick hug and said, "You travel very well. You should totally come to Mardi Gras next year."



Brooke Ashten

I'm going to come back to the Death Valley trip in a day or two, but first I'm going to make a quick post of a shot of a lovely model I worked with recently by the name of Brooke Ashten. Not only does she have a terrific natural beauty (and from some angles, a slight resemblance to Scarlett Johansson) but she also has a great sense of humour, and is a lot of fun to work with. I recommend her highly. This is her rockin' a field of canola North of Edmonton.

I've shot a few new subjects over the last few months, and I hope to be able to take the time to post a bit about each of them.


The Salt Flats, The Racetrack Playa, and a Very Beautiful Model.

Renee Robyn travels extremely well. One of the things I like about her is that she shares my ravenous love of food in all its forms. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, burgers, flapjacks, pie - she has a great attitude towards these things. And she's not snobbish, which is nice. Have you ever travelled with someone who only wants to visit out-of-the-way restaurants, and only if they have patios where you can smoke, and only if they serve organic lettuce? Hell.

Renee responds well to, "Wanna check out Bob's Big Boy? Turns out the oldest one still in business is in Davis."

She also shares my nearly-psychotic paranoia about securing camera equipment at all times.

These are asides, I just thought I would touch on them before proceeding.

Anyway. February 20th, we woke up at the Stagecoach Hotel and hit the attached Denny's and the candy store across the parking lot before heading out. I had a pretty full day planned - another attempt at the salt flats, and then a trip to the Racetrack Playa. We were both excited about the playa - the expansiveness, the unusual topography, the sailing stones.

I had other destinations in mind, but I was most concerned with making sure we had time to see the playa.

As we wandered the candy store, and I tried to imagine any scenario in which I could justify taking home that many Pez dispensers, Renee struck up a casual conversation with the cashier. I don't really recall the specifics, but I remember clearly the cashier recommending the Valley of Fire. Curious, we perused a rack of tour guides and saw one for the Valley. The amazing fiery red landscape sealed it - before we left, the Valley of Fire was a must.

We set out, heading West of Beatty back toward Death Valley. Our first couple locations were a wash - everything was fenced off, too many people around. We headed South to the salt flats.

The first time we'd visited, the signs seemed to indicate that the road past the flats wasn't open to the public. Turns out, I was wrong. We drove a click or two past the touristy viewing area we'd stopped before and saw nothing but uninhabited flats. We headed out, stepping very carefully, very aware of the sharp formations at our feet.

We got far enough away from the road that if anyone stopped, they'd be too far to engage us in conversation. Renee made a quick switch into her outfit and we started shooting. 

"I have some Batman underwear I want to wear for a fan of mine," said Renee. No complaints on my end.

We started with Renee in a long flowy skirt, a bra, and a garment that she wears for motorcycling. I'm sure there's a term for it, but I can't think of it right this second. It covers her shoulders and sits low enough to cover her nipples, as long as she stands right.

We shot a few frames, and Renee tugged at her bra. "You probably want me to take this off, right?" I did. She understands me.

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Probably my favourite from this location. As I've said before, probably the finest underboob in the history of recorded existence.

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Although this one's no slouch either.

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I tend to get sloppy when I'm clicking away. I don't know how I managed it, but I got an entire sequence about three stops overexposed. Little bit of added grain for texture though, and it's a good-not-great shot. Admittedly, that's largely an RR thing.

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As we clicked away, a van of tourists pulled over on the highway and watched from afar. Afterwards, we shot landscapes and textures, completely dazzled by the unique, unforgettable landscape. By the way, I want to mention - yes, Renee is barefoot on the salt flats, and yes, that was extremely painful for her. I knelt to get some shots and the salt was painful through my jeans. It's an indicator of how seriously she takes art that she always sucks it up and gets the shot.

Did I mention that after I got her warmed up after her quick dip in Darwin Falls the day before she was prepared to go back in? That's moxie.

After we were done, we checked the time and decided we had to head straight to the Racetrack Playa or risk losing the light.

The road to the playa was a couple hours of highway driving away. The road itself was only about 30 miles if I recall correctly, but thirty miles of dirt and rocks, navigable only with an all-terrain vehicle and only going 5 or 10 mph. I had a spare tire, but I suck at changing spare tires. I was also intensely aware that calling a tow truck into the Valley was liable to set me back a cool grand, and we were so far out of cell phone range that it was a couple hours of driving to even get to where we could make the call. We had two things on our side - one, the fact that our rental Jeep had so far proven pretty hardy, and second, an unseasonable cold snap in the Valley. If something did happen, dying of thirst as we waited for rescue didn't seem too likely.

The drive to the playa took about an hour, and yes, it was slow and boring. But we made it OK and the playa was magnificent - and deserted.

It was also, unfortunately, bitingly cold, windy, and nearing sundown. We immediately decided on The Grandstand - a large monolith of black rocks at the North end of the playa as both interesting photographically and a windbreak. It also would conceal us from the road, although we didn't expect anyone else to come through that late in the day.

We both snapped away at the landscape as we trudged to the other side of the Grandstand. On the other side, Renee did her patented quick change from photographer to Hot Model.


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Cold, but enthusiastic!

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Renee doesn't usually go this revealing, and I'm flattered that she'd make the exception for me. I think the location had a lot to do with it, of course. I tend to overuse the word 'magnificent' but seriously - that butt is magnificent.

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This shot in particular has been very well received. The pose was Renee's, I just clicked away.

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The sun continued to set, and it was pitch dark by the time we got back to the highway. It was the end of a terrific, very productive day. :)

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Darwin Falls, Followed By A Trip To Vegas and Some Good News (Part 2 of 2)

After the Darwin Falls trip, Renee and I headed into Las Vegas to meet Tina Tokyo, a local alt-model. She'd come highly recommended to us by Radiant Inc. 

Tina was a terrific subject, fun, energetic, with an amazing look. We both had a blast shooting her on the outskirts of Vegas. She's relocated to Seattle now, and I recommend her highly. 

Afterwards, we stopped at Smashburger for a bite before taking Tina home - I'm a great believer in offering models a meal. Many of them don't eat the day of a shoot, which I disagree with, but that's a blog for another time. Great burgers, btw! During the meal, the theme song to The Jeffersons blasted from my phone, which could only mean one thing - I was getting a text from Melody, my best friend of twenty years, who'd gotten married a little over a year before.

It read, "I peed on a stick and it's positive." 

"Oh my fucking GOD!" I said, just a touch loud, in the middle of the restaurant. I'm also a potty mouth.

"What?" Renee asked.

I realized immediately that this was something Melody would want to keep quiet so she could tell who she wanted in her own way, and my mind feverishly searched for a plausible lie. Drawing a blank, I stuck my hand out flat above three feet above the ground, to indicate a short person (Melody is 4'11" and manages to look even smaller somehow) and then mimed a baby bump. Renee grokked immediately. The Jeffersons played again, and I got a text reminding me not to tell anyone.

In case you're curious, she's now in her 6th month of pregnancy, it's no longer a secret, and she's looking and feeling great. Renee and I both kept the secret, although I confessed to my slip as soon as Melody made her knocked-uppedness public.

Anyhoo, here's some pictures of the beautiful Tina Tokyo, followed by a quick snap I took of a sign at the Alien Brothel. They're a bit soft - I was still getting the hang of both my Canon 90mm Tilt-Shift lens, and properly compensating focus on the infrared body.

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Renee and I headed back to Beatty, where I'd booked us into the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino. First, however, we stopped at a large porn shop a few blocks West of the Excalibur - I forget what it's called - to see if we could find some interesting pasties or lingerie. No dice, although I did pick up a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition with Kate Upton. At one point, I grabbed a riding crop from a display and asked Renee, "If I smack your butt, will you do a fake sexy ooh! for me?" "No, I'd kick you in the nuts," she replied. Fair enough.

 My snoring that night was mitigated by the fact that we were back to separate beds. Still feeling a little bad about it, I gave Renee's camera a good cleaning before I hit the sack.


Darwin Falls, Followed By A Trip To Vegas and Some Good News (Part 1 of 2)

Panamint Springs in on the SouthWest corner of Death Valley, where it's much more mountainous. We arrived late in the evening, to Panamint Springs Resort and discovered immediately that the wi-fi was once again going to be spotty. To make matters worse, I was going to be waking RR up early the next morning for a trek to Darwin Falls.

(A quick aside - I want to be clear that spotty wi-fi in Death Valley is really an infrastructure issue - I cannot fault the lodgings, which were uniformly excellent. Panamint Springs Resort in particular had great food and a comfortable room, as well as efficient, courteous staff.)

We had to share a bed that night, unfortunately. Renee didn't seem too put out, but I was still self-conscious about the snoring. I hit the sheets as soon as supper was over, while Renee, once again, was forced to stay awake for hours working online, at the mercy of the wi-fi. 

As I drifted off to sleep, I felt a nudge. "You're snoring." Renee said. "Already? I thought I was still kind of awake!" "Nope."

I rolled only my side and tried again. Renee sat cross-legged on her side of the bed, with her back to me, anxiously rocking back and forth as she tapped away on her laptop. Every once in a while, the rocking would stop and I would snap awake to see Renee peering back at me. After about the third time she asked, "Are you staring at me?" 

"No!" I responded. "It's just that I wake up every time you stop rocking!"

I rolled on my other side to give her more privacy and fell asleep. A couple times in the night, I felt a tap on the palm of my hand and changed sleeping position.

******

Darwin Falls is the only waterfall in Death Valley. It's a small waterfall, only about twenty or thirty feet high, fed by a spring. There is a pool at the base of the rock face, which then becomes a small stream. A short drive from Panamint Springs hotel followed by a long drive on a miserably rocky secondary road takes you to the stream, and you follow it back a couple kilometres over unfriendly terrain until you reach the falls. 

Since I wanted to photograph RR nude under the falls, I decided the best thing to do would be to wake up at about 6AM and try to arrive there about 7, before other tourists arrived. 

After a couple wrong turns, we found the falls and were struck by their quiet beauty, so out of place with the surroundings. We were the only ones there and hadn't seen or heard anyone else behind us on the trail. The photos of the falls I'd seen online had nothing to give them scale, and I was worried they either be so big as to be dangerous, or so small as to have a 'Charlie Brown's Christmas tree' kind of droopy quality. l was pleased to see that the pool was about the perfect size for what I had in mind. 

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I set up my tripod and placed a Promaster Variable Neutral Density filter on my lens so I could make exposures of a few seconds - I wanted to get a silky flowing quality in the water. The plan was to have Renee swim across the small pool to a rock where the falls fell and split. 

"That water looks cold," Renee said. I agreed that it would likely be pretty chilly, considering it was the 'cold' season in Death Valley and the sun had only just come up.

She continued to eye the pool with trepidation, so it seemed a gesture of some sort was warranted - I decided that after I was finished shooting her, I would get in for a swim. Then it occurred to me the idea was ridiculous - if the water was that cold, why should she have to stand around shivering while I proved a point? Instead, I would take a dip right away.

I told Renee what I had in mind and started stripping off. "If you want to have a good look at The L'il Wolfman, now's your chance," I said.

"No, that's all right," she replied as she turned away from me.

My first step into the pool brought home just how much I had overestimated the temperature. Knowing I couldn't back out, I plunged in and realized that the temperature went past 'brisk' and straight into 'holy fuck' and from there right into potentially lethal. 

"Haaaarent y-hhh gonna tay a pihhhhhchaaaa?" I asked in the voice of a medieval castrati. Renee popped out her smartphone and took a quick snap, which I've never actually seen. Probably in everyone's interest. She went back to not looking as I climbed out and towelled off. Thankfully, my body is a miracle of thermodynamics - I can roast a leg of lamb just by shoving it under my t-shirt on a good day. As soon as my clothes were back on, I warmed up quickly. However, I knew a long, playful session was out of the question. I had to get my shots quick. 

Renee stripped down to jean shorts and hopped in. For the sake of brevity, I present the following short video:

Ummm, she is a bit of a potty mouth.

After she hopped out, I wrapped a towel and a blanket around her, then gave her a bear hug for about a minute - not a gesture of affection (although I do certainly think RR is just the bee's knees) I just wanted to help her warm up. Even an hour later, she was shivery.

Unfortunately, Renee's veiled threats aside, I didn't get much useable from the expedition, although I take it as a given that if I were to return during a warmer time of the year, there is a lovely slice of photographic fried gold to be had at Darwin Falls.


In Which We Climb A Steep Desert Hill And I Almost Kill Myself.

The morning after that first night at the Atomic Inn, I asked Renee if she slept OK. Then I asked if I had slept OK. "I didn't do anything inappropriate or disgusting in my sleep, did I? Try to sleep-blow myself or wipe a booger on the headboard?" I can't imagine me doing these things, but I've been a bachelor my whole life and haven't had shared sleeping quarters with too many people.

"You snore, Dude," she said and laughed.
"Yeah, I know… Not too bad I hope?"
"No, it's pretty loud. But I put my earbuds in and that helped."

Crap, I thought. Four, five more nights of this, and I can't afford separate rooms.

The night after our Vegas/Radiant Inc/Singapore Sling jaunt, we returned to the desert and stayed at Stovepipe Wells, a very nice resort-type place squack-dab in the middle of Death Valley. Arrival was late, room was nice. I crashed out pretty quickly.

I kick my legs rhythmically while I sleep, so I'm used to a rocking sensation. That night, around 4 AM, I felt a strong rock-back-and-forth and stirred slightly. Thought, 'That's good rocking. I should remember to sleep like this more often.' Then it happened again and I realized it was coming from an outside force. I rolled over and Renee had her butt perched on the edge of her bed and her foot on the edge of mine, just about to release another flurry of kick/pushes.

"Dude, you gotta roll over, I can't even sleep with my earbuds in."

I awoke the next morning early and went to the front desk. "I know checkout is 11, but can we get another couple hours? That poor girl has just been working herself to a frazzle and yadda yadda." I sold it, and got RR an extra hour of sleep. Meantime, I headed to the dining room to find me some breakfast buffet. There's something about corn flakes from one of those cereal dispensers topped with milk poured from a small ceramic carafe that just says, 'Vacation breakfast' to me.

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This was on the wall. Parts of Jedi were filmed in Death Valley. (Hint: Not the Endor stuff.) Not commonly known, but the film was titled 'Revenge of the Jedi' in most of its promotional material up until just a short while before it released.

Renee awoke and we grabbed a lunch for the road. The intention was to get it to go, but the laid-back feel of the dining room seemed to convey the sense that eating in would somehow be quicker. Often you can tell by how hard it is to get anyone's attention.

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She's cute first thing in the morning.

We headed Southeast toward the Salt Flats - we were both eager to see this amazing natural phenomenon. After a few minutes, Renee said, "The awareness of being in *Death Valley* is really hitting me now."

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We stopped here on the way, small nature hike, can't remember what it was called. "No way I'll be able to nude ya up here, RR. Wayyyy too many people. And they don't let you leave the trails."

From there, we took the Artists Drive, and looked for shooting locations. Finally, we saw a steep high incline which lead to a rocky outcrop, conveniently located next to a turnout. It was after this climb that I had to come to terms that I'm A) not young anymore, B) In really bad physical shape and C) I'd been way too ambitious in my choice of locations. From here on out, I had to accept, we'd be doing the easier hikes and climbs.

Renee, fortunately, was in terrific shape and as soon as we got situated, she was ready to shoot.

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For this shot, I aimed for the 'late-60s-low-budg-biker-flick-shot-at-the-Spahn-ranch' feel. Seemed to work.

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And they're real.

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Five minutes later, RR was dressed and cheerfully shooting landscapes. :)

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I'd had to climb up on a pretty precarious perch to get the shooting position I wanted, and climbing down saddled with two cameras, two camera bags and my shooting vest, it didn't take me too long to lose my footing. "I'm fine!" I cried as I skidded down a rocky slope prepared to sacrifice flesh and bone so long as no damage came to the equipment. "It's OK, all good, I'm fine!" And I was. Bruised, bleeding a little, coughing up dirt and rashed down my back and leg. But the cameras were fine and that's what was important.

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"Found the lens hood that came flying off whilst you were doing your rocky mountainside ass luge!" - not a quote.

We descended and continued with our day.

The salt flats were crawling with tourists - some of whom were kids - so we decided again not to get too daring, clothing-wise, but we took some snaps cuz holy shit.

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Let it never be said that photographers take themselves too seriously.

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Vertical sweep panorama from the Sony RX100. 

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Groovy yap pucky.

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From here, we set out for Zabriskie Point.

Zabriskie blew us away, but it was too late and we were too wiped for any shooting. One of those, "We gotta get back here some day moments."

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Infrared.

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As we went back to the Jeep, I asked for a minute by myself. I sat and waited until no one could hear me and did this speech:

Because I'm forty-one and if I want to do the Riddle of Steel speech to myself at Zabriskie Point, that ain't no one's bidness but mine.

From here we had a long drive to Panamint Springs, where we planned to turn in early, so we could get up early the next morning and go take waterfall pictures. But that's another story. Meantime, here's RR having a burger.

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I wonder what I'll order… ?

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Burger!

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Mmm, burger...

Snerf Dogs, Singapore Slings, Simpo Sandwiches and Donkeys.

Renee had managed to snag a modelling gig with a photographer she much admired, so our first day in Nevada involved a trip back into Las Vegas. I came along with the new infrared 5d.

I started my day pretty early, wandering out back the Atomic Inn, trying to get the hang of the infrared. You have to correct the focusing because the IR spectrum focuses at a different point than the visible spectrum. I also took a couple panoramics with the Sony RX100.

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This is a very groovy snerf pucky a second away from losing his shit. Protective of his pack. I respect that.

* An aside: I don't much believe in dog breeds or categories. No matter how pure bred your dog is, he neither knows nor cares. All he wants to do is eat, play and roll in his own filth. There's a purity to that which shouldn't be compromised with pettifoggery. I understand the breeding and indexing of dogs is probably necessary on some level, but for my purposes, there are four types of dogs:

Yap Dogs, Snerf Dogs, Yarf Dogs and Bowf Dogs. Snerf dogs are my favourite. 

I also never call a dog a puppy. Pucky sounds much more accurate.

Off topic, but I also call cute infants 'groovy boogles.' Because that's what they are.

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Renee in infrared. On the way out of town, we passed an old abandoned hotel. I said, "That would be the perfect place to shoot Talyn Stone," and Renee replied, "I was just thinking that." Didn't take a pic. Should have.

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Renee in infrared outside Denis Hof's Alien Cathouse.

There was some discussion of going inside. It went like this: Me - "Should we take a tour?" Her - "No." Fair enough.

There's also a gas station, convenience store and burger joint there - I picked up an alien shot glass and a bottle of Alien Pimp Juice, which I'm reasonably certain is just garden-variety tabasco sauce.

We arrived in Vegas and went to meet Radiant Inc for Renee's shoot. Very nice and gracious fellow. We waited at a small restaurant for him to arrive, where I ordered a Singapore Sling, because I was in Las Vegas and had never had one. I'm a lightweight at the best of times, but this drink knocked me fuuhhhh-LAT on my ass. Any intention I had of assisting with the shoot or even being tolerable company went out the door.

Renee had never met Drunk Warren before. She was amused.

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Waiting at the restaurant.

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Andrew Parker of Radiant Inc.

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The Singapore Sling in question. I also had a warm ganache off the desert menu, because I kept laughing at the thought of "Warren Gamache has a warm ganache." (Say it out loud.)

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Lacing up for the shoot.

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I like Calvin Coolidge, one of my favourite Presidents. Sworn in by his father in his living room. Known as 'Quiet Cal.' Coined the phrase, "The business of the American people is business." Cut taxes and regulation, oversaw the economic boom of the 1920s, retired even though he would have likely won a third term, because he had no appetite for power.

Knowing I had to drive back to Beatty, I decided to put some food in me to soak up the alcohol, so I wandered a couple blocks and found Simpo Sandwiches. If you're ever in Vegas, I recommend stopping by. After I placed my order, the owner became entirely immersed in the craft of making the sandwich. You'd think he was separating conjoined twins, such was his focus on the task at hand. When he was finished, he broke out into a satisfied grin and took a smartphone pic of the sandwich. It was quite good.

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Infrared shot with my 90mm Tilt-Shift lens, which is why the plane of focus is so wonky. 

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I'll let you in on some info regarding Renee Robyn: If the zombie apocalypse ever comes and she becomes one of the infected, I'll bet anything that while her fellow undead are eating the brains and entrails of the living, she'll be at the 7-11 knocking back Nestle's Crunch bars. We walked into a gas station once and I swear to god, the entire rack of Nestle's Crunch bars cringed.

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During a stop in Beatty, we met this guy in the parking lot of the local Denny's. I suggested that Renee get in for a few pics, but she begged off. She knows a lot more about ungulates than I do, so I didn't push it.

More Death Valley musings.

(I'd intended to do the entire trip as one or two blog postings, but I have too much on the go to commit the time needed, so it's coming in instalments. I'll get to the good stuff soon, I promise.)

So I'll tell you a little bit about Renee Robyn. I met her in 2001, very briefly. She wandered past me on Whyte Ave and I trotted down the block after her. I don't remember the entire conversation, but here's the gist:

"Photos?"
"Seventeen."
"Talk to you in a few months!"

And a few months later I did just that and yadda yadda. 

Flash forward ten years and she's hopping up and down in the parking lot at the Excalibur Casino and Hotel. After returning her rental car - which I seem to recall was time consuming and involved her telling a few rental car folks just what's what - we headed Northwest to Beatty, Nevada, where I'd booked a hotel room at the Atomic Inn, an interesting and rustic motel with a cool sign and a serious lack of reliable wi-fi.

The wi-fi was an issue, since Renee had to do a certain amount of remote work for her job-type-job, making internet access a necessity. I've discovered that if you don't plan your accommodations around reliable wi-fi, you end up spending a lot of time in Denny's and McDonalds.

Incidentally, I'm of the opinion that every major hotel and/or restaurant chain that doesn't offer free fast wi-fi should be burned to the ground.

Having said that, I'm not here to speak ill of the Atomic Inn - the room was clean and comfortable and the front staff was very pleasant. The wifi worked - fitfully, but it did work. This was to become a common occurrence over the next few days.

Two things Renee and I have in common: Paranoia over getting our gear stolen and a love of a decent burger. Long story short, after she and I made several exhausting trips back and forth from the rental car to the room to get our stuff nicely under lock and key, we headed out to find food. I believe we were both in the same frame of mind insofar as our preference went, considering it was nearly midnight: "Give us food and no one gets hurt."

Beatty's not a huge town, and it has a very tumbleweeds-and-cactus feel to it. Because of its proximity to Death Valley, it has lots of restaurants and hotels. Also, it has a huge candy store and wild donkeys that saunter through town from time to time. It's a wonderfully photogenic spot if you're interested in places that are gritty and authentic and have lots of character - I think I mentioned to Renee that if for some reason we couldn't get into the Valley, I'd be happy to spend the week shooting in Beatty. 

We found KC's Outpost Saloon and Eatery and got some of the best fresh-baked bread I'd ever had, along with salad and spaghetti and great friendly service. We left agreeing that we'd have to visit again to sample their full menu - we got there late and the salad and spaghetti was pretty much all they had. Unfortunately, scheduling didn't allow for that, but I do mean to make it back some day.

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An exhausted Renee awaits delicious spaghetti and bread.

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An exhausted Renee subtly conveys the possibility that she's not in the mood to be photographed.


All images under copyright.