In early 2018, I was researching locations for an upcoming landscape photography trip to Utah. It was then I came across an image of a tall, black spire in the desert. The image had been posted to a rock climbing forum and looked like a still from a Stanley Kubrick or Ridley Scott film. I couldn't find any additional information about the unusual rock formation, other than it was nicknamed "Long Dong Silver" (lovely) and was somewhere "near Hanksville, Utah".
Later that same year, I traveled to Hanksville and visited the local Bureau of Land Management office. I showed a BLM employee the image of the black spire on my phone, but he claimed he'd never seen it before. Had no idea where it was. As a result, I returned home without finding or photographing the spire.
(In retrospect, I should have visited a local ATV rental shop, for they almost certainly would have known where it was.)
In the years thereafter, more photos and even videos of the spire appeared online. Blog posts too including the spire's exact GPS coordinates. A secret place once known mostly to locals and a few rock climbing enthusiasts was slowly going viral amongst hikers, climbers, and landscape photography enthusiasts around the world.
Despite its diminished mystery and newfound popularity, I still wanted to see and photograph it. So in late 2022, I returned to Utah, packed my camera bag, put on my hiking boots and sun hat, and went looking for it.
10+ gift ideas for photographers under $100
My family always tells me I'm a terrible person to shop for. I totally believe it, for unless someone is into photography they wouldn't have a clue what to look for. To make matters worse, a lot of photo and video gear is expensive. So to help anyone else facing the same difficult scenario, I put together a list of some of my favorite things that all cost less than $100:
- Kodak Ektar H35
- Peak Design mobile creator kit and tripod
- Apple AirTags
- Outdoor Research photography gloves
- Platypod Max
- Logitech MX Master 3S
- SmallRig folding tool set
- National park apparel and accessories
I've shared a few more in the full blog post linked below.
Ever since the Gnarbox (which unfortunately imploded earlier this year), I've been looking into affordable, simple ways to backup SD, MicroSD and CFExpress cards while traveling. Reason being, cards are small and can be easily lost or accidentally re-formatted in camera. Packing a laptop is still the fastest and simplest way to transfer data, but can the same thing be done with an iPhone?
In this video, I demonstrate how to copy data from camera cards to an external SSD drive using an iPhone, plus a few cheap accessories. It's not the most elegant solution in the world, but it works for those photographers and videographers who'd rather not travel with a laptop or copy cards in-camera. I also tackle the question of whether cloud backups (iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc) are possible.
❤️ Favorite things this week
- Fascinating video from a 3D artist who photographed fishing cabins in Lofoten, Norway, then used those images to digitally recreate the environment using Unreal Engine 5. I love videos like these that illustrate a completely different use case for photography than I ever would thought of.
- AI-generated Victorian-era people who never existed. Amazing what's possible today. I'd imagine these computer generated people would appear just as real to the average person as a true, historical photograph.
- What happens when you press SOS on a Garmin InReach. Or, at least what happened to one guy in Idaho with inexperienced local responders. Incredible story that's worth sticking with to its stunning final chapter.
- Nice historical overview of Peruvian "psychedelic cumbia", a fantastic musical rabbit hole to explore if you've never heard it.
- Speaking of music, recommend checking out "Pigments" from Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn (Spotify), "Vivo en Panama" by Mathieu Des Longchamps (Spotify), "Where's the One?" by Congotronics International (Spotify), and "Magma" by Black Flower (Spotify).
- Canon may be releasing an EOS R5 Mark II in Q2 of 2023. The R5 is my main camera for photo and video, so I'm interested to see how this develops. Safe to say there will be a megapixel bump, plus video features from the recent EOS R6 Mark II. Personally, I'm still holding out hope Canon will release a high megapixel R5SR (similar to the 5DSR DSLR of yore).
- Freewell has a new collection of "Sherpa" smart phone filters, plus an anamorphic lens. They sent me a box of stuff to try out, and will be posting a review soon. In the meantime, check them out here.
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