Saturday, February 20, 2010


The high school program follows a different schedule than the rest of the conference. For the first three days various professionals in the field accompany the ten students. Sponsored by Winberley, Gitzo, Delkin, Canon, and Apple, the kids have access to an ungodly amount of equipment and computers. Following tradition, I arrived at the conference three days late due to snow in Dallas so I missed the first day of shooting.

On Monday, we met our bus driver at 4:45 AM and headed out to Pyramid Lake located on the Piaute tribe’s reservation. The rock formations, called tufa, are remnants of underwater geothermal vents, which deposited calcium carbonate over a long period of time.

We hiked all around the lake working details and landscapes.

After lunch, we made our way to the Black Rock Desert, which you might recognize as the hosting site of Burning Man. Through some great contacts, we managed to get access to Fly Geyser. Privately owned, this little gem evades any public access. We, however, were given four hours to walk around, climb on top (responsibly of course), and photograph the alien structure.

Sixty years ago wells were drilled around the property to test for geothermal activity. As 210-degree water spouted from the pipes, small amounts of calcium carbonate followed, forming around the vents. The otherworldly colors are a result of microorganisms, algae, which change color throughout the year.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. Even being there, it didn’t look real.

Privately owned means privately cared for. Unfortunately, Burning Man, which has now become an organization, is slated to buy the property. This would bring about 30,000 people to the area per year. I can almost picture it now. Thousands of crazed hippies dancing around the flumes licking the columns with dilated pupils saying “the snozberries taste like snozberries!” If it does, I’ll be able to step back and say I knew Fly Geyser when it looked like this:

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