The Crack Thief
For awhile there I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to take a photo trip again, so this outing with the legendary Ryan Dyar was particularly sweet. Life has a strange way of swatting you across the face and reminding you of what, and who, is important to you. In less than 48 hours, I went from a care-free dinner with a friend to a couple of surgeries resulting in the removal of a huge cancerous tumor; and with it went my right kidney. My existence was so painful and surreal that it wasn't until a week after the event that I got my bearings enough to contemplate my odds of survival; which I did....while crying to my now-wife over some particularly bad hospital pudding. A few months later, I was strong enough to drive, and I was happy to hit the road and distract myself with the process of photography.
Ryan and I made our way south to the dried-out playa of the Alvord Desert. One of the multitude of things I can always count on RyRy to do is be entertaining, so when I found out he had forgotten the ladder to his roof top tent, I made sure to park myself right behind him at night so that I could witness the emergence. Sure enough, every morning I would hear the ziiiiiip of his tent; my signal to take up a good viewing position, and cue the music. It would start slowly.... only feet visible. Then his bottom would break free from its cocoon and some sort of wriggling would occur. It was like watching a water buffalo giving birth. I have it on video, and review it from time to time when life get stressful.
Ryan wondering what happened to the brilliant comp he had been planning to shoot
Our first morning on the Alvord playa was a ripper. Constructing a composition in the cracks here is usually extremely challenging, but Ryan has an uncanny ability to find order in chaos. So I simply followed him around, waited until he found particularly cool pattern in the mud, and then announced that I had forgotten my headlamp in the rig, and was too tired to get it. *Playing the "I lost a kidney" card and using Ryan's graceful kindness against him might seem like a douchey move, and it was. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck... *shrugs*. While Ryan dutifully went back to retrieve my not-actually-lost headlamp, I moved over 50'. That may not sound like much, or a big deal. But when you are gazing at nothing but a sea of tiny little cracks that seem exactly the same, it's damned near impossible to figure out what you were looking at if you take your eyes away for more than a moment.
"Huh", I said upon his return. "Couldn't find it? Did you look in the glove box? I think I left it in there before we headed out. Oh wait. HERE it is! I had it on my head the whole time!! I'm so silly! Ahh well, back to shooting then. Isn't it weird that you can't see that cool composition you found here anymore? Rats. Well, you know, sometimes these things happen, and you think something is so great until you walk away for a bit and when you return you discover it wasn't as clever as you thought it was at first glance." Bewildered, he shrugged and moved off to find something else, leaving me to simply walk the 50' back, set up, and merrily fired away on his composition. I'm sure Ryan is super stoked to have me back shooting again. I'm an Olympic caliber glory stealer.