Next Level

Location: Los Angeles, CA / Settings: F5.6-22, ISO 400, 549 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Night-Writer with Red, Blue and Green Color-tips.

People use the term 'next level' to describe upping their game on a personal level - to take what they've learned, and apply it to something that far surpassed what they've already done. 

I'm not sure I would say this image is truly next level for me, but I wanted to comment on the phenomenon and thought this might be a good way to do it.

The main idea is that in life, work, art etc, our greatest challenge is ourselves - every time you knock that ball out of the park, you are setting your personal bar higher.. Conversely, you make it tougher on yourself to achieve that next level.

For this shot I've incorporated a few tricks I've learned over the years - some surface painting for the piranha plant - turning a fallen chimney into a warp pipe. Casting Red on the ground around our hero, and a bit of Blue around the pipe for contrast. This was all done at F5.6 at ISO 400.

Next, I adjusted the Fstop to F22 (you can do that manually on a 14mm Rokinon lens) and started with the characters. Green tip on the Night-Writer for our Piranha Plant, changing to red and white for the face, then off to paint Mario - happy to have nailed the eyes!


Location: Murphy's Ranch - Pacific Palisades, CA / Settings: (Variable F-stop) F2.8 for Casted light, F16 for Skeletons, ISO 100, 553 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Proto Night-Writer.

This is not an easy location to get to - it's about a 7 mile hike in and out.. But if a group of teenagers can get to it carrying a 3ft glass bong, then you can hike it with some camera gear.

One of the funniest moments happened when Astrobandit and I were setting up for this shot in the dark - A group of high school aged kids walked toward the building with flashlights and shined their light on us in the middle of this doorway (it was pitch black) - they collectively FREAKED OUT, a girl screamed - which triggered other girls to scream, and we watched as a group of 12 flashlights ran off in the opposite direction screaming for their lives!

We nearly died of laughter and Jordan attempted to explain that we were not ghosts, murderers or anything like that. It was a Scooby-Doo moment.


If you'd like to take this hike for yourself, read up on this post.


Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: F8, ISO 100, 481 seconds

Info on how this shot was created: 

Gear: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

I used a light-pen to create the skeletons and a red LED for the blood-effect here with a little gelled orange flash from behind the wreckage and a gelled teal flash in front during the 8 minute long exposure.  

For this image, I wanted to emphasize the derelict structures that remain of what was once a popular 1950's Los Angeles getaway but is now a rusting, dust-swept, pesticide filtered, fish-graveyard.

Some insight on the location itself:

I don't recommend visiting in the Summer - it's hot and the stench of rotting fish has been known to travel as far as Orange County.

Bottom line is - it's gross, but looks great in photos.

If you stop around certain areas of the beach, you can expect a barrage of flies swarming constantly.. One of the most accurate inscriptions on junk I found was this one: 


Dempsey X Darius Twin collaboration

Astrobandit delivers a flying kick

Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F8, ISO 100, 126 seconds. Model at F3.2, ISO 800, 6 seconds - lit w speedlite.

Three minds are better than one - this was the case on the collaborative efforts of myself, fellow Los Angeles based photographer Mike Dempsey and Astrobandit when we recently took a trip out to the beautiful wasteland that is - Salton Sea, CA.

Last Grasp

Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F8, ISO 100, 40 seconds. Model at F3.5, ISO 800, 8 seconds.

Click on the images above to take a trip over to Mike's website where you can check out some of his humorous photo and video work that will make you say - How'd he do that? 

Looking forward to collaborating again in the near future!

Nude Ascending a Staircase

Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F8, ISO 100, 91 seconds. Colors at F5.6, ISO 1250, 45 seconds.

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

I checked out this staircase during the day and it was sturdy enough to not crumble then - It seems as though it may at any moment.

Most of the buildings in this section of the Salton Sea are ragged signs of the past, decaying into the future.

Stairway to the Stars

Location: Waterpark - Lake Delores, CA / Settings: F8, ISO 100, 316 second exposure

Walking up this rail-less tower in the dark was sketchy enough, but add in some serious wind and now you have a real challenge.

Factors like the wind rarely come across in my long exposures, I'll try to velcro some fabric to posts next time for added effect.