Setting out on my journey I quickly realized 99.9999% of the time I would be traveling alone. This means 2 things I had to be aware of. The first is that I would have to be very proactive in meeting people. The second was that any and all of the gear that I so deeply love to use would have to be manageable only by me. So you can imagine my excitement when Profoto announced their new B1 lights.
What’s so great about these lights Braun?? Because good people, the head has a battery built into it! Brilliant! That means no more lugging heavy power packs around. No more tripping over cords! The Profoto radio trigger can also control the power of the heads (both TTL & Manual modes!) That means you don’t have to get up from your shooting position. You don’t have to break that connection with your subject you’ve been talking to for 20 minutes to get them to relax! When you say “Hold on” and walk away you loose momentum. And if you did have an assistant holding a stand you wouldn’t have to ask them to go change the power on the pack because you have the control right on your camera trigger! Genius. This light is great! 500w (solid power) of beautiful legendary Profoto light that fits in the top of a medium sized backpack! Strap a light stand & umbrella to the backpack and you’re off! Full Metal Jacket & Hiking up the mountain with your subject without a team of donkeys hauling gear!
Profoto is hands downs the standard in rental houses. Sure they aren’t the cheapest , but they are consistently quality light and robustly designed. The B1 is nothing short of it’s designer’s legacy. The head feels solid. The menu on both the head and the trigger is simple and easy to use. Grip it and Rip it! Sure this light isn’t for all productions. The battery is rated to get 300 shots at full power, which is quite a bit for portrait shoots. I’ve shot many of the portraits below at 1 pm when the light is the harshest. No power cables tangling generators or power packs let me place the light stand in the water while I was shooting a beautiful girl out in the Florida Keys!
Lately I’ve really liked using a big deep umbrella with a diffuser over the front of it. Like an Octobox but no ring and poles to wrestle. It Is a bit of a wind catcher so a diffused beauty dish will join my arsenal quite soon for sure. As a photographer taking people’s time for your photograph you must be respectful which is another reason why I love this set up. Takes me about 2 minutes to set up from “backpack mode” to “light is up and we’re shooting!” Quick and painless is the name of the game. Never give people time to freak out in their head.
All of these portraits were done with this exact set up. thats all. I don’t use the camera tripod, just for illustration. lenses I typically use the new canon 100mm 2.8L IS ii Macro or the 50mm 1.2L. Below are some from my new portrait series “Faces Along a Journey” (all shot with the B1). I started this series because I do like shooting nature, I greatly enjoy photographing portraits. When on the road you meet all sorts of people, you learn their history and background, or that of which they want you to know. This is what I wanted! To value not just the amazing sights to behold but to know the people that make up this country. It might be a 10 second encounter or you might be neighbors for a couple of weeks. Taking the time to get to know people is so crucial. Social media definitely does not supplement real people to people interactions. I’ve met all sorts of Airstreamers, Mormon (Grateful)Dead Heads (that don’t smoke or drink). A BBC Radioman. A future rap star that was caravaning across the country with his sister in a prius! Snow Birds! French Canadian college kids. French Canadian snow birds, outlaws, veterans of huge Military careers, computer hackers, big fashion photographers and on and on and on. People that own real movie Batmobiles. People that invite me out to the Ranch in Utah, Colorado. You never know. Never discount anybody, Never assume.
The point is everybody has a story. Take the time to say hello and talk, because you’re interested, not because you have an agenda! If you think you would want to take their portrait ask them. They might say no, they might say yes. 90% of the time I ask they have never been photographed by a professional photographer!
My approach to my lighting is to feather the light across the subject’s face. Almost emulating the sun but just lower. Place the back end of the umbrella almost at the ear of the subject slightly angled toward them. This causes the light to fall right across their face while leaving the other side untouched and shadowed…thus creating mood! ahhhhaaaa! If you put the sun behind the subject you can basically use it as a backlight with this combination.
Hope you find this helpful my friends. Be Well Go Far. -Braun
Over the mountains and across miles of endless of fields nestled in New Mexico lies the desert park, White Sands. Rolling dunes of sugar white sand go on and on with mountains looking over. Quiet is not the word. The dunes seem to absorb the any noise and all you are left with is peace to soak in the surreal beauty. This has a special place in my heart from my Dad and Grandfather taking my brother and I to it when we were small kids and still remains one of my favorite places on earth.
So if you find yourself anywhere close to the southeast corner of New Mexico, not far from Texas, I highly encourage you to venture out to see the white desert. A place so surreal that you could easily see a scene from Star Wars (the cool ones) being shot here. I fully plan on coming back to use it for several projects. Be Well Go Far. – Braun
I didn’t write this addition to the sign but I don’t completely disagree with it. And really when it comes down to it, I honestly don’t think the employees of the park do either. That might be why there wasn’t much resistance to the brave group of people that went past the gates and enjoyed the park besides many of the barriers and signs. I was told in Camden at the bike shop where I bought my new Trek that though it was closed people were going in. The locals do this before the season opens to the flood of tourists. So basically the “off season” came early for them. So I packed up the WNDRLST and Patton and I went up to the island where the National Park lives.
Acadia was one of the first National Parks I found out about as a kid in a feature of it in National Geographic and I must say it did not disappoint. Coming up to the gates and visitor center was kind of eerie. Abandoned civilization is 10x more unnerving than being alone in nature for me but I tipped my hat to the abandoned guard shack and trudged on! Acadia is a pretty good sized park so every day I took the liberty to park the truck close to an area I had not seen. Because the park was closed there was no parking in the middle as a central hub which means you biked or walked a good distance before really starting to see “the sights” First day was the coastline.
Biking in on the eastern trail along the coast line is stunning. It ranges from big rocky bluffs to bends that reveal secret secluded beaches. You could spend months exploring it for sure. The roads are built and maintained so anybody of any mobility could get out and see something amazing. Up and down and around the bends each corner revealed a new view and surprise which gives you the extra physical strength to go farther and farther in.
The fall colors were on the last gasp of their bloom. A storm had hit earlier in the week while I was in Camden and had knocked out a lot of the leaves from the towering trees but there was still plenty to see. The autumn colors of the North East are almost radioactive. Photos don’t do them justice. I saw pinks and reds on leaves that were so rich and bright they would compete with any neon sign.
Maybe my favorite experience from the first day was when I got off my bike and stepped off the trail into the thick woods. People on the road looked at me like CAN HE DO THAT? yes I can, so can you. I encourage it dammit. Get off the “tour bus” and explore! Get dirty. What did I find. Trees spaced out so they could climb to the clouds. Moss that was so think you sank 3 inches into its spongey carpet. Any minute you expected to see Big Foot laying out enjoying the scene.
The Next Day I hit the Carriage trails. Yes you read that right and no there aren’t actually carriages blazing around. The Rockefellers paid to have them put in so they could enjoy the vastness of the park from their carriages…which now provides EXCELLENT bikes paths. Seriously, we’re not talking about a few small cut throughs. The carriage trails go up and over the mountains and down to the edge of all the ponds. You couldn’t get better views.
Every once in a while you would find “abandoned” park trucks as if somebody blew the whistle and they just left. Looking back at it the circumstances could have been the setting for THE GREATEST GO KART TRACK OF ALL TIME! I mean nice even clean dirt trails through a national park with nobody to stop you. FAIL BRAUN FAIL. I must demand more of my friend begin to travel with me from now on just so these opportunities aren’t wasted.
Witches Hole Pond
Each day I came back exhausted beyond words. Biking 30+ miles a day up and down hills and around the mountain is not for the wussy pants. Sadly I left the island earlier than planned because of the “off season” and everything closing in the area. It was getting colder and work demanded me south. Needless to say it was a great kick off to my wilderness treks and left me inspired with many ideas for projects. Reflecting it was a special time in history, that when I show my kids some day (no I don’t have kids yet) these photos that I can say I saw the National Park when the government had shut down. (assuming we still have National Parks by then……ACT LIKE YOU HAVE SOME SENSE POLITICIANS!)
Where would you suggest I spend some time at in the U.S? Any special places, doesn’t have to be National Parks? I’d love to spend some time at big horse ranches or on a fishing boat. Anything unique or special access I’m down! Would you like to see video? Let me know friends.
BE WELL, GO FAR!
HELLLOOO FROM THE ROAD! Ok so I’m less than a month on the road now and I can tell that I have 2 major expenses. Fuel and Park Fees. So I thought I’d share a few things I have picked up on. One most everybody can use, the other is for the ones that journey by road.
A. is for most everybody, since we all drive cars that use fuel. Shell’s FUEL REWARDS NETWORK. Here’s how and why.
- It’s Free, just sign up or snag a card at a shell station
- You rack up points just shopping online through the same stores you do anyways.(Best Buy, Apple, Home Depot, Banana Republic, Travelocity) Christmas is coming, ! Some stores you even get double and triple the points!
- Save Money on Fuel!
For me it’s major. If you can save 50+ cents off per gallon then that beats any other station hands down. Same deals you get online at the stores you shop at already. STRATEGY BONUS, (are you ready?!) use your credit cards that already have rewards, ex. am ex American Airlines, to pay for them and you are now scoring miles and gas money! BOOM! Mind Blown. Nothing wrong with being smart with shopping!
B. Is more for the rv trailer crowd. 2 networks of parks and awesome places to stay!
Passport America. I was skeptical but for 44$ a year its not THAT big of a risk. The savings is about 50% off park rates! after 2 or 3 days it pays for itself. For full timers that is huge, even if you don’t stay at their park 100% thats a good amount of savings. I’ve now saved way more than what the membership costs me, and its not 2nd rate campsites. Great investment for sure!
Harvest Hosts. I cannot wait to use this one! It’s for self sufficient RV’s and trailers only….NO sewage dumping! BUT WHYYYYYY BRAUN?? Because you are invited to stay at awesome places FOR FREE (other than your 40$ a year membership) like vineyards, farms, Breweries, and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (probably). What a special experience to add to your journey. It’s a great way for small businesses like these to let people in to their daily life, so you gotta respect their openness to their world.
I hope this helped and if you are new to life on the road like I am, or even considering it, perhaps this even excites you.
Be Well, Go Far, Dream BIG!
We drove and drove and drove. Traveling up and down and up and down through the beautiful mountains of Tennessee into Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We were on a mission to get north as possible before the leaves left and the cold arrived. Making sacrifices to not see more landmarks…like more bourbon distilleries. We stopped for diesel and rested in Wal Mart parking lots (who thankfully are RV Friendly) only for a few hours and then off again! Patton slept on and off in the back in his throne hammock. Always getting up for when I stopped to fuel up. We strayed away from the big cities of NYC and Boston for fear of traffic. And then there it was. Signs. We had reached the Atlantic Coast line and managed to pull to a beach front somewhere on the line of New Hampshire and Maine just before dawn.
I pulled Patton out of the truck and laid him on sand, knowing he had never really experienced it. He delighted in its softness on his old joints and we walked out over the sand dune and there it was. Illuminated by the just breaching sun that was merely as thick as a knife blade. We both stood in something I cannot begin to describe. Not only was this validation of why we had driven for days and nights, sleep deprived and junk food filled, but what I had worked non stop dawn to dusk every day this summer in the Texas heat to finish the airstream. We both smiled and dare I say laugh as we played in the surf and slowly strolled the beach finally relaxing. We had made it.
It was a few hours more to drive through the small cozy coastal towns of Maine until we reached Camden. The town of Camden is simply one word, CHARMING. It is hands down the iconic Maine town you think of. White wooden buildings with trim. Nice Harbor. Lobster rolls flow in every restaurant or roadside stand and hotels are called “Inns”. Hills roll through the town with shops offering everything a visitor could hope for with people as pleasant as I have met anywhere. I even picked up a mountain bike there (Trek) which some how I didn’t have when I left Dallas.
One of my favorite things here is that almost business has these signs of carved painted wood with gold letters. Makes you feel like you’re in a Harry Potter movie. again….charming craftsmanship & detail.
Camden’s state park had some great reviews so we stopped there. Pleasantly tucked up into the forrest, the spots for trailers and RV’s are each given their own space to breath with their own fire pit and tables. Weekenders, adventurers and retirees came and went and I made some new friends there. Nothing like being able to say “Come on over to my spot tonight and I’ll make a fire.” Great conversation with the quiet everyone is exactly there for balances everything it seems.
While hiking through the state park I came upon a small clearing in the woods with hundreds of stacks of rocks. It was surreal for sure since I had no idea what they were at the time but I made my own. “When in Rome”. Later I was told they are some symbol or procedure revolving around prayer. interesting.
I love these hammocks from Grand Trunk Goods. Small, compact, and a ton of accessories.
Every Sunday the Camden Snow Bowl is open (WITH PANCAKE BREAKFAST!!!) They run the ski lifts so you can go up and hike around the hills if you want. Pretty neat.
MAINE IS SPOOKY
Now I had heard the champion of horror literature, Stephen King lived in Maine. Just like I had read in an article the he himself said that “MAINE IS SPOOKY”. I have to agree with him. For all its beauty and mystery it keeps secrets a little too quiet. I don’t mean that to deter anybody from visiting. you should. But you can’t know what I am poorly attempting to describe until you have been here. It’s quiet. A little too quiet. Like when you know somebody is watching you. The roads twist and turn through the dense trees on either side and before you know it you pass the building you were looking for, usually nestled away. The 2 days before I left it rained off and on, leaving a spooky fog. And just like the idiots in every horror movie I had to venture forth into the scene that frightened me. Some how I survived the monsters, ghouls, and serial killers.
NEXT BLOG: ACADIA NATIONAL PARK! Where I wrestle bears and chase leprechauns.. until then….
Be Well, GO Far
Hello From Maine! Yes you read that right but will save my experience in Maine for the next post! After a great send off party and several tearful “see ya laters” we’re off Patton and I! We left our beloved Dallas for the open road and it has been interesting for sure.
First Stop NASHVILLE for my great friend’s wedding. I had never been to Nashville and it was quite a treat. Driving from Dallas overnight to make the rehearsal was a bit of a whip but we made it with a few hours to unhook and drive to the place. After the rehearsal we all went out on the town and to be honest it’s not entirely unlike Austin. EVERY place had some size of a stage, with all the laid back and southern proud attitude. But I only spent 2 days there for the wedding.
The wedding was held at the LOVELESS Cafe. Now with a name like that I had reservations but it ended up being the quintessential place of southern charm. Flowers, great BBQ, a giant barn, ranch style separate buildings…it was lovely. They did the catering for the wedding and the most impressive part was they got the sweet tea right! (Besides needing a few lemons for my personal preference)
After the wedding I headed an hour south to check one off the old bucket list…to tour the famous Jack Daniels Distillery! It did not disappoint for sure! The distillery, the same one Jack Daniels himself founded, is nestled in the Tennessee hills in the small town of Lynchburg Tennessee. Now I’ve been overseas quite a bit and no matter how far I get, every bar has Jack Daniels. So what blew my mind is that ever drop of it is made at the this little spot! The tour is wonderful, especially if you appreciate great craftsmanship! You get to see the fully intricate process and see the amazing history the company has gone through. The same dedication goes on today.
Jack Daniels was 5’2″ tall. I always thought of him as this booming burley figure. This statue stands in front of the limestone cave that the spring’s water from it feeds the entire distillery. That is entirely why Jack Daniels chose this place, the limestone purifies the water! It’s all in the ingredients. Specific wood for charcoaling, different wood for barreling. What an amazing process to fine tune.
This is Patton’s throne. I invested in one of these Kurgo Wander Hammock Dog Car Seat Cover
which attaches to the back of the head rests. Having dogs since college I’m kicking myself I just now found one of these! It is awesome! Keeps the dog hair to a minimum and I don’t have to worry about him falling in the floor board. With his bed in there his head hits right about my shoulder height and lets him see out the windows. Patton naps on and off the entire drive and surprisingly loves it all.
Driving through the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia was so beautiful! The steep climbs and descends are a lot pulling this size of trailer but my Ram 2500 diesel handled it all like a champ. I only had one real “Sway” experience while coming down a steep mountain. Holy Moly, I may have lost a few years off my life from white knuckling the wheel so hard. It stopped after a few heart pounding minutes and I was able to cruise at 70 mph for the rest of the trip.
NEXT POST MAINE! Here’s a sneak preview.
I’m very excited to announce my Kickstarter campaign for a very special personal project that has been in my head and heart for the last 3 years. It’s always been a dream of mine to create a large sureal series of photographs centered around a character. The campaign’s purpose is to fund the purchase of a prop (SPACE SUIT) for a LARGE fine art series I will shoot along my travels in my airstream. (you read that right, Space Suit) The Space Man character, The Xplorer, will be found in a variety of landscapes that I will shoot in many of the country’s national parks over the course of 2 years. I’ve come up with a pretty awesome range of rewards from Polaroids, prints, and to a very cool book that includes your name in it on a special Thank You page!
This was not such an easy thing for me honestly. It’s hard to put yourself out there as a creative, to ask people to believe in you enough to pull out their hard earned money. But if you believe in the project enough you just have to go for it! It’s only been live for about 35 hours and I’m blown away by the amazing pledges and abundant positive feedback I’ve gotten!
To be honest the timing is extremely hard for me to grasp because literally 1 hour after the campaign went live did I learn on the Tornado devastation in Oklahoma. Such horrible loss. Words can’t begin to describe how much I love that I live in this country that rises to help its people in a time of crisis. (government and individuals) SO LET ME BE CLEAR! First and foremost, I ask you to consider giving to one of the disaster relief organizations for the Oklahoma Tornado victims. Then after that if you still want to be involved in making this project become a reality then I would be extremely grateful.
- Text “Storm” to 80888 –> $10 to Salvation Army
- Text “Redcross” to 90999 –> $10 to Red CRoss Disaster Relief
- Text “Food” to 32333 –> $10 to OK Regional Food Bank
After meditating on it quite a bit after I learned about the tragedy I was still left with the feeling I truly believe this project will inspire lots of people with its visuals. I’m not saying it’s going to rebuild that town, that is underway already. But it’s important to stay inspired! To spur the imagination.
Deadly Tornados, Plant explosions, Marathon Bombings, school shootings, theater massacres. We’re beaten up but NOT BEAT. Rise through love!
I am very excited to share the final 3d layout design for my Airstream renovation project. First massive thanks to my good friend and brilliant architect Chris Anderson for helping to make my design a visual reality. Let me stress the importance of a legit architect to make measurements and draw everything to scale when each inch counts in a designed space. Thanks again Chris for your awesome help!
The layout was designed with the priority of lots of storage and seating. My projects are always on location so it will be important to have plenty of room for personnel and equipment. The bunk beds will be able to angle up for extra head room in the back. All seating and beds will have lockable storage underneath and both tables will drop to convert into beds. Effectively it will sleep 5.
There are lots of design details planned for that you can not see here that I will share through out the process. I’m blown away by the interest and support for this project and want to say thank you to everybody! BTW, I have decided to name her The Wanderlust!
Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.
In my first blog post announcing this project, I mentioned I would be sharing my interviews & videos of some very cool guests of my Airstream Journey. Who knows what mischief us rule breakers are gonna get into! I’m honored they will be joining me.
My first guest list are some of my visual creative buddies that I will be joining up for stretches of the Airstream journey. All of these guys are top level professionals in the photography video industry. MANY MORE TO ANNOUNCE SOON! If you don’t know their amazing work, please check out the link on their names. CHEERS!
August Bradley – Hasselblad Master Winner. Major Photographer and Director. Fashion, Glamor, Portrait. Jedi
Douglas Sonders – Mover Shaker. Commercial Photographer & Director. Portrait, Automotive. Jedi
Pratik Laik – Professional Retoucher. Community Leader. Fashion, Glamor. Jedi
Robert Latorre – Great Photography Mentor of mine. Commercial Photographer & Director. Engineering Visionary. Jedi
Vincent Laforet – Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer. Superb Director & DP. Gear Master. Industry Legend. Jedi
Be sure and subscribe by email or rss at the top right, and/or subscribe to my facebook to keep up with the transformation process and adventures of my Airstream!
See you soon! Have Fun!
So since I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about my renovation of my airstream I thought I would share some of the technical & design Airstream Resources I have found helpful. Most people know that I’m not a plumber, cabinet maker, electrician or RV- Airstream specialist. And I never claimed to be. BUT with the internet YOU CAN LEARN. All it takes is the will to research and ask questions. No? How do you think I learned Photography??? Enjoy. Hope it helps
You learn quick who are the rock stars in any field as soon as you dig into it. These are a few that I have found and have greatly helped me just by all they share on the net. Both of these guys have been really gracious to respond to my questions too. Respect!
Matthew Hofmann & Hofmann Architecture – Close to my age and super skills this architecture in my mind has changed the game as to what a home on wheels can look like. Much more minimalist, functional and clean designs. Just google his name and read all the cool interviews about his design start.
Craig Dorsey – Master Builder & Designer. (Check out his Masterpieces Here) This guys is the DaVinci of airstream restorations. Seriously, One of those guys that basically can do anything with a cool vehicle. His work on the FarmLab project has GREATLY helped me to see his workflow since my 34′ Airstream is the same generation and work needed.
More cool Airstream projects at the bottom!
HOW TO VIDEOS!
Not only does Matthew Hofmann design and build great airstreams but he also gives so much back to this community. Serious time and effort went into all his HOW TO video. BIGGGGG Thanks to Matthew. I’ve learned a ton from these
A necessary evil that you must at least learn the basics of when you work a project like this. (which I didn’t when I started) Sometimes you don’t feel like paying some guy to come out every time something doesn’t work or it’s just nice to know a bit to take a stab at fixing something yourself….you might surprise yourself! The 2 blogs below greatly helped me in learning what is what and which gear to choose since I’m completely redoing the system in mine. YES I will have an electrician verify everything is solid, but this way his time is minimal (Hopefully).
RV ELECTRICAL SYSTEM 101 AC-DC, Watts, Amps, Volts, Solar, Hook Ups, etc.
RV Electrical Upgrades – Batteries, Inverters, Solar, Surge Guards, etc
COMMUNITY & LEARNING
I said it before, when I purchased my Airstream I joined a family & Community ( maybe cult). A MASSIVE (& Free) Support group is online and willing to give pointers on almost every type of procedure, equipment, and protocol of Airstream’s 83 years of generations of various models. If you have questions, AIR FORUMS is where you look to read and ask!
VINTAGE AIRSTREAM is also a pretty cool online resource for learning
OTHER SUPER COOL AIRSTREAM REMODEL PROJECTS