I’ve been with Canon since the 5D mkii came out. I left my beloved Nikon for Canon when they were clearly paving the way for HD video integrated into their bodies. Adapt or die. Roll with it. And so I did. It wasn’t that hard of a decision because at that time I was shooting on my Nikon D300 with a 4/3 sensor. To go full frame meant getting all new lenses anyways, so I went with Canon and never looked back. My Canon was great too. First the 5dmk ii’s and then to the iii’s. They let me create so much I’m really proud of. Took them all over the world. Never letting me down, I’ll always be grateful for them.
Then the new kids, Sony, hit the scene. first slow. Like Fuji, and olympus, they had developed a smaller lighter camera. The mega pixel war was over. It had been for a while. Photographers wanted different things now. Sony’s shiny new pony was Mirrorless. Looked at by most, including yours truly, as intriguing. Neat. A fun idea but by no means a professional weapon. Sony didn’t have a track record of professional equipment, despite being the brains and engine in every digital Nikon made. Then Sony made more moves. First with their A7s. A low mega pixel ninja that shot 4k in absurd low light conditions. Ears perked and pupils dilated. Chins scratched but the gavel had not fallen as to was this a cheap trick or truly the yellow brick road to the emerald city of future.
Then came something really exciting. the A7ii. What’s so great? They stabilized the sensor instead of the glass! Brilliant! I had the chance to take the A7ii to Turkey and the tingle began. Instead of 30-70lb’s of travel gear I took under 7! I’ll go into this trip in more depth soon. ONWARD!
Then they released the Kraken! The gloves were off and the game was now officially changed. TKO. Don’t get up they declared. Everybody else is fighting with muskets and updating the steam engine. The A7Rii was their answer! 42 FULL FRAME megapixels. 4k Video. Mirrorless. Lighter. Stronger. Smarter. A beast undeniably better than my 5dmkii in every way. I had held out to see what Canon’s response to the Sony contender’s artillery but nothing recieved. Bigger Bullets? A whopping 50 megapixel Canon 5d body. A Killer Elite for sure if one is simply looking for an alternative to buying a medium format camera. But few of us are, and the ones that can shoot medium format do.
The signs were clear. My beloved partner in crime, Canon, had not evolved. Once the leader of the digital movement, now standing on its sinking podium, refusing to stop shouting “bigger is better”. Bruce Lee would say other wise. My work style had changed over the last few years. I still shot my advertising, but given my rebirth as a travel and adventure shooter. I needed my gear to fit me. My needs were more fluid. Forget the stealthy weight and size. Sony’s tech in the camera that integrates with my phone: being able to view the live view from the camera, change the camera’s settings, trigger, and finally pull the image directly from the body to my phone to be posted to the world within 20 seconds of the capture. This was a body for today’s photographer’s media needs without sacrificing full metal jacket functionality of our beloved Nikon and Canon bodies. My technical creativity hatched like gremlins under a sprinkler. Welcome to the revolution.
I sold my Canon’s. All the perfect glass I had said to myself when I bought it “this is it. the last one of these I’ll ever need” They are all gone and new steeds are in the stable now. No regrets
to be continued.
For the past 10 years there has been an event that has stirred in my heart! Ask anybody about it and you’ll get a variety of descriptions. Naked, dusty, drugs, weird, artsy, crazy, awesome, etc are the common words that you’ll hear. And so this year i set out for the playa of the mysteriously famous Burning Man, knowing only a few things for certain. One was that whatever you brought in, you take with you out (including every scrap of trash and not a drop of liquid hits the ground) and the second was that I had to be prepared to be there for 8 days straight. Food, Water, and whatever else had to last.
Really not knowing what to expect I finally reached the gates after crossing miles and miles of desert. A beautiful woman dressed like something from a mix of OZ and Mad Max opened my truck door with a smile pulled me out and gave me a hug. WELCOME HOME! She rejoiced! The optimism was infectious and I couldn’t help but smile. Like Disney Land for adult, you couldn’t help but jump up and down from excitement. “What burn is this for you??” she asked with a genuine eagerness. “my first” I replied. “A VIRGIN!!!!!” She yelled embracing me yet again only to feel 4 or 5 more people join in the hug also announcing my new found “virginity”. I had arrived.
Filing into another line down the hill, the playa was exposed at random by a cloud of dust that had the tormenting power of a tidal wave. The winds shifted for a second and then all of the sudden there he was, the Man. Towering over everything like some foreign monument so random “Alien” was the only explanation. Too Illogical to come from us mere humans, but yet he did. Logic was nowhere near this place I learned as an “art car” the shape of a rhino transformer and the size of a semi truck rolled by full of people in it’s belly. All rules were off, the game was on. The Walk on the Wild Side had begun.
The Next week was a blur of surrealism. I’m writing this 2 days after I left the playa and I’m still processing what happened. Like waking from a heavy vivid dream, grasping at fleeting details. A mix of dust, nakedness everywhere, and the most amazing art one can think of. Mash that with a constant thumbing of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) that kept you moving like a pace maker for the spirit. A soundtrack for the mind. You kept moving. The setting for this was obviously perfect. The sterile desert complimented the sculptures, leaving the focus for them. As physically demanding as it was to get to see art for the heat and the deep sand made you earn the experience, reaching them left you intimate with the visuals.
The inhabitants of Black Rock City were all very much like the gate keepers. Open loving creatures. Eager to embrace you. (naked or not) Excited to talk about what you had seen and their experiences. Longing to encourage you. It was intoxicating to say the least. My camp mates were pretty awesome. Only knowing one going into it we quickly became family as we hung out and ate together during the day and looked out for each other at night. I am so grateful to have met each one of them.
70,000 people come to Burning Man at Black Rock City
The key to any travel is to go into it with an open mind. You don’t go to foreign lands expecting it to bend and cater to your comfort zone, and the same way goes for Burning Man, except its another dimension. You will lose the point of traveling if you do this. Like most movies, if you go into it with a certain expectation then you will more often than not be let down. But if you go into it with an open mind, then you let your life truly experience something. NOW, I am not saying you have to do drugs or any/all of what is being offered with any travels. One of my favorite sayings is “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. It’s ok to say “thats not for me”. Nobody at Burning Man gave me crap about not indulging in certain things. I thought of it like a concert, sure you know people are on drugs…but that doesn’t mean you have to be or you can’t enjoy the experience. So chill out. Enjoy the ride
“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .”
will share more soon.
Be Well, Go Far, Dream BIG!
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
Culture, beauty, art, history, women, style. Italy overwhelmed my senses and mind to the point where I felt like if I didn’t devote a life time to her ways I’d be doing her a disservice. Italy is not a place, a country, but a lifestyle. A mindset. And those that go just to “see” it will MISS her.
Shooting her was a dance, a romance…more like a seduction. The more you spent with her the more you fell in love with her. Each city I visited held it’s own reputation. Rome with it’s history that shaped the world, a society so civilized but at the same time so brutal. Forget the hunger games. The coliseum was the real blood sport. The Vatican and Saint Peters is beyond words. Beyond imagination. The crown jewel of the catholic empire. Ornate, intricate, and grand are words for mere mortals but the word “magnificence” cannot be fully fathomed without seeing it. The secrets that she truly holds fascinates. I could go on an on.
A lifelong student of design, I suddenly saw the period table for all things visual. Sculpture, fashion, art, architecture. It started here. Respect. Italy. You are sexy as hell and look forward our dance. ciao Bella
Which are your favorite
Hello from Rome! Thought I would share some photography of my travel adventures in Rome while I’m still here. Will post more soon. ciao!
Keep up with my daily adventures on my instagram. search @BrianBraun.
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!
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!
We live in an amazing time where technology has enabled us to do what only previous generations have only dreamed of. Recently a friend showed me this video of John Butterill’s Virtual PhotoWalk. The idea is this, we can now stream video so effectively using mobile devices that we can “take” people to places with us! This is HUGE for the population that are challenged physically.
Needless to say I’m inspired! I have always wanted my upcoming trip to not just be about me so I can’t wait to do this while on the road! Does anybody have anybody specific that this would benefit? Maybe a children’s hospital special department? I would love to connect with them and start forming a game plan with my Airstream trip. Would love to do a few locally around Dallas before I leave as well.
Be Well, Go Far!Braun
Exactly one year ago I left my beloved America and headed to Africa. Africa has always been on the top of my list for as long as I could remember and nothing has captivated my attention like it since. There is nothing like Africa. It changes you no doubt and honestly I can’t explain how. No zoo or movie can compare to being hours out in the wild and seeing the animals in their domain. And even when you’re not seeing them the country speaks to you with a raw stillness and pressurized life. You seen life at its basic design, with the animals and people there. Do what you’re good at. Survive the day. Eat well if possible but be grateful if you anything at all. You won’t find nicer people than there, hands down.
I took over 10,000 photos that trip and somehow when I get the chance to go through them it still doesn’t feel like enough! It was a dream trip with experiences and new friends I will cherish for the length of my life. Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back and am forever grateful I had the opportunity to go. Here are a few of my favorite images from my trip to Africa, (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
Which one is your favorite? (Sorry so many, if it takes a bit to load, I couldn’t cut the selection to less!)
Be Well and Go Far!