I'm sitting here at Dumont on Tuesday after the Halloween weekend thinking about the events of this last weekend. It was crazy and crowded. I survived. I had to temper my dune runs and be extra vigilant for others as I felt they weren't looking out for me. Many line changes were made out of caution. I found areas not as crowded to spend a little extra time at. I had fun. Saw friends I haven't seen in a long time. Like many others, things went on I didn't like and did my best to mitigate them somewhat but such is life when a barren wasteland turns into a city of 50,000 overnight. I can't control things so I don't. What I can do is speak out.
Online, people are upset. Many are outright angered by their experiences last weekend. So bad, that they start to "eat their young" as we say in the military. One example of this was some posts by members of Friends of Dumont Dunes which instead of maintaining a professional and constructive environment, lost control and allowed the primal instinct of angry people to be irrational and de-evolve into name calling and accusations of racism. I'm trying to be tame in my language describing this. All this was bad but not what made me desire to write this. The thing that stuck out was how fast they want to use the power of the government to enable change to fit what their perception of what Dumont should be like.
What I read was a threat and promise that changes are on the way. What? What change? How will this effect us the public? Have you tried anything else to effect change before going to the one entity that politically hates you? Yes, the Biden government. You may not like that opinion but its mine. Change the channel if your triggered. Why on earth ask the government to assist? I'm mind blown by this. The sad thing is I know some of these people. I risk friendships here but hopefully this is a wakeup call. Use your voice and get the community to help!
In one post they ask for ideas. This was the moment I realized all may not be lost. The one thing positive about the whole thing. I take that as a genuine call for help and our community needs to respond. With that said, I'm going to fire off a few thoughts and ideas. I welcome constructive ideas, innovation and community involvement. We need some.
There is much anger out there. I propose volunteers setup a concert in the dunes. Perhaps a few diverse music styles and food from the people that love to dune. Self policing family friendly. I'm not talking a giant event but maybe over by the ranger station. Folks bring a table, chair, some food. Giant potluck and provide an atmosphere were people can talk and get to know each other. FoDD (Friends of Dumont Dunes) can use this as an opportunity to speak on changes, ask for advice and generally talk to issues and ask for solutions offline, face to face. This provides familiarity and opportunity for friendship within our community. Obviously online isn't working. This can be 100% done by enthusiastic duners committed to their community. Just one thread on Dumontduneriders.com and gofundme.com can start the ball rolling.
Give thought to establishing volunteer Dumont goodwill Ambassadors. People that provide assistance to those broke down, a dependable cadre of help when needed armed with some basic first aid knowledge, kit, tow strap, cell phone or radios. Real first responders. Also with knowledge of the ecosystem and ability to educate duners not familiar with the area. Provide these volunteers with the latest news from FoDD to inform the public. Give them Tshirts, a hat and maybe a sticker for their ride so they can be identified. Most importantly, no power what so ever over others. They are not law enforcement or agents of an organization.
Every Sunday afternoon after a big weekend or a random off weekend, FoDD can provide perhaps a token gift to whoever carries out the most dune trash from the weekend. Or those that meet a certain amount of extra trash. Something as simple as a free cheeseburger from McDonalds. Maybe just recognition to those who do go the extra mile for their beloved dunes. People will respond, they love a challenge.
So there are three ideas to start with. Modify them, add to them, toss them. Your call. My only goal is to make you think. Also, you will hear all the negative types say none of these things will work. Ignore them. Read some posts from Elon Musk. Weather you love or hate him, he gets things done. We need innovative thinkers that can say " I like were you are going but what about this?"
Over the years as a Photographer for Sand Sports and other magazines, I met many people of all different backgrounds and races. I'm proud of that and the friendships made. I'm tired of online hatred. It's too easy to go negative when your not looking at the other guy. And please, government is never the answer. We can take care of ourselves, you don't need their permission. Just do what needs to be done. Get to know your fellow duners and above all, a little respect and civility goes a long way. We need to own our dunes. Think what the alternative would look like.
When forced in a box, you gotta make the box work. Recently I shot the Banshee Wars at Dumont Dunes and I gotta tell you, it was a tough shoot. Imagine a location where the sun arcs and gives you bad light most of the day. The racers are always showing me their shadow. And on top of that, just when I find a decent spot, I'm either in the way or it's a restricted location. Since I can't rotate the whole track and don't have enough lighting to add, I did the best I could with what I could. So, in a nutshell, and in my opinion, not my best work. I'm my own worst critic. I have learned over the years that the masses may think differently than I. I've posted what I think is an OK shot but it generates more likes and positive comments then I ever imagined. With that thought in mind, I think I'll try something out of that box and something I can control. I'm going to give these photos away. Why not? If you don't like them, pass. If you do like them, consider a PayPal donation. Lets see how this works. You can PayPal me your donations to [email protected], Thanks!
I would like to thank the Four Stroke Association for giving me the best access possible. I would also like to thank the racers, great show, fast bikes, amazing!
Here is the link to the photos. fe135.com/fsajan2017
Along with the summer heat brings a slowdown in my sand dune adventures. I’ll still get a day trip in here and there, mostly to the big dunes at night or a day’s ride in at Pismo but for the most part a general slowdown. However, summer is a great time to pursue my other interest which is checking out old mining and ghost towns around Southern California. There is so much history and many silent artifacts of this state’s history scattered around and just hidden enough to be missed by the casual observer. I love reading about the booms and busts of these old towns that in some cases had a direct impact in the formation of many cities still around.
Take Los Angeles for example. A major portion of the city’s water comes from the Owens valley over a hundred miles away. Aqueducts and pipelines bring millions of gallons of water every day. Owens valley had industries built supporting the expansion of LA back in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Along with water, gold, silver, lead, zinc, and dolomite were exported from Owens. I always seem to return to Owens valley, always another town or place of interest to visit.
One such place on my list is a town high in the Inyo Mountains on the east side of the valley. Located at close to 9000 feet up is the town of Cerro Gordo. The town sprang up as the centerpiece of operations for the numerous mining camps in the area. With a hotel (still functioning), shops, brothels, bars, and a tramway to the town below (Keeler), Cerro Gordo was a thriving and prosperous town. Lead and silver were this areas prime export. Over the years, the town became privately owned and the hotel along with some of the buildings were maintained or moderately updated. A caretaker lives in the town and in the summer months, a volunteer caretaker/tour guide also lives there.
Cerro Gordo is a well preserved town with a great history and an awesome visit spot. The internet has much information on the area. The road in is about eight miles, steep and 4 wheel drive is recommended. A winter visit is not recommended as the snow can get pretty high. The road in is dirt and if wet, can make conditions treacherous. Please enjoy some of the photos I took of the town and the area at this link. Or, just click on the photo. http://www.nealrideoutphotography.com/cerro_gordo
This pic I ripped off from Facebook gets your attention. Maybe not the way you think. It is funny, cracked me up, but from my perspective it demonstrates perfectly my number one rule of photography. Light is everything. Film, digital, phone, GoPro, anything, lighting or the availability for it to reach the camera is what makes the shot. Ever see those awesome sunset shots with the couple standing in front of it and the resulting photo looks like a sunset with two silhouettes of people standing in front? In a way it’s sad since what could be a great shot cherished forever isn’t because all you needed to do was force your flash to fire. Cameras set to auto will do their best to give you a great shot based on the lighting conditions but still aren’t smart enough to know what you want. So basically, turn on your flash. Even in daytime. If the sun is anywhere behind your subject, turn it on, unless, the silhouette look is what you want. Hopefully this simple tip helps create some awesome family photos.
About to get a little busy soon. This coming weekend I’ll be going to Pismo for a magazine shoot. Should be fun as it is a new model rail the manufacturer is bringing out. While there, I’ll be getting some race trucks that will be testing their rigs for an upcoming race. It will be nice being able to get some good shots from whatever angle I choose instead of being restricted by the limiting rules during a competitive event. No little box to stand in. As a double bonus, I’ll be getting some shots for a potential book deal for a customer. A series of novels that have off roading as part of the theme. Should be interesting as I learn more about this project.
Then it’s on to Glamis for Presidents day weekend. Originally I was going to Dumont but not all of my normal crew was attending, however, many of the friends I've made up in Idaho dunes were going to be at Glamis. That and the fact that I haven’t been there in almost a year, it just made sense to go. I like Glamis, vastness and a photographers dream with great action and cool rides all around. Glamis breaks up my normal routines, perhaps allowing me to get creative since I don’t know all the good spots to shoot from and can find my own hopefully original ideas. Since it is a big weekend, I have a project I’ve wanted to try. Nothing never seen before but new to me. Call it an experiment that has potential use later. Really hoping to get some night photography in while there. I think I hold an edge on this in the sand world but need to stay current and develop it further. I’ve had some great success in night action but want to tweak on it a little.
Then a week later, back to Glamis. But this time it's for work. 3rd annual UTV Industry ride. I went last year as a guest of the online magazine, UTV guide. They invited me back. Don't tell them, but I probably would have showed up anyway. After all, the aftermarket makers of all things UTV will be there with their latest greatest products installed and in action. Just can't resist. Last year I captured big air and mega roosts from these guys and there was some serious competitiveness between them. Looking forward to it.