Neal Rideout Photography: Blog en-us (C) Neal Rideout Photography [email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Tue, 02 Nov 2021 21:34:00 GMT Tue, 02 Nov 2021 21:34:00 GMT Neal Rideout Photography: Blog 120 104 Who Are the Real Friends of Dumont Dunes?


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 and 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.

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Tue, 02 Nov 2021 21:34:17 GMT
Sometimes it's Tough Out There 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.


[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Tue, 17 Jan 2017 01:57:48 GMT
Cerro Gordo 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.

Cerro Gordo

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Cerro Gordo Inyo Mountains Neal Rideout Owens valley mining Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:28:10 GMT
A Flash Tip 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.

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Sat, 15 Mar 2014 01:48:40 GMT
Neals News and Updates 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.

Cover photo of May/June edition of Sand Sports Magazine



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. And on the Eighth Day...And on the Eighth Day...Title of this photo by Cory Baxter.


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.

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:40:39 GMT
I'm a Professional Photographer?? I get called a professional photographer often. Funny thing is, I don’t consider myself one. Like most, I have those in the photography world I consider professionals and look up to their work. They amaze me and inspire. True masters of which I wish I had the capability to absorb their knowledge. They are pros. They create photographic art for a living. They don’t have another job.

I on the other hand, consider myself a hobbyist, perhaps a hobbyist plus. I do have my work published often and do have clients and some income from my “hobby” but in the end, I have a day job.  Photography is not my primary income.  To me, photography is fun, something I have been doing for many years but decided several years ago to see if it could be something more. Turns out, it did.

(c)Neal Rideout The key thing for me is the fun part. I have this fear that if I push too hard to reach some magical level of success, the fun will fade as the workload and business aspects increase. I’m scratching on that precipice now. As in the movie, “The Matrix”, which pill do I take? My decision right now is to place myself in a holding pattern. The fun will continue! I scrutinize potential jobs that may be work, not fun. When it’s fun, I experiment, can be artistic and enjoy the experience. Customers benefit from this. It translates and inserts itself in the prints they buy. When its work, you have a job to do, costs to consider, no time for creativity, just do what works, the standards, no fun. I don’t want my HR department telling me to push the bigger packages, “Would you like to supersize your order”. I’m content in the profession that I have been in for so many years. Aviation related work has been my life, pays the mortgage, puts food on the table.

What does this mean to you? From my perspective, you as a potential customer, should I accept the job, get someone unhindered by external forces that suck the life out creativity. You get what you want and perhaps a bit more. Why,,,, I’m having fun!

Did you notice the inherent contradiction I inserted from the first paragraph? “They create photographic art for a living”. At some point, when you’re so good that you have customers begging for your products, you can have fun again. That’s life at the top. That’s one big mountain to climb just to enjoy again. Perhaps I’ll hang out here in my holding pattern a little longer. What a fun hobby this is!

Disclaimer: Like most, I’m attracted to shiny objects and wads of cash so I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Fri, 27 Sep 2013 00:28:29 GMT
Secret settings that aren't very secret I get frequent requests for tips and settings I use on my camera. Well here is what I do for 99% of my work. Your mileage will vary.

I never use the built in scene modes or the green auto mode. Wish they weren't even there. The modes I use are P,S,A, and M (Nikon) for different reasons which I'll try to explain.

P, or Program Auto mode. I use this all the time. It is similar to full auto but allows me to change settings in camera to meet my needs. Look, the camera is smart, sometimes smarter than me. In the heat of action, I may not be fast enough to keep up with changes but the camera on P mode can do it for me. Along with P mode, I constantly am adjusting the bias, (rear dial) and exposure compensation for the ever changing environment. I mostly use this for Action, Portraits, Landscapes, and general "Snapshots".

S mode or shutter priority. Probably 90% of my action shots are done with this. I pick a shutter speed and the camera does the rest and figures out an aperture setting for me. I still use the exposure compensation heavily. I pretty much only use this for action shots. Occasionally for Portraits.

A or Aperture priority. I set this when I'm concerned about a depth of focus. Blurred background or sharper background. The camera figures out the best shutter speed for me. I still use the exposure compensation button heavily on this. A mode is great for HDR or any photos I plan on stitching together. That way they are all in the same focus plane. Also great for portraits and Landscapes.

M mode or Manual. This one scares folks but it shouldn't. I use this exclusively for my night work or for situations when one of the other modes just won't do what I want. I have full control and must select all the settings. Really though, only purists do everything in Manual. Any of the other modes can accomplish 97% of what can be done in manual. Like I said, modern cameras are very smart. However, my night work must be done in manual. The camera can't read my mind and know how long of an exposure I'll need or what aperture will work for the effect I'm looking for.

Of course there is more detail to what I do but these are the basics. I never use auto ISO. I like to set the ISO for what I'm doing. I try to use the lowest that gives me what I want. Higher ISO equals more digital noise to deal with.

In the most controversial area, Raw or Jpg, I use Jpg for action and most everything else. Raw for night work and some portraits. My goal is to get the shot right the first time and not have to fix it later. Yes there is more flexibility post editing but not so much as to tell a huge difference unless the original shot really sucked out of camera and you are going to save the shot no matter what. Here is the rub though, after all the work in Raw editing, the final shot gets uploaded in,,, drum roll please,,,, JPG. Case closed. Please, no hate mail on Raw vrs JPG, use what you want. I make money with JPG's, not much argument.

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Tue, 19 Feb 2013 00:57:42 GMT
I really need to update this Sorry for a lack of updates, I'll be back real soon with some!

[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Sat, 08 Dec 2012 02:59:59 GMT
The Wedding Feature Article Photo courtesy


I’m going to pat myself on the back for a moment. It’s still hard to believe that the only wedding I have ever done as a photographer has made it into the pages of a national magazine, Sand Sports. When I originally started this project, the groom had invited the editor of Sand Sports, Mike, to the wedding. He had forwarded me the email knowing that I was working this wedding (I do freelance work for Sand Sports). Since it was to be held in the dunes, I proposed an article on it. At first he wasn’t too keen on the idea. Seems he gets many requests yearly for magazine coverage of weddings and since this is a “gear head” mag, the subject is not really suited to the audience. He explained to me his criteria on these things and admitted they have covered weddings sporadically in the past but not necessarily as a dedicated feature. Then he left a small window open for me. Basically, I had to present photos and an article that would make him want to run the story. Ahh, a challenge! I knew the photos were good. Got plenty of action shots of the bride, white dress and all in a sandrail. The hard part was the article. I knew it would have to relate to the duning audience. So I sat down and decided to attack this from a pure gear head perspective. Basically, insert myself as the struggling motorsport photographer that has been transported to a wedding chapel. Which in a way, is the truth. I told the story in that perspective. Making it humorous as I went to keep the audience interested. Describing the wedding as well as their Sandrail in the article kept the gear head aspect alive. I think the hook to it all was describing the brides preparation, dress, and the cake as if they were assembled at a race shop. To me, that was the touch it needed. Lucky for me, the Bride and Groom loved the idea. And best of all, so did the editor. It is in the March/April 2012 issue. BTW, the photo below was not photoshopped, it was a mirror and I positioned the couple for it. I get asked about it a lot.


Table of Contents page courtesy of


[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Dumont Dumont Dunes Sand Sports Magazine Wedding dunes sand rail sandrail Tue, 03 Apr 2012 03:33:11 GMT
How did he do that?


I took a lot of photos while I was deployed to Nellis Air Force Base for a recent Red Flag exercise.  I was able to get a photo pass as a representative of my squadron to document the exercise for “historical purposes”. That just means I have to give my squadron a copy of the photos. This one particular photo was a last minute idea and has become viral here at Edwards AFB. I’m getting great comments everyday about it. I was walking out of the building just before sunset and the sky was just starting to change color. I knew this was going to be a great sunset so I ran to my car to grab my camera equipment and head out to the flightline. With limited time, I searched for a good vantage point to get a shot of the aircraft at the right angle. This was proving difficult. A building, light pole, and ground equipment were all in the way. I wasn’t going to lose this natural light. I setup my camera on the tripod and took a shot of the aircraft. I didn’t have enough flash power with me to get a good even low noise shot and the distracting items on and around the jet were just too much. I re-composed to the back of the jet and changed settings to go with a three exposure HDR (High Dynamic Range) shot. The lighting for the aircraft was good for HDR since the whole area was lit up by a large stadium style lights. But, that same lighting was washing out the sky. I took my camera and changed the lens to my 10-24mm wide angle. Knowing that the distortion effect of going wide would enhance the overall shot later, I walked away from the large lights and buildings and shot the sky.  I took several shots of different exposures until I got the one I wanted. Later that night I created the HDR shot of the aircraft on my computer and removed the aircraft from the photo. I then placed the aircraft into the wide sunset shot and blended the edges a little to merge it all together. This is the first time that I have merged different photos taken with different type of lenses. The aircraft is normal shaped and the background sunset is showing the awesome diverging effect in the clouds. It’s as if the clouds are all emanating from a single point behind the aircraft. In a nutshell, I used four different photos to make this one.  This particular one is the third version. Numbers one and two just didn’t look right. I hope you all enjoy this photo as much as I did creating it. Comments are welcome!


[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) 416FLTS F-16 HDR Red Flag USAF Thu, 01 Mar 2012 02:47:49 GMT
Fascinating! I primarily enjoy sand dune sports photography. Most of my site contains photos of my trips as I’m out enjoying the dunes. I'm even a seemingly regular contributor to Sand Sports Magazine. So it just makes sense that I will look around at others who do the same type of photography both professionally and as a hobby. I like to keep up on ideas and new techniques that enhance my own skills. One of the problems I have is running into my photos taken from the web and used on someone’s website. Normally if my watermark is there, I usually don’t have a problem. Free advertisement! But I do occasionally find one that has the watermark removed. Such is the case today while looking at a posted photo on Facebook. It was a good shot but seemed very familiar. I just kept thinking it was my shot from about a year and a half ago. Convinced it was mine with the watermark removed, I began searching for it on my website. Here is the one from Facebook.

Here is mine.


I now remember that an acquaintance of mine was shooting this same car the day prior to my shoot. We both used the exact same jump spot in the dunes.  I think Mr. Spock would say “Fascinating”.



[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Sat, 25 Feb 2012 04:33:41 GMT
Visit to Club Ed Driving back from Phelan California I stopped by a movie location called Club Ed. The place was built in 1990 for a Dennis Hopper movie and has since been used in other films and even a Rob Zombie music video. The Antelope valley has many such locations scattered in the area and my goal is to visit them all. The place is fenced off but very visible from the road.

The Gallery is located at this LINK


[email protected] (Neal Rideout Photography) Mon, 20 Feb 2012 01:10:47 GMT