Chazz Layne: Ex·per·i·men·tal
Adventures in our own backyard – It’s been a busy season. A very wet winter meant the summer monsoons fell on an already saturated earth. I’m certainly grateful all this water spared from the massive fires blazing all over the west, but it also brought additional repairs and chores to get ready for the next winter, and left little time for anything else. Not one to be outdone by a little water—and enjoying her role of teasing and taunting until she gets my attention a little too much—Dani pushed for us to go out and shoot around town whenever we had a free hour. The abundance of water this year gifted Prescott with full lakes, green mountains, and flowing creeks. It’s the first time we really explored what this area has to offer; six years we’ve lived here but we always seem to be chasing the horizon. Lesson learned: there’s opportunity to explore just about anywhere, if you only look for it…… The End of Summer
Challenging our limits together – Her Perspective: She doesn’t fit into societal standards. She’s been trapped inside a box where I hid her away from the world. She struggles against the restraints of respectability I bound her with to make myself fit in. She fights to feel the restraints of her desire: the cold weight of chains and the soft bite of leather. I’m done hiding; this is who I am. His Perspective: I love black-and-white photography, but often lack confidence in my own results. In today’s filter-crazed world they rarely fair well unless they’re truly exquisite. It’s challenging: you have to learn an entirely different way to see color, exposure, and contrast. Some colors go dark or light no matter how bright they seem, and you’re at the mercy of how light and shadow choose to intermingle with the surfaces they touch. We drove through the night to one of my favorite locations—secluded away from the crowded cities and popular tourist spots—and spent the morning pushing each other’s limits. No goals…except to help each move past our hesitations, learn to improvise, and explore where our creativity might take us.… Comfort Zones
The ever-changing list of my go-to gear – Most of the work I do is performed out of my (hand crafted) creative studio, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Land Rover, or through the viewfinder of a Canon. Many of the tools I use are custom fabricated by yours truly, sometimes because what I need doesn’t exist, or more often because I simply enjoy building things with my own hands. I originally posted this on the about-me page at The Layne Studio after being asked “What __________ do you use?” once too often, but since the studio involves more than just me now it’s time this list moved to the blog proper. This post is just an overview, I might write up an in-depth with the how’s and why’s of each category if anyone would find it helpful. Read along for the details or just click here to skip down to the bullet list of links so your inner-consumer can run wild and free. Camera Gear The Big Guns: I shoot with a variety of Canon gear, but my go-to and favorite is the 80D. It’s durable, light weight, and inexpensive enough to take risks when getting the shot. I use three main lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art (my personal favorite) for most portraits and some travel/vehicle/landscape work, a Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 macro-capable travel zoom, and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle for grabbing wide vistas or interior shots. The Canon 10-22mm wide is due to be replaced…likely with Sigma’s superior constant-aperture variant. Yes, I’m a Sigma fanboy…because, science. Rolling Light: I’m also very fond of Canon’s S line of cameras: they’re small enough to go unnoticed, reasonably sturdy, and produce RAW files that come surprisingly close to the quality of a DSLR. My old S95 sits in the studio for quick snapshots, and I usually have an S100 handy (there’s a reason the long-retired S100 still costs ~$200 used). When I don’t have a “real” camera, the HTC One M9 is always with me, which creates passable RAW files. Computing Gear Hardware: In the studio my workstation is a personally built Intel-powered, liquid cooled, quad-core PC tower. It’s currently clocked at a conservative 4.4GHz, drives multiple color-calibrated monitors (lead photo), and houses a RAID array large enough to eliminate the need for a separate file server. Communication and general office needs are handled by Google for Work, with weekly on-site and monthly off-site backups of all data. In the field I use a custom modified ASUS X202E with enough… Tools of the Trade
noun | hi·a·tus | \hī-ˈā-təs\ – 1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc. 2. a missing part; gap or lacuna. I thought it was just an argument. All relationships have them: some big and some small, some brief and others passionately long-winded. We fight, we make up, we move on and grow stronger together—that is the way things are supposed to go. These were just bad times, we’d work through them and get back to making more good times. Did you know that it’s possible to be too selfless, too giving? It is. And when you’re giving up what you want for a prolonged period of time the stress that builds can lead to some very bad drama. Arguments ensued. Mean things were said. The kind of things that cut to the core and place the last twenty years in doubt. We were both sacrificing too much. And we were both sacrificing it in that void of isolation all too often created when conflicting work schedules meet poor communication. I don’t want to be needed. That implies you’re only here because you have to be, because you’re forced. I want you to be here because you choose to be here; because you want it…or not at all. Constantly giving to a relationship—be it from a sense of obligation or a need to feel needed—will only serve to make both people involved feel trapped. It is neither healthy, nor sustainable. To be in it for the long term requires a foundation of desire and trust; the willingness to both give and take; and presence of mind know when to help, listen, or let alone…sometimes when the other person doesn’t know which one they want. So it was time to re-evaluate what we’re doing; rediscover, review, and revise our goals; and most importantly execute on the steps required to achieve those goals. Solo or together. Whether we’re busy or not. Between that and a pile of other personal and work-related deadlines all piling up in the same month, it was prudent to take a step back from the (often overwhelming) commitment to publish new content and focus on our own needs…and wants. The irony of the situation is that, yes, during our two month hiatus we managed to write, shoot, sketch, and design more content than in the rest of the year to date. The difference is we did it knowing… Hiatus
We got a little carried away – When I took these I thought they would just be rubbish test shots—all of them were taken with a brand new and uncalibrated Canon 80D and Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and focus was all over the place. At the time I didn’t much care: this was supposed to be a quick afternoon outing to check out a spot I found on Google Earth, and see if it might be good for a sunset shoot later this summer. It’s a good reminder to always review photos on the big screen before deleting anything. I guess it was a good spot, as those few test snaps quickly turned into a few hundred exposures. No planning, no hair, no makeup—just goofing around with a few different poses, getting way too cold, and finding our way home through the dark over unknown roads.… Just a Scouting Trip
Overland Has Evolved – Bless me khakis for I have wandered. It has been two Expos since my last confession. You might have noticed the complete lack of content from the 2016 show, save for a passing mention of walking five miles in last May’s 52 Hike Challenge update. The fact is, as good as it was to catch up with friends in Mormon Puddle last year, I was left feeling quite “meh.” Now that’s not a reflection on the show itself, nor the hard work and excellent job the Hansons and their team do to make every Overland Expo happen—I have nothing but love and respect for them and their efforts. No, it was directed at the overland-o-sphere in general: I lost faith in the overland industry’s willingness to evolve and grow, and I’d become jaded against the overland market’s unwillingness to mature out of rampant segregation—created by both the titanium-clad and the budget-minded alike. So much preaching of how this community of adventure-seekers was different, bound together by our common interests; but the actions spoke louder. The walls built by so many, to mock or often shun anything that was “too expensive,” or “too cheap,” or “too heavy,” or “too minimalistic” said volumes. Weren’t we supposed to be sharing libations and learning from our differences? I mean, we all just want to travel by any means possible, right? Those walls finally crumbled this year. Whether caused by overlanding hitting the mainstream, or the new venue reaccommodating elites amongst the commoners at random (I like to think that was a deliberate stroke of genius by Roseann), the end result was the same: we all felt like equals. No booth, no table, and no camp felt unapproachable; all parts of the show felt warm and welcoming. I sat in a half-million-dollar camper chatting up the owner for advice on a clapped-out budget build. I shared a beer with a fellow gearhead in a $2,000 Subaru, and wasn’t thought snobbish or out-of-touch because I apply lessons learned from Land Rover. It was a reoccurring theme through each encounter from Wednesday’s Gear+Beer event until our departure Sunday evening. I was reluctant to attend, but I’m glad I put aside doubt and showed up for what became the best Overland Expo yet. Three more things stood out at the show: Overland has indeed hit mainstream. Yakima released their own line of rooftents, Nissan sees an emerging opportunity to legitimize their truck line, and traditionally offroad/racing types are pushing the comfort and endurance aspects… OXW17
Don't let "what if?" be the excuse – Explore for a moment the what if’s?—not the hesitation born of fear, but anticipation of the limitless opportunity blazing a new path might bring. What if we broke with tradition and walked, leaving the paralyzing stress of clinging to what was behind? What if we embraced change, and used the contrast of decay to spotlight all the beauty that surrounds us? What if we dared bolder and lived deliberately? What if we shout FUCK IT!, cast off those chains of hypocrisy we’ve worn in the name of being a “reputable cog” in their machine, let go of the worry that our passions might be revealed, and chase after what they tell us can’t—or shouldn’t—be done? Creative is what I do, after all. That talent is useless if I never use it, if I leave what I’m passionate about on a dusty shelf, or if I forever lock away what I create. I refuse to let what if be an excuse, and so… New on Chazz Layne Daughtcom Raw: Experiments in Light and Passion Often, there’s so much more to an experience than can be summed up in a single photo on Iggy, but not quite enough to fill an article. Sometimes the subject matter just isn’t relevant to any of the magazines for which I write…or appropriate for a work-safe portfolio. These experiments of passion—when they generate share-worthy results—now have a home here: Raw. (Warning: always tasteful, often NSFW) Work: Published and Other Most of the larger projects I’m involved in eventually make it to The Layne Studio’s portfolio. Magazine articles, campaigns in progress, and other smaller projects have gone more or less unshared…until now. Merch: Stuff & Things I like to tinker—creating art, furniture, and other things I want to see made. Some of it goes to clients or is sold in partner shops, other items are more personal and now live here. Free shipping to the USA on most merch, and yeah, I will consider custom requests. My dead camera is getting replaced this week in preparation for a busy summer. Follow along via @chazzlayne on Iggy (daily), or weekly(ish)less frequently on YouTube and Facebook. Give a shout if I’ll be in your neck of the woods, I’m always down for an impromptu meetup; and please keep the comments coming, my creative lives off of your feedback. Cheers!… Yeah, I Said Fuck
Long live the 70D! – Not long ago, believing I was fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (which is notoriously fragile), I started shopping for a replacement. I considered picking up a Canon 35mm f2 IS USM at first, but after the frustration of a botched shoot caused by failed focus on the 50mm, and stellar performance from Sigma’s rock solid 18-300mm lens, I decided to give Sigma’s Art glass a go and ordered a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art. I’d only just finished calibrating the new Sigma to my trusty 70D when I noticed a dark shadow cropping up in the bottom half of the frame… After a few “WTF?” moments, and a few lensless exposures later, the 70D produced this tell-tale image… That was while pointed at an entirely white screen. I may or may not have been fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm earlier, but I definitely have a dead shutter in the 70D now. In all fairness, it’s hard to fault Canon as I do have around 100,000 actuations on the shutter…and they were not easy miles. The final verdict on the 50mm’s fate will have to wait until my camera is repaired or replaced, but either way, I’m keeping the new Sigma. This last photo is the last photo that my 70D successfully took, and really showcases one of the Sigma’s seldom mentioned talents: macro photography. Web-resolutions really don’t do it justice—those are scratches in the switch, not blur. If you’re considering the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and are curious just how sharp it really is, click here for the full-resolution copy of the above image and start counting the grains of dust… I picked up the Sigma as a reliable replacement to the 50mm for portraiture, thinking I’d be able to do landscapes as well since it zooms out to the 18mm mark—one less lens change is one less chance for dirt to enter the camera in the field. I had no idea the minimum focus distance was so low, or that it would be so incredibly sharp. For reference, I’m almost touching the base of that lamp with the front of the lens, and the switch is only a fourth of an inch wide. I can’t wait to get this lens on a new body and see what it can do.… The 70D is Dead
Wow, it’s hard to believe this shoot was six months ago. This was really where the recent changes in my photographic style began. We’d casually fooled around less-than-clothed with the camera before, but this time Dani wanted to put in real effort and see where this kind of shooting might lead us. After picking and scouting a location that afternoon, we raced the setting sun through the abandoned desert facility to capture this set. It was my first time shooting the person as the main subject. It was her first time playing model. She was nervous. I was nervous. We both set that aside, knowing the minimal risks—snapping a few photos you aren’t required to share—would be well worth the potential rewards…… One
An on-going, ever-changing list of equipment and modifications – Basic Equipment: Naturally aspirated 2.5L Boxer 4-cylinder, 35mm spring lift, 215/70R16 all-terrain tires Project Goals: quick and efficient backcountry travel over mild-to-moderate terrain, light-duty load carrying to remote hiking/biking trails, economical all-weather commuter Modifications and Upgrades: +35mm Ironman Spring Lift, KYB GR2 struts, Primitive Racing full armor package, prototype rock sliders, snorkel (raised air intake), OEM Oil Cooler, Maxtrax, Yakima Load Bars, Yaesu GX8-R 2m/70cm radio, Living Overland on-board water, front and rear bumpers in development… Foz Specs
225.31 miles 479,333 steps 34,315+ elev – Look at that fat bastard (photo love from Chris Van Loan). Motivation for a change came from that photo, taken in mid-December of 2015. Denial is a place I rarely visit, but it was in full force then. I’d been quietly ignoring the inches gradually being added to my jean size for a couple years. In my twenties and early thirties I wore a 32 comfortably, by December 2015 I was barely squeezing into a size 35. Change came in the form of the 52 Hike Challenge, which I stumbled upon from my friend John Graham’s Instagram feed when he finished his challenge that month. He started his second series, the 52 Hike “Adventure” Challenge, and I hit the trail for my regular challenge on January 5th, 2016. A year later I weigh in at the same 180 pounds I did when I started, but it’s all muscle now. I’m back comfortably into a size 32. More than that, having to consistently hike that frequently was the push needed to get “over the hump” and finally get out on foot and cover some real distance—an ability I’ve desired for decades. Lugging 50 pounds of gear for several miles to get the shot just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. Health aside, that’s the gain I’m most grateful to have achieved. #Beyond52 Will I do another 52 Challenge? Probably not, but I’m glad I did this one. I’m also glad it’s over: I’m looking forward to hiking on my own schedule now, for the sake of the hike, and not because I need to hit an arbitrary target…I simply enjoy hiking too much now to place that kind of stress on it.… 52:Later