Chazz Layne: Ex·per·i·men·tal
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
57.12 miles 121,073 steps 8,633+ elev – 41. Top of Quartz Mountain, via Wolverton from Highway 89: 7.75 miles 42. Prescott Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and a bit of antiquing: 2.4 miles 43. Classified Location—location scouting and photo shoot: 2.15 miles 44. Red Bridge Trail: 7.65 miles 45. Centennial Trail: 1.99 miles to see thousand-year-old graffiti on a rock in a gated community 46. Unknown Trail: 4.24 miles 47. Granite Mountain: 8.67 miles, 1,819 feet of climb over two miles, and one celebratory pint from Granite Mountain Brewing 48. Christmas Eve Snow: 3.34 miles, 6 inches and counting 49. Christmas Snow Hike: 1.7 miles chasing the headwaters of Willow Creek, through 18″ of snow 50. Falcon Hunting (photographically speaking): 3.57 miles 51. Javalina Firewater: 4.19 miles 52. Spruce Mountain: a very foggy 9.47 miles A Hike Every Other Day Well ok, 31 days in December, it isn’t quite that much. The Twelve Hikes of Christmas? Regardless, my 52 Hike Challenge is now complete, and I’m never hiking again. Just kidding. In fact, I’m probably going again tomorrow…… 52:December
17.87 miles 37,878 steps +2,459 elev – 38. Sierra Prieta, easing back in with familiar terrain: 4.62 miles 39. Bell Trail / Wet Beaver Creek; Rimrock, Arizona: 7.15 miles 40. Sierra Prieta, first snow of the season: 6.1 miles Tendons Get Better With Age? All that momentum in September pushing me one hike shy of caught up. One early November morning revealed the tell tail sign, blood surfacing to the skin near my hip joint. A few hours later the pain arrived, hip and knee…no hike for me that day. We caught it early, fortunate there was no serious damage, and after a few weeks taking it easy I’m back on the trail. Three hikes down this week, five weeks left to finish a dozen more. Let’s do this.… 52:November
31.35 miles 65,541 steps +5,241 elev – 32. Spruce Pack Trail, Sierra Prieta: 5.35 miles 33. All of the Sierra Prieta trails I’d not done before…and a nap: 9.5 miles 34. Pott’s Creek Trail #327. Because, rain…and forests: 5.29 miles 35. T37 Purgatory: 7.48 miles, uphill both ways 36. Abandoned fort, location classified: 1.62 miles 37. Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, Prescott: 2.11 miles Efforts & Expectations I’ve been self-evaluating heavily this month, dwelling on that ever-evolving concept of excellence and striving to purge anything that doesn’t make the cut—such things become ritual when your religion is “curator.” The latest mass culling has included things like unused gear, designs that lack that “pop,” photos that are only “good enough” (I carry the heavy DSLR on hikes now), poor vendors (oh, hey there Wells Fargo), and any perceived slothfulness in the day-to-day. That last one is tough to measure using less-than-excellent gear: I’ve been hiking harder and faster to push past unexpected exhaustion on recent hikes: hikes with cumulative elevation gains supposedly in the mere hundreds of feet. I mean, I live a mile above sea level, and started out this 52 Hike Challenge thing with hikes featuring thousands of feet in gain…the fuck is wrong with me? My inner nerd was screaming “Is the cable plugged in?” so I decided to do some testing. Low and behold: MapMyFitness has been “recalculating for accuracy,” supposedly from USGS source data, and cutting the cumulative elevation gain from my routes by an average of 40% (my last hike was logged at a whopping 20% of the actual gain). Sorry MMF, but your super-accurate “correction” method sucks. What doesn’t suck? The results achieved when you bite the bullet, put the point-and-shoot away, and haul that heavy DSLR kit ten miles up the mountain in the rain:… 52:September
27.53 miles 58,376 steps +4,800 elev – 25. Devil’s Slide, Pacifica: 1.98 miles 26. Land’s End, San Francisco: 1.99 miles, 2437 stairs 27…was a bust: the “trails” were roads, but at least the Foz got some dirt time. 27a—Searching for White Rock Water: 0.17 miles; 27b—Glen Oaks Mine: 0.29 miles; 27c—Mount Francis Summit: 1.1 miles 28. Willow Creek to Granite Basin #347: 2.36 miles 29. Poland-Walker Tunnel: 4.32 miles 30. Watershed Trail / Deer Lick Spring: 6.13 miles, 13 tadpoles 31. Groom Creek Loop: 9.19 miles, and one fantastic sunset Perspective It’s taken over a decade, but I might just be over my desert phase. There are some trees—some greenery—up here in Prescott, but each trip out I’ve been wandering toward taller and taller mountains, wetter and wetter climates. Running up the coast this month didn’t help, I feel the grey skies and cold mist of the sea calling me home. I’m not sure where we’ll end up next, but I sense a change in the wind coming…… 52:August
Converting a Disco into a Camper – I’m not fond of ground tents, roof tents, or any other piece of canvas-walled silliness—such shelters should be tolerated when the destination or mode-of-transport leave’s no other option, not adopted as the go-to solution. I hate rattles. I can’t stand clutter. I abhor loose, unsecured gear. I don’t have kids and I don’t take prisonerscarry passengers. I do prefer the comfort of hard walls, lockable doors, and a well-equipped galley…so long as they don’t limit my options on a journey. I also happen to have a Discovery II at my disposal, essentially a trail-ready postal truck disguised as a luxury station wagon. The rear of a Discovery II is downright cavernous, especially when gutted. 46 inches from carpeted floor to headlined ceiling, 63 inches from wall to wall, and nearly seven feet of length to work with over the center console (front seats forward). The Discovery II is why I don’t own a teardrop trailer. The Cargo (and on-board systems) The goal was to keep weight low and clutter non-existent, with a full camping load-out below the deck. In practice there is also room for clothes and personal gear, except for hanging jackets/shirts and my camera gear of course. The cubbies from top to bottom, left to right contian: driver’s clothing and personal gear, water tank, passenger’s clothing and personal gear, standard sleeping gear (pads, pillows, blankets), more water tank, complete toolkit (everything I need for every task on a Discovery), optional trip-specific gear (cold-weather sleeping gear, Little Red Campfire, shower mat, etc), slide-out galley (and food), and freezer/fridge (beverages and food). On-board water flows from an 11-gallon tank riding low and center under the deck. In the rear passenger footwell hangs a SHURflo 3.0GPM water pump, water distribution lines, and a back-up gravity fed tap (just in case). Taps are located at the rear passenger door and above the galley. The rest of this space holds recovery tools so they can be accessed without opening doors (just move the seats), and to keep weight low. It’s also a good place to stuff flip-flops and muddy boots while sleeping. Sleeper and galley systems are powered by a secondary Group 31 battery behind the rear left wheel, which recharges via solar or while the engine is running. This placement is opposite the spare tire and main battery to help maintain weight balance. 12-volt extension cords, fold-up solar panel, and other accessories are also stored in this… Sleeper