Sep 102014


Shooting Ephemerisle 2014 with the Sony A7S and a Voigtlander 35mm f1.2

By Judd Weiss – Visit his site HERE

Most places I go lately, I am the best photographer around. But I come to Steve Huff’s site and community specifically because here I am definitely not the best photographer. I’m learning fast, but I’m relatively new to photography, upgrading from a point and shoot to the original Sony NEX 3 only about 4 years ago. Discovering Steve’s site almost 3 years ago was a major turning point in my photography. I started taking it more seriously when I saw what you guys were up to. I’ve been inspired. The daily inspirations that so many of you have contributed has made me rethink what I’m doing with the camera I’m holding. I’ve never taken any photography classes, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t received an education. This community around Steve Huff’s blog is one of the greatest influences on my development as a photographer. So thank you to all who have contributed their vision and creations here. I am very grateful. (Thank you Judd!! Steve)

I’d like to also make a contribution, from my favorite work yet. I shot this entire set of photos with the new amazing Sony Alpha A7S full frame mirrorless camera, with a manual Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 lens. That combo allowed me to achieve low light shots never before possible in the history of photography. Ephemerisle was the perfect event to test out what the Sony A7S can handle in extreme low light. And the Sony A7S was the perfect camera to capture the experience of the dark glowy night that made Ephemerisle shine.


These shots are unapologetically processed, and I admit I went a bit intense with the colors, but I wanted to, to accurately reflect the surreal nature of Ephemerisle. Some of these photos are a little abstract, but believe me when I tell you those are very true to the experience. What a visual experience! Ephemerisle was incredible. I did the best I could to run around and convey what it was like to be there, over stimulated by this new beautiful foreign universe everywhere you looked.

It’s fair to think of Ephemerisle like Burning Man on the water. Imagine a bunch of RVs at Burning Man connected together, but floating. With dance stage platforms between them.


I think Ephemerisle was the most exciting and fun time I have had, that didn’t involve a girl, since maybe my college days. I loved running around in that crazy dream world meeting the cast of characters you’ll see in the photos below.

I’m not saying Ephemerisle is better than Burning Man. There’s no way an event of a couple hundred people can in any way rival the scope and all the amazingness of the 50,000+ strong Burning Man festival. But I will say that I enjoyed Ephemerisle more. I loved Burning Man, but the desert is a harsh place. No doubt the sea can be unforgiving as well, but I was very happy to trade an over abundance of dust for an over abundance of water.

No way I would bring my beloved new Sony A7S and Voigtlander lens to get ruined by the intense barrage of fine dust on the Burning Man playa.

 Shot at 12,800 ISO


Burning Man is incredible as it lights up the middle of the desert nowhere into an epic glorious city; being out in the middle of the water nowhere, lit up only by the most amazing glowy party you’ve ever seen, Ephemerisle too is a bright beacon of a testament to our evolutionary progress, while floating over the type of early ocean microbes of life that began it all. How far we’ve come, to create such a stunning atmosphere. A cool blend of excitement and serenity. Like Burning Man, being at Ephemerisle confronts you to face both our fragility and our promise that can only be truly seen in an intentional community that has left many of the comfortable constraints of modern society.

Stylistically people often compare Ephemerisle with Water World, and you can see where that’s coming from, only this wasn’t dystopian. Whatever was rough around the edges wasn’t post-apocalyptic, it was prototype. This is from the future, clearly. These are experiences our grandchildren will inherit when they are our age. But it’s a beautiful future. When the sun goes down, we light up even brighter. Humans evolved from a state of continual starvation in a struggle to survive among brutal nature, and now we master the harshest environments to throw parties of abundance like this for recreation. Humans have no shortage of serious problems, but it’s things like Ephemerisle that compel me to acknowledge our bright future of possibilities ahead.


You might think I’m hyperbolizing a little much. And if I hadn’t been there, that’s totally what I would think while reading this. But there’s a reason for these reflections of anthropological grandeur. Ephemerisle is comprised of exactly the group of intellectuals, business leaders, and artists who are focused daily on the topic of our evolutionary potential as a species. These ARE the people consciously working to design a more beautiful future for all of us. What a treat it is to see one of their early prototypes. And I have to say, I’m in love with this particular prototype they call Ephemerisle.

I’ve got to thank everyone involved for coming together to create Ephemerisle. They made these photos. I just captured what I saw as well as I could. Their vision created this reality. Congratulations to all of their beautiful minds. These photos are my humble tribute.

Ok guys, get ready to watch the colors move…………

The full album and original post can be found on my blog here:

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Note: The widely acclaimed Canon 5D MIII could not have achieved many of these shots. For example: The below shot, while not the cleanest photo in history, was shot at 51,200 ISO (!!) at 1/125 second, handheld from a bobbing moving boat in the dark. It was challenging to stand, and hard to see clearly, let alone to take a clean photo. Try to get anything remotely usable in those conditions with another camera setup.


Again, the below shot is not perfectly clean and crisp, but it was shot at 32,000 ISO from a moving bobbing boat.


I love how the camera rendered the daytime shots as well.






































Oct 262012

From Steve: Just an FYI. This site allows opinions, photographs and articles from a wide variety of people. Any camera can be discussed, almost any topic can be written about and I let everyone share their thoughts. This is not a political site and I am not even close to being a supporter of the Libertarian Party :) This is an article about Judd’s experience shooting this convention. Two weeks ago I posted abut the Democratic Convention and if anyone wants to submit a story about the Republican convention then feel free to contact me and submit one. 

I did not write this but it is here as a guest post. As they say in TV Land, just because something is posted does not mean I agree with it. I disagree with many guest posts here but I allow the freedom for many to do so even if I disagree. No need to get your panties all in a bunch because this article is a bit different than what is usually here. Anything you do not want to read doesn’t have to be read. Blog posts are easily skipped. 

Complaints about 4 letter words and the theme of this post is nonsense and again, comes from Judd as a guest post. In his style. Thanks :)


It’s October in an election year, so you know what that means.

It’s Politics Time!

Shooting the Libertarian National Convention with my NEX-5n by Judd Weiss

Embrace it my friends, don’t fight it. It’s good for us once in a while to think about what the fuck the government is doing with our money. Yeah, thinking about this stuff can get aggravating very fast, there’s certainly no shortage of negative energy in the realm of politics. So I actively try to mix in some positive energy into an often very negative world. One of my tools is my camera, which has become pretty much biologically attached to my arm for the last 2 years:

My Sony NEX 5n.

This was my first time at the Libertarian Party National Convention, and I WAS SHOCKED!! Imagine what would happen if a car company fired all its salesmen and stuck all the car engineers in a room and said “You’ve all helped engineer a truly exceptional car, now we want you guys to work together and agree on this year’s comprehensive marketing and sales strategy for the company within 3 days.” Yeah that’s what the Libertarian Party National Convention was like. All out brutal warfare! Nastier because it’s nerd warfare, and they sharpen their arguments to hit as hard as possible, with no account for the damage and fallout.

I’ve been a Libertarian since I picked up Anthem by Ayn Rand when I was 14. Ayn Rand has inspired a lot of people, and laid much of the foundation for the libertarian movement. Part 2 of the film adaptation of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is out in theaters since last Friday (I just reviewed it here). Go to any libertarian event and you’ll see that there are very different elements within the party and the movement. Which is cool, people come to the ideas of liberty from different perspectives and for different reasons, I can only see that as a positive thing.

What I didn’t expect to see was how intense the infighting was for ideological control of a third-party. If you put a bunch of intellectuals together, you know you will get some bickering, no matter what. That’s fine, that’s healthy, that’s cute. This wasn’t that. This was different. There’s a left-right divide within the party, not really regarding any serious difference in views, but over a strong difference in focus. Some want the party to focus its energy and message on economic matters like deregulation, cutting spending and taxes, etc. Others want the focus to be on ending oversees wars and ending the drug war. Fortunately nominating Gary Johnson as the Presidential nominee went pretty smoothly. After all, Gary Johnson was not only a 2 term Governor of New Mexico, but he gives a lot of emphasis on ending the War on Drugs and bringing our oversees troops home, while he also appeals to the Tea Party side of things advocating for slashing our national debt, limiting government’s size and scope and spending, and freeing up our markets with less regulations.That went fine. All hell broke loose during the nominating process for the party’s National Chair position. The more radical faction surprised everyone with a well planned coup to put in very strong Anti-War people into Chair, Vice Chair and executive party positions. Someone paid for busloads of anti-war delegates and many already printed signs encouraging a majority to exercise the “None Of The Above” voting option in order to restart the nominating processes and get their guys in office. And they succeeded. Long term I think that was a very bad play, it caused some bad blood. But I’ve got to hand it to them, that was impressive.

Anyway, yeah, so there was some contention at the convention, and some hurt feelings. Until I posted a Facebook album of convention photos I took. Then something magical happened. People suddenly felt a lot more united again. The photos made them look important. The photos made the movement look important. They liked how there were portrayed. They were proud to be part of that crowd. They saw themselves as part of the same group again, united by the same force. Many changed their profile picture to one of my black and white shots. Seemingly sworn enemies would tag each other and comment on how good the other looked and start making jokes again. It was amazing having a front row seat to this, getting a Facebook notification for every like, comment, and profile picture change.

So that’s my small contribution towards the cause. I want to see these nerds look better and be more cooperative. But I’m not a professional photographer. Never charged for a photo. It’s just a hobby. I’ve only started taking photography more seriously about 2 years ago when I upgraded from a point and shoot to the Sony NEX. I’ve only learned what aperture means about a year ago. So I’m still kind of raw, but I’m building my confidence behind the lens. Especially as I’ve now got over a 1000 profile pictures to my credit. Seriously, that’s insane! That count explodes every time I shoot a convention.

There’s a couple things in my mind when shooting a convention or a conference. First of all I tend to shoot black & white in that environment because I think conferences look very boring in color. This is not a pool party on a sunny day, or a luscious garden. The background is white walls and carpet with nauseating color patterns. Besides, the people who come to conferences tend to think they’re involved in something important, and black and white makes them look more historically significant and epic.

The next thing I think about is being sneaky. I’m trying to capture the person in their moment. I want a part of who they are revealed in the image. Those are more interesting photos to me. That’s my challenge when I shoot. Posed shots of people smiling at the camera are ok, but they’re usually kind of boring because there’s really nothing very interesting about them. Also, when people know there’s a camera pointed at them, their guard goes WAY up, and you lose the authenticity of their personality in the shot. That means I lost my shot, and I’m annoyed. I totally understand, because I’m like that too, I’m not the most photogenic and I get a little uncomfortable when a camera is pointed at me. My only options are to take photos before they realize a camera is around, or to snap off so many damn shots until they become numb to the camera and drop their guard, behaving normally again.

Either way the small size of the NEX is a huge blessing. Having an APS-C DSLR size sensor in a camera that fits in my pocket has been incredibly valuable to me, and opened me up to much more of what photography is about. Because it’s small enough to be with me in normal social interactions, it’s not very intrusive and intimidating, it’s allowed me to capture so many more moments that I would have otherwise not kept visualized. Moments that have brought my friends together to bond over and even help mend their friendships.

Beyond the ideas, an ideological movement has many other pieces of the puzzle needed for resonating and becoming successful. In our digital Facebook age, we can’t over emphasize the importance of photos that capture our important moments and allow us to share our memories with others.

I shot all photos from the Libertarian Nation Convention with a Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 adapted to my Sony NEX 5n.

Be sure you go and visit Judd’s website, HUSTELBEAR.COM

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