My visual, audio and literary stuff is free here, but my hold-in-your-hands books, prints, and CDs cost real money. If you want to buy something tactile from me, contact me at stujenks at gmail dot com, or message me on Facebook. If you simply want to look and read for free, that's fine too, but don't hesitate to send me your sofa change. My snail mail address is P.O. Box 161, Tucson, Arizona 85702. Keep those cards and letters coming. And sofa change too. Love and light, Stu.
I've been asked to write for B & H Photo, regarding safety and etiquette when shooting nocturnal photography.
I've made my mistakes in the past. Yes I have. (See the chapter in my book "Flame Spirals" regarding the shooting of “Owl's Head Flame Spiral.” I had a white gas incident where I used too much of the fuel but I had a fire extinguisher at hand. And luckily within seconds, the flames dissipated. Dumb.)
I learned and grew from those mistakes. (See "Altar of Repose" where I created the illusion of the flame spiral, made with a Zippo lighter, being much closer to the lace than it actually was.)
I also changed lighting instruments over the years to be less dangerous. (See "My Ghost Likes To Travel" or "Abajo Mountain Hoop Dance" that were created with large hula hoops with Christmas lights attached.)
And of late, I've gone lighter, making it easier to hike into the wilds or around the cities. (See "Paris Hoop Dance," "Catawba Falls Hoop Dance," and “Avebury Hoop Dance” where I now use swinging strings of battery-powered LED Christmas lights.)
That's the progression of how my lightning instruments have changed in my 20-year career, but it just talks to how I make stuff. It doesn't speak to how to be a good person as I make stuff.
Here are some simple rules that I try to live by when shooting at night.
Rule One:Do no harm. Don't hurt the plants and trees, disturb the rocks, or make a mess on the streets. Go in, get the shot you want, and then leave the land or the cityscape as you found it.
Rule Two:Don't be a jerk. This is a big one and those of you who are jerks don't think you are. But you are nonetheless. You getting that cool shot at any cost. Good folk with morals and values feel guilty when they hurt the land or are loud and obnoxious around other people or burn an old abandoned store to the ground just to get that cool steel wool shot. Many photographers and people in general, feel no shame these days. We live in a very self-centered, shameless culture now. I don't know what to say to change that. Jerks are jerks. Some people just have to get The Shot. Whatever. I'm telling you, your photos are not as important as you think. Nor are you. For the good folk out there, (and I would include most everyone reading this article), just be the good man or woman you are. Be respectful. Be quiet. Be kind. Be generous. Be nice. Not only will you feel better, but your photographs will look better.
Rule Three:I quiet my mind as I unload the truck to go shoot at night. I say a little prayer. I take a deep breath. I close my eyes and meditate for a couple of seconds. I open my eyes in the full moon light and see what I see. I think. I feel. I plan. I throw away that plan and do something else. I breath. I breath again. I take a better photograph than the one I first had in mind. By quieting my mind, I open my eyes.
Rule Four:Bring at least two extra camera batteries. Bring at least two flashlights.
Rule Five:Hiking boots with hopefully good ankle support. Really. Even in the city. I mean it.
Rule Six:Don't fall off a cliff while shooting a shot. (See "Ghost Horses.” Dancing with that hula hoop of light was a little dicey there for a moment. It was a long way down. I almost went. Glad I didn't. My motto now? Don't die dumb.)
Rule Seven:As you load up your vehicle at the end of a shoot or sling your bag and tripod over your shoulder as you prepare to leave, turn back to where you've taken your photos and thank the land. Say it out loud. Say "Thank you." You, as an American, are living in a relatively safe country, where you can walk the city and trek into the woods and out into the desert, and shoot these images without the fear (mostly) of being shot and killed yourself. So show a bit of gratitude and thank the land that gave you this image and this experience. For me, it puts food on my table, but also puts joy in my heart.
Hope this helps, buckaroos. Be good out there shooting at night. Remember, the condition of your body and soul are more important than the pixels stored in your camera.
Below is the introduction/cautionary note to the readers of Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service. My previous Step Zero novels have produced, how can I say it, some interesting and unexpected emails. ("Stu Jenks, you suck."). This intro was written to help quell some of nastier emails, if that's at all possible in the digital online wasteland of people with personality disorders. But I try.
And if you steal the ebook online, by striping out the code and putting it on a pier to pier site, to hell with you. I ain't going to pray against you, but I ain't going to pray very hard for you either.
Bottom Line? The new novel is out, and I'd like you to buy.
A Cautionary Note From The Author:
You hold in your hot little hands, either as an e-book or as a real-live-book-book, the fourth installment in my Step Zero series, but I believe some polite warnings to readers are needed here, given questions and concerns I have received in the past.
This is a stand alone novel but if you haven’t read Step Zero, the first book, or Air & Gravity, the second book, some of the plot twists, suspense reveals and arch conclusions here may spoil some of your enjoyment of those two previous books, if and when you read them. (Balthazar and Zeeba, the third book in the series, is a Christmas novel with its own individual side arch, which will not be affected by reading Victor Mothershead.)
Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service is a hard R rated book as are Step Zero and Air & Gravity. There is a ton of cussing and a bit of sex in this book. Victor himself is a polite, soft spoken man who rarely speaks profanity but in the Step Zero world of 2079, particularly in the American Southwest, folks cuss like sailors on drunken leave and have sex like they will never ever screw again. It’s just how my characters roll. So if foul language and hot sex upset you, thanks for buying this book but you might want to give it to your college nephew to read. (Regarding the age appropriateness of this book, 17 years old and above seems about right. Use your best judgment. You know your kids.)
Many of my characters in the Step Zero universe believe in a spiritual force called God-Goddess-All-There-Is or GGATI. It’s a made up higher power by me, not affiliated with Wiccan or Pagan faiths (Not that there is anything wrong with those.) I was simply trying to expand the spirituality and religiosity of 2079 to include a specific feminine side as well as the masculine and universal aspects.
The politics of many of these characters is progressive and in some cases, specifically Democratic. The Presidents mentions in the Step Zero series are all Democrats. If you are a Republican or an Independent, and don’t agree with some of the policies mentions in this book, relax. It’s OK. This is speculative fiction. It’s the United States in the year 2079. I’ve just made this stuff up. Sasha Obama of course is a real young women today, but President Sasha Obama Fulbright and Vice President Florence Biden are completely made up people. You don’t have to agree with the politics here to enjoy this read. The characters are fun, the story I think is strong, and did I mention there is sex in this book?
Lastly, 12 Step fellowships play a major role in many of the characters’ lives in Victor Mothershead, U.S. Secret Service; one, a real program, Alcoholics Anonymous, the other, a fictional one, Mormon Tea Anonymous. None of the characters here represent any living or dead members of Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Al-Anon or any other 12 Step groups. That being said, I have talked with many clean and sober members of these fellowships over the years and I have attended a few 12 Step meetings myself, but I will neither confirm nor deny if I personally belong to those groups. There are by-laws regarding anonymity of members speaking publicly. The problem is, if you thought I was in A.A., or C.A., or N.A., and you hated this book or disliked me personally or think in any way I poorly represent a particular recovery program, you might feel reticent to seek help from those 12 Step programs if you ever needed it. They tell me these by-laws or ‘Traditions’ are there to protect the fellowships from its own members’ mistakes, yet recovering people want very much to be available and to help everyone, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, economic situation, and political leaning. Bottom line is no one in this book is any one person in A.A., but the views of some of the characters do reflect the beliefs of some members of those Fellowships.
I truly hope you enjoy this book. I’ve enjoyed making it for you.
Keep your lamp trimmed and burning, and as President Fulbright often said: “Be nice.”
Stu Jenks Spring, 2016 Studio BR-549 Tucson, Arizona
All photographs by Stu Jenks. Book design and layout by Gail Cross of Desert Isle Designs, Mesa, Arizona.
Below is a very kind review by David Moyer of my first novel "Step Zero." Book four of this series, "Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service" will be coming out in early July of 2016. "Step Zero" is now available at a new low price of $1.99 on the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks. Book two, "Air & Gravity" is now $2.99. Book three, "Balthazar & Zeeba" is also $1.99.
Start at the beginning is what I say.
"I wasn't sure at first if a book heavily influenced by and full of references to the 12 step program would be to my liking, but to my surprise, it added to, rather than detracting from the story. Stu Jenks has written a great adventure story that takes place in a very plausible future, and he has made it very intimate by bringing you all of the characters in the first person. I felt that I knew and empathized with his characters, even those I didn't like. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the sequel." - David Moyer.