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30 + 70 points

Seeing Beyond Sight Photo Challenge by Lincøln

October 12th, 2007 4:30 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Seeing Beyond Sight has partnered with SFZero to challenge you to see the world differently - with more than your eyes.

Welcome new users: SFZero is an ongoing game in which you can choose to participate (or not) after you do the Seeing Beyond Sight Challenge.

Click here for new user registration.

1. Blindfold yourself.
(wear shades or tape your eyes shut)

2. Go out in public and make your way in the world.
(go 1 block, 1 hour or 1 roll of film; go with a friend or alone; make up your own process)

3. Photograph things you notice. And, just notice.
(What do you notice differently about objects, people, actions, interactions?)

4. Embrace the whole experience as much as the picture taking.
(Engage. Have a conversation with people you encounter. Take it all in.)

5. Share your story.
(For each photograph write a caption about your experience - a few lines or several paragraphs if you want.)

6. Challenge some friends to do it.
(email them the link:

Please don't post all the pictures from your shoot, but chose 1 to 3 that are the best images or are most telling of your experience. Caption the photos describing something about your experience - that is as important as the image itself. Longer stories are welcomed and may be added to

If you depend on your eyes to get around, then it is hard not to use them. Although you can tell us about how difficult it is to be blind, focus more on what you noticed about the world as you embarked on this journey.

This experience isn’t about blindness – it is about seeing, noticing and paying attention with more than your eyes.

This challenge was inspired by SEEING BEYOND SIGHT: PHOTOGRAPHY BY BLIND TEENAGERS, a new book published by Chronicle Books.

So I wanted to do this in an epic fashion, and the way I wanted to do it was make my completion dangerous. When I think of danger I think of scary urban settings and being attacked by shiftless no good layabouts out in the wild that is the modern urban environment, and we have just such a place here in Los Angeles downtown, it is very much like San Francisco's Turk and Taylor I would imagine. And today I had to go downtown to help set up the crazy monkey tree for our decom party tomorrow.

So I would complete this task downtown before or after the monkey tree assembly. Except there were problems. Problem one being that I couldn't find the monkey tree or it's builders. But that was a minimal problem, the real problem was that I had forgotten my camera at home, because I had to leave before the sun rose to get downtown.

So without my camera and no tree to build, I sulked off home again. But when I got home, I saw it. Let me first explain that I didn't actually go home. I went to my uncle's home where I am housesitting for the week. He lives up in a canyon. It's beautiful and quiet and wonderful. And there is a huge mountain in his backyard. I have hiked up the mountain maybe a quarter of the way before. Never gotten to the top. It is very very steep and full of shrubs and trees and hazards. I've always wanted to hike to the top someday.

Today was that day. But I would climb to the top blindfolded! Very dangerous. Almost more dangerous, because on the streets of downtown I could very easily be confused for one of them walking around with a blindfold. But up in these wild hills, there could be anything up there including cliffs, or wild animals, I know there are coyotes and rattlesnakes up in those hills. And I had no idea how high or steep it gets. Or what's on the other side. Perfect. I could totally push this to the limit.

The main problem to tackle was the blindfold. Every blindfold I have ever worn I have been able to see out the bottom past my nose. I wanted to alleviate that problem. I solved that by wearing a thick beanie hat backwards and over my eyes. It was perfect, I couldn't see a thing except light coming in when I was standing in direct sunlight.

Once I had the blindfold I went off. I went off a bit haphazardly, because I forgot to bring my water bottle, which I had set on a table next to my glasses. But with the blindfold on, I just didn't see it. Oh well. First I had to get past my uncle's cactus garden, but I was familiar with it at least, so I was able to get past that with no bodily harm. I had to scale a big wall and walk across the top of it, which wasn't too hard, because I'd done it before, but still, a little scary to walk along the top of a wall with an eight foot drop without being able to see. I took it very slowly. The rest of the assent would not be as simple as walking atop a wall and avoiding a cactus garden. At first it was OK, because there was a lot of green plants that were easy to grab and pull myself up with. But soon it turned to dusty dirt and the slipping started. I climbed most of the way up on my hands and knees. My back began to hurt after about ten minutes. And it was about the ten minute mark that I started encountering the trees.

These little twisted mostly dead trees were everywhere apparently, and I kept running into them. It sounds lame, but when you get caught in a little tree, there appears to be no way out when you can't see, because everywhere you turn, there's more tree or brambly awful little bushes. I got poked in the eye a few times and was glad to be wearing a mask. I always just kept pushing on, moving up, trying to go under and sometimes over any obstacle I encountered. I would just break through branches like a big dumb animal, and I hate doing that. i really enjoy being stealthy, and just being a big dumb wrecking machine sucked, but I could see no other way (pun intended).

The tree filled section lasted probably an hour and I was dirty, exhausted and full of sweat at the end of it, with a lot of little scratches all over. You're gonna see the pictures and think "what's the big deal?" and I wouldn't blame you, but it sure felt like a really big deal while I was doing it. I had no idea what kind of wildlife I was disturbing that might get pissed and decide to bite me, or if a branch I was leaning on would break and I would plummet off a cliff or whatever. Plus it was really tiring. I wish I could give you a minute by minute account of what I was experiencing like Lank or Loki or even Susy Derkins, but it really all just blended into one giant moment. One tree led to another, one particularly almost straight up ascent led to another. And the climb was so difficult most of the time, that I rarely took my camera out of my pocket so the pictures aren't as plentiful as I'd hoped. I only really took the camera out when I had stopped and it was fairly level (at least not life threatening) and it was safe.

After the awful tree section, the ground got a little more level, and the bushes got taller and less frequent and easier to circumvent and I didn't have to crawl on my hands anymore. But there were a lot more very sharp thorny bushes. Some of these I just sucked it up and pushed past, and others I crawled under. The leveling off of the ground made me feel that I was nearing the top. But there was still an incline, so I pressed on.

Then, after a few minutes I took a step forward, and the ground gave way, and I began to fall. Forward. I threw myself to the ground and stopped myself, but I had done it. I had reached the top and had fallen off the other side. I took pictures of the crest and then wanting nothing to do with climbing down blindfolded, I whipped off my blindfold and put the camera in video mode and ran down the hill.

And here is that video.
You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

+ larger

The mission
Blindfold set
Looking back
A bit of a clearing
Under a tree
View from inside a tree
In the open about halfway up
More damned trees!
Damned trees
A view
Walking upright
Tree at the top
Check it out
The crest
View from the top
From the top

14 vote(s)


(none yet)

15 comment(s)

(no subject)
posted by Charlie Fish on October 12th, 2007 5:06 PM

You did this barefoot why?

You should post the video of you running down the hill too!

(no subject)
posted by Lincøln on October 12th, 2007 5:17 PM

I never wear shoes.
Here's the video.
I couldn't directly post it, my video posting skills are lacking.

(no subject)
posted by Burn Unit on October 12th, 2007 7:28 PM

sometimes I think what it would be like if I was an author/editor of a book or collection of photography, and what it would feel like if my book somehow inspired people who otherwise don't need to do it to challenge each other in ways inspired by the book but in totally different and surprising directions every couple of weeks. I wonder would it would feel like. I imagine what Tony Deifell must feel about a community of players who try out the same thing described in the book by completing these elaborately high risk variations. When I see interpretations like this, I imagine Tony Deifell must feel really really high every time he visits the site, if he does so. If someone told me five ten years ago "hey a bunch of lunatics are going to compete with each other showing how awesome your idea is by almost killing themselves" I probably would say, "sure. can I have a hit of that?"

They'd say, "No really, this one barefoot guy is going to climb a mountain on his hands and knees and not be the least bit embarrassed or debased about it, and his friends are going to give him points."

"Points for what?"

"Sheeyah. For bein awesome!"



Con un carajo...
posted by Jellybean of Thark on October 12th, 2007 7:54 PM

Descalso como siempre, y todavia intentas este pedaso de arte mensa.


Verdaderamente, esta es una aventura.

posted by Lincøln on October 12th, 2007 8:04 PM

Burn Unit, that is the best comment I have ever received. Thank you. Made me tear up a little.

posted by Loki on October 12th, 2007 8:59 PM

A masterful completion, and a great writeup. Nicely done!

Taking on an unknown trail blindfolded is no small feat. Not only did you have to deal with directional disorientation in the absence of unique landmarks and extricate yourself from bushes, but you must have had to put up with countless sharp things from all directions. (Including down! Barefoot, I can dig. Blindfolded, I can dig. Barefoot and blindfolded would scare me silly.)

It's hard enough fighting your way through the Southern California underbrush when you can see. And, while you were probably going slow enough to give all the nearby rattlesnakes enough time to get out of your way, I'd sure hesitate to test that statement. Props for bravery, and for all around great tasking!

As an aside, which will make no sense to those who read this a few days from now, I initially read through this whole completion wondering why The Villain was in Los Angeles. Clearly, I don't cope well with name changes, even when I'm in on the joke myself.

I love it!
posted by The Villain on October 13th, 2007 2:54 PM

I especially love the picture of you smiling and gesturing triumphantly with a beanie over your eyes, standing in front of what you thought was an amazing view of the other side of the hill. Made me laugh.

I'm with Loki (sorry, Villoki). You are extremely brave to have done this barefoot and blindfolded.

(no subject)
posted by rongo rongo on October 16th, 2007 1:32 PM

wow, I would never have thought of clambering and clawing through vegetation as something to do blindfolded. I'm impressed!

Tend that garden.
posted by Lincøln on March 9th, 2008 5:06 PM

Almost five months later and I got the video of me running down from my adventure working. I should submit this under Make it Work. But it's up now. And that's all that matters.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on March 9th, 2008 5:22 PM

I think you've got it set to "Private".

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on March 9th, 2008 6:41 PM

It looked like there was some leaping going on there.

(no subject)
posted by Lincøln on March 9th, 2008 6:44 PM

Yes. A lot of leaping.
Did you notice the point where I dove and slid on my ass to get under a low branch? That's my favorite.
I was a little nuts, I could have really hurt myself. I got down a hill in ten minutes that took me well over an hour to get up.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on March 9th, 2008 8:12 PM

The angle of the camera makes it hard to tell where some of that's going on. It's obvious that something exciting is happening though.

(no subject)
posted by Lincøln on March 9th, 2008 8:15 PM

Right, I know.
I was focused on staying alive at that ludicrous speed rather than composing beautiful shots.
And for that I am sorry.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on March 9th, 2008 8:54 PM

No, man. That wasn't a criticism. The way that the camera is angled makes obvious the danger you were in.