Amazing Book About Our 2010 Adventures

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Karen surprised me with a 140+ page hardcover book for Christmas that covers our 2010 adventures living on the bus together. You can browse the whole book here. Just keep in mind that it's designed to be browsed as two-page spreads in a printed book. 

If you'd like your own full-color printed copy of the book, you can order it here. We make zero profit on the book so that we can keep the price somewhat reasonable. 

Happy Holidays!

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We're spending the holidays with Karen's parents in Southern New Jersey… we head back to the bus on the 27th.

December Travel: Friends, Photography & Photoshop

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So if you made the assumption that the above photo was not taken in Florida, you would be correct. This would be Colorado, and no I didn't drive the bus there. There were definitely planes involved in this trip! 

Our first stop in CO was Boulder. I used to live in the nearby mountains and had many friends in the area to visit. We stayed with Jay Nelson and Lesa Snider, spending an awesome couple of days together catching up and touring the town (Karen had never been to CO before.) We arrived mid-December so everything was decorated for the holidays. 

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After Boulder, we spent two days in Denver, where I was giving my Photoshop CS5 for Photographers Seminar.

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Had a great turnout at my seminar in Denver, shown above.

 

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Went shooting at Garden of the Gods with George Lepp.

 

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Karen took the above photo in Victor, CO, which she appropriately titles "Where is Ben?" 

 

Good times in smaller latitudes

So I left off at South of the Border, one oddball stop on our way to Florida. Since we abandoned the Blue Ridge Parkway plan, we had to choose some new and interesting places to stop on the way south. Those turned out to be the two classic southern towns of Charleston and Savannah.

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Charleston was surprisingly charming. Lots of old buildings, lots of color and lots of character. We could have easily stayed there for several more days, shooting and soaking everything in. Savannah was just as classic, but more of the touristy scene. We didn't have a lot of time there (bus was due in for service soon in FL) but we did hit River Street and the main market area. It's definitely on the list to hit up again, when we can stay longer. (And yes, while we were there, we watched "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.")

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Finally, on Nov. 14th, we hit Florida, Jacksonville to be exact, where we stayed for four days at a Prevost shop (Prevost: brand the bus is) and got some small repairs done. We then moved closer to Orlando, and parked at Millennium, another company that converts busses. Here we got to tour their factory and see a lot of busses both in the works and complete. 

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When we reached Orlando, we realized that we were in the same city as our friends and fellow nomads, Sean Welsh and Louise Hornor, who live and travel together in their awesome "double-decker" Odyssey. After we cleared it with Millennium, Sean and Louise came and parked with us for several days. (This, again, is another example of the great friends you meet with this lifestyle. We had met up with Sean and Louise once before, but it was spending this time together where we truly became great friends.) 

We shared some awesome dinners that week, as well as a rather unconventional Thanksgiving. See, we spent the holiday in a coffee shop called the Drunken Monkey, which was hosting a special Thanksgiving dinner, and even served up Tofurkey for Karen, who's a vegetarian. Sean and Louise also set up their hot tub (yes, they have an actual hot tub in their bus), which made for some fun and relaxing Florida nights. We even met up with Sean and Louise in Lakeland, FL on our route to Tampa, to spend yet another fun night/afternoon at a shop where their Odyssey was being repaired. (see this whole bus theme going on in Florida?) 

Finally, we reached the Tampa area. Clearwater, actually. And where did we park? You guessed it. Another bus shop. (The bus didn't need a lot more work, but the parking was convenient) Note: By this point, Karen, who knew nothing about busses a year ago, could pick out a bus brand at a glance, understand the workings of the batteries, alternator, etc. and even differentiate between RV toilets. She's come to enjoy falling asleep to the sound of giant idling engines. Most women would have hit the ground running by Jacksonville, but oddly, and thankfully, she likes it :-) 

From Tampa, travels led us, by plane, to Colorado, and then New Jersey, but we'll save those stops for another post. More to follow!

Southbound (and catching up!)

Yes, it's been a while since I've last posted. There have been lots of events, shooting and visiting with friends that have made the past few weeks both busy and amazingly enjoyable! But the blog has been neglected, so I hope to catch up a little bit here. 

I'm going to do this in two separate posts, since we've covered a lot of ground in the past month or so.

The last posting was in Acadia National Park, which was just beautiful… a photographer's dream, especially during that time of year. So what happened after Acadia? Well, Autumn was in full swing and we knew the temperatures would be dropping so the main goal was to head south and escape the cold. After Acadia, we made a stop in Catskill, NY to continue shooting the fall color on our way south. There are loads of great shooting opportunities in that area, especially if you're up for some mountain driving. We also met up with our friend and photographer Dan Burkholder

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Our timing, once again, was perfect, because our plans took us right through New York the same week as PhotoPlus. We attended the Expo, which was a smorgasbord of new gear, software demos and photographic talent. One of the coolest things we saw was the debut of Bert Monroy's "Times Square," a photo-realistic painting measuring 5' x 25' and featuring so many friends and colleagues in the photo/Photoshop world. If you look closely, you can even see the bus driving down the street into Times Square! The event was also great because so many friends were all converging in the same place at the same time and it was nice to catch up with a lot of folks we might only see while passing through in the bus. 

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After New York we spent a few days with Karen's family in south Jersey and then stopped in Washington DC, where we spent our time with Peter Krogh, author of The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers, and an all-around great guy. We actually parked the bus in his driveway so I guess you could say we were neighbors for a few days!  That's one of the great things about the mobile lifestyle – the friends you make. We had crossed paths with Peter at trade shows and such, but it wasn't until we passed through town and spent several days just "hanging out" together, that we really became good friends. We also enjoyed visiting the nation's capitol, getting a taste of FotoWeek DC, and visiting the National Gallery of Art. But I've gotta say, one of the most fun nights in DC was going out with Peter and his awesome wife, Alyson, to a funky little joint called the Quarry House, which we would have NEVER found on our own. The atmosphere was great, and the band that was playing had so much character and fun stuff going on. In fact, they were SO great, that the evening ended with an impromptu, late-night light-painting session!

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So the PLAN for after Washington DC was to slowly follow the Blue Ridge Parkway south. HOWEVER, there were a few nights in DC that dipped into the low 30's, and since we're not big fans of the cold, that plan got thrown out the window and we hitched up, bound right for Florida… with a few interesting stops on the way.

The first of those interesting stops was South of the Border, "America's favorite Highway Oasis," in other words, a glorified rest stop. I know it's cheesy, but we can't possibly pass up anything this goofy. Karen did a whole blog post on this crazy place and you can find it right HERE

So there's more to catch up on, but that will come in the next post. Stay tuned! 🙂

Acadia National Park

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Sweeping landscapes, vibrant color and perfect weather. That's what was going on at Acadia National Park this fall. We kind of struck the color jackpot during our visit, because we were most likely around for the most beautiful week of the season. 
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As soon as we arrived in Acadia, I discovered that out of sheer coincidence my good friend and renowned nature photographer Tony Sweet was teaching a workshop that same week! Not only was it great to meet up, but Tony had some good tips on where to shoot.
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Just driving around within the park was great. We found ourselves pulling over on the central Loop Road just to shoot the surrounding color. There were lots of excellent shooting locales in the park. The trick was finding out where the light was best! (and where there wasn't a slew of other photographers with the same idea).
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Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME - Google Maps 
Here are some of our shooting locales: 
– Eagle Lake: Good at both dawn and dusk (we had the most success as the sun went down)
– Jordan Pond: We got there mid-morning and got some great images. The sun wasn't overly harsh by then.  (We do, however shoot mostly HDR so that probably helped)
– Thunder Hole: The perfect sunrise local. The light just dances off the rocks here. 
– Cadillac Mountain: We were here in the afternoon, so the light wasn't all that hot, but apparently that's an amazing place to be at sunrise. (Warning: Every other photographer in Acadia also knows this, so if you go, expect a sea of tripods at the top.)
-Beech Mountain: If you get to the top, there are 300-degree views of water, islands and mountains. BUT, it is a serious hike to get up there, so bring minimal gear if you can. (and if you have any health issues/injuries/etc. you may want to skip this one. 
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I'm sure there were tons of other great locales that we missed, but it's always good to have something on the list for the next time! 
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Be sure to check back here to see more updates as we follow the fall colors south!

 

Digital Landscape Workshop in New Hampshire

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As the summer crept to an end, we decided that our fall mission would be color. Fall color. And since we we'll be following the fall color south, our plans naturally led us up to Maine and New Hampshire. We were incredibly lucky to cross paths with the Digital Landscape Workshop Series (DLWS) in Mount Washington, New Hampshire. 

DLWS is a photographic workshop led by photographers: Moose Peterson, Joe McNally, Laurie Excell and Kevin Dobler. It's a pretty intensive workshop, in that attendees are up shooting at sunrise and sunset, and in-between, they're in the classroom mastering Photoshop skills with little time for food or relaxation. And as an added bonus, you have a load of fun!

We were honored to attend the event and spend time with our partners in crime colleagues. Between all of us, we encompassed a pretty wide range of photographic styles. 

The workshop took us to some nice shooting locales, including some rapids and waterfalls, covered bridges, and LOTS of fall color… everywhere. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating, in that we were graced with some chilly rain during most of our shoots. This helped in bringing out some of the color, but made the shooting conditions a bit uncomfortable. (After an hour of shooting the first night, Karen's lips turned blue, and had to retreat to the car.) Things did clear up the last day, and we had a beautiful morning sky, and even some sun! 

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There's always a lot of healthy goofing off with this gang! Joe seems to be down with that!

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The two of us jumped into the action with me (Ben) ended up modeling while Karen shot and Joe McNally did his lighting magic. Here you can see us shooting and the results Karen ended up capturing.

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This shot is dubbed "The Troublemakers," featuring Joe, Drew, Grippi and Stephanie. 

At the top of this post is a five-shot HDR image that I processed in Photoshop CS5.

Be sure to check out Karen's Blog for more details on what we've been up to since our last posting.

The Creative Cruiser website launches!

We're totally excited to announce the launch of The Creative Cruiser, the web site totally dedicated to the vintage bus project. As many of you know, Ben is currently living in a 1997 Prevost coach, but he's also restoring a 1963 Flxible Starliner. When the Flxible project is complete, we'll be moving into the Starliner and selling the current rig. So, as you can imagine, a restoration like this is a BIG DEAL. 

I would try to give all the details here, but there's really no need, because the new Creative Cruiser site was launched for just that purpose… to keep everyone up to speed on what's going on with the new rig. 

So for news and updates on the vintage bus project, follow the Creative Cruiser HERE.  

The Creative Cruiser
 

Chicago, Detroit, NJ, and NY

A lot has been happening lately and we've neglected to keep up to date 🙁  I'm going to try to give a quick briefing, then get down to the current stuff. Ok, so here we go…

Chicago:

We spent nearly a week in Chicago. for both fun and necessity. The fun consisted of photography, of course! We attended the Third Annual Worldwide Photo Walk, and our walk started at "The Bean" and meandered around Millenium Park. Photo walks can be interesting, not only for the great locations, but for the gear you bring. I (Karen) brought one lens… a 14-24, 2.8, and Ben, I must admit, was much more creative. He spent the entire day shooting with a lensbaby… awesome!! 

Below is a slideshow video from the worldwide photo walk in Chicago…,.

Then came the necessity. The bus hasn't been too happy these days, and needed some tending to. So for about 3-4 days, we were parked at Joe's place, for maintenance. Now this guy, he's not your typical high end bus maintenance guy. He's truly dedicated, and if possible, he would rather fix the pieces of one big broken part, rather than replace the whole thing, which is so much more cost effective (and nicer!). He also knows busses so well that you would think he built them from scratch. Check out Joe's site HERE. While we were there, the bus' generator was completely fixed (ALLELUIA!!!), some small switches were tended to, and the tag tires were fixed, meaning we can now raise the rear axel, which would enable sharper turns. And oh yeah, these bus guys also wired the lil' Mini Cooper for turn signals and tail lights, while were on the road. 

Detroit:

After Chicago, we made a stop in Detroit. The Maker Faire was happening there, and it was happening at the Henry Ford Museum! So we had a blast exploring the amazing creations at Maker Faire, while also learning a ton inside the Henry Ford Museum. Below is a video I make from Maker Faire. I just LOVE Ben driving around in that wacky bike!

So after Detroit, we headed back east. We spent a week or two in NJ before heading north. While in NJ we attended the Jersey Fresh Food and Wine Fest, which i have blogged about, and added tons of fun photos HERE

New York:

We spent a few weeks in NY, where we got a lot of work done, and prepped for Photoshop World. I (Karen) did a blog post on some Long Island stuff, and you can check that out HERE.  

Photoshop World:

Yup, it's that time again. Photoshop World Vegas came up before we knew it! It's one of our favorite times of the year, because there are so many friends uniting in one place, and so much to be learned at the same time. Ben's classes this time around were Hacking Photoshop, Lightpainting for Fun and Profit, and Photoshop Safety Measures. And of course, it's always great to stay in Las Vegas. We got to hang out with some friends (who are locals), and see the AMAZING show, Le Reve, in the Wynn. Just another jam-packed week of teaching, learning, fun and inspiration!

I did a series of posts on Photoshop World over at my blog, The Pixel Diaries.  

Goin’ vintage… again

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So if you keep up with this blog, you know that Ben's vintage bus project is well under way, and while this post isn't about that, it's somewhat related. See, last week we visited the RV Hall of Fame. Yes, you heard that right. There is a hall of fame/museum for RVs and motor homes. And while it sounds uber dorky, it's actually quite cool. 

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While we were passing through Elkhart, Indiana, we had to make the stop. And our visit there was extra-fun because we happened to cross paths with road-warrior friends while we were there! And this couple happens to travel in the same kind of bus that we do! So it was fun going on this "field trip" with fellow bus-dwellers.

This museum is full of dozens of vintage trailers dating back to the early 1900s. Now what's interesting is that many of these of homes-on-wheels feature much better design than RVs of the past few decades. So it was fun and inspiring to tour them and see how they configured their setups. The vintage bus set-up will be super high tech, but we'd like to incorporate a vintage, art-deco feel to it, so it was great to see these retro road warriors!

I also made a video slide show of the day that you can see HERE

More to come!