An excellent week of exploring and lightpainting

My last post left off in Santa Fe, where we spent about four days exploring and shooting. After exploring the town there, we took a drive to Pecos National Historic Park, which is about 40 minutes from the city. The highlight of the park is an ancient pueblo, with some ruins and kivas surrounding it. We spent a good amount of time shooting in one of the kivas, which are circular, underground rooms that used to be used for religious rituals. We did find a little problem with the first kiva, however. I started to go down the ladder, and just as my head went underground, I found myself face to face with a small, but very irritated, rattlesnake. We decided to move on to the next kiva, but not before I tried to photograph the snake!

My shot from inside a kiva.

Instead of high-tailing it out of the snake area, I decided to try to photograph the little sucker.

The resulting snake photograph. I was using a fisheye, which made him look a little farther away.

After leaving Santa Fe, we moved on to the mountain town of Taos, a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. On our way there, we passed an amazing place that I just had to stop and photograph. It’s called the Classic Gas Museum, and is basically one man’s collection of vintage gas pumps, cars, signs, you name it. The place was full of old stuff… the kind of stuff I just love to shoot. The owner, Johnnie, was great and had no problem with us photographing there. He even let us return two nights later to do some lightpainting. Karen and I spent a good 2-3 hours shooting there after dark, and I was really happy with the results.

Karen’s iPhone montage from the Classic Gas Museum.

I was excited about this composition at the Classic Gas Museum. I just loved the old gas pumps surrounding this old race car.

This is the main building/shop at the Classic Gas Museum.

While in Taos, we explored the historic downtown area and then drove the famous High Road to Taos. You’re “supposed” to drive it from Santa Fe to Taos, but we did it the other way around because it wasn’t the most convenient road to take a 40-foot motorhome down, so we waited to drive it in the Mini. We mainly stopped to photograph old churches on the road, as they had a lot of character and history to them. The high road ended in the town of Espanola, where we stopped for dinner. I’ve got to mention the place we ate at because it was just excellent. It’s called El Paragua (The Parasol) and they specialize in Mexican cuisine (a standard in Espanola). The atmosphere in the place was charming, and the food was just delicious. Karen and I both ate more than we should have because it was just so darn hard to stop! We’ve been to a lot of Mexican places, and many of them are extremely similar as far as the menu and flavors go. This place definitely stood above the rest.

While in Taos, I also started experimenting with camera gear. I’m a Canon shooter, but I was curious as to how I would like Nikon’s D800E. I love to be able to make huge prints, and the D800’s 36 megapixels was taunting me a bit. Overall, the files that I’ve been getting from it are excellent, but I think I’m still going to stick with Canon. I’ll do a longer post on this later.

Karen and I both really enjoyed Taos, and we stayed there for four nights. Then, we were Colorado bound. We made a short stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park and we would have stayed longer had the weather been in our favor. It’s definitely on the list to visit again. Our first stop in Colorado is near Canon City, and we came here because of the unique aspects of the RV park. It’s called the Starlite Classic Campground and they feature a whole bunch of restored vintage trailers that are in beautiful shape and they’re all styled to perfectly to the era in which they were “born.” The couple who runs the place is just great and they were gracious enough to let me lightpaint some of the trailers. In fact, the first night’s lightpainting turned out so well that we extended our stay so I could shoot some more of them! We spent most of today arranging setups for the trailer shoots, and I’m going to be heading out to shoot some more as soon as this blog post is finished!

Here is my first lightpainting from The Starlite Classic Campground.

My new lightpainting e-book is now available!

Finally, I have some exciting news to share! This week, I released my new e-book, “The Fine Art of Painting with Light.” If you are interested in lightpainting, whether you’re experienced or not, definitely check it out. The book is a comprehensive guide, starting with your very first lightpainting and moving through to advanced techniques and post-processing in Photoshop. It includes a guide to the tools required, examples of different lightpainting styles and how to achieve them and 28 real-world examples where I demonstrate how I created specific images. The e-book is separated into two distinct sections. The first teaches the process of lightpainting and the Photoshop post-processing skills, and the second breaks down specific images and shows how they were made. The best part of it is that it’s only $9.97! You can read more about it, and order it HERE.

That’s all for now!

Photoshop World: Teaching in the nation’s Capital

In my last post, I had just wrapped up my seminar with the Peoria Camera Club, which turned out to be a great day. One of the attendees actually wrote a little blog post about the day, including some great shots, and you can see that HERE.

Here’s an awesome image from my Peoria Camera Club talk. This was shot by Stacy Hanna, who wrote a blog post on the seminar, which includes several great shots. Check out her site HERE

After the Peoria Camera Club seminar, I flew to New Jersey to spend a few days with Karen’s family. (Karen had flown out before me and was already in NJ when I arrived.) It was the first time I saw them since Karen and I got engaged a few weeks ago, and they are really excited. (and so am I!) I’ve got to say, as far as in-laws go, I couldn’t have gotten luckier. Karen’s parents are just great. They’re extremely fun and laid back… very much like Karen.

While we were in Jersey, we really just hung out for the most part. We got work done and met up with some of Karen’s friends. We also paid a visit to Heritage Vineyards… a place we frequent often when we’re in town. This time, we were very fortunate to have our great friend, Rich Heritage, give us a little tasting of their newest wines. Good stuff! If you’re ever in South Jersey on a weekend, go ahead and take a tour at Heritage. You wont be disappointed!

On Thursday, Karen and I drove down to Washington DC for Photoshop World. What’s interesting is that we drive down in my old Jeep Liberty that had been sitting in front of Karen’s parents’ house for over a year. Ive been meaning to sell it (we have the MINI now) and so we dropped it off at a Carmax right outside of the city. It took about an hour to sort out the details, but they actually bought the car and we headed to our hotel.

The day before Photoshop World officially started, we joined some friends and explored the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Here I am with my great friend, Jay Nelson. (Jay was definitely dressed for the day!)

Photoshop World is always a great time to catch up with people, as so many of my photographer/instructor friends converge in one place. The timing of the event turned out to be perfect this year, because it coincided with the annual Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival, and the trees were in full bloom. We spent an entire day walking around the Tidal Basin, which was completely lined with pink trees, and visiting some of the monuments. It was around 80 degrees and sunny, so we couldn’t have asked for a better day. (The crowds were pretty nasty, however.)

Overall, the conference has been going really well. I taught three classes, on adjustment layers, color adjustments and panorama stitching. Aside from teaching, we’ve spent a lot of time catching up with friends and exploring the city a bit. When we leave DC on Tuesday, we’ll be flying back to the bus, which is in Las Vegas. We’ve got to do some minor work on the bus, and then move on to Palm Springs . . . perhaps with a few shooting stops on the way. More to come…

Here’s an iPhone shot from my Adjustment Layer class at Photoshop World.

 

An iPhone shot overlooking the trade show floor at Photoshop World.

 

Happy New Year!

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Our 2011 travel map. This is one of the first pages of our yearbook.

Happy new year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season as much as we did. As I mentioned in my last post, I spent xmas in New Jersey with Karen’s family and stayed there for several days after. We spent a lot of time relaxing, playing with new toys and getting some work done.

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My friend Mike took me for a ride in his electric Tesla the other day!

The other day, I flew back to San Diego (where the bus is parked) while Karen hung back to spend more time with her family. When I returned to CA, I got to spend some time with my great friend Mike and he even took me for a ride in his Tesla. It’s amazing how fast these powerful electric cars are!

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The cover of our 2011 yearbook

It’s also been fun reflecting on everything that’s happened in 2011. We really filled the year with a lot of fun stuff and made some excellent memories. Just as she did last year, Karen created a book that documents our entire year. She designed the whole thing herself, adding pictures, graphics and blog posts from all our experiences this past year. So instead of reminiscing in words, I’ll send you to the digital version of our 2011 yearbook. Check it out HERE

And cheers to 2012!

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays everyone! When I left off last week, we were just arriving in the San Diego area and getting ready to fly over to New Jersey for the holidays with Karen’s family. Karen flew out a few days before I did, and I literally dropped her off at the airport in the bus on my way to a San Diego RV park.

Prior to flying out myself, I spent a lot of time getting work done and planning for the new year. Unfortunately, I was stuck in the bus because we still have no tow car. We recently sold our last MINI, and are waiting for the new one to arrive from Oxford, England. The last time we checked, the new Mini had finished production, and was just waiting to get on a ship.

I flew over to NJ on the 22nd, to spend the holidays with the Nace fam. We had an amazing dinner on Christmas Eve that was made by Vera, Karen’s 89-year-old grandmother. She cooked 8 or 9 different types of fish, which were paired with some excellent wines. Not a bad way to bring in the holidays! Christmas morning at their house is somewhat of a gift marathon. There were eight of us total, and everyone took turns giving and opening gifts. It went on so long that we had to take a brunch intermission and a bloody mary happy hour!

Karen’s parents got me a GoPro camera, which I’m totally psyched to try out. We had been talking about getting one of these for some timelapse things as well as really unique videos. Karen gave out a lot of fun book gifts that she made with Blurb. If you’re not familiar with them, Blurb is a pretty great way to create nice-looking one-off books. We also received our 2011 yearbook, which Karen spent 80+ hours on the past few weeks and ended up being over 200 pages long. The yearbook is something she creates at the end of the year which literally chronolizes everything we’ve done, with pictures, blog entries and graphics. We’ll post the entirety of it come new years. She, of course, used Blurb for that as well. Karen also gave her sister a beautiful image that she had printed on acryllic. It’s a new way to present photos, and the results are stunning. She used mpix pro for this.

I also wanted to mention a pretty funny gift that I gave Karen, and she LOVED it. It’s called the Alien Abduction Lamp, and it’s literally a space ship with a beam of light coming down (the beam is the lamp’s light source) that is sucking a cow up from a round astroturf lawn. Seriously. This is what my girl wanted. Check out the lamp HERE.

We wrapped up the day enjoying some spirits while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We still have some festivities to go and I’ll be in NJ until the 30th. After that, it’s back to San Diego (and hopefully warmer weather).

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Life on the road: The furthest thing from boring!

HuntingtonBeach-1The view out the front window of the bus in Huntington Beach.

In my last post, we were wrapping up a five-day class with the Light Workshops near Morro Bay, CA. Since then, we’ve started to meander south toward San Diego. The first two days were pretty quiet. We stayed in Ventura, CA, spending a lot of time getting work done and preparing for the holidays.

We then headed toward Huntington Beach, but not without a few stops on the way. First off, we got to meet with my good friend Eric Magnusson, who lives in the greater LA area. I hadn’t seen Eric in years, so it was great to meet for breakfast and talk about color management (his speciality). After breakfast, we headed south a bit and then met with fellow photographer Ed Freeman, who has a gallery in the Chinatown area of LA. Two friends within three hours … not bad!

When we arrived at our RV park in Huntington Beach, we were delighted. The view was gorgeous. Not only were we right on the beach with a perfect view of the ocean, but we were also a 2-minute walk from the Huntington Beach Pier. Since we dont have a car right now (the new one should arrive mid-Jan) this spot was perfect in that it was a 5-minute walk to town.

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Me and Russell Brown at the Digital Darkroom event.

It turns out, we arrived in the area with perfect timing! Adobe’s Russell Brown clued me in to an event that was going on called the Digital Darkroom, in the Annenberg Space for Photography. It’s a gallery that features a wide array of digital artists… everything from compositing to 3D imaging. The whole thing was inspired by Jerry Uelsmann, who was creating incredible composites in the darkroom long before digital photography came about. The event was actually a pre-opening, so we were really lucky to get in. The work was excellent, and they did a great job of presenting it all. After the gallery event, we met up with my friend Jeff Dunas, who now runs the Palm Springs Photo Festival. I’ll most likely be teaching there this spring.

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Me and Lee Varis at Huntington Beach after breakfast.

So let’s just tally things up here. I had been in Huntington Beach for about 24 hours and I had already met up with three friends, plus the whole gang at the Digital Darkroom event. As if this weren’t enough, there were more friends to meet. My great friend and fellow photographer Lee Varis met us for breakfast one morning. We ate at the diner located on the very end of the pier and had a perfect view of the ocean. Not bad! Later that evening, our friends and fellow RVers, Sam and Tracy, rolled in to our RV park. They were in town for a SantaCon event, and stopped by to see us on the way. The fun part about this was that I didn’t even tell Karen they were coming, so it was a total surprise when they showed up! We had dinner at a place called 25 Degrees. They specialize in burgers, and I think I had the best burger of my life there. I kid you not!

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A [bad] iPhone shot of me and Craig Dorsey working out the interior of the vintage bus.

The next day was full of vintage bus planning. In case you dont know of the project, in addition to the bus we currently live in, I own a vintage bus that is currently in Ft Worth getting the engine and transmission work done. After that part is done, the bus will move to Craig Dorsey’s place in Nova Scotia, where the interior will be done. Craig just happened to be in the LA area this month, so he was able to stop by the bus to go over some of the interior design and planning. We spent nearly eight hours talking about the project!

Before we left Huntington Beach, we met with Colin Smith, of Photoshop Cafe, for dinner. It was nice meeting him out of the tradeshow realm. He showed us a bit of the old town in Orange County… a place Karen and I would both love to revisit.

After we left Huntington Beach, we headed south toward San Diego, stopping at Stone Brewery on the way. Stone is one of our favorite places in the San Diego area, and they have easy parking for the bus. While we were there, my friend Robin Bjorklund, who I grew up with in Minneapolis, stopped by the brewery. He and his family just moved to the SD area and have started to grow an affinity for Stone as well.

As of right now, Karen is getting ready to fly out to NJ, and I will follow in a few days. We’ll spend the holidays there with her family and then fly back to winter in San Diego. More to come…

 

A week teaching at Light Workshops

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A light painted shot I got at Sunny Acres during my 5-day course with Light Workshops.

The past week was full of intensive photography and Photoshop training. I started the week in Fort Lauderdale, even though the bus is parked in Morro Bay, CA. I flew out for a one-day Kelby Training "From Focus to Finished" seminar, which went really well. An extra treat to this short trip was that I was able to meet up with Bruce and Judy, a couple who joined us on our recent African photo safari trip!

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We spent a lot of classroom time going over Photoshop techniques and helping students with their images.

As soon as I flew back, we moved the bus to Los Osos, CA to be close to the photographic center for the Light Workshops. I taught a five-day class, from Wednesday to Sunday, on Shooting for Photoshop. It was a small, hands-on class, and the students were great. We spent a lot of time in the digital lab, going over Photoshop and photography techniques, and giving one-on-one advice. Then we would go out shooting, with specific techniques in mind. One of our shooting destinations was a place called Sunny Acres, which was full of old cars and some buildings with a lot of detail. We first went during the day to practice some HDR photography and then we returned in the evening to do some light painting. It was fun seeing the students getting really into it! On another night, we went out to the coast to shoot the sunset at the bluffs. We shot some long exposures as well as some time-lapse photography. Overall, the whole event went really well.

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At the end of the workshop, Karen and I had to get a group shot with Hal and Victoria.

It was also great to catch up with Hal and Victoria. They run the Light Workshops and they really do an awesome job, doing their best to make sure everyone gets the absolute most out of the experience… both students and instructors. If you're not familiar with them, check out the site HERE. They do lots of workshops, both on site at the center and at incredible destinations like Alaska.

From here, our plan is to head south. Neither of us like the cold, so we'll probably be spending a lot of time in San Diego this winter. I'll also be flying out with Karen to spend the holidays with her family in South Jersey. More to come…