Hiya everyone! I'm sorry to admit, this is not Ben. Karen here, and yes, it's true… I've hijacked his blog. All with the best intentions of course. You see, the last time he updated this blog was nearly two months ago, and more importantly, over a dozen states ago. For someone who covers that much ground, much blogging is in order (in my opinion)!  So since Ben has been busy with a mixture of Photoshop stuff and the vintage bus project, I am officially hijacking. er, I mean stepping in, to give a little update.

The last time Ben checked in, we had just left New Orleans and were en route to Atlanta, where we stayed for a few days to visit friends. We stayed with an amazing pair of photographers, and two of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met, Eddie Tapp and Judy Host. This was a definite treat for me because, up until now, I have only caught up with them at photography/Photoshop conferences. As it turns out, Atlanta seems to be a hot spot for photographers, so we also paid visits to Zack Arias and Kevin Ames, both incredibly inspiring photographers and instructors. (What's funny is that before I ever met Ben, I was heavily into photography and consider myself a "NAPP junkie" so I had heard of, and learned from a lot of these guys in the past, so it's been interesting getting to really know them. And to be totally honest, they're all just as amazing people as they are photographers.)

This shot is from Ben's iPhone, of Judy, Eddie and myself

Another stop in Atlanta was to visit a vintage bus. If you read this blog often, you know that Ben is currently in the middle of "The Vintage Bus Project," which is a complete restoration of his 1963 Flxible Starliner. The bus in Atlanta is also a Flxible, but a different model (known as a Visicoach) which  is based on the same general body style as the one Ben owns. It is in the final stages of restoration, so it was interesting to see what the owner did and how he tackled a lot of the challenges that come with this kind of project. While I find the whole process really interesting and super exciting, I still don't know as much of the detail stuff as Ben does, so I'm sure  he'll give a better rundown of this when he gets back into the blog world (which I'm prodding him to do).

This is the cream and green Visicoach in Atlanta

Another note, that I feel I must mention, is that in the midst of our travels, the iPad was released. Ben was holding out for the 3G model, and it FINALLY arrived while we were in Atlanta. Words cant even express Ben's anticipation and excitement!

The day Ben first set his hands on his brand spankin' new iPad!

After Atlanta we set off for New Jersey. That's where I'm from and was excited to visit the fam for a bit. Plus, Ben had never met the family, so lets just say they were overly eager for us to get there!  We were making pretty good time, until we reached Baltimore, or just north of it. We were rolling up I95 when Ben heard a sound that indicated the bus wasn't feelin' too good. It turns out it was an issue with a front wheel (the meat, not just the tire) and had to be taken care of. To make a long story short (and it was really long and frustrating) we were stuck in Baltimore for two days (though stuck is a bad word – we ended up having fun) before we hit NJ. 

Dabus-sick.psd @ 66.7% (Layer 11, RGB_8)
I did a more in-depth post on this HERE

We spent a good two-three weeks in NJ enjoying family time and showing Ben that there was actually more to NJ than Newark (aka the armpit of the universe) and Atlantic City (not much better). So first off, the family fell in love with Ben, which was not surprising at all (since I had done so previously), and wanted us to spend as much time there as possible. Our first NJ excursion was a Mini Cooper rally, which ended up in Cape May, part of the Jersey Shore. (Major note here: I don't watch TV but I understand there is a show about the Jersey Shore and it is an APPALLING and inaccurate representation!). So Ben was used to bus rallies, where a bunch of buses show up and stay in one spot for a few days and the owners talk shop. A MINI rally, on the other hand, is a ROAD rally, where a line of 30-40 Mini's go flying through a route of scenic twisty roads, stopping at fun places. This rally made a stop at the Cape May Lighthouse and a bar/grill on the water.


One of my images from the MINI rally

Ben looking down from the Cape May lighthouse

Unrelated to the rally stuff, this is a light paint image that Ben did for my sister, Laura, on her birthday

I also took Ben to Eastern State Penitentiary, a Philadelphia prison build in the 1700s, and once housed Al Capone. I knew the photo ops there would be right up Ben's alley, with all the withered cells and peeling paint, not to mention the amazing light that flowed in through the skylights! 


A silhouetted shot of Ben at EST

My last "must-visit" spot in NJ was Heritage Vineyards. Wine vineyards in NJ might sound odd to some, but Jersey wine is actually amazing! And Heritage has always been a special place for me. Not only is their wine great, but I feel like it's a home away from home for me. I've been taking their tours and having their wine for years, to the point where the family and staff know me, and have become friendly and familiar faces. I brought Ben to a tasting and winery tour, and the conversation quickly shifted to photography. By the time we left, we had a photo shoot set up with the owners and founders. They wanted something new and unique and the images of Ben's light painting fit the bill. So three days later we showed up for the shoot and Ben did an in-depth light painting session while I did some hdr and natural light shots out in the vineyards. 

Heritage Lightpaint _0000_Painterly 1 

Heritage Lightpaint _0002_Funky Blue glow 

Shown above are two versions of Ben's light painted images from Heritage.

After saying goodbye to my fam and departing NJ, we headed toward a Burning Man-related event called the Gateway Burn, southwest of St. Louis. We'll include details in the next post (since this one is getting too long!) but en route to St.Louis, we hit Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, which was simply amazing!

I hope this was an ok update on what we've been up to. I've been doing a lot of more frequent blogging myself, so you might find more details on our recent travels at my blog, The Pixel Diaries, here.