by Ben Willmore | Oct 15, 2013
Hi everyone! We just wrapped up an excellent week at the California Photo Festival (aka Click!) in San Luis Obispo, CA. This was my second time teaching at this event, and I’d really recommend it to any and all photography lovers out there. Not only are the instructors awesome (and I’m not saying that because I am one… really!), but there is a lot of variety when it comes to classes. There are classes on photography itself, lighting, video, photoshop, etc. and many of the classes are hands-on shooting in the field. There are sunrise and sunset shoots at the vineyards in Paso Robles and on the California Coast. There are loads of after-dark, night photography shoots, and then there are in-studio shoots as well. So at this event, you not only leave with a lot of knowledge, but you also leave with a lot of great images. The festival is run by Victoria and Hal Schmitt of the Light Workshops.
One of Karen’s shots from the horse shoot at the beach.
I taught a bunch of classes over the course of the week, most of which focused on HDR photography and lightpainting. I had in-class lectures as well as live shoots in the field. We did some HDR shooting at the marina in Los Osos and also at a funky place called Sunny Acres, where there are lots of old cars & barns to shoot. For my lightpainting classes, we returned to Sunny Acres after dark and they positioned some of the vintage cars for everyone. We also had an “alternative lightpainting” class where we shot on the beach, creating orbs of light and swinging around molten steel wool to create some nice images. (With the steel wool shoot, I’m the only one handling the steel wool and I’m far enough away from the students that they, and their gear, stay safe.)
Aside from the class/shooting part of the event, I had a blast hanging out with the other instructors, some of which are old friends, and I’m happy to say that others have now become new friends. After the evening shoots, we’ll often meet up for dinner and/or drinks and either catch up or get to know each other. I’ll leave you with a bunch of photos from the event. More to come!
Here we are at Sunny Acres where I’m giving a rundown on shooting for HDR. The goose was literally attacking me as I was trying to talk. (It was attacking the other students as well) Eventually, he got put in his “time out” cage.
This was also shot at Sunny Acres, by Karen, during out lightpainting shoot there.
Here, my class gathered at the beach at Morro Bay and I was giving a demo on how to create a lightpainted orb. After it got dark out, we moved onto the beach and started shooting.
This was one of the shots I created by swinging burning steel wool on the beach. The students loved this!
Karen’s shot from the steel wool shoot on the beach. That’s me in the middle, swinging the steel wool around.
Karen went to one of the sunrise shoots in Paso Robles and this was one of her shots.
Me and David Wells, taking a lunch break between classes.
by Ben Willmore | Sep 25, 2012
It’s hard to believe that summer, 2012 is already over! That means two things: 1. That we should get ready to photograph fall color; and 2. The California Photo Festival is right around the corner! If you haven’t signed up yet, you can find the registration page here.
I wanted to give a little sneak peak at what I’ll be teaching:
High Dynamic Range Mastery
Part 1: Wed. Oct. 10 – 10:30 – 11:30 am
Part 2: Wed. Oct. 10 – 1:00 – 2:45 pm
Learn to shoot for and process HDR images using Photoshop, Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro. You’ll learn how to think about the process in the field as well as get the most out of your images using post-processing techniques. Ben has been described as “the godfather of HDR” from the author of the HDR handbook. Come learn his secrets, including what’s essential in stitching HDR panoramas. If you want to shoot with Ben you have to take this session! If you can’t fit into Ben’s shooting sessions, there are plenty of shooting opportunities during the week to practice what Ben is presenting during this session.
Getting Started with Lightpainting
Part 1: Thurs. Oct. 11 – 1:30 – 3:00 pm
Part 2: Thurs. Oct. 11 – 6:15 – 9:00 pm
Discover how you can start with a dark scene and paint light onto your subject to create some of the most unique images you’ve ever seen. The only light source you’ll need is a common household flashlight to create these masterpieces. Ben will go over his gear, techniques and show a presentation slideshow of his Light Painting examples done over the years.
Panos & Beyond
Part 1: Fri. Oct. 12 – 3:30 – 5:00 pm
Part 2: Fri. Oct. 12 – 5:45 – 7:30 pm
Nothing beats the panorama when you want to capture the grand scale of a scene. In this class, you’ll learn how to properly shoot panos, stitch them effectively in Photoshop, and post-process for maximum impact. Then, we’ll take things a few steps further and enter the world of HDR panos. To wrap things up, you’ll learn how to create unique and artistic panollages.
Directing the Viewer’s Eye
Fri. Oct. 12 1:30 – 3:00 pm
Learn to have some influence over where your viewer looks first in your scene as well as where they linger. See how Photoshop can be an effective tool for manipulating your viewer’s experience through simple changes to the brightness, contrast and color of an image. With time for Q&A.
Sunset on the Beach
Wed. Oct. 10 – 5:45 – 6:45 pm
Learn how to think about shooting at sunset so you can get the most out of the detail, color and contrast at this special time of day. Shoot horses running down the beach to produce both silhouetted figures as well as full colorful detail.
Festival Artists Reception
Tues. Oct. 9 – 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Join us for an evening with a few of our guest artists hanging their work at Light Photographic Workshops! Meet and greet with the instructors before the big week and get a preview of one of the best workshop facilities in the world! Doors will open at 6:30PM
The Digital Fine Arts – Panel & Audience Q&A
Sat. Oct. 13th – 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Jane Conner-Ziser will lead a panel discussion on the Digital Fine Arts in 2012 and beyond. Audience questions and participation are highly encouraged.
by Ben Willmore | Jul 10, 2012
Hi gang! After a great workshop in Iceland, we returned to the bus in Colorado and headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, the weather was extremely stormy/rainy while we were there, but it gave me some time to regroup a little after the trip, get some work done and focus on future events. I wanted to use this post to talk about what’s coming up. I hope you’ll be able to join me at one of these great events/workshops in the future!
Namibia: Sept. 19- Oct. 1, 2013
Join me and Journeys Unforgettable on the photographic adventure of a lifetime. In this two-week journey to Namibia, you’ll be staying at the best camps, working with the best guides and photographing the most amazing sights your lenses have ever focused on! From wildlife, to the iconic sand dunes, to the breathtaking Skeleton Coast, you’ll be seeing it all on this adventure. If you’re looking for THE trip, the one you’ve been waiting your whole life for … this is it. Learn more HERE.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Oct. 4-7, 2012
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for balloon pilots and photographers. For more than three decades, the first week in October brings the smell of roasting chiles and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air. This will be my third time photographing the Fiesta, and I can promise you that it’s a true feast for the eyes… and the lens!
The colors and textures will boggle your senses and you will come away with some of the most incredible images you have ever taken. We’ll throw in enough HDR training if you want to get a bit crazy with your creativity. Learn more HERE
The California Photo Festival • Oct. 10-14, 2012
The California Photo Festival is five days of digital photography immersion. Intensive workshops, seminars, lectures, shooting, parties, and more with over 15 industry leading photographers and digital industry gurus designed to boost your creativity, spark your passion, and take your photography, art, or business to the next level. Click here for more info
Zion National Park
Thurs., Oct 18 thru Sun., Oct. 21, 2012
Massive canyon walls ascend toward a brilliant blue sky. To experience Zion, you need to walk among the towering cliffs, or challenge your courage in a small narrow canyon. These unique sandstone cliffs range in color from cream, to pink, to red. They could be described as sand castles crowning desert canyons. We will be experiencing the beauty of this tranquil place when the trees are the most colorful. Click here for more info
Mastering High Dynamic Range Photography
Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 2012
At the Light Workshops, in Los Osos, CA
Learn to capture the full brightness range of a scene and present it to your viewer as either a photorealistic image or as an image that more closely resembles a hyper-detailed drawing.
With over two dozen choices of HDR processing software, you’ll learn which software is worth using and which should be ignored. You’ll also see why you should avoid Photoshop’s standard HDR processing and how to use alternative methods in Photoshop and Lightroom to produce far superior results. Click here for more info
New Iceland Event in the works! Special sneak peak!
If you’ve been following this blog in the recent weeks, you’ve read all about my amazing workshop in Iceland. We just wrapped up last week, and I’m still processing all the incredible images I captured there. Iceland is one of my favorite places to visit and photograph… and that’s why we’re already planning two workshops in 2013! We’re still arranging the details, so consider this a special insiders’ heads up to my blog readers. Here’s what we know so far.
Workshop #1: Our plans for the next Discover Iceland event is in the works for the summer of 2013. It should be a week-long workshop where we are out in the field shooting 80% of the time. When we’re not out on location, we’ll be in a classroom setting doing some training and photo-editing sessions. Iceland is a true paradise in the summer… from breathtaking waterfalls, to iceberg-filled lagoons, to vast green mountains, to storybook horses… Iceland has got it all. Stay tuned on the blog for exact dates and more details. We should have those solidified in the next few weeks!
Workshop #2: I’ve been to Iceland several times, but never in the winter. This is something I’ve been eager to experience and we’re finally making it happen. We have room for up to 12 eager photographers on this adventure. Now, you might be asking what there is to photograph in Iceland during the winter, given it’s dark out most of the time. Well, for a night photographer, this is a dream come true! And night photography will be our focus during this trip. We’ll be capturing some long exposure landscapes, we will light paint, explore the eerie and serene ice caves (that you can only enter in winter) and maybe, just maybe, be fortunate enough to photograph the northern lights. Our target time range will be the second half of February 2013. Again, stay tuned as we finalize the arrangements.
by Ben Willmore | Jun 18, 2012
We spent the past week parked in Golden, Colorado and we just love it here. The bus is parked right next to a river/creek and is within walking distance of downtown. We’ve got a great view of the mountains and the weather has been beautiful. Not too shabby!
Our time here has been spent on both fun and productivity. One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is completely clear out the storage unit I have in Boulder. I’m happy to say that it’s 90% finished and should be empty within a month! We’ve also been preparing for my upcoming workshop in Iceland. We leave on Thursday and will be in Iceland until July 2!
While sorting through my storage unit, I came across this old billboard I had restored. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but I just love it.
I also have great friends in the Boulder area (I used to live there) and it was great to catch up with them. We spent a lot of time this week with our friends Jay Nelson and Lesa Snider. It’s always a treat to be able to spend quality time with them. On Saturday, Karen arranged a birthday dinner for me at the Boulder Brewing Company, where we hung out with a lot of old friends. Afterwards, we finished off the evening at Jay and Lesa’s place, having cocktails and playing a round of “Trailer Park Wars,” a pretty hilarious game Karen got me for my birthday. (It would truly be appreciated by fellow RVers.)
Me, Karen, Jay and Lesa. Karen and Lesa took a painting class in Golden, and we all hung out afterwards.
Sunday was my actual birthday, and I treated myself to a badly-needed massage. Later, Karen and I went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Boulder, Ras Kassa’s (Ethiopian.)
A grainy iPhone shot of my Ethiopian birthday dinner.
During the course of the week, we also got to hang out with my friend Diane, who currently lives on Maui but just happened to be visiting her parents in Denver. We just love coincidences like that! We spent the day showing her around Golden and took her to Golden’s second largest brewery, which is a fun little place located pretty much in a residential neighborhood. The building is so small that it might seat 12 people max. Then they have a nice little outdoor patio space next to the building. It’s a TINY place, and what makes it kind of funny is that they dub themselves the second largest brewery in town. Golden’s largest brewery, as many of you know, is Coors.
We also got to meet up with my friend Sharon, who I hadn’t seen in years! It was great to catch up. We met at a Denver restaurant called Linger, which was a really interesting place. It was an old mortuary turned into a funky restaurant. You’d think it’d be morbid, but it actually had a really fun vibe. Karen especially liked that the entire bar was made out of Lite Brites.
Here is me, Karen and Sharon at Linger in Denver. It was taken with the fisheye lens attachment Sharon has for her iPhone!
Announcing new training events
In other news, I’d like to announce some training events I’ve got going on later this year. First of all, I’ll be teaching at the California Photo Festival in Los Osos, CA, which is run by the Light Workshops. I’m going to be teaching a variety of classes there, including HDR, light painting, panoramas, and more. You can check out my classes and sign up for the event HERE.
I’m also going to be teaching a 4-day workshop on HDR photography Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. This will also be held in Los Osos, CA, with the Light Workshops. We’re still finalizing the details on this one, so check back at www.DigitalMastery.com for for details soon.
In my HDR workshop, we’ll go over both shooting and post-processing techniques for achieving images like this one, which was shot in Lower Antelope Canyon.