by Ben Willmore | Mar 19, 2015
Hi gang! We recently returned from Shooting the West, a photography symposium that takes place in Winnemucca, Nevada. While this was my first time speaking at this event, Shooting the West has been taking place annually for 27 years! Many of the attendees have been coming year after year, and some of them have attended all 27 years in a row. We could tell that this was one big family, and we were honored to be welcomed into it this time around.
I was this year’s keynote speaker, and I taught several classes and workshops as well. The workshops were fun because they gave us an opportunity to take students out into the field and do some shooting. For being a small town about 2.5 hours east of Reno, Winnemucca has a lot to offer photographically. The historic buildings and unique signs in town gave us some good subject matter for the HDR class, and the surrounding mountains (which were snow-capped during our time there) provided beautiful landscapes for my workshop on panoramas. We were also given access to a local farm that was just overflowing with antique cars, tractors and other vehicles that were great for practicing HDR. On the last day, the nearby airport held an open house where lots of small, vintage planes were on display in front of a sweeping, mountainous landscape. I love that this event incorporates a lot of shooting opportunities like this. Not only does it give me time to provide hands-on instruction to make sure everyone is getting the shot, but it’s fun to get outside, explore and join the students in the field.
Here, I’m shooting with some of the attendees during my panorama workshop.
One of our shooting locations was the Humboldt Museum, which is home to some historic buildings and overlooks the beautiful mountain landscape.
During the panorama workshop, we drove to the top of Winnemucca Mountain to photograph at sunset.
While the classes and shooting opportunities were great, the thing we enjoyed the most about Shooting the West was the people. The event organizers, the attendees and my fellow speakers were all just fantastic. Everyone was warm, welcoming and willing to go above and beyond to make sure the event was a success. We enjoyed working with everyone so much that, and the end of the day, we usually ended up going to dinner with many of them as well. This really gave us a better opportunity to get to know everyone and goof off a bit during the down time. (And if you’ve ever spent time with us at all, know know we’re professional goofs!)
If you’d ever consider attending Shooting the West (and I highly recommend it), here’s a little breakdown of the kinds of events/sessions available to you there. There are three full days of workshop sessions. These are longer, more in-depth classes that are generally hands-on and include in-the-field work. I mentioned before that I did a full-day workshop on HDR and another on panoramas, as well as a full classroom day on post-processing. The incredible Tom Bol taught some workshops on light painting, speedlights and portrait photography. There was a 3-day workshop on time-lapse photography, taught by Grant Kaye and a full-day workshop on composition with M.D. Welch. The list goes on an on.
The conference part of the event officially starts after the workshop days. This begins with the keynote presentation, which is followed by many shorter sessions that range from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. In addition to all this, there are portfolio reviews, a photography competition and after-hours events that include food, wine and lots of good company. The 2015 schedule is still up on the site if you’d like to check it out: http://shootingthewest.org/schedule/.
So where do we go from here? Well, Karen and I are getting ready to embark on our 2015 international journey, which will include Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Alaska. We’ll be guest instructors on board the beautiful Crystal Symphony cruise ship (the same ship we were on last year). Stay tuned for lots of images from Asia and beyond!
More to come…
A panolage that Karen shot during the panorama workshop at Shooting the West.
We got to photograph lots of vintage planes during the airport open house.
Here, I’m giving some pointers to one of the Shooting the West attendees at the airport open house.
Here I am with Jeff Ross, in his Reno studio. Jeff is an incredible photographer who also spoke at Shooting the West, and I was happy to be able to connect with him afterwards.
by Ben Willmore | Sep 8, 2014
Hey gang! We just returned from another exciting Photoshop World Conference & Expo, held in Las Vegas. The conference is three days long, plus an additional day for pre-conference workshops. With seven learning tracks and over 40 instructors, it there truly is something for everyone. Even though it’s called Photoshop World, there are classes on Lightroom, photography, lighting, creativity and more. I taught three classes on Adobe Lightroom this time around.
The Photoshop World Tradeshow is open during the three days of the conference and I always like to make my rounds there to see what new and exciting products the software and hardware vendors have in store. The tradeshow is a great place for both learning and networking.
And of course, Photoshop World is always a great time for catching up with old friends and making new ones. Many of the other instructors are good friends of mine, and I try to schedule time to have a meal or a drink with many of them. That’s actually one of the things I look forward to the most!
Karen and I also took some time out to go and visit the Mob Museum, which is located near Freemont Street in “Old Las Vegas.” The place had good reviews and we were extremely impressed with how well-done the place is. It’s three full floors of history, artifacts, movies, stories, etc. It’s really fascinating, and much of it was interactive. We ended up spending more time than we thought we would there and would definitely recommend it if you’re ever looking for something to do during the day in Las Vegas.
Photoshop World always has a theme, and this year, it was pirates.
Here, I’m teaching my Lightroom Advanced Tips & Tricks class.
Epson featured some of my images at their booth in the tradeshow.
A goofy photo of me at the mob museum.
After a great couple days in Las Vegas, we flew back to the Tampa area, where we’re temporarily based. I had been pretty busy in the weeks leading up to Photoshop World and I hadn’t had a lot of time for photography. One of the things I’d been looking forward to was trying out my new Pixelstick, a light painting product that is the result of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s basically a very long rod with LED lights that change over time to create an image or pattern that you specify. When you move it around, it creates a really unique and creative effect. I started playing with it for the first time last night and got some fun results (see below). Since I’m new to both the Pixelstick and my new camera, it will take more time to get exactly what I want, and I look forward to working with it some more!
More to come…
The results of last night’s shoot with my new Pixelstick.
by Ben Willmore | May 5, 2014
Hi everyone! Lately, I’ve been dedicating the blog posts to our recent international travel images, but I wanted to take a little break from that to tell you what’s been going on here in the States, and what’s coming up. After being abroad for a few months, I arrived back in the U.S. and literally hit the ground running, diving head-first into lots of fun Photoshop training and photography events.
The Photoshop Creativity Tour
I basically had time to unpack and repack to fly out to my Photoshop Creativity seminar in Chicago. This is part of an ongoing tour with KelbyOne that hits cities all over the country. At this event, I teach you how to get a little more creative with Photoshop with techniques like compositing, complex masking, 2D and 3D and creating special effects with blending modes. It’s a fun full-day event and I’ve got a few more cities coming up, so if you happen to be in any of these areas, I’d love to see you there! Click HERE for more information
- Philadelphia: May 7
- San Francisco: May 9
- Sacramento: May 28
* We’ll be adding more cities soon, so stay tuned!
Photoshop for Photographers: Beyond the Basics
I spent an awesome three days at creativeLIVE in Seattle last week presenting by 3-day course called “Photoshop for Photographers: Beyond the Basics.” Not only do I love working and hanging out with the amazing team at creativeLIVE, but the class turned out fantastic! This course is a follow-up to my earlier “Photoshop for Photographers: The Essentials” class, which was also very popular. Where as the “Essentials” class covered all of the basic, must-know techniques for photographers using Photoshop, the “Beyond the Basics” class teaches photographers how to take their work to the next level, covering more of the advanced techniques and tools. Over the three days of training, we cover things like compositing, textures, retouching, hard-to-find Photoshop features and more. If you missed the course while it was live online, you can buy the course (and get all the bonus materials that come along with it) HERE
Vintage Bus Visit
As many of you probably know, I have been restoring my next home on wheels, which is a 1963 Flxible Starliner bus. For the past year or so, it has been in Eugene, Oregon getting its interior fabricated. I have been making periodic visits to collaborate with the team at Paradise Coach, and that’s where I went after Seattle. The bus has been making exciting progress, with all of the wood walls and cabinets being installed and stained, lighting and air conditioning ducts put in, etc. After working on this project for over four years, It’s great to see everything finally coming together. I post a lot of bus updates on the Creative Cruiser facebook page, and you can find that HERE
The Palm Springs Photo Festival
This is an annual event that I love to attend and teach at. It’s geared toward professional and serious advanced amateur photographers and includes seminars, symposiums, workshops, portfolio reviews with key industry figures and lots of great networking events. This is the kind of event where I enjoy being an attendee just as much as I enjoy being a speaker. I love the mix of inspiring talks, lectures designed to help photographers make it in the business world and high quality feedback from industry professionals. This year, I taught two classes on advanced Photoshop ideas and attended many talks as well. It’s also a great event to reconnect with fellow teachers and photographers that I’ve become friends with over the years. Here are a few shots from this year’s event:
Philadelphia & San Francisco
As I mentioned above, I am bringing my Photoshop Creativity Tour to Philadelphia this week and I flew in a few days early to spend the time with Karen’s family in New Jersey (Karen has been in NJ for family-related things during the time I’ve been at the events mentioned here). Then, I will be presenting the same seminar in San Francisco before heading back to Florida, where we are currently based.
I hope that gives you a good idea of what I’ve been up to and what new Photoshop and photography training I’ve got going on! More to come!
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 9, 2013
It’s hard to believe that this event rolled around again so quickly, but as the saying goes… time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve taught at well over 20 Photoshop World Conferences and this one was back in the crazy town of Las Vegas. This usually makes for a pretty good mix of work and play! I taught three classes at the event: Camera Raw Essentials, Advanced Camera RAW and Photoshop’s Hidden & Hard to Find Tweaks. The rest of the time was spent networking, scouring the trade show for new and interesting products, and hanging out with friends.
This conference was a little special, due to a amazing move by Adobe to give ALL attendees a free 1-year subscription to the Creative Cloud, which is basically the master collection of all Adobe’s software. This is pretty huge, and basically pays for the conference admission and then some!
Scott Kelby introduces Adobe at the Photoshop World Keynote.
We also saw two shows during the conference after hours. The first was the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show, which was pretty great. As you can probably imagine, the highlights of this one were the music and the dancing. Karen is a Michael Jackson fanatic, so she was pretty much in her glory. We also saw a show called Absinthe, which was very…um… different. Let’s just say that it’s a great show, but not for the faint of heart… or those who are easily offended. The show was a series of beautiful performances, punctuated by the bantering of two emcees who are just hilarious. (and very rated R) We liked that the whole feel of the show was different, and we knew that going in, as we literally entered the tent (which is the venue) through a phone booth.
Out to dinner at Caesars Palace with by friends Brennan and Steve.
After the conference wrapped up, we few back to Minneapolis, where we left the bus. We’ll be spending the next week or so here, catching up with old friends (I grew up in Minneapolis) and getting some work done. Afterwards, we’ll head eastward, passing through Chicago and likely a few more cities before reaching the east coast.
In case you missed Photoshop World, I’m teaching at another fantastic event coming up called the California Photo Festival, in San Luis Obispo, CA. I taught at this event for the first time last year and was really impressed with not only the number of classes, but the variety. There are loads of hands-on shooting classes in the field as well as lecture-style classes. If you like having the opportunity to shoot a lot during events like this, be sure to check this one out. You can find the class list and registration details HERE. And you can find my schedule HERE.
My Photoshop Creativity Tour is also coming to Tampa, FL, on Oct. 4, and Atlanta, GA, on Oct. 18th. This is a one-day event that is broken into five sessions: Essential Masking Techniques, Working Smart, Compositing Secrets, Adding Depth and Dimension and Jaw-dropping Tips. For more details, or to register, click HERE.