Excellent week teaching at creativeLIVE!

*All the images in this post were provided by the creativeLIVE team. Thanks guys! *

Hey gang! I’ve just wrapped up a great week teaching classes with creativeLIVE in Seattle. It’s been an intense couple of days, jam-packed with Photoshop, photography and light painting sessions. If you’re not familiar with creativeLIVE, they are an online classroom for all topics relating to photography and creativity. They have the best description of themselves on their website, which reads as follows:

creativeLIVE is about providing the best free, live creative education on the web. From our studio in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, we offer free online workshops in photography, video, web and graphic design, app development and a wide array of other creative topics.

All of our live creative workshops are available to watch for free in realtime. Once a live workshop is over, we edit the best of this content into easily downloadable files available for purchase through our online store. It’s that simple.

At our core, we’re a dedicated group of creative-minded individuals. Our aim is to work with the very best instructors who want to share their knowledge and creative expertise with the world.

I’ve got to say, my experience working with the creativeLIVE gang was awesome. Their whole operation is run so well, from the perspective of both the students and myself, the instructor. While the classes are live, tens of thousands of folks tune in from all over the world. Even though this audience may not be physically in front of me, the event is still extremely interactive, as virtual attendees communicate to me and to each other via the creativeLIVE chat rooms and Twitter feed. Periodically, the class “moderators” will relay the chat room questions for me to answer. In addition to the viewers who tune in online, we also have a very small in-studio audience for some one-on-one interaction and Q&A.

Here I am, on the creativeLIVE set during my Photoshop for Photographers class

My first creativeLIVE event this week was a 3-day class called Photoshop for Photographers. During this class, I covered all the Photoshop features that are essential to a photographic workflow – all of the features I use every single day. I included everything from Camera Raw, to Adjustment Layers, to color correction, to HDR and panos. The list goes on and on. Here’s the class description for this event:

Photoshop for Photographers

Photoshop can be overwhelming. Master the art of Adobe Photoshop by focusing just on the tools photographers need to know. Optimizing images, sharpening, retouching, black and white conversion, directing the viewer’s eye, HDR, panorama-stitching, and more, all the things photographers do with Photoshop. But Ben’s not going to dig into every option in every menu–this three day course will have no fluff and no frills. You won’t be wasting any time and energy learning effects that you’ll never use, leaving you struggling to find the meat you need. Everything Ben teaches in this course is something that photographers use everyday!

To purchase the course (download or stream), CLICK HERE.

My second event was a 1-day class on light painting. Light painting is probably my favorite form of photography, as it allows for endless amounts of creativity and creates such a stunning and unique look. In addition to the 1-day, in-studio class, we shot a bonus session the night before! The bonus session was a live night shoot where I demonstrated my lightpainting techniques on a VW Beetle. Here’s the class description for this event:


You can create amazing images with light painting, and Ben Willmore is going to show you how! Making light trails, highlighting parts of your image, crazy spiral effects–all the fun secrets of light painting will be yours in this special 1-day workshop! Ben will show you how to use everyday light sources to make striking images, as this is a technique that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. If you have a tripod and a flashlight, you can light paint, and Ben is going to show you how!

To purchase the course (download or stream), CLICK HERE.

Here we are, preparing to lightpaint this Beetle during the bonus night shoot session.

Me with Kenna and Susan, of creativeLIVE

As I said before, I had a great week here in Seattle and I look forward to teaching more creativeLIVE events in the future! In the next week, I’ll be preparing for my classes at the upcoming Photoshop World Conference & Expo and then flying over to NJ to spend time with Karen’s family. More to come!

Summer in Portland

It might rain most of the year in Portland, Oregon, but the weather is beautiful in July and August, so this is when we decided to visit. I have a lot of friends and business relationships in Portland, and we had a couple surprise meetups as well.

My friend Diane (a Maui local) was visiting Portland the same time as we were, and since we happen to both know some of the folks who work at Wacom, we decided to tour their facilities together. Wacom makes pressure-sensitive pen tablets that many people feel are essential for working in Photoshop. We were given a great tour of their building and I got to test drive their new Cintiq 24HD Touch, which serves as a touch screen while simultaneously allowing you to use the pen. Pretty cool, eh?

I got a chance to meet up with Chris Hurtt who is a photographer and educator. I taught with him a few times in Dubai and hadn’t gotten a chance to really catch up in quite a while. He filled us in on life in Portland and learned how many people grow their own vegetables have have chickens in their back yards so they have fresh eggs for breakfast.

Kristen from Lensbaby, Chris, Karen and that Ben Dude.

Tuesday was Karen’s birthday, and she unfortunately had to spend part of it on a last-minute flight to her family’s home in New Jersey. Her doggy (who lives with her parents) had to undergo some MAJOR surgery and she wanted to be there to help with the recovery. Her grandmother is also not doing well and she felt she should be there to help out and spend time with her. Luckily, before she flew out that night, we were able to do some fun things. I took her to one of the many McMenamins around Portland. Each one has a different theme and the one we went to was called The Baghdad Theater & Pub. It’s an old movie theater, restored with a funky vibe, a pub and a backstage bar. It’s a very unique place and we’d recommend checking it out if you’re ever in town.

It was also on Tuesday that we discovered that our great friend Judy Host was in town giving a seminar that day. None of us knew that our paths were going to cross in Portland, and we just happened to discover it through a facebook post. What a surprise! We went to the hotel where their event was to hang out with her for a bit. What’s even funnier is that there was another seminar the following day, and the presenter was Colin Smith PhotoshopCAFE, who was staying at the same hotel. So not only did we get a surprise visit with Judy, but we got to hang out for a bit with Colin too. We see a lot of coincidences in our lifestyle!

Our surprise Portland meetup. From left is Diane, Judy, Bron (Diane’s husband), me and Karen.

I mentioned above that I went on a tour of the Wacom facility, but Wacom isn’t the only photography-oriented business in Portland. I was also lucky enough to visit the headquarters of OnOne Software, makers of the Perfect Photo Suite 6 and a whole series of plugins geared specifically toward photographers. I usually only see these guys at events so it was fun to catch up with them in their home town.

At left, I’m trying out the new 24″ touch-screen Cintiq at Wacom. On the right, I’m out to dinner with the gang from OnOne Software. (It was dark in the restaurant, so we “attempted” to light ourselves with our iPhones)

To mix things up a little more, I visited the Lensbaby mothership, also conveniently located in Portland. I was given a tour of their place and introduced to all the new lenses in their growing product line. If you’re not familiar with Lensbaby, they make a series of creative effects lenses for digital SLRs. Definitely check them out. They’re a blast, and an excellent way to explore your creativity. (On a recent Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk, I shot the entire day with one Lensbaby and nothing else!)

An iPhone shot from the place where Lensbabies are born!

Some old trucks shot with a Lensbaby

Before leaving the city, I spent some time with my friend Chris Lang and she introduced me to the funky little shop she owns called Wells & Verne. It features a lot of steampunk and goth merchandise. Pretty fun stuff!

An iPhone shot of Chris’ store, Wells & Verne in Portland.

Near the end of the week, I left Portland and headed north in the bus. My next location will be the Seattle area, but I’m making a few stops along the way. At one of my stops, I found some funky old trucks and buildings to photograph. Of course, I couldn’t resist doing some lightpainting! Check out the shots below. (The Lensbaby truck shot above was also from this location)

Above are two scenes I lightpainted at a stop in southern Washington. If you’re interested in lightpainting, check out my upcoming 1-day online class at creativeLIVE.com. It’s Aug. 25th, and if you watch it live, it’s free!

 From here, I’ll be heading a bit further north to the Seattle area, where I’ll be presenting two online courses at creativeLIVE. The first is a 3-day class on Photoshop for Photographers and the second is a 1-day class on Aug. 25th on Lightpainting. Check them out at creativeLIVE.com.

A Golden week and a retro weekend

This past week has been a blast! In my last post, we were just leaving the Starlite Classic Campground, en route to Golden, CO. We spent two wonderful nights at the Starlite, where we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Larry and Sylvia, the campground owners. As I mentioned in my last post, I also got the opportunity to lightpaint some of their incredible vintage trailers. While we left the campground on Sunday, I spent the rest of the week processing the images and was really pleased with how they turned out. Check them out below.

As I mentioned above, our next stop was Golden, CO. We stayed here for about three weeks last year and just loved it. The campground is in a beautiful park, along a river, and is within walking distance to downtown. We’ve been spending our time here working, walking, and processing images. We’ve also explored some of the fun places Golden has to offer. The Foothills Art Center was hosting a Chihuly exhibit, and I was excited to check that out. Chihuly is a very famous glass artist, most known for his colorful chandeliers made of twisty blown glass. Another fun place we visited was Woody’s, which is pretty much a really good pizza place/pub. We went for a late dinner on Monday and then returned Tuesday for their movie night, where they serve up free popcorn and play a movie on all of the screens in the bar area. Karen is a film nut, so when she heard about movie night, I knew we would be going.

The best part of this past week was most definitely the weekend. We returned to Starlite for the Colorado Classic Campout, which is an event where vintage trailer owners gather, have fun and show off their trailers to the whole group. One of the fun things about the weekend was that Karen and I did NOT stay in the bus while we were there. Instead, we left the bus in Golden, drove the Mini to the Starlite and stayed in the TikiBago, one of the rigs they rent out to guests. Just as you might suspect, the TikiBago is a Winnebago completely decked out in a Polynesian theme, complete with a tiki bar!

Karen and I enjoying the luau.

On the first night of the event, we had a meet-and-greet, followed by a movie under the stars. Of course, the featured movie was “The Long, Long Trailer,” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. On the second day, there was an “open house” where everyone got their trailers all spiffy so that guests could check them out. Karen and I loved seeing the insides of all these amazing, vintage rigs. In the evening, there was a luau, complete with tacky Hawaiian shirts and a limbo contest! When things got dark enough, I lightpainted Birdie, a beautiful pink trailer decked out will all kinds of authentic vintage fixin’s.

Here, I’m trying to act all suave, as if I’d actually make it under this limbo pole. (I DID made it under the pole but Karen says I cheated.)  Behind me is the TikiBago, our lodging for the weekend.

Sylvia and Larry announce the door prizes for the Colorado Classic Campout.

Sunday morning started with a spam burrito breakfast, and then everyone said their goodbyes. As I said in the beginning of this post, the week has been great for me. I’m excited about this series of lightpaintings I’ve started, and I look forward to continuing it. I’m thinking about creating a calendar out of the images. Many thanks to Larry and Sylvia at the Starlite Campground. They do such a great job, and we had a blast at their event.

More to come…

Here is “Birdie,” a beautiful Cardinal trailer completely decked out with vintage accents. Many thanks to owners Jim and Diana for giving me the opportunity to make this image!

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!

From Vegas to Joshua Tree

After an excellent Photoshop World in Washington DC, Karen and I flew back to the bus in Las Vegas. We had a few things to do in the city before moving on. First of all, we had yet another bus repair to have done (there have been several in the past few months.) The bus has an air leveling system, and one of the front airbags had a serious leak. I had already purchased new air bags and we got them installed at a local shop. We also had a modification made to Karen’s workstation on the bus. She has a desk with a 27″ display, but it wasn’t positioned high enough. This ended up putting stress on her back, so our great friend Steve built her a little desk riser for her monitor to be mounted on. This raised the whole thing about 7 inches and [after Steve and I spent a night installing it] she’s much happier now!

When we finally moved on from Las Vegas (we had spent a LOT of time there during the past year), we headed to Joshua Tree National Park. It was only a four hour drive, so we took our time meandering there and stopping along the way. We stopped at a place called the Kelso Depot within the Mohave National Reserve and shot a post office building, which looked pretty old and worn. Our drive also overlapped Route 66 for a few miles and include the “town” of Amboy. If you’re not familiar with my work, I have an entire series of Rt. 66 photography, and you can check that out HERE. Karen got a great shot of me on “The Mother Road” during our stop here.

Karen’s shot of me on Route 66. (Literally ON Rt. 66!)

We arrived in Joshua Tree at night and planned to get out and explore the next morning. My friend Sean Mahoney, who lives in southern California and is also a photographer, met us out there for breakfast and then a day (and night) of shooting. He visits the area a lot and gave us a lot of tips on where to go shooting. We started off at a funky folk art-ish place owned and created by Noah Purifoy. We got there in the glaring mid-day sun, so we were all shooting HDR (and just taking in the unique vibe of the place).

Here’s Karen, Me and Sean and the Noah Purifoy art site.

Joshua Tree National Park was our next stop (obviously!). We stopped in the visitor’s center so Karen could get her stamp (she has one of the National Parks Passport books and has been accumulating a lot of stamps in the recent years) and then did the Barker Dam hike. The dam itself wasn’t too exciting because the water level was extremely low, but as we continued on, we had some fun shooting the Joshua Trees and the general landscape in the area. We also did the Hidden Valley hike, which featured much of the same landscape. I focused on shooting some straggly trees as well as some images for my future seminars.

Don’t really think a caption is necessary here!

While the daytime shooting was all nice and fun, the good stuff started after the sun went down. Karen, Sean and I went to dinner at a great little place called Bistro 29 and then headed back into the park to an area called Jumbo Rocks. Sean had a good place in mind for some light painting, and it turned out to be perfect! We set up our tripods just before it got dark and then we started to play. We took turns lighting the scene and trying out different techniques and light sources. We even ended up with a curious audience since there was a camp site just down the hill from where we were shooting. Some of the campers were thrilled by what they saw on our camera screens and we even saw some of them trying out light painting for themselves in other areas of the park! We tried some new techniques that I will be covering in my upcoming e-book on lightpainting.

The finished result of my night of light painting in Joshua Tree National Park.

Unfortunately, our last day in Joshua Tree was extremely windy and not suitable for shooting, so I spent the day editing images. When we moved on, we headed toward Palm Springs for the 7th Annual Palm Springs Photo Festival. I’ll be teaching a few classes here this week and taking a few classes as well. More to come…