*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!
Imagine a landscape of lush rolling fields covered in flowers, pristine waterfalls, never-ending sunsets, beautiful wild horses and green mountains. It sounds like a fairytale, right? Something out of “Lord of the Rings,” perhaps? Believe it or not, this place is very real, and it’s called Iceland. Talk about a photographer’s dream come true! If you’re a photographer (amateur, professional, whatever.), and you visit Iceland, you WILL end up returning over and over again… just like I have. There are few places that I like to visit repeatedly, but Iceland is one of those special places.
We just wrapped up a week-long photography workshop with Focus on Nature called Discover Iceland. During the course of the week, we traveled along the south coast of the country, stopping at over 20 incredible shooting locations. The shooting/exploring was also punctuated by some lecture and critique sessions where I covered techniques for shooting and editing images. The workshop happened during a very interesting time of year. If you’re wondering what this midnight sun thing is all about, here it is: In Iceland, during the summer, it never really gets dark out because the sun sets around midnight and never really gets very far under the horizon before it rises again around 3 am. This makes for some very interesting shooting [and sleeping] scenarios.
Left to right: Ragnar Th Sigurdsson (our excellent local photographer guide), myself, and Einar Erlendsson (The man behind Focus on Nature).
Our group stops to grill dinner in the midst of one of our photo shoots. Here, you can see the rugged vehicle we traveled in during the workshop.
The setup for this workshop was very nice. The group traveled in a very large and incredibly rugged vehicle, maneuvered by Siggy, our awesome driver. Each person had their own row, so it was easy to keep camera gear out and ready. While we were on the road, I would give shooting tips and post-processing techniques (yes, I actually processed images on the move!). There was also my daily session of “How to pimp your 5D Mark II” (most of the workshop attendees shot with this camera.) When we were out shooting, the vehicle would stay open so that we could easily change out gear.
And then, of course, there was Einar. Einar is the man behind Focus on Nature and, while we’re on the road, he drives behind in his truck, aka command central. He is always using some type of device to arrange the details of the workshop. Because the weather and other conditions in Iceland can be so unpredictable, we don’t make many of the arrangements in advance. Instead, we follow the light and make decisions on the fly so that we don’t miss any great opportunities. Einar is constantly toggling weather maps, arranging hotel stays, meals, etc. It’s because he’s there, taking care of all the details, that we can focus on shooting.
But that’s enough about workshop details. Let’s get on to some more images, shall we? The following is a photoloque of the Discover Iceland, 2012 workshop:
Here I am shooting one of Iceland’s many geothermal spots. Iceland is situated in a location where there is a crack in the Earth’s plates and it allows the country to use the resulting heat/steam for energy.
One of Karen’s images from Skogafoss, an incredibly large waterfall on the south coast of Iceland. The group had a great time with this one, because you could actually climb up the hill on the right side of the waterfall to get interesting vantage points.
The two above images were shot in the town of Vik. We stopped here because the place is just so photogenic. There, you’ve got rustic buildings, Icelandic horses, the beach, and of course, that picturesque church on the hillside.
We stopped to shoot at two different locations where a glacier “flows” into a lagoon. Icebergs break off the glacier and float around, sometimes washing up on the land.
This is where one of the glacier/iceberg lagoons flows out into the ocean.
The two photos above were from a pretty comical shoot. As we pulled up to this field by the beach, Ragnar told us that we would be photographing these beautiful birds, and that it was great because, when you walk out there, they try to attack you! At first we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what was so great about this, but eventually, we found that you get some good shooting opportunities as they swoop down at your head! We got some good images, but the birds did get their revenge on some of us. Some people say it’s good luck when a bird poops on you. If that’s the case, we were a very lucky group!
If you know me, you know that I couldn’t let a whole week of shooting go by without doing some lightpainting! The tricky thing with this time of year in Iceland is that it never get’s dark. In order to keep our scenery dark enough, we had to use much shorter shutter speeds. This turned out to be ok because the type of lightpainting we did involved burning steel wool. When I spun the steel wool around it was bright enough to show up well with shutter speeds of 4-5 seconds.
In one of the above captions, I mentioned the iceberg lagoon that flows out into the ocean. Some of the icebergs eventually wash up on the shore and melt there, creating very interesting shapes and textures. Our group spent a while shooting here.
As a last-minute treat, Einar arranged for the group to take a boat ride out in the glacier lagoon.
We stopped to shoot at this charming little grass-roof church. Iceland has a lot of adorable buildings like this.
These pools were full of a funky green algae that almost gave them a glowing appearance. This was definitely one of those “off the beaten path” locations that you can only get to with a pretty rugged vehicle.
There was one day where we spent a bit of time in the vehicle waiting for a rain storm to pass by. (This wasn’t really a bad thing, because we covered some more shooting tips while we were waiting.) When the rain subsided, we were rewarded with this beautiful full rainbow. This is a rather unique group shot, wouldn’t you say?
This waterfall is called Seljalandsfoss and was the perfect spot to wrap up a full day of shooting. The falls are extremely picturesque and you can even walk behind them!
These very generous Icelandic horses allowed us to photograph them from up close in their pasture. They even had some foals with them that were very curious about our cameras.
Here is Karen, shooting at the Blue Lagoon, which is another geothermal location. These pools were probably 85-90 degrees F! If you’ve been to Iceland you know that the Blue Lagoon is actually a geothermal spa where you can go and swim or get treatments. The area you see above is not part of that spa but it’s still part of the same body of water.
As you probably noticed from the images, we had a pretty great experience. The group was wonderful, and everyone got along great from day 1. I hope to see many of them again in the future, either on another workshop, or during the course of our travels in the bus. We were sad to leave Iceland, but look forward to another future visit. We are actually working with Focus on Nature to arrange two more workshop events in 2013. I’ll announce them here on the blog and at DigitalMastery.com as soon as we have details.
Hi gang! We just arrived in Iceland a couple days ago, and it’s been an incredible trip so far! Iceland is one of my favorite travel destinations and I never get tired of it. There are always amazing things to shoot here. I’m here teaching a workshop with Focus on Nature that will run for a full week.
Karen and I arrived in Reykjavik a few days early so that we could explore a bit and recover from jet lag before the workshop started. When we arrived on Friday Morning, Einar Erlendsson (The man behind Focus On Nature) picked us up from the airport and drove us around the city of Reykjavik while we waited for our hotel room to be ready. We went to a funky folk art installation called El Directore house. It was somewhat like other folk art places we’ve seen in the states, only with a bit of a viking theme to it. Einar also took us to the Harpa opera hall for lunch. Not only was the cafe there very nice, but the architecture of the place is very unique and fun to photograph. After driving around the city a bit, we finally made it to our hotel, took a nap and then headed to dinner in the city.
Day two was when the fun began. We got up really early to meet Einar for breakfast, and then drove out about 1.5 hours out into the country where we met a pilot who would take me up in his small plane. I had been wanting to photograph Iceland from the air for a long time, so I made that a priority for this trip. Einar knew of a very skilled pilot so he arranged our flight. The plane was a classic 1964 wooden-frame French plane that sat four people. I had a small opening for my lenses so that I didn’t have to shoot through the glass, and the pilot was very accommodating, flying over the places I asked and angling the plane so I could get the best shots. We had great weather for the flight, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! Check out the slideshow of some of my aerial images below.
After the plane ride we headed back toward Reykjavik, but made a few shooting stops on the way back. First, we stopped at a random field/pasture because Karen was itching to see and photograph some Icelandic horses. They really have a story book look to them. Next, we stopped at Urridafoss, our first waterfall of the trip. We spent a lot of time shooting here. It’s a good thing I had a strong neutral density filter because it was pretty bright out there!
My waterfall shot from the other day.
Karen got this shot of me shooting Urridafoss (Anything that ends in “foss” in Icelandic means waterfall!)
Sunday marked the first day of the workshop, and we met the attendees at 1pm at a meeting room in the Grand Hotel in Reykjavik. After getting acquainted, we had a 4-hour lecture session and then all went out to dinner. In the coming week, we will head out of town, into the country, and shoot a ton. The plans are to basically follow the light. We’re not going to run on a strict schedule, so we’ll be flexible to just go where the good shots are.