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 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