Hi everyone! Here’s the Monday weekly update. We spent most of the past week in Glacier National Park, exploring and photographing. I had not been to the park since college, and it was Karen’s first time there all together, so we were both pretty excited. The bus was parked about five miles from the park entrance, so it was really convenient to get in and out. We would head in mid-afternoon and stay through sunset and twilight, which is actually after 10 pm this time of year. That was actually a good AND bad thing. Good because we got an extended golden hour, and bad because there were some roads that were closed in the park after 9 pm so we couldn’t really shoot the nice light in those areas.
An evening shot of the beautiful valley.
Glacier National Park is still home to several small glaciers, but there’s not nearly as many as there used to be, and one guide told us that by 2030, there probably wont be any glaciers left there at all. Even the glaciers that you do see there now look more like big patches of snow. You cant really compare them to what you’d see in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. But regardless of the actual glaciers, this park is just beautiful, with lakes and green valleys setting the foreground for the beautiful Rocky Mountain Range. Most of the snow had melted by the time we arrived mid-July, so it would be nice to return a little earlier in the year one day to see some more white caps.
The park is home to a few beautiful lakes, and Karen and I took a boat ride on Lake McDonald to get a glimpse of the park from the water. In my last post, I mentioned that the park used a fleet of restored vintage busses for public transportation. Well, I guess that’s a theme here because the boats used for tours are old and restored too. Quite beautiful, actually.
We took an hour long cruise on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park in this 1929 wooden boat. I thought an antique treatment was appropriate.
Here’s an iPhone pano I shot of Karen during the boat tour.
While we were there, I also got to lightpaint a bus from Glacier National Park’s vintage fleet. The park owns 33 busses that were made from 1936 to 1939. This Model 706 bus was make by the White Motor Company of Cleveland ohio in 1936. It was restored and had its powertrain modernized by Form Motor Company back in the year 2000.
The most difficult part of this light painting was dealing with all the black areas on the vehicle. Those areas either absorb all the light falling on them and become a black hole, or reflect light of a certain angle back into the camera like a mirror. I had to light the black areas from odd angles to pick up the texture of the material, or light the ground surrounding it to get an interesting reflection. The same is true of the front bumper, which would have come out black had I not strategically lit the ground and other areas to produce a nice reflection to define its shape. Since it doesn’t really get dark until close to 11pm this time of year in Glacier, I chose to capture this image in a barn where darkness could be achieved while the sun was still up.
Some interesting details: The White Motor Company went out of business in 1980. When they went bankrupt, Volvo bought their assets. In 1999 Ford bought Volvo. A year later they had a special interest in restoring these buses since they, in essence, owned the assets of the company that originally created the buses. Once 2005 rolled around, Volvo stopped being a profitable division of Ford, so Ford sold the company to a Chinese company in 2008. Good thing Ford owned it back in 2000, otherwise these buses might not have been lovingly restored. Glacier still owns one of the original unrestored buses that I didn’t get a chance to see. I hear it’s not in the best of shape.
My lightpainting of one of Glacier’s vintage busses.
You can see this waterfall right from the main road in Glacier National Park.
After leaving Glacier, our next goal was Yellowstone, so we headed south. We did make a few stops on the way, though. The first was called the Miracle of America Museum in Polson, Montana. This place has an enormous collection of old Americana. Some of the stuff is pretty cool. Some is a little weird. I was drawn to an old vintage service station on the property, and you can see an iPhone shots of that below. There’s also loads of old cars, buildings and other random things, including “Area 51” space ships.
An iPhone shot of the old service station in the Miracle of America Museum.
About an hour north of Missoula is the National Bison Range and we stopped there along our travels as well. The Bison Range is a National Wildlife preserve and is home to 300-400 bison. There are a few gravel loop roads on which you can drive your car around the range. We only spent an hour or so there, as the sun was setting pretty quickly, but we were still able to see groups of bison. One of them even walked up right alongside our car and into the road. It’s a neat place to stop if you’re already in the area.
One of Karen’s shots from the National Bison Range.
We spent one night in Missoula and then continued south toward Yosemite. The bus is now parked about 30 miles from the park entrance and Karen is off exploring. Where am I, you might ask? In Cleveland, Ohio, presenting my Photoshop Creativity 1-day seminar. I flew out yesterday and will return tomorrow to join Karen in the park. Since Yellowstone is so huge and magnificent, we plan on spending a good amount of time there. More to come!
In last week’s post, we had just finished exploring the Columbia Gorge area, which runs along the border between Oregon and Washington. This week, we continued on to Walla Walla, Washington, which also happens to be Washington wine country. Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’re probably thinking, “wait… weren’t you just in wine country a few weeks ago?” And the answer would be yes! Only that was the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which specialized in Pinot Noirs. While Karen and I enjoyed our time in the Willamette Valley, pinots just aren’t our thing. We like BIG reds, and that’s exactly what Walla Walla has to offer. We tried lots of tasty cabernet and syrah there. Before we got to Walla Walla, we contacted our great friend Carl “The Wine Wizard” to ask for recommendations. Carl’s knowledge of (and taste in) wine is just spectacular, and he directed us to many fantastic wineries. Two of our favorites were Pepper Bridge and Woodward Canyon. We also loved Long Shadow, which is kind of an interesting place because they bring in a different wine maker for each wine they offer, so their wines were all very different, but the quality was there in all of them as well.
We also happened to be in Walla Walla for my birthday! It was nice to spend a birthday driving around vineyards and tasting wine! Karen also took me for an hour-long massage at a spa in downtown Walla Walla.
Me and Karen at Pepper Bridge (I’m sporting my new bespoke hat). This may have been my favorite winery in Walla Walla. Their bottles are quite spendy, but I ended up getting one as a birthday present to myself.
After spending three nights in Walla Walla, we continued on to the Palouse area. The Palouse is in Washington as well, and it’s basically a big wheat-producing area. The draw for us as photographers is that the area is covered with green, rolling hills… similar to what you would see in Tuscany. Very beautiful. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate at all while we were in the area, so I really don’t have any photos to show for it. When we saw that the rain and clouds weren’t going to clear up, we took the drive anyway up this tall butte that overlooks the area, just to see what we could see. We saw clouds. The top of the butte was literally IN the clouds. Karen got a kick out of a photo she took that is completely white. Lovely shot of the Palouse, right?! Even though we didn’t get any good images, we could tell how beautiful it was, and how spectacular it must be on a partly cloudy day, with the shadows and sun spots dancing on the hills.
While the bus was parked in the Palouse, I also took a drive to the middle-of-nowhere, Washington to photograph another little gas station. The rain made it tricky here as well, as I was only able to shoot from the car window.
This is the little Texaco I shot in middle-of-nowhere, Washington. It’s just an iPhone shot I snapped while sitting in the car hoping the rain would stop.
While we were driving to the Palouse, I had noticed some transmission issues on the bus. It was acting odd in first gear and I began getting error codes. This made it so that our next stop was Spokane, WA where there is a diesel shop that can work on the kind of transmission that’s in my bus. They concluded that the issue was likely caused by a bad sensor. They replaced the sensor and we were on our way. Before leaving, though, we explored town a bit and paid a visit to the largest wagon in the world! Exciting stuff!
If you look close enough, you can see Karen standing next to the world’s largest wagon.
En route to Spokane, we went a little out of our way so that I could photograph another vintage service station.
Once the bus issue was seemingly fixed, we headed east into Idaho and spent the night in Coeur d’Alene. Our goal is to make it to Glacier National Park as soon as possible, but when we left Coeur d’Alene in the morning, the bus issue came back. It hadn’t been fixed after all. Considering it was a transmission problem, and those can be ugly, we opted to turn around and go back to the diesel shop that had worked on it in Spokane. Bummer, huh? Luckily, they were able to get us in on a Sunday and after a bunch of testing, it turns out that three parts need to be replaced in the transmission. The shop has two of the parts in stock and we hope another shop in town might have the last part needed, but we won’t know until Monday rolls around. Ah, the joys of bus life!
A few more fun things:
I had mentioned in a recent post that I just bought a Brompton folding bike that fits in the bay of the bus. I had been eyeing them up for a while, and I’m really loving it. When I ordered it, I added an after-market electric conversion, which means that I can pedal like normal, I can do a mixture of peddling and electric, or I can just use the trottle on the handlebars to go all electric. Below is a rough iPhone video of me unfolding the bike.
A rough video of my new Brompton folding bike.
Since this post includes a few vintage gas stations, I wanted to throw one more in there. This isn’t a new image, but it’s one I’ve been working on for a while. When it comes to these gas station images, I often end up doing some serious retouching work. Check out the before and after versions of this one by dragging the slider left and right:
Hey gang! Things have been crazy busy lately, between training events, my vintage bus project, and prep for future events. We DID manage to get a day’s worth of exploring in, and I have pictures of that at the bottom of this post. Here’s whats up:
On Monday and Tuesday of this past week, I taught my Photoshop Fundamentals course at creativeLIVE. As with all creativeLIVE online courses, while it was live, it was free to watch. During those two days, I covered the following:
• Simplifying the Interface
• Browsing your images with Bridge
• Understanding Resolution
• Which File Formats to use
• Essential Tonal Adjustments
• Essential Color Adjustments
• Isolating areas with selections
• The fundamentals of layers
• Troubleshooting Techniques
• Workflow Overview
If you missed the live broadcast, and still want the course, you can purchase it HERE. This two-day event is part of a series called Photoshop Mastery. I’ll be returning to creativeLIVE for the next few months to teach additional titles in the series. The next one will be Photoshop Mastery: Color & Tone, on May 6-7. To learn more about that one, and to enroll for the free live broadcast, click HERE.
I really can’t say enough good things about creativeLIVE. From an educator standpoint, they are wonderful to work with, and from a student/viewer perspective, they are an excellent resource, broadcasting high quality classes every single day. I very frequently tune in as a student. Also, to purchase the courses, they’re usually only $80-$100… for 2-3 days worth of content and course materials.
Here I am on my creativeLIVE set during my Photoshop Fundamentals course.
Here I am with my lovely creativeLIVE hosts, Susan and Kenna.
When I returned back to the bus after teaching at creativeLIVE, my new laptop was waiting for me! I ordered a new MacBook Pro, with retina display, and was looking forward to getting that baby set up! My current laptop isn’t actually that old, but it’s been behaving very strangely lately, and I didn’t want to risk having it bomb while I was using it to teach a seminar. Karen and I are both working on plans to optimize our work setups for the vintage bus. We’ll probably both end up with desktop Macs on the bus, as well as laptops for travel.
My new MacBook Pro arrived!
Vintage Bus Progress
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m restoring my next “home-on-wheels,” a 1963 Flxible Starliner bus. The shop that’s creating the interior has been making lots of progress lately, mocking up the layout and giving us lots of decisions to make. This past week, we’ve been choosing wood veneers and stain colors for many of the walls and cabinets. When the interior mockup is complete, and we like the way everything is set up, they will remove everything and start building it from scratch with all the real materials. (Right now, the mockup is made of mostly plywood and is just there so we can tweak the layout to exactly what we want.) If you want more vintage bus info, you can follow the Creative Cruiser facebook page . I post lots of progress pictures there.
We had lots of veneer samples to choose from for the interior of the vintage bus. They stained several of them so we could tell how they would actually look.
Every year in Oregon, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm holds a festival while the flowers are in bloom. There are acres and acres of tulips that turn the landscape into a rainbow of color. It’s pretty amazing to see. Karen had gone a day earlier, and wanted to go back so I could check it out. It was definitely worth it. Because the weather has been pretty nasty (as it often is in the Pacific Northwest) we didn’t get a lot of time out there before the skies turned gray and it started pouring. It would be ideal to visit this event on a weekday (we were there on Saturday) because the crowds wouldn’t be as bad. Karen was there on Friday and said it wasn’t nearly as crowded. But if you have to go on a weekend, it’s still quite easy to focus on close-up, detail shots of the flowers. At the festival, they had vendors, music and food, so when it started to rain, we just headed for a tent and had lunch.
This is my iPhone pano of the tulip field.
One of Karen’s shots from the festival.
The Antique Powerland Museum
I had been wanting to visit this museum for a while because, on the museum grounds, there is a vintage Texaco service station I wanted to photograph. We finally found the place on Saturday and paid a visit. They have two big warehouse-sized buildings full of old trucks, especially a lot of old semis. Since we were the only people there, we got a personalized tour of the whole facility that included a lot of fun, historical tidbits. There were a couple trucks in there I would LOVE to return and lightpaint! After the tour, I spent a while photographing the old service station. The weather was pretty cruddy, so I wouldn’t mind returning on a better day, but I still got some decent shots.
The old Texaco Service Station at the Antique Powerland Museum. This is an iPhone shot.
At the end of the week, we made our way back to Portland. I have a good amount of work here, including my Photoshop Artistry full-day seminar on Friday, April 12. If you are going to be in the Portland area and would like to soak in some Photoshop knowledge, you can read more about the event and sign up HERE.
Hi everyone! It’s time for another Monday travel update. Karen and I finally moved on from Portland and relocated to the Eugene, Oregon area. Eugene is just two hours south of Portland and it’s where my vintage bus will be getting its new interior installed. In case you’re not familiar with the project, I currently live in a modern motorhome/bus conversion but am currently restoring a vintage bus that we will eventually live in. The exterior will look vintage and the interior will feature a modern, streamline design style. To learn more about the project, check out the Creative Cruiser site.
This past week, we’ve actually had both buses parked together in paradise… well, Paradise Coach, that is. That’s the shop that will be doing the interior of the vintage bus. What’s funny is that we’re parked next to a beautiful Silverside coach, which is the other brand of vintage bus I was considering before I purchased my 1963 Flxible Starliner. The Silverside is in the final stages of restoration and when it’s complete, the gang here will be able to focus their attention on my bus.
I’ve spent a lot of time this past week planning out the interior of the bus. Having the vintage bus within 20 feet of my current bus makes it really convenient to do measurements and such. I would go back and forth between the bus and my computer so that I could create the 3D model of the bus’ interior. Then I would spend time researching the right appliances that would fit into the space. One of the tricky things about the vintage bus is that the roof is very curvy so any cabinets or appliances that have to be fitted on the ceiling take some extra consideration.
Above you can see part of my 3D model showing the kitchen area of the vintage bus.
Here I am getting measurements inside the vintage bus.
Aside from working on the vintage bus, Karen and I actually went to a few movies this week. The first was actually Pulp Fiction. (yes, you heard that right) There was a one-day re-release of the film that included interviews and special trailers hand-picked by Tarantino. We both really like Tarantino flicks, and Pulp Fiction is pretty much a classic, so we had a blast. The second movie we saw was “Lincoln,” and it was equally enjoyable. The actors were all extremely impressive, especially Daniel Day Lewis, and the lighting was very well done. Karen and I would both recommend seeing it.
Finally, we met some fellow full-timers this week (meaning folks that also live on the road like we do). Steve and Kristen own a GM bus that had its interior done here at Paradise Coach. They’re back here for some maintenance things and we got some time to hang out and get to know each other. It’s always fun to see how other RVers do what they do. Steve and Kristen have their priorities set on hiking, climbing, biking and other outdoor-related activities, so they made that a priority when designing their lifestyle and their bus. The four of us went to dinner at Ubon Thai in Eugene and we just loved it. It’s run by a husband and wife team. The wife is the cook, and she’s straight from Thailand. Yum!
From left, me, Karen, Kristen and Steve.
We’re most likely going to be spending the next week in the same area and I’ll be working more on the vintage bus and other projects. More to come…
Hi from Portland… again! Karen and I usually relocate every couple days, but we’ve been hanging in Portland for a while now. We’ve got no complaints though. Portland is a good town for us. It’s got a funky vibe, and the local flavor suits us. This has been a pretty mellow week, but I do have a few fun things to report.
First of all, I ordered some new gear! I had been waiting to order Canon’s new 24-70 f2.8 II lens, but being such a new product, stores were having a hard time keeping it in stock. I finally was able to order it from B&H. I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot much with it yet, but as soon as I do I’ll be posting images here. I also ordered some new Canon speedlites (the 600EX-RT) and radio transmitters (ST-E3-RT) with plans to use them for some more elaborate lightpaintings and some daylight lightpaintings.
My new Canon 24-70 f2.8 II lens arrived this week, and I cant wait to start shooting with it!
I also ordered three Canon 600EX-RT Speedlights with ST-E3-RT Radio Transmitters.
In my last post, I mentioned that my vintage bus is now located in Eugene, Oregon at Paradise Coach, where it will be getting its all new interior. It’s going to be a long project, but progress started this week. Larry, the head of Paradise Coach, started pulling out the old floorboards and inspecting what’s underneath. The floorboards will be replaced and then the interior built up upon that.
This is the interior of my [gutted] vintage bus. You can see that the floorboards are in the process of being pulled out and the stainless steel holding and water tanks below the floor.
While I spent a lot of time working this week, I was able to process a few of the images I shot while driving the vintage bus from Tennessee to Oregon. You can see two of the panoramas below. We also replaced a lot of the lighting in the current bus. The lights that go around the windows and ceiling have been dubbed the “disco lights” and are now LEDs. We’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Not only were the old lights energy suckers, but many of them had burnt out.
Since I’m on the topic of buses, I wanted to post a video that was just posted from the Travel Channel’s Extreme RVs show. This segment features Flxible buses, the same brand as my vintage bus. This past July marked the 100th anniversary of the brand, and the video was shot at the bus rally commemorating that milestone. I have met the bus owner featured in the video, Bernard, who also happens to be Jay Leno’s mechanic (and if you’ve ever seen Leno’s garage, you know that’s a big job!)
This week, Karen and I will be flying to NJ to spend Thanksgiving with her family. More to come…