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…

 

A whirlwind week of bus work and workshop travel

As the title of this post implies, this past week has been a mixture of bus-related maintenance work and travel for Photoshop/photography seminars. I mentioned last week that we were spending time with our great friends Sean and Louise in the Las Vegas area. Sean is excellent when it comes to engineering stuff and has been troubleshooting the generator on my bus for a while now. It has recently come to the point, however, where the generator really needed attention from an engine shop. We found one in the Vegas area and parked the two buses there while we waited for our Monday morning appointment.

The guy from the engine shop shows Sean what might be wrong with the generator on my bus.

I had to fly out on Sunday to teach my “Kelby Training, From Focus to Finished” seminar on Monday in San Antonio, so I couldn’t be there while they took apart the generator. I pretty much got updates from Karen and Sean regarding the status. It turns out, the generator’s “head” was cracked and needed to be replaced. It was challenging to find a new part and arrange next-day shipping for a giant hunk of metal, but that’s what we did. When I returned to Las Vegas, not only did I want to take care of the generator problems, but I wanted to replace the house batteries on the bus. The old ones were on their last leg and were in desperate need of replacing. While we waited for the generator part to arrive, we moved to the Main Street Station RV park (pretty much a parking lot with hookups, but at $17./night, it’s the best deal in Vegas for an RV.).

In preparation for the battery replacement, we had to empty the first bay under the bus. This made us truly realize how much STUFF we were hauling around, and we ended up purging a bit of it, which was great. After removing all our stuff from the bay, we had to access an awkward battery compartment and remove the old house batteries. This might not SOUND that bad, but the bus has three house batteries…. and they weigh in at about 175 pounds EACH. Sean and I went out to drop  off the old batteries and buy new ones. By the time we returned, we had a mini audience at the RV park, with some guests watching the process in lawn chairs. This actually proved to be a good thing, because our “next door neighbor” offered us his portable floor jack, and it proved to be a crucial tool in getting the new batteries in. While Sean and I worked on replacing the batteries, Karen shot some video, documenting the process. You can see that below.

When the bus work was finally complete, the four of us spent a night on the town, having dinner at a nice tapas restaurant and then exploring Vegas’ Freemont Street Experience. Sean hadn’t been to Freemont Street in ages and wanted to check it out. Overall, it was a very relaxing night, ending a very un-relaxing couple of days.

Sean, Louise, me and Karen.

After all the bus work was done, Karen and I both flew out… to different locations. I flew to Peoria, IL, where I taught a 1-day seminar with the Peoria Camera Club. The event went very well, and the PCC gang was just great! While the event was on Saturday, we did a short photo walk on Friday night and I did a light painting demo with them as well. You can see one of the resulting images from this below.

An image I made while doing a light painting demo with the Peoria Camera Club.

Karen flew to New Jersey to spend time with her family. After the Camera Club event, I flew to NJ as well, and will be spending a few days with her family before we both drive down to Washington DC on Thurs. for the next Photoshop World Conference & Expo.

The Vintage Bus Project Begins!

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For over a year I've been contemplating, planning and trying to start "The Vintage Bus Project". In the process of searching for a vintage bus, I've investigated no fewer than 89 individual buses. I've driven all over the US inspecting them and am very happy to have finally picked what I am sure is the right bus for me. 

On October 21st, 2009 I'm scheduled to acquire the 1963 Flxible Starliner bus that is shown above. It's located near Akron, OH at the moment. My current bus is located in San Diego and the person I'm thinking of using to re-power the vintage bus is also in Southern California, so I plan to drive the vintage bus all the way from OH to CA over the next few weeks. 

I've also found a 1957 Buick Caballero station wagon that I might want to acquire on this trip. It's the car I was planning to tow behind the vintage bus once I start to live on it. I plan to repaint the vintage bus so that it resembles this paint job (yes, it's that's the bus that was used in the Robin Williams movie "RV"):

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After seeing that, you might get an idea for why I think the Buick would be a good car to tow behind the vintage bus… here's what the station wagon looks like:

Sort on Sunday
As with the bus, I'd plan to update the Buick to a modern drivetrain. I'll inspect the Buick the day after I pick up the vintage bus… it's located in Michigan. 

I plan to follow the entire length of Route 66 on my way back to California. I'm planning on shooting night scenes this time around to really round out my photo library since I've already followed the full length of Route 66 twice. It will likely take me a few weeks to make it back to California.

It should take about a year before the bus and wagon are ready to replace my current bus/jeep combo. Until that point, I plan to remain living in my current bus.  

Here are some more photographs of the vintage bus. Keep in mind that I plan to repaint it, rip out the interior and do a brand new interior that is customized to my needs and tastes. 

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