by Ben Willmore | Nov 6, 2013
Hi gang! Get ready for another image-rich post. Last week, we worked our way south from NJ to Tennessee via the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the end of my last post, we had just arrived in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and were ready to head out and explore. Shortly after entering the park, we immediately realized that we had hit the sweet spot of fall color. Our drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway was just ok when it came to that. We had hit a lot of it past peak, so there were more browns than we would have liked. But once we hit the Smokies, we were in beautiful, colorful bliss!
We spent a lot of time just driving around looking for scenes that best displayed the color, so we made a lot of stops to capture windy roads twisting through the woods, or low-lying branches over rivers that provided nice colorful reflections in the water. We also drove up to Clingman’s Dome, which is the second-highest point east of the Mississippi (the highest only trumps it by 40 feet), to shoot sunset one night. The sky put on a pretty good show, as you’ll see from the image below.
As an added bonus, we also got to see some black bears in the Smokies! You can tell that there are bears around by the number of cars backed up on the roads, and the rangers directing traffic. We were allowed to get close enough to get some good shots though. In some instances, the bears had climbed trees and we were shocked at how high those suckers can climb! They were so high (several stories) that it was hard to spot them when looking up at the treetops.
We were really happy with our time in the Smokies, and I ended up getting a lot of nice photos to show for it. If you ever plan on visiting the area, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, this park gets twice as many visitors than any other national park (because half the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive of the place) so expect crowds. Fall is a spectacular time of year to visit. The whole area is wooded and when the leaves change, it’s just an explosion of color. The last thing I would say to keep in mind is that restaurant choices are fairly limited… unless you’re ok with places like “Hillbilly Barbecue.” Karen and I like to eat pretty healthy, and Karen doesn’t eat meat, so we had a bit of a hard time finding places. However, the Dancing Bear Lodge has a restaurant that is fantastic, and the lodge itself is beautiful. The only thing is that it’s pricy, but we ended up going twice because we had such a great experience there.
After leaving the Smokies, we made the one-day drive down to Atlanta, where the bus will hang out for a bit. We were happy to be there because it meant we could hang out with our wonderful friends Eddie Tapp and Judy Host, who are Atlanta locals. After a few days, I had to fly out to Seattle for a creativeLIVE event. More to come!
Some of the black bears we saw in the Smokies
Sunset at Clingman’s Dome, the second highest point in the U.S. east of the Mississippi
The rest of the images here are fall color shots I took in the Smokies… with a few of me and Karen thrown in there as well. Enjoy!
by Ben Willmore | May 13, 2013
A little pre-show goofiness. Here I am with my studio audience, about to kick off my Color & Tone class.
Hi everyone! I hope everyone had a good a week, and for all the moms out there, that you had a great Mothers Day! For me, it was another week and another city. This past month has just been crazy travel-wise. We’ve hit all four corners of the country and the middle as well! This week, it was Seattle, as I was presenting my Photoshop Mastery: Color & Tone class at creativeLIVE. This was a two-day course that is part of a larger series designed to make you efficient in Photoshop. The first part of this series, which I presented last month, is called Photoshop Fundamentals, and is designed to give anyone a solid foundation with the program. This week’s Color & Tone class, covers just that: How to enhance, and even fix, the color and tonality of your images. If you missed the live broadcast and would still like to see it, you can purchase it HERE. When you buy the class, you also get the training materials, including my practice images and the handbook that goes with the course.
If you’re not familiar with creativeLIVE, here’s how they work. They broadcast all kind of classes live, every day, and while you watch them live, they’re free. If you decide that the class really resonates with you, you can purchase it to watch any time, and you will also receive the bonus material that comes with the class. I’ll be returning to creativeLIVE next month to present the next part of this series, Photoshop Mastery: Retouching & Collages. Click here for more info or to register for the free broadcast.
As always, my time at creativeLIVE was excellent. They’re such a fun gang to work with, and Karen and I really enjoy being there. We also really lucked out with the weather in Seattle while we were there. It was in the 70s and 80s, and the sun was out! For some of you, this might not seem like a big deal, but if you’re used to rainy Seattle, it’s huge!
Karen and I on the creativeLIVE set
After wrapping things up at creativeLIVE, I flew back to the bus in Eugene, Oregon. It had been nearly a month since I’d last been “home.” Since my vintage bus is also being restored near Eugene, I was able to collaborate a bit with the shop that is working on creating the interior of that bus that we will eventually call home. Unfortunately, I must have caught the bug that seems to be going around, so the last part of my week was shot. I feel tons better now, which is good, because tomorrow, I need to fly to Columbus, Ohio to present my Kelby Training seminar, Photoshop Artistry. If you live near Columbus, I hope to see you there!
And last, but not least: This week, the schedule for this year’s California Photo Festival was posted! The California Photo Festival is five days of digital photography immersion. Intensive workshops, seminars, lectures, shooting, parties, and more with over 15 industry leading photographers and digital industry gurus designed to boost your creativity, spark your passion, and take your photography, art, or business to the next level. This year, it’s Oct. 7-11 in San Luis Obispo, CA. Learn more about the festival and schedule here.