The Palm Springs Photo Fest!

The past week was spent in sunny Palm Springs, California! That’s where we flew after visiting Karen’s family in NJ. This year marked the 8th Annual Palm Springs Photo Festival, and I was teaching two classes, on masking and retouching in Photoshop. This event is very different from a lot of the other photography/Photoshop events, and for a few reasons. First, there aren’t as many classes on software and post processing as there are on photography and the business of photography. Second, there are a lot more classes and panel discussions that are geared toward fine art photographers, and it encompasses much more of the LA photo scene. It also has a more intimate feel, with elegant outdoor networking dinners and smaller class sizes. This is also probably the only event where I don’t want to share a dinner table with people I know. Instead, I’d rather sit with folks I’ve never met before because I always end up making meaningful connections.


In addition to teaching some classes, I also enjoyed being a participant in this year’s festival. I attended a few classes, on getting a photography book published, the business of fine art photography and digital asset management. I also was able to get a few portfolio reviews, which was very insightful. The reviews are a big part of the event, and the reviewers have all kinds of backgrounds, from museum curators, to advertising agencies, to magazines, to book publishers and more. I am looking to do more with my work, and am exploring several of these outlets for it.

BenTeaching-PSPFHere I am teaching a class at the Palm Springs Photo Fest.

942494_10152801142610608_1163087705_nI had to do some last-minute preparations to get my portfolio ready for review.

And of course, in addition to the classes, portfolio reviews and networking events, there was a fair share of fun. One afternoon, I went with Karen and fellow instructor Colin Smith to ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which climbs to an elevation of ~8,500 feet! I think the temperature dropped something like 35 degrees on the way up. The views are pretty great up there, and I’d recommend taking the ride if you’re ever in Palm Springs. After the festival ended, Karen and I also snuck off to see Iron Man 3, which turned out to be pretty good. Karen is a movie nut and huge Iron Man fan, so that was pretty high up on the priority list for her!

After the festival ended, we hopped on yet another flight, this time bound for Seattle. I am presenting my Photoshop Mastery: Color & Tone online class at creativeLIVE on Monday and Tuesday. It’s free while it’s live so be sure to tune in, 9am-4pm, PST, May 6 & 7.

BenColinTramMe and Colin Smith on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

PSPF-gangFrom left, Colin Smith, Peter Krogh, me and Jeff Dunas. Jeff is the one who puts the entire festival together, and he does an excellent job!

Photoshop World 2013

Hey gang! I just wrapped up another Photoshop World Conference and Expo. This one was in Orlando, and Karen and I flew down from Oregon on Monday. After seeing so much gray sky up in the Pacific Northwest, the Florida sun was a welcome sight!

Photoshop World has become so much more than just a “Photoshop event.” In fact, you can go to PSW, attend a class during every time slot and never hear anything about Photoshop. There classes have been split up into “tracks” or subject categories. There are tracks on Lightroom, Lighting, Graphic Design, Business, General Photoshop, Photoshop for Photographers and Photography Techniques. There are even more classes on the trade show floor. In addition to classes, there are much more relaxed events for attendees. I would call them “networking” events, but let’s just be honest: They’re parties. The main ones would be the After Hours Party and Midnight Madness.

For me, this event is always a good mix of work and fun. I taught three classes, on Camera Raw Essentials, Advanced Camera Raw and Hidden & Hard to Find Tweaks.  I also spent a good amount of time at the trade show, networking with many of the vendors and checking out new products.

BenPSW-LowresHere I am presenting one of my Photoshop World Sessions. Many thanks to NAPP Photographer Anthony Newman for getting this shot!

PSW-ExpoShootingOne of the lighting setups on the trade show floor. Attendees can brings their cameras and shoot to their hearts’ delight!

The fun part really comes down to hanging out with long-time friends AND new friends. I have been seeing many of the other instructors at each of these events (and at other events as well) for years. Since I live a mobile lifestyle, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet up with many of them in their home towns as well. So Photoshop World is something of a reunion for us, and I spend many of the nights having dinner and catching up with friends.

  PSW-grpshotAt the After Hours Party, Adobe set up a “photo booth.” It usually only takes a photo booth to bring out the goofiness in most people.

We also got a special treat at the end of the Photoshop World Event, and it has nothing to do with photography or Photoshop! Our great friends Chris and Cherie have been “parked” in Florida for some time now and they drove to Orlando to spend the day with us. I say “parked” because Chris and Cherie also live a mobile lifestyle like we do. (They’re actually pretty well-known in the Technomad community, as they’re a great resource for anyone looking to become nomadic. Check them out at We’ve crossed paths with them all over the country, but it’s been nearly a year and a half since we’ve seen them last. They came over in the afternoon and we spent a lot of time catching up. We also did some goofy stuff… like playing a round of mini golf and going bowling!

BenChrisCherieMiniGolfHere I am with Chris and Cherie after finishing up a round of mini golf. I won! (The highest score wins, right?)

All in all, it was a great week, but as always, it went by too fast! At the end of the week, Karen and I got on another plane and flew to Denver, Colorado, where I’ll present my Photographic Artistry Kelby Training 1-day seminar. More to come!

BenJeff-PSWOne final image… I managed to hitch a ride at Photoshop World with Jeff Leimbach on his motorized chair/cart/thingy. This shot is courtesy of the NAPP staff as well.

Photoshop Week in Seattle

Hey gang! I just returned back to the bus after an excellent week up in Seattle for Photoshop Week with creativeLIVE. Photoshop Week was an online, live Photoshop conference with 13 instructors and over 40 classes. I taught five sessions, three on Actions & Automation, one on Blending Modes and one on What’s New in Photoshop CS6.1. All of my classes went really well, and we’ve been getting excellent feedback. My personal favorite was a comment that came from the creativeLIVE chat rooms and said, “When Chuck Norris needs a [Photoshop] demo, he calls Ben Willmore.” Whoever said that, thank you! That was awesome!

Lesa Snider, myself and Dave Cross are on set at creativeLIVE during a panel discussion. Thanks to the creativeLIVE team for posting this photo.

Photoshop Week was much different from all my previous experiences with creativeLIVE, in that there were other instructors (many of them friends of mine) to interact with and learn from. In case you missed the line-up, here’s who was instructing, besides myself:

  • Dave Cross
  • Lesa Snider
  • Lindsay Adler
  • Colin Smith
  • Joel Grimes
  • Khara Plicanic
  • Aaron Nace
  • Jack Davis
  • Jared Platt
  • Kevin Kubota
  • Jason Hoppe
  • Jed Taufer

Here’s another one courtesy of creativeLIVE…. fun with the staff and instructors.

Now that the week has come to a close, all of the Photoshop Week classes are now available for purchase over on the creativeLIVE site. You can read about the individual classes, buy them separately, or get them as a set HERE.

Since the Photoshop Week sessions are done by 4:00 every day, I got to spend a lot of time hanging out with old friends as well as making new ones. We had some nice dinners and explored the city a lot. Instead of blabbing on about the week, here are some photos. Photos are more fun anyway 🙂

Me and Karen at the Chihuly, Garden and Glass Museum. If you’ve never been to this place, I highly recommend it. Dale Chihuly is an incredible glass artist and the museum has a colorful, whimsical, yet organic feel to it.

Yup… this is me with life-size bacon. Throughout the week, I had been making some random bacon references during my classes – enough so that folks were starting to think it was pretty funny. Then I come across this awesome bacon in Pike Place Market! What a coincidence! She happened to be walking around with life-size ketchup and mustard bottles as well.

A bunch of iPhone shots that Karen took while exploring the city. She used an app called Diptic to put them all together like this.

Here I am with Karen and Aaron Nace, of, at the Seattle Space Needle. (Karen and Aaron are actually not related. It’s the first time either of them had met another non-family member with their same last name before!) We actually lucked out this day in that it was sunny, so our view from the top of the needle was pretty nice.

Me, Colin Smith and Aaron Nace in front of Kangaroo & Kiwi, an Aussie/Kiwi pub in Seattle. Colin is from New Zealand and was anxious to check the place out and get some of their Kiwi Cuisine. Both Colin and I had meat pies, a classic dish in Australia/New Zealand. The food was really good and the place had a fun vibe. At some point, we’d like to return in the evening to see what the night scene is like there.

As I mentioned above, we’re back at the bus, which is in the Eugene area. We’ll spend the next week here getting work done and overseeing the vintage bus project. If you’ve been following the vintage bus story, it has been seeing daily progress and when we returned just a little while ago, we found that the mock-up of the interior is being installed pretty quickly. To get more info on my vintage bus project, you can check out the Creative Cruiser facebook page HERE.

More to come…

Announcing Photoshop Week!

Hi everyone! Having spent several weeks in Eugene, Oregon, we just moved a few hours north to Portland. I’ve been mostly focused on some work projects, and the vintage bus project. The big news this week is that we just announced Photoshop Week! Photoshop Week is the first conference-style event to be held at creativeLIVE, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. This is a live, online event, going on from Feb. 25th through March 2nd. With 12 instructors and over 40 classes, it’s going to be a great experience for all Photoshop users, whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, or both.


Here are the sessions I’ll be teaching at Photoshop Week:

Photoshop Efficiency Boosters
Learn how to fly through Photoshop features with the utmost efficiency by taking advantage of all of Photoshop’s shortcuts, presets, customization and automation features. In this session you’ll see how to access the majority of Photoshop’s features using your keyboard and how to customize the features you use the most for greater efficiency. You’ll also find out about many hidden features that can increase you efficiency in Photoshop.

Getting Started with Actions
Learn how to automate repetitive or complex tasks by recording them as actions in Photoshop. You’ll learn everything needed to get started using Actions today as well as learning the most common issues that prevent them from being effectively implemented. You’ll learn how to troubleshoot and optimize any action as well as modify existing actions to customize them to your personal needs.

Intermediate and Advanced Actions
Learn how you can push actions to automate overly complex or difficult tasks. Use subroutines to make customization of complex actions easy. Learn how to implement the new conditional actions feature that Adobe introduced in late 2012. Also, get a glimpse of how you can overcome the limitations of actions with scripting.

Mastering Blending Modes
You’ve seen that menu… the one that includes choices like Multiply, Screen, Overlay and Hue. It’s found in many areas of Photoshop including at the top of the Layers panel. Learn how that single feature can open a new world of possibilities in your photo-editing tasks and design projects. Once you understand how each mode works and how they all relate to each other, you will see that blending modes are one of the single most useful features in all of Photoshop!

For more information and to register, CLICK HERE.


In other news…

… my vintage bus project has been seeing consistent progress.  The vent fans in the ceiling have been installed, all the engine-to-dash wiring has been cleaned up and mounted to the side wall to keep it out of the way, and the overly large rub rails that run down the length of the bus have been removed. They don’t go with the paint scheme I have planned, but might be replaced by small rub rails that are more similar to those found on Flxible Clippers and Visicoaches. The refrigerator that will be used in the bus also arrived this past week. I’ve been posting constant updates on the Creative Cruiser’s facebook page, and you can follow those HERE.

The new fridge for the vintage bus just arrived. It’s an Italian model from Vitrifrigo that features one drawer for freezer and one for fridge, as well as the upper fridge area. It offered the largest storage volume within the limited height/depth of the vintage bus.

And finally, I wrapped up the week in a very festive way… by attending the birthday party of my friend Kirsten, who happens to live in Portland. Kirsten works at Lensbaby, so I always see her at photography events and tradeshows, but hardly ever get to hang out with her outside the work arena. She had a great little shindig, where we got to catch up and celebrate.

Me and Kirsten at her birthday party in Portland. Kirsten shares my love for IPA-style beer, and she had some on tap at her party!

The California Photo Festival!

Hey gang. We just wrapped up the 3rd annual California Photo Festival (aka Click!) in San Luis Obispo. It was my first time teaching at this event, and I had a blast. This festival it a week-long photography infusion, with tons of classes going on nearly 18 hours per day. Some of the classes are lecture style and some of them are live location shoots. I taught a good mix of both.

The event kicked off with an instructor meet and greet on Monday night where I got to reunite with a lot of my great photographer friends. This is always a bonus when it comes to events like this. The following night was an opening reception with all the volunteers and students.

My work was shown at the Light Workshops headquarters during the festival’s opening reception.

During the course of the week, I taught several classes, the first of which was on HDR. We had a lecture session which was followed by a live shoot at a funky place called Sunny Acres, which is full of old cars, barns, tools and more. It was a great place for students to practice HDR photography, and everyone had a great time. We returned to Sunny Acres the following night for my Lightpainting class. You can see the result of that shoot below.

My lecture on HDR photography

The HDR live shoot at Sunny Acres

One of my images from the evening lightpainting shoot at Sunny Acres. What’s funny about this image is that in the process of shooting, I was thinking aloud that a fog machine would be great. Well, the person standing next to me said, “oh, I have one in my car. I’ll go get it.” What are the chances!? We used the fog machine to make it look as if the engine was smoking.

There were also a couple of sunset shoots on the beach where we had horses on the beach, dancers, surfer models, etc. It was truly a photography playground for the festival students. Not only was there excellent subject matter but there were instructors available to make sure everyone was getting great images. After long days of shooting and teaching, we would go out to dinner, catch up with friends and make new ones.

One of my beach shots, with the horses in the sunset.

One of Karen’s shots from the sunset/horses shoot

Post-class dinner and drinks with my friends (and fellow photographers/teachers) Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis.

During the week, I also got to sneak out and pay a visit to the Really Right Stuff gang. They make extremely high quality tripods and accessories and I highly recommend them. I’ve been using their stuff for years and not only is it great, but their customer service is outstanding. They just moved into a new and bigger building in the area and they were nice enough to give us a tour.

Here I am in the new Really Right Stuff showroom.

Overall, the festival was excellent! The classes were diverse, the instructors were all very good and the whole vibe of the event was just plain fun. I’d really recommend it for everyone from photo enthusiasts to seasoned pros. There’s something for everyone. The California Photo Festival is put on by the folks at the Light Photographic Workshops, located in Los Osos, CA. I’ve taught with them several times and always have a great experience. I’ve got a 5-day workshop coming up with them in late November/early December that will focus completely on HDR photography. Check out the WORKSHOP PAGE for more details on that one.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a little video/slideshow that Karen made from her festival photos. Next stop, San Diego and then Portland. More to come…