Lightpainting on creativeLIVE

Hi everyone! I am currently in Seattle to teach at Photo Week at creativeLIVE. Photo Week is 6-days of non-stop training that includes everything from gear demos to master classes, and it STARTS TODAY! They will be featuring over 35 world-class instructors on three different broadcast channels and of course, as always with creativeLIVE, when you watch it live, it’s free.

I will be teaching a class on Lightpainting today, Monday, at 1:30 PST. Lightpainting is where you use a flashlight (or other light source) to paint the light onto your subject in a dark room over a long exposure. The results are always incredibly unique which makes it a great way to portray an ordinary subject and make it look extraordinary. Here’s the official class description:

Discover the unique art of light painting, and add a new dimension of light painting into your photography. Experienced light painter Ben Willmore will introduce you to the basics of light painting in this fun and informative class. You’ll learn which tools and settings to use to get your desired effect and how different light sources can be used to produce dramatically different looks.

Learn how to combine an interesting subject, inexpensive gear, and a little light painting knowledge to produce dramatic and interesting results.

Check it out or learn more HERE, and I hope to see you there!


Photoshop World, Vegas style

Hey gang! We just returned from another exciting Photoshop World Conference & Expo, held in Las Vegas. The conference is three days long, plus an additional day for pre-conference workshops. With seven learning tracks and over 40 instructors, it there truly is something for everyone. Even though it’s called Photoshop World, there are classes on Lightroom, photography, lighting, creativity and more. I taught three classes on Adobe Lightroom this time around.

The Photoshop World Tradeshow is open during the three days of the conference and I always like to make my rounds there to see what new and exciting products the software and hardware vendors have in store. The tradeshow is a great place for both learning and networking.

And of course, Photoshop World is always a great time for catching up with old friends and making new ones. Many of the other instructors are good friends of mine, and I try to schedule time to have a meal or a drink with many of them. That’s actually one of the things I look forward to the most!

Karen and I also took some time out to go and visit the Mob Museum, which is located near Freemont Street in “Old Las Vegas.” The place had good reviews and we were extremely impressed with how well-done the place is. It’s three full floors of history, artifacts, movies, stories, etc. It’s really fascinating, and much of it was interactive. We ended up spending more time than we thought we would there and would definitely recommend it if you’re ever looking for something to do during the day in Las Vegas.

Ben-PSWPhotoshop World always has a theme, and this year, it was pirates. 

Ben-PSWclassHere, I’m teaching my Lightroom Advanced Tips & Tricks class.

Ben-EpsonEpson featured some of my images at their booth in the tradeshow.

BenMobMuseumA goofy photo of me at the mob museum.

After a great couple days in Las Vegas, we flew back to the Tampa area, where we’re temporarily based. I had been pretty busy in the weeks leading up to Photoshop World and I hadn’t had a lot of time for photography. One of the things I’d been looking forward to was trying out my new Pixelstick, a light painting product that is the result of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s basically a very long rod with LED lights that change over time to create an image or pattern that you specify. When you move it around, it creates a really unique and creative effect. I started playing with it for the first time last night and got some fun results (see below). Since I’m new to both the Pixelstick and my new camera, it will take more time to get exactly what I want, and I look forward to working with it some more!

More to come…

Pixelstick-garageThe results of last night’s shoot with my new Pixelstick. 

An excellent week of exploring and lightpainting

My last post left off in Santa Fe, where we spent about four days exploring and shooting. After exploring the town there, we took a drive to Pecos National Historic Park, which is about 40 minutes from the city. The highlight of the park is an ancient pueblo, with some ruins and kivas surrounding it. We spent a good amount of time shooting in one of the kivas, which are circular, underground rooms that used to be used for religious rituals. We did find a little problem with the first kiva, however. I started to go down the ladder, and just as my head went underground, I found myself face to face with a small, but very irritated, rattlesnake. We decided to move on to the next kiva, but not before I tried to photograph the snake!

My shot from inside a kiva.

Instead of high-tailing it out of the snake area, I decided to try to photograph the little sucker.

The resulting snake photograph. I was using a fisheye, which made him look a little farther away.

After leaving Santa Fe, we moved on to the mountain town of Taos, a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. On our way there, we passed an amazing place that I just had to stop and photograph. It’s called the Classic Gas Museum, and is basically one man’s collection of vintage gas pumps, cars, signs, you name it. The place was full of old stuff… the kind of stuff I just love to shoot. The owner, Johnnie, was great and had no problem with us photographing there. He even let us return two nights later to do some lightpainting. Karen and I spent a good 2-3 hours shooting there after dark, and I was really happy with the results.

Karen’s iPhone montage from the Classic Gas Museum.

I was excited about this composition at the Classic Gas Museum. I just loved the old gas pumps surrounding this old race car.

This is the main building/shop at the Classic Gas Museum.

While in Taos, we explored the historic downtown area and then drove the famous High Road to Taos. You’re “supposed” to drive it from Santa Fe to Taos, but we did it the other way around because it wasn’t the most convenient road to take a 40-foot motorhome down, so we waited to drive it in the Mini. We mainly stopped to photograph old churches on the road, as they had a lot of character and history to them. The high road ended in the town of Espanola, where we stopped for dinner. I’ve got to mention the place we ate at because it was just excellent. It’s called El Paragua (The Parasol) and they specialize in Mexican cuisine (a standard in Espanola). The atmosphere in the place was charming, and the food was just delicious. Karen and I both ate more than we should have because it was just so darn hard to stop! We’ve been to a lot of Mexican places, and many of them are extremely similar as far as the menu and flavors go. This place definitely stood above the rest.

While in Taos, I also started experimenting with camera gear. I’m a Canon shooter, but I was curious as to how I would like Nikon’s D800E. I love to be able to make huge prints, and the D800’s 36 megapixels was taunting me a bit. Overall, the files that I’ve been getting from it are excellent, but I think I’m still going to stick with Canon. I’ll do a longer post on this later.

Karen and I both really enjoyed Taos, and we stayed there for four nights. Then, we were Colorado bound. We made a short stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park and we would have stayed longer had the weather been in our favor. It’s definitely on the list to visit again. Our first stop in Colorado is near Canon City, and we came here because of the unique aspects of the RV park. It’s called the Starlite Classic Campground and they feature a whole bunch of restored vintage trailers that are in beautiful shape and they’re all styled to perfectly to the era in which they were “born.” The couple who runs the place is just great and they were gracious enough to let me lightpaint some of the trailers. In fact, the first night’s lightpainting turned out so well that we extended our stay so I could shoot some more of them! We spent most of today arranging setups for the trailer shoots, and I’m going to be heading out to shoot some more as soon as this blog post is finished!

Here is my first lightpainting from The Starlite Classic Campground.

My new lightpainting e-book is now available!

Finally, I have some exciting news to share! This week, I released my new e-book, “The Fine Art of Painting with Light.” If you are interested in lightpainting, whether you’re experienced or not, definitely check it out. The book is a comprehensive guide, starting with your very first lightpainting and moving through to advanced techniques and post-processing in Photoshop. It includes a guide to the tools required, examples of different lightpainting styles and how to achieve them and 28 real-world examples where I demonstrate how I created specific images. The e-book is separated into two distinct sections. The first teaches the process of lightpainting and the Photoshop post-processing skills, and the second breaks down specific images and shows how they were made. The best part of it is that it’s only $9.97! You can read more about it, and order it HERE.

That’s all for now!

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.

Mono Lake Night Photography Continued


Karen got this shot of me before the sun went down at the South Tufas on Mono Lake.

During our last visit to Mono Lake, about two weeks ago, I was mainly focused on night shooting in Bodie. I was attending a night photography workshop that gave us special access to the ghost town after regular visiting hours. This was excellent, but didn't give me enough time to visit the rest of the Mono Lake area, including the South Tufas. So after spending about a week in the Carson City/Lake Tahoe area, we returned to Mono and continued where we left off.

We spent the first couple nights shooting the South Tufas, which are interesting-looking limestone rock formations that grow out of the water in certain parts of the lake. I experimented both with flashlights and speedlights firing through colored gels.

Mono Lake-1

This is one of the results of my light-painting nights at the South Tufas.

Now while we're on the Tufas topic, I want to mention something cool that happened when we were there. While we were scouting our shooting spot one night at the lake, we ran into another photographer with a passion for night photography. He was working on some time lapse sequences and we struck up a conversation about it. Before he left, we exchanged business cards and continued shooting. We didn't get back to the bus until late that night, and while I was waiting for my images to load I looked up the photographer's web site. And HOLY COW was he good! Karen and I spent a good amount of time looking at his stuff and marvelling over the amazing time lapse "movies" he had up there. We highly recommend you check him out. His name is Jeff Chen, he's based out of San Francisco, and his site is It was nearly two in the morning, but we figured we'd shoot him an e-mail on the off chance he'd want to meet for breakfast. Not only did we meet for breakfast, but we met up a few random times during the next three days, talking photography and visiting the local gallery. Isn't it just awesome the way things can happen like that? Now we're looking forward to visiting him in San Francisco later this summer.


The MINI and the Milky Way

Anyway, during our week in the Mono Lake area, the moon was almost nonexistant, and the Milky Way showing up really well. It was my first time shooting the Milky Way, and I would have rathered be shooting with my 5D Mark II, which dove off a waterfall last week (see previous post), but I was happy with the image I got, shown above. (The MINI was actually lit with my iPhone.)


The Bristlecone Pines, the oldest trees in the world!

After shooting a few nights in a row at Mono, we headed south to where the Bristlecone Pines were. These trees are among the oldest organisms on the planet, some of them over 4,000 years old! We did a little light-painting there, but there were other photogs with the same idea, because we found ourselves jockeying for a tripod position. We didn't stay too long, and the above image is what I ended up with.

Alabama Hills Lightpaint_0000_Layer Comp 4

Alabama Hills Lightpaint_0001_Layer Comp 2   Alabama Hills Lightpaint_0002_Layer Comp 5

A few variations from the arch at Alabama Hills. The bottom two shots are verticals also. Click on them to see the full image.

A few hours south of Mono Lake are the "Alabama Hills," an area of hills and rock formations near the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Many thanks to Jeff for letting us know about this nice place to shoot! The place is home to a pretty cool arch, and that's what we wanted to focus on. It was really convenient, because we were able to park the bus less than two minutes from the trailhead, and it was only a 5-10 minute walk to the arch. We did some light-painting at night, and then woke up early to shoot again at sunrise.

From the Alabama Hills area, we were Arizona-bound. Our friends and nomads of Technomadia just bought a vintage bus and were heading to the Lake Havasu area. Little did they know it, but we would be paying a surprise visit!

More to come…