Seattle, creativeLIVE, good friends & geekery

Hey everyone! We just wrapped up yet another week in the Seattle area. (For various reasons, we had decided to extend our stay.) There was a lot going on this week… from meeting friends, to creativeLIVE, to the new iPhone, to hanging out with the “original” technomad. Here’s a summary of our week:

Lesa Snider & creativeLIVE

As you may already know, creativeLIVE is based in Seattle and my great friend Lesa Snider was there teaching her Photoshop Deep Dives classes. We met up with Lesa and her husband, Jay, early in the week and then attended one of her classes. It was great to re-connect with the creativeLIVE gang to start planning some new classes.

Me and Lesa Snider on the set of her creativeLIVE class, Photoshop Deep Dives.

The “Original” Technomad

If you know anything about my lifestyle, you know that I live full-time in a 40-foot tour bus. There are actually a whole group of people who live and work on the road, and we live to call ourselves technomads. This is because we use technology to make our “nomadness” possible. This technomad idea is far from new though. Back in the ’70s, one man kind of started it all, traveling the country on a recumbent bicycle, decked out with loads of cutting edge technology. Decades later, he’s still living a nomadic lifestyle, now on a sailboat he’s in the process of “teching out.” This is Steven Roberts, and you can check out his life HERE. Steven was docked on the San Juan Islands, which isn’t far from Seattle, so I ventured up there for a day and spent some time “geeking out” with the original technomad.

The two photos above show me and Steven with his sailboat, Nomadness.

Karen forced me to include this photo. I got this iPhone photo of Steven’s boat when his little feline travel partner decided to photobomb the shot. Karen gave it the funky oil paint look.

Exploring Whidbey Island

Later in the week, Karen and I met up with our friend Peggy, who we originally met during my Iceland workshop back in June. Peggy lives in the area and took us exploring on the nearby Whidbey Island. The weather was pretty overcast and the light was dead but we still had a great time exploring and reminiscing on all our Iceland adventures. One of the greatest things about workshops like that is the new friends you make.

Karen got this shot of me on Whidbey Island. We stopped to shoot in this little town called Coupeville.

Peggy, Karen and I have dinner at an excellent little place in Coupeville called Christopher’s. If you’re ever in the area, we HIGHLY recommend this place. We all loved our meals and their caprese salad was just mouthwatering (and huge).

More Seattle explorations

Saturday was our last day in the Seattle area, so Karen and I went exploring one last time. We took an hour-long harbor cruise, which circled the harbor while a tour guide narrated the trip. It was a beautiful day, and the boat was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we went on the new ferris wheel that’s right on the water. At 175 feet tall, we got some nice views of the city. If you ever want to give it a shot, it’s $13./per person.

Karen and I ride the “Great Wheel” in Seattle.

After moving on from Seattle, we’re going to be exploring North Cascades National Park, so stay tuned for posts on that!

Before I wrap up this post, I wanted to remind everyone that the California Photo Festival is coming up in less than a month! If you’re in the Los Osos/ San Luis Obispo area and haven’t signed up yet, definitely check it out! Here are the classes I’ll be teaching:

-High Dynamic Range Mastery
-Sunset on the Beach (live shoot)
-Getting Started with Lightpainting
-Directing the Viewer’s Eye
-Panos & Beyond

You can read about them in detail here:

Soaking up Seattle

This past week, Karen and I have been hanging out in the Seattle area. Karen had never been to Seattle before, so she wanted to get a good taste of the city. As luck would have it (and “luck” seems to always be on our side), our friends from Lake Havasu, AZ were visiting Seattle the same time as us. We met up with them at the famous Pike Place Market and started exploring together. Since it was a “first time” experience for most of the folks in our group, we decided to have lunch at Pike Place Chowder. Chowder is a must in Seattle. Karen and Lisa were also excited to find that they had a vegan chowder!

After exploring the market a bit (and I pretty much had to pry Karen out of there) we hit up the space needle, and then the Chiluly glass museum located at the base of the needle. If you’ve never seen Chihuly’s stuff before, you should DEFINITELY check this place out. It’s kind of like walking into a Dr. Seuss book… only made of glass. Our group had dinner that night at a funky Italian place called Bizarro. Yes, it sounds bizarre, but it’s one of the few Italian places that I would actually recommend. The dishes were unique and the place had tons of character.

From left, John, Clint, Wayne, Andrew, Lisa, Me and Karen. We were so excited with this group in Seattle!

Karen got this shot of me at the Chiluly exhibit. I was shooting with the Lensbaby Sweet 35 lens… super nice!

Since we were in Seattle, I couldn’t help but visit Adobe’s local office. Adobe’s Patty Wilson invited us to watch in on a game of “Adobe Wiffle Ball.” Her team was in the company finals… and, well, it was quite the event for them. Their headquarters is also located within walking distance of the funky Freemont Troll, a giant concrete troll figure located under a bridge. Karen and I walked there after visiting Adobe. We didn’t take a lot of photos because some jerk spray painted the thing up in bright pink paint.

Me in front of Adobe’s Seattle headquarters.

Karen and I made a return visit to Pike Place Market one night. Karen wanted to shoot some more there, and take in more of Seattle’s local flavor. She bought this amazing flower bouquet (that was literally half her size) for $10! Crazy! We also drove around in search of places to shoot panoramas. We both wanted to shoot the Seattle skyline, but we wanted both sunset and twilight, and we also wanted an angle that included both the city buildings AND the space needle. We found a couple great places and did a lot of shooting. You can see some of the results below.

Karen with her monster bouquet at Pike Place Market.


I shot this panorama from Kerry park in Seattle at sunset. After merging, it turned out to be 27 feet wide! Check out the video below to see details on it.

Here’s a detail shot from the above panorama. Click to enlarge it and you’ll get a 100% view.

Here’s another panorama from a different locale in Seattle. The detail shot is a 100% view of the above panorama.

I created a little video that gives a better perspective on one of the panoramas. And, if you happen to be interested in shooting fun panoramas as well, I recently created a video that includes my favorite tips and techniques for shooting panorama images. You can find that here:

Karen and I plan on spending a few more days in the Seattle area and then moving on. To where, we’re not quite sure yet! That’s the beauty about living on the road! More to come…

Excellent week teaching at creativeLIVE!

*All the images in this post were provided by the creativeLIVE team. Thanks guys! *

Hey gang! I’ve just wrapped up a great week teaching classes with creativeLIVE in Seattle. It’s been an intense couple of days, jam-packed with Photoshop, photography and light painting sessions. If you’re not familiar with creativeLIVE, they are an online classroom for all topics relating to photography and creativity. They have the best description of themselves on their website, which reads as follows:

creativeLIVE is about providing the best free, live creative education on the web. From our studio in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, we offer free online workshops in photography, video, web and graphic design, app development and a wide array of other creative topics.

All of our live creative workshops are available to watch for free in realtime. Once a live workshop is over, we edit the best of this content into easily downloadable files available for purchase through our online store. It’s that simple.

At our core, we’re a dedicated group of creative-minded individuals. Our aim is to work with the very best instructors who want to share their knowledge and creative expertise with the world.

I’ve got to say, my experience working with the creativeLIVE gang was awesome. Their whole operation is run so well, from the perspective of both the students and myself, the instructor. While the classes are live, tens of thousands of folks tune in from all over the world. Even though this audience may not be physically in front of me, the event is still extremely interactive, as virtual attendees communicate to me and to each other via the creativeLIVE chat rooms and Twitter feed. Periodically, the class “moderators” will relay the chat room questions for me to answer. In addition to the viewers who tune in online, we also have a very small in-studio audience for some one-on-one interaction and Q&A.

Here I am, on the creativeLIVE set during my Photoshop for Photographers class

My first creativeLIVE event this week was a 3-day class called Photoshop for Photographers. During this class, I covered all the Photoshop features that are essential to a photographic workflow – all of the features I use every single day. I included everything from Camera Raw, to Adjustment Layers, to color correction, to HDR and panos. The list goes on and on. Here’s the class description for this event:

Photoshop for Photographers

Photoshop can be overwhelming. Master the art of Adobe Photoshop by focusing just on the tools photographers need to know. Optimizing images, sharpening, retouching, black and white conversion, directing the viewer’s eye, HDR, panorama-stitching, and more, all the things photographers do with Photoshop. But Ben’s not going to dig into every option in every menu–this three day course will have no fluff and no frills. You won’t be wasting any time and energy learning effects that you’ll never use, leaving you struggling to find the meat you need. Everything Ben teaches in this course is something that photographers use everyday!

To purchase the course (download or stream), CLICK HERE.

My second event was a 1-day class on light painting. Light painting is probably my favorite form of photography, as it allows for endless amounts of creativity and creates such a stunning and unique look. In addition to the 1-day, in-studio class, we shot a bonus session the night before! The bonus session was a live night shoot where I demonstrated my lightpainting techniques on a VW Beetle. Here’s the class description for this event:


You can create amazing images with light painting, and Ben Willmore is going to show you how! Making light trails, highlighting parts of your image, crazy spiral effects–all the fun secrets of light painting will be yours in this special 1-day workshop! Ben will show you how to use everyday light sources to make striking images, as this is a technique that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. If you have a tripod and a flashlight, you can light paint, and Ben is going to show you how!

To purchase the course (download or stream), CLICK HERE.

Here we are, preparing to lightpaint this Beetle during the bonus night shoot session.

Me with Kenna and Susan, of creativeLIVE

As I said before, I had a great week here in Seattle and I look forward to teaching more creativeLIVE events in the future! In the next week, I’ll be preparing for my classes at the upcoming Photoshop World Conference & Expo and then flying over to NJ to spend time with Karen’s family. More to come!