Covering lots of ground

During the first half of 2013, the bus stayed in pretty much the same spot. This is unusual for us, because we’re used to moving around every couple days (or in some cases, weeks). Well, let’s just say that in the second half of 2013, we’re making up for it. During the last month alone, I’ve been to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Texas and Florida. If you go back another month, I could add South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. It sounds like a lot to keep up with, but we just love it.

Sept2013mapMy travel route from this last month alone. The red line is ground travel and the blue line is air travel.

In my last post, I mentioned that we were spending some time in New Jersey, hanging out at Karen’s parents’ place. While we were there, we took a day trip down to Baltimore for the annual Trawler Fest. Trawlers are a very sturdy type of yacht, and many of them are made to cross oceans. I have always toyed with the idea of eventually living on one, so I love going to events like this. The REAL reason we made the drive down, though, was that our great friends Sean and Louise were at the event with their trawler. They used to live on a bus, just like we do, but this past year, they made the switch from living on the road to living on the water. It had been over a year since we had last seen Sean and Louise, so it was great to catch up and see their boat. We also spent time walking around the event and touring the show boats.

BenSeanLouiseMe, Louise and Sean at Trawler Fest in Baltimore.

After spending a few days in NJ, Karen and I flew down to Florida. I have a seminar on Friday, and since Karen’s parents have a house near Clearwater, we decided to come and hang out for the week. If you’re in the Tampa area and want to join me for some Photoshop training, you can still sign up for my Photoshop Creativity day-long seminar.

When we leave Florida, we will be flying directly to San Luis Obispo, CA where I will be teaching at the California Photo Fest. This is an awesome event, with loads of classes, both lecture-style and in the field. If you’re in California and want to take part in the event, you can get more info and sign up HERE. 

More to come!


Continuing eastward…

Hi gang! This past week, we’ve continued eastward, through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. We made a fun stop in Auburn, Ohio to visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, which is just loaded with old cars. Walking in to the first level showroom, you feel like you’ve walked into a scene from The Great Gatsby, with art deco decor and restored cars from the 20’s and 30’s. I actually wished we had hours to spend in this place because there is just so much there. To quote their website:

MSNBC News named the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum one of the “Top Ten Gearhead Destinations in the United States.”  It is easy for visitors to see why the museum has received such high national praise. This automotive mecca exhibits over 120 cars ranging from 1894 to 1999 and automotive displays on three floors. The museum has the greatest and most extensive collection of Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg automobiles in the world, and features the largest exhibit of Duesenberg automobiles on public display in the world! This is a destination that you and your family can not miss!

Unfortunately, we only had a very limited amount of time to visit the museum because we were having bus alternator issues, which made it so we had to get plugged in at an RV park ASAP. The museum is definitely on my list of places to revisit though! (The image at the top of this post if from the museum as well.)

AuburnMuseumA scene from the Auburn Museum. 

As we continued eastward, we stopped at Ohio’s only National Park, Cuyahoga Valley, so that we could check it off our list. To be honest, the place seemed more like a state park or a national historic site rather than a national park. It was nice, but not spectacular by any means. The historic buildings are pretty cool, and there was even a gas station for me to photograph. We did one short hike to the park’s waterfall and it was just ok. Coming from places like Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton, I suppose we’ve gotten a little spoiled this summer! It was a nice stop nonetheless.

Ohio-StreetsboroStationThis historic service station at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

As I mentioned above, the bus was having alternator issues (basically, the thing was fried), so we were covering ground pretty quick to get to a town in New York where it would get worked on. Crossing Pennsylvania, I hit one more vintage service station before the downpours started, making it a straight run to New York after that.

MiddlesexPAstationI stopped to photograph this one on our way through Pennsylvania.

We dropped the bus off in a small town in NY to get work done. I’ve been accumulating a list of things that need to be done on the bus, so our “bus guy,” Joe, should be busy for a while. Instead of staying on the bus while Joe is working on it, Karen and I took the Mini down to her parents’ house in New Jersey and we’ll be based there for a few weeks (though we’ll be flying out for various events.) There were two vintage service stations on my list in New Jersey, so I did take a day to go and photograph those. You can see them below.

NJstation1Jersey Service Station

NJstation2Another NJ service station.

It wasn’t two days after we arrived in NJ that I had to fly out to teach at a corporate training event in Ft. Worth, Texas. I spent two days teaching, but in my off time, I took my rental car to check off even more of my service stations! In the past two weeks alone, I’ve shot service stations in at least seven different states! If you missed my last post, there are loads of photos there too.

More to come!

FtWorthSinclairA service station near Ft. Worth, TX.

FtWorthCityGarageAnother Ft . Worth shooting locale.

Joining the Snowbirds in Florida

One of the great things about having a house on wheels is that, like the birds, you can head south for the winter. So as the rest of the country starts donning winter coats and salting the streets, we’re still in flip flops. After leaving Atlanta last week, I made my way south to Florida, where the bus will likely stay for the winter. My first stop was in Jacksonville, but I was able to capture two Florida service stations on the way.


FloridaStation2The two service stations I shot in Florida

I only stopped in Jacksonville to pick Karen up from the airport there. She was arriving back from NJ where she was photographing her best friends shiny new baby. From Jacksonville, we moved on to Cedar Key, and that’s where we hung out for a few days. A lot of our fellow full-time RVer friends had spent the winter in Cedar Key last year and we heard some great things about it. We fell in love with the place pretty quick, with its beautiful sunsets, super laid-back vibe and quaint RV parks. Our park was right on the water, and since it’s on the west side, the sun sets over the gulf. Next door to our RV park was the “Low Key Hideaway,” which is another inn/RV park that happens to have a very cool tiki bar, and very cool owners. When we return to Cedar Key in January, we’re going to stay there for a week.

SunsetIsleRVparkSome iPhone shots Karen got at our Cedar Key RV park

After spending a few days in Cedar Key, we continued south to the Clearwater area. Karen’s parents have a house there and they were flying down to spend a few days. I also needed a place to hunker down and get a lot of work done, as we’re leaving the country on Saturday and I have LOADS to do before then! But that brings me to the whole “leaving the country” thing. I will be teaching for just under a month on a cruise ship that departs from Lisbon, Portugal and sails around Portugal, Morocco and Spain before turning around again and heading across the Atlantic, where we will disembark in Miami. I’m not sure what my internet scenario will be like over the next few weeks, but I’ll do my best to keep this blog updated! More to come!


creativeLIVE & the road to Glacier

Hi gang! Here’s the weekly recap. We started the week off in Seattle, where I was teaching my “Photoshop Mastery: Creative Explorations” 2-day online class. We covered everything from filters, to brushes, to panollages, and all kinds of fun creative techniques. If you missed it, you can still get the class HERE. Immediately following my Creative Explorations class, I did a one-day “Image Ambulance” class, which covered all kinds of retouching and restoration techniques. This one was really interesting because all of the images were submitted by viewers and I only started working on them during the live class. No pressure! It actually turned out to be great, and we had a nice array of “problem images” to deal with. If you’d like to grab the Image Ambulance class, you can do so HERE.

BenCL-JulyMe and my in-studio students at creativeLIVE.

Karen and I always love hanging out in Seattle. Not only is the creativeLIVE team amazing to work with, but the city is pretty awesome itself… especially in the summer months when it’s actually sunny! We always find great places to eat, and this time, we checked out the Collections Cafe, which is located inside the Chihuly Garden of Glass Museum. The cafe is pretty interesting in that it’s full of interesting… you guessed it… collections. Each table is a shadowbox full of unique vintage things. Cameras, wind-up toys, you name it. Hanging on the ceiling are dozens of old accordions. All in all, it makes for a pretty funky atmosphere. We also stopped at Pike Place Market before we left, and that’s always an adventure in itself!

Ben-CollectionsCafeKaren got this shot of my at the Collections Cafe in Seattle. There are dozens of old accordions hanging from the ceiling.

After we left Seattle, we spent a night in the Spokane area before heading east towards Glacier National Park. We did stop for a night in Sand Point, Idaho on the way and spent the evening hanging out with Karen’s friends Wendy and Sean, who live in town. What’s funny is that the RV park we stayed at was directly across from Laughing Dog Brewery. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a bit of a beer snob, and love stopping at breweries along my travels. This place had at least five different IPAs (India Pale Ales) and that’s my favorite kind of beer. Karen also loved the place because to say it was dog friendly would be an understatement. There were at least five to six dogs running around the place at any given time.

BenKar-LaughingDogKaren and I striking one of our signature poses out front of Laughing Dog.

The next day, we made it to our Glacier rv park, which is only a few miles from the entrance to the national park. So far, we’ve only gotten to explore one day so we were really just getting the lay of the land, driving from one side to the other to see what it was like. I haven’t been to this park since I was in college and Karen has never been before. In fact, this is her first time in Montana! From what we’ve seen so far, the park is beautiful, and we’re bound to have a great week of exploring and shooting here. More to come!

BenKar-GlacierSignThe mandatory tourist shot.

GlacierNP2013-706-EditHere I am with a fleet of vintage busses used by the national park for public transport. I would LOVE to get to lightpaint one of these!

Exploring The Palouse

Hi gang! Get ready for a very photographic post! We’ve spent the past week photographing the beautiful Palouse area in south-east Washington. We had originally only planned to spend two or three days in the area, but life got in the way a bit, in the form of bus transmission issues. Because we had to have the bus at a diesel shop in Spokane for several days in a row, we took the extra time to drive the mini down to The Palouse. This actually worked out really well, from a photographic standpoint, because we got to photograph in all kinds of weather/lighting scenarios.

BenPalouseSunsetThis image was shot from near the top of Steptoe Butte in the Palouse.

The Palouse is basically wheat country. The area is covered in beautiful, rolling hills covered with wheat and canola. When the canola flowers are in bloom, and they were for us, it is pretty spectacular seeing the sweeping expanses of yellow flowers. In exploring the area, we knew there was one place we had to visit, and that was Steptoe Butte. From the top, you have a great view of the rolling hills, and if you get good light, sunset is a great shooting time. From this point, you want to be using a pretty long lens to pick out barns and really emphasize the shadows & highlights. The photo above was shot from Steptoe Butte around sunset.

Aside from that one spot, the rest of our shooting locations were really found by exploring. We’d just get in the car, head into the Palouse area and see what we found. There were many small dirt roads we followed, seeking out good photo opportunities. Most of the time, we found them! While driving around, we were looking for one of two main things: Nice light hitting the rolling hills, and lone barn structures to use as subjects. The area has loads of spots like this, so it often took us two hours to go two miles because we would keep stopping to get out and shoot!

BenPalouseBarnWe found this barn near sunset while we were just driving around. This is an iPhone shot I took, processed with Snapseed.

I obviously did a lot of shooting this past week, but in addition to my usual DSLR shots, I did a lot of iPhoneography as well. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve been seeing tons of my iPhone shots from the Palouse. The effects you can get with minimal editing on the iPhone is just amazing. I used Snapseed to edit most of those shots.  I also took a lot of panoramas. I love printing big, and always shoot panos, but this place was just begging for it.

BenCanolaPano-longHere is a pano from one of the canola fields. That’s Karen in the middle doing a yoga pose.

BenPalouseFishyA fun circular fisheye shot

BenPalousePano2Here is another pano of a barn we found just by driving around the area. 

While we were out exploring the Palouse, the shop managed to fix the issue with the bus’ transmission. I am going to be hanging out in the general area, making sure that the problem has been fixed (If it occurs again, I want to be able to easily get back to the shop). Karen is flying over to NJ to spend a week with her family and attend her brother’s graduation party. When she returns, we will meet over in Seattle for my next creativeLIVE event.

Speaking of creativeLIVE, I’ll be teaching my Photoshop Mastery: Creative Explorations class on July 8-9, 9-4 PST. As always with creativeLIVE, while it’s live it’s totally free to watch, so tune in and learn how to add some awesome sauce to your images!

More to come…

untitled-748Me and Karen goofing off