Travels & Training Events

Hi gang! I just wanted to give you the weekly update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been teaching, as well as a heads up on an upcoming event (that anyone can attend online, for free!). I started out the week with a flight to Sacramento to teach my one-day Photoshop Creativity Seminar. This seminar covers things like compositing, adding dimension to your images, masking, blending modes and more. We’ll be adding more dates and cities to this seminar tour soon, and you can learn more about it HERE. Flying into Sacramento, I also got an extra treat because I was picked up at the airport by my good friend and fellow photographer Lewis Kemper. It had been a long time since I had run into Lewis at an event we were both teaching at, so it was nice to be able to catch up!

bensacramentoMy Sacramento Photoshop Creativity Seminar.

BenLewisMe and my good pal and fellow photographer Lewis Kemper

My stay in Sacramento was very brief, and from there I flew to Eugene, Oregon, where my vintage bus is getting its custom interior installed. If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I’ve been making lots of periodic visits to work on this ongoing project. The interior is really coming along though, so it’s nice to have an end in sight! I was recently able to acquire the rubber fittings that will go around the windows. This might not seem too exciting, but considering the bus is older than I am, things like that aren’t always the easiest thing to find! The Epson printer that we’ll use on the bus also arrived, and I was happy to see that it fit perfectly into the drawer that was designed for it. This drawer is underneath my workstation seat, so whenever I need to print something I’ll just be able to open the drawer, load it with paper and be good to go.

Vbus-EpsonThe new Epson printer fitting perfectly into the drawer that was specially designed for it. 

Vbus-rubberThe rubber fittings that will go around the windows on my vintage bus.

After leaving Eugene, I flew back to Tampa, FL, where Karen and I will be hanging out for most of the summer. I did want to give you a heads up on another one-day event I’ve got coming up, and this one is easy for anyone in the world to attend, because it’s online. And when it’s live, it’s free! The class is called Photoshop CC Fundamentals and I’ll be teaching it at creativeLIVE. In this course, I’ll demonstrate essential tools and concepts that will get you successfully using the program. You’ll learn about everything from selections and masking to layers, filters and adjustments. I’ll will also point you to the best options for the crucial technical settings such as resolution, color spaces and file formats. Click here to learn more about this class or to register for free. 


More to come!

Teaching & Tinkering in the Pacific Northwest

Hi all! I just spent most of the past week in Seattle, WA and Eugene, OR. However, unlike last winter where we kept the bus in the Pacific Northwest, I flew in from Atlanta this time around.

I started off the week in Seattle teaching my “Think Like a Photographer” class at creativeLIVE. This class is geared toward folks who have been shooting for a bit and would like to get more serious about their photography. We covered composition, shooting strategies, gear, post-processing, etc. It was a lot of fun and everyone learned a ton. If you missed the class, you can still snag it HERE.

Ben_CL_NovHere I am on the set of my “Think Like a Photographer” class. Thanks to my awesome host, Jim Catechi, for getting this shot!

After wrapping up my class, I went south to Eugene, Oregon. That’s where my vintage bus is being worked on and getting its new interior installed. If you’re not already aware, I live in a 40′ tour bus and I travel around the country taking photos. The vintage bus is my next home on wheels and it will feature a completely custom interior when it’s finished. It’s been a long-term project, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Karen and I spent last winter in Oregon so that I could oversee the project, but eventually the guys at the shop were on autopilot and we were able to explore and travel more. Now that lots of progress has been made, I wanted to pay the bus a visit and work with the shop on design details and such. I spent three days in Eugene and I’m thrilled with how the bus is looking! If you want to learn more about the project, or follow the progress, check out the Creative Cruiser Facebook page (yes, my bus has its own Facebook page).

LarryParadiseLarry, the owner of Paradise Coach, standing in my bus. 

As I mentioned earlier, the bus (the one I currently live on) stayed in Atlanta, so that’s where I returned to after my trip to the Pacific Northwest. My great friend and photographer Eddie Tapp is an Atlanta local, so we got to spend some more time together when I arrived. We paid a visit to the SE Railroad Museum and did a little shooting there. It seems that I’ve had a train theme going on the past few weeks. This is at least the third railroad-themed museum I’ve been to lately!

AtlantaTrainMuseumAn iPhone shot I took at the SE Raillroad Museum

From Atlanta, we will continue south to Florida because, well, that’s what we do in the winter time! Karen is actually in NJ to photograph her best friend’s newborn and she will fly directly to Jacksonville later this week. We will then continue to the Tampa area and maybe even make it further south. At the end of the month, we fly to Lisbon, Portugal, where we will board a cruise ship that will be our home for a month. I’ll be teaching a class for the cruise passengers, and then we’ll arrive stateside again just in time for xmas/new years. More to come!

Lightpainting & Vintage Things

Two of my favorite topics! This week, I combined the two by lightpainting a vintage truck I had visited a few weeks ago. This truck is located at the Antique Powerland Museum in Salem, Oregon. The museum is full of vintage semis and other vehicles, and back when Karen and I got a tour, I spoke with our guide about returning one night to lightpaint my favorite vehicle. After seeing my work, the guide agreed to meet me after dark one night.

The vehicle is a 1938 Ford COE (cab-over-engine) that has a whopping 85 horsepower (my vintage bus has more like 400 for comparison). It was the first Ford truck to use the COE design. I just love the art deco/streamline moderne design of trucks of that vintage.

If you’re a photographer or photo enthusiast, know that there are only three things preventing you from making an image like this one: 1) time, 2) patience, 3) technical knowledge. I can only help you with #3. If you want to get started painting with light, check out my e-book on the subject. You can even download a free starter/sample pdf to get you started.

Truck-LightpaintThis is one of my mega light paintings… I shot no fewer than 120 exposures! But some of those where as short as one second long just to light the hood ornament for example. When it’s a big and complex object like this one, I tend to be excessive with the number of exposures I capture… if I miss something, it’s going to be just a black hole… so I better light be sure to light everything… and often from more then one angle. My main complaint about this image is the lack of shape in the near front fender. The far front fender is lit from light reflecting off the white wall next to the truck. If I were to do it again, I would have lit the ceiling to get some light to reflect into the near front fender.


While I was in the Salem area, I toured Gordon house, which is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s usonian homes. I’ve always been a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, and whenever I’m near one of his buildings, I try to pay a visit.

Outside of lightpainting, I spent a good part of the week between Portland and Eugene, Oregon. My vintage bus is located in Eugene and the progress on the interior has been really consistent. Up until now, the interior of the bus has been a “mockup,” meaning a temporary interior that we would constantly tweak until we liked how everything was set up. Well, we finally got everything how we wanted it, so the mockup was pulled out, and progress has begun with the true materials. The guys started building our cabinets, and we completed the plans for the entryway design. If you’d like to follow the progress of the bus, I post everything on the Creative Cruiser’s Facebook Page.

BusBlueprint The constantly-changing blueprint for my vintage bus.

This coming week, I’m heading to Seattle to teach the next segment in my Photoshop Mastery series on creativeLIVE. This class is on retouching and collage, and it’s free to watch while it’s live! Of course, if you like what you see, you can purchase the class for a discounted rate while it’s live. The class is Monday and Tuesday, 9 am – 4 pm PST. Check it out 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!

More lightpainting & happy holidays!

Hi Gang! I’m writing this post from New Jersey, where I’ll be spending the holiday week with Karen’s family. We started off the week in Eugene, Oregon, where my vintage bus is having its interior worked on. Before we left, I spent some time chatting with the gang at Paradise Coach, making plans for the beginning of the project. Paradise Coach has just finished a 2-year restoration of a 1947 Silverside bus. I did a lightpainting of that bus, which I included in last week’s post. Karen and I also created a video tour of that bus, so if you want to see the kind of work this shop does, check out the video below. The Silverside is a brand of bus I really love and considered buying back when I was in the market for a vintage bus.


On Wednesday, we flew out of Portland and made an overnight stop in Las Vegas before continuing to New Jersey. We stayed with my great friends Steve and Beverly and stayed up into the wee hours catching up with them. In the morning we boarded our flight to Philadelphia and later arrived at Karen’s parents’ house, where the holiday festivities were in full swing. The family has been spending a lot of time preparing for the holidays, and the next couple days should be great.

Karen’s gingerbread house. She and her sister make these every year.

I also got to do another lightpainting shoot in NJ. Our friend Carl, dubbed the “Wine Wizard,” is one of the winemakers at Heritage Vineyards and has an incredible wine cellar of his own. In the past, Karen and I have had the privilege of attending one of his incredible cellar wine dinners, where he shared some of the most amazing wine we had ever tasted. Carl will be moving back to Texas soon, and we wanted to photograph his wine cellar for him, as a nice memory he could take with him to his new house. I spent about an hour and half lightpainting the cellar, and it proved to be one of my more challenging lightpaints because of how reflective the bottles are, and because many of them had to be back-lit to make sure they showed up properly. You can see the image below. The entire shot was lit with only the red ribbon light that’s found on the top of the cellar rack and a LED Lenser P5R Flashlight, which is my favorite small lighting instrument.

This one was rather crazy since it’s the combination of no fewer than 160 shots. It was very difficult to light in such a small room with bottles that look black if you don’t either back-light the whites or side light the reds. Just imagine trying to stand somewhere inside to light an area without having your body in the shot.

The final lightpaint. This image is made up of no fewer than 160 shots. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Karen’s shot of me shooting. Of course, when I was ACTUALLY lightpainting, it was pitch black in the room.

If you’re interested in this type of photography, you can learn to lightpaint with my 94-page e-book, The Fine Art of Painting With Light. It’s only $9.97 and you can get it HERE. If you prefer to learn hands-on, I’ve got a workshop coming up in March called “Mastering HDR & Lightpainting.” You can learn more about that event and register HERE.

Well, now it’s time to get back to the holidays festivities. I hope you all have a great holiday season! Best wishes to you and your families!