Work Week

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. For me, the entire past week has not been all that exciting. It has, however, been very productive. We are still parked in the Portland area, and I’ve been spending the past several days working on the handbook for my upcoming seminar tour, Photographic Artistry with Photoshop CS6. The handbook is nothing short of a small book, so needless to say, I’ve had my hands full! It’s going to be a good one though, and I hope you’ll come out to see me if I’m headed to a city near you. Click HERE to learn more about the tour.

I’ve also been getting ready for some upcoming travel. This week, I’ll be heading to Iceland to teach a Photoshop class in the country’s capital, Reykjavik. Iceland has always been one of my absolute favorite places to shoot, and because of that, I have been there several times and will even  return again later this year. The landscape is something out of a fairy tale. From waterfalls, to story book horses, to mountains & volcanoes, to quaint chapels by the sea, it’s a photographer’s paradise. If you’re interested in visiting Iceland (and I HIGHLY recommend it) we still have some seats available in my upcoming workshop this August. I’d love to have you join me and experience the magic of the place… and of course learn tons about Photoshop and digital photography. Click HERE to learn more about that trip.

Finally, in just two weeks, I’ll be teaching at Photoshop Week, which is creativeLIVE’s first ever online, live conference. It’s 6 days, 12 instructors, over 40 classes, and best of all… it’s FREE while it’s live. If, however, you would like to be present in the studio audience in Seattle, creativeLIVE is now accepting submissions and you can learn how to do that HERE.

While this week was 99% work, we did manage to sneak out of the bus once and we were glad we did because we found one of our new favorite restaurants! It’s a crepe place called Le Happy in downtown Portland, and it was just excellent. I’m not a huge fan of crepes, and I’m not a vegan, but the demi-vegan peanut tofu crepe was one of the best meals I’ve had… ever. Many of the other crepes on the menu sounded excellent too, so we’ll definitely be making a return visit. The place is located in a tiny old building and the atmosphere is quite charming, both inside and out.

Well, that’s it for this week folks. I’m sorry this wasn’t as exciting a post as some, but productivity is good! More to come!

Le Happy, in downtown Portland

Learning Encaustic and more fun in Portland

This past week was our final week in Portland, at least for a while. We stayed parked there for quite some time… longer than we usually stay in one given spot. Part of this past week was focused on learning a new (to me) kind of art medium. While I’m used to teaching workshops, this time I was the student, and the medium was encaustic. Encaustic basically means art created with beeswax, and I had been wanting to learn it for a while. I had been looking for a new an interesting way to display my photos, and encaustic really spoke to me.

I signed up for a two-day workshop in Portland with Linda Womack. I learned about the different methods and tools, and ended up going home with a handful of finished pieces. It’s definitely something that is better to learn hands-on in a class rather than just out of a book. Lots of the techniques are tedious and must be done very fast, because the wax is constantly drying. Now that I have a solid foundation, I’m probably going to start buying supplies so that I can practice on my own.

Here I am working on one of my pieces in the encaustic workshop.

One of my Rt. 66 images that has been transferred to wax, but not fused yet.

Here, I experimented with pigments under the photo.

I guess this was just a classroom kind of week for us, because Karen also took a class on knife skills at Portland’s Sur La Table. She had a little rule for herself, and that was she couldn’t buy a GOOD, sharp knife until she took a knife skills class. (she has been known to be a tad accident prone in the kitchen) She ended up loving the class and buying a new chef’s knife and paring knife shortly after.

Karen shot this before her knife skills class in Portland.

Aside from the classes, we had a fairly low-key week, with a few fun distractions. One of our favorite things to do in Portland is see movies at the McMinnemin’s Brew Pub Theaters. They have slightly older movies and only charge $2-3 for admission. What’s even better is that you can have beer and wine in the theater as well as GOOD food. We’ve gotten Thai bowls, hummus, salads, etc. This week, we went to see the movie “Looper,” and both enjoyed it. We also got to meet up with my friend and fellow photography instructor Chris Hurtt. He’s a Portland local and we spent a bunch of time catching up at The Bye & Bye, another one of our favorite places in Portland. It’s a vegan bar, and the food is actually amazing!

On a completely different note, I was featured on Nik Radio this week, where in my interview, I talk with Scott Sheppard about Photoshop, photography and gear. If you’re not familiar with Nik Radio, here’s what they do:

Nik Radio delivers a variety of educational programming created to inspire digital photographers of all levels. Sponsored by Nik Software, Nik Radio features digital imaging tips and techniques, highlights the work of popular professional photographers and experts through in-depth Pro Talks, showcases industry events, and shares insights and the stories behind the most popular images of our time. Listen today for unique educational content that will help you achieve your goals behind the camera and on the computer!

Click HERE to check out my interview

Well, that’s all the news for this week. We’re now making our way south the the Eugene, Oregon area where my vintage bus will be getting its new interior. More to come…

Learn how to master HDR photography

Hi everyone! There’s one month left to sign up for my “Mastering HDR” workshop in Los Osos, CA. We’re looking at five full days of shooting, post-processing and stylizing HDR images. Before giving the workshop description, I want to mention something about this type of photography. The term “HDR” is often thought of as an illustrative and unrealistic look, but it’s important to understand that this look is just one of the potential end results. HDR is also used to create very realistic images by simply expanding the tonal range from what your camera can capture. In this class, we’ll go over all kinds of HDR processing, from the photo-realistic to the illustrative style.

Here is the full workshop description. I hope you’ll be able to join me for five days of intense training and shooting!


Mastering High Dynamic Range Photography

Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 2012

Learn to capture the full brightness range of a scene and present it to your viewer as either a photorealistic image or as an image that more closely resembles a hyper-detailed drawing.

With over two dozen choices of HDR processing software, you’ll learn which software is worth using and which should be ignored. You’ll also see why you should avoid Photoshop’s standard HDR processing and how to use alternative methods in Photoshop and Lightroom to produce far superior results.

This course will teach you how to deal with common problems such as subject motion, scenes with extreme dynamic range, images that feature people and a lot more.

You’ll learn:

• Best practices for shooting HDR that will help you capture much sharper images and avoid common problems
• How to best merge multiple exposures into a single High Dynamic Range image
• Which file formats are more ideal for unprocessed HDR images
• The best software choices for tone mapping your images
• Post processing techniques needed to tackle common problems
• Retouching techniques to remove telephone wires (even through trees) and other distractions
• Image optimization techniques to help direct the viewer’s eye through your image
• HDR panorama shooting and stitching techniques

You’ll learn all this from one of the original pioneers of HDR photography: The guy who the author of “The HDR Handbook” dubbed “The Godfather of HDR.”

Click here to register

In the images below, drag the sliders to see the before & afters.






 Click here to register


Seattle & creativeLIVE

Hello from Seattle! I just arrived in the Seattle area a few days ago, after having spent some time in Portland. While I’m in Seattle, I’ll be presenting two online seminars with creativeLIVE. If you’re not familiar with creativeLIVE, it is a live, online creative classroom offering up tons of photography-related courses. Most of the courses are three days long, and when you watch them live online, they’re absolutely free. Once they’re over, you may purchase the courses to watch whenever you want. This week, I’ll be teaching the following two courses:

Photoshop for Photographers – Aug. 22-24

Lightpainting (1-day class) – Aug. 25

Once I arrived to the Seattle area, I was eager to meet the creativeLIVE team and go over the details of my upcoming events. It was sheer coincidence that when I went to visit their studio, my good friend and photographer Lee Varis was presenting his live seminar, on shooting and retouching skin. I sat in on his workshop for a bit, and then we went out to dinner that night.

Lee Varis, on the set of creativeLIVE, teaching his Photoshop/photography class on skin.

While I was sitting in on Lee’s class, I was joined by photographer and instructor Sue Bryce. The creativeLIVE gang gave the two of us a chance to quiz question Lee and talk about our upcoming events. You can see the video clip below.

After the creativeLIVE events, I’ll be hanging out in Seattle for a few more days and then flying over to NJ to visit Karen’s family. Karen is already over in NJ as she’s had some family emergencies to deal with. From there, we’ll both head to Photoshop World in Las Vegas. More to come…

Teaching in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Imagine a landscape of lush rolling fields covered in flowers, pristine waterfalls, never-ending sunsets, beautiful wild horses and green mountains. It sounds like a fairytale, right? Something out of “Lord of the Rings,” perhaps? Believe it or not, this place is very real, and it’s called Iceland. Talk about a photographer’s dream come true! If you’re a photographer (amateur, professional, whatever.), and you visit Iceland, you WILL end up returning over and over again… just like I have. There are few places that I like to visit repeatedly, but Iceland is one of those special places.

We just wrapped up a week-long photography workshop with Focus on Nature called Discover Iceland. During the course of the week, we traveled along the south coast of the country, stopping at over 20 incredible shooting locations. The shooting/exploring was also punctuated by some lecture and critique sessions where I covered techniques for shooting and editing images. The workshop happened during a very interesting time of year. If you’re wondering what this midnight sun thing is all about, here it is: In Iceland, during the summer, it never really gets dark out because the sun sets around midnight and never really gets very far under the horizon before it rises again around 3 am. This makes for some very interesting shooting [and sleeping] scenarios.

Left to right: Ragnar Th Sigurdsson (our excellent local photographer guide), myself, and Einar Erlendsson (The man behind Focus on Nature).

Our group stops to grill dinner in the midst of one of our photo shoots. Here, you can see the rugged vehicle we traveled in during the workshop.

The setup for this workshop was very nice. The group traveled in a very large and incredibly rugged vehicle, maneuvered by Siggy, our awesome driver. Each person had their own row, so it was easy to keep camera gear out and ready. While we were on the road, I would give shooting tips and post-processing techniques (yes, I actually processed images on the move!). There was also my daily session of “How to pimp your 5D Mark II” (most of the workshop attendees shot with this camera.) When we were out shooting, the vehicle would stay open so that we could easily change out gear.

And then, of course, there was Einar. Einar is the man behind Focus on Nature and, while we’re on the road, he drives behind in his truck, aka command central. He is always using some type of device to arrange the details of the workshop. Because the weather and other conditions in Iceland can be so unpredictable, we don’t make many of the arrangements in advance. Instead, we follow the light and make decisions on the fly so that we don’t miss any great opportunities. Einar is constantly toggling weather maps, arranging hotel stays, meals, etc. It’s because he’s there, taking care of all the details, that we can focus on shooting.

But that’s enough about workshop details. Let’s get on to some more images, shall we? The following is a photoloque of the Discover Iceland, 2012 workshop:

Here I am shooting one of Iceland’s many geothermal spots. Iceland is situated in a location where there is a crack in the Earth’s plates and it allows the country to use the resulting heat/steam for energy.

One of Karen’s images from Skogafoss, an incredibly large waterfall on the south coast of Iceland. The group had a great time with this one, because you could actually climb up the hill on the right side of the waterfall to get interesting vantage points.

The two above images were shot in the town of Vik. We stopped here because the place is just so photogenic. There, you’ve got rustic buildings, Icelandic horses, the beach, and of course, that picturesque church on the hillside.

We stopped to shoot at two different locations where a glacier “flows” into a lagoon. Icebergs break off the glacier and float around, sometimes washing up on the land.

This is where one of the glacier/iceberg lagoons flows out into the ocean.

The two photos above were from a pretty comical shoot. As we pulled up to this field by the beach, Ragnar told us that we would be photographing these beautiful birds, and that it was great because, when you walk out there, they try to attack you! At first we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what was so great about this, but eventually, we found that you get some good shooting opportunities as they swoop down at your head! We got some good images, but the birds did get their revenge on some of us. Some people say it’s good luck when a bird poops on you. If that’s the case, we were a very lucky group!

If you know me, you know that I couldn’t let a whole week of shooting go by without doing some lightpainting! The tricky thing with this time of year in Iceland is that it never get’s dark. In order to keep our scenery dark enough, we had to use much shorter shutter speeds. This turned out to be ok because the type of lightpainting we did involved burning steel wool. When I spun the steel wool around it was bright enough to show up well with shutter speeds of 4-5 seconds.

In one of the above captions, I mentioned the iceberg lagoon that flows out into the ocean. Some of the icebergs eventually wash up on the shore and melt there, creating very interesting shapes and textures. Our group spent a while shooting here.

As a last-minute treat, Einar arranged for the group to take a boat ride out in the glacier lagoon.

We stopped to shoot at this charming little grass-roof church. Iceland has a lot of adorable buildings like this.

These pools were full of a funky green algae that almost gave them a glowing appearance. This was definitely one of those “off the beaten path” locations that you can only get to with a pretty rugged vehicle.

There was one day where we spent a bit of time in the vehicle waiting for a rain storm to pass by. (This wasn’t really a bad thing, because we covered some more shooting tips while we were waiting.) When the rain subsided, we were rewarded with this beautiful full rainbow. This is a rather unique group shot, wouldn’t you say?

This waterfall is called Seljalandsfoss and was the perfect spot to wrap up a full day of shooting. The falls are extremely picturesque and you can even walk behind them!

These very generous Icelandic horses allowed us to photograph them from up close in their pasture. They even had some foals with them that were very curious about our cameras.

Here is Karen, shooting at the Blue Lagoon, which is another geothermal location. These pools were probably 85-90 degrees F! If you’ve been to Iceland you know that the Blue Lagoon is actually a geothermal spa where you can go and swim or get treatments. The area you see above is not part of that spa but it’s still part of the same body of water.

As you probably noticed from the images, we had a pretty great experience. The group was wonderful, and everyone got along great from day 1. I hope to see many of them again in the future, either on another workshop, or during the course of our travels in the bus. We were sad to leave Iceland, but look forward to another future visit. We are actually working with Focus on Nature to arrange two more workshop events in 2013. I’ll announce them here on the blog and at as soon as we have details.

More to come!