Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Going to Photoshop World? Like HDR? Head to Nelson!

Continuing the lead up to Photoshop World 2015 in Las Vegas. I've posted before about checking out the Old Ghost Town in Nelson, Nevada. So if you're heading to Vegas for PSW2015 then definitely take the time to head down there, especially if you like HDR. Even if you don't like HDR there's a ton of shooting opportunities out there.

I'm a fan of HDR and the Old Ghost Town had been on my list for a long time. I finally got there last year for the first time, and I was like a kid in a HDR candy store! I was bracketing left, right and centre!! (I know, I know...insert groan here)

Tons of old buildings and run down cars & trucks, lots of texture, overall a fantastic setting to shoot. But don't forget, you won't be the only photographer there, so make sure you bring some patience and respect for others who are there to enjoy this place as you are.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Photoshop World 2015 is Almost Here!

Last year was my first Photoshop World in Las Vegas. There was so much that I missed as there was so much to do. At the end of the conference I mentioned this to Scott Kelby and he looked me right in eye and simply said…”dude, come back next year!”


There's also a bunch of Pre-Conference workshops and I attended the Concert Photography workshop with Alan Hess (an amazing concert shooter), and Scott Diussa from Nikon Professional Services (also an amazing concert shooter). You get some classroom learning first and then the really cool part…you get to shoot a real band! Yup, you get the whole experience with a live band, a loud band, lights, dry ice, like you’re at a real concert, and basically you are albeit a private concert for photographers only. The band last year was called Rebel Soul, a classic rock band with a great sound who totally rocked it. It was hard to separate my wanting to shoot, and my wanting to just sit back and enjoy the show.

The other really cool part was after the workshop all participants were asked to submit 1 photo of the shoot. The instructors would then choose the top 3 images to be presented at the Keynote Address (yeah the one that kicks off Photoshop World that everyone attends) for a chance to win great prize from Nikon, thanks to Scott Disussa and the NPS Team. The crowd cheers would choose the winner. To my total surprise my image (at the top of this post) made the top 3! Unfortunately, I didn't win, but I got a tremendous amount of positive feedback from so many people. It was an amazing experience.

The Pre-Conference workshops fill up fast, however, it looks like the Real World Concert Photography workshop still has some openings so definitely check it out.

The whole conference was a great experience. I learned a lot and made some new friends.

You can check out all of the details and register here:

Photoshop World 2015 – Las Vegas



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Our Zipline Adventure in Whistler

My wife and I were in Whistler, British Columbia last weekend for the North Face Half Marathon. While there we also went ziplining with ZipTrek Ecotours, which was a very cool adventure. 

My wife has a bit of a flare for storytelling so I'm turning today's post over to her to tell the story in the way only she can.  
“You want me to do what?!?” I would have looked back at him, but I was much too afraid to turn around.

“Step down to the third step,” he repeated with the patience of someone who is well accustomed to being asked dumb questions by tourists.

I looked down at the metal steps in front of me; the ones that had no railings and suddenly dropped off into nowhere. And I mean nowhere! From that last step was a 750 foot drop off into the valley below.

“When you feel the wedgie, you’ll know you’ve gone far enough."

I would have thrown our 20 something year-old tour guide a withering look at that comment, but I was too busy trying to keep my breakfast where it belonged.
Suddenly, I had a flash black to 4 months ago when I first found the advertisement for this Zipline tour online. “Hey, Darren! Look at this! We can do this when we are over there for the half-marathon. What do you think?”

He had agreed with me then. Probably because we were both visualizing the easy experience we had ziplining at Turkey Point back home. Somehow, now that we were standing on the platform towering above the valley in Whistler, it suddenly seemed like a VERY bad idea.

Oh, well, if I die today, I won’t have to do any more call, I thought as I took a deep breath and stepped down. Another two steps and I felt the harness grip me in a way that was way too familiar. 

“Okay, this is as far as I can go.” I imagined that my voice sounded calm and collected. Like it belonged to an experienced health care professional who was used to making life and death decisions. Sadly, I am pretty sure I sounded more like a squeaky 6 year-old.

“Ok, then just sit back into the harness, step off and you’ll be on your way.”

Our guide still sounded way too cheerful for my liking.

“I’m only on the second step and the harness has me. Do I have to go down another step?” Was it my imagination or was Darren’s voice a notch or two higher then it usually is too?

I glanced over at my husband cinched up in his matching harness a few metres away from me on the same platform. Apparently, we were going to have the dubious honour of ziplining together.

“Just step off and go!” our tour guide called out to both of us.

Suddenly, the scene from Indiana Jones when Indy had to take a leap of Faith by stepping out onto nothing (when there was actually a bridge that blended in completely with the canyon wall) flashed through my mind. Here goes nothing! I thought as I took my own personal leap of Faith.

And then I was flying through the air. More like a terrified-seated-woman-clinging-onto-the-strap-of-her harness flying than soaring like a bird flying, but flying nonetheless. I can’t even describe what if felt like as I sailed across the valley, the trees whistling by below me. It made me want to laugh and scream at the same time.

I saw Darren zipping on his line out ahead of me and picking up speed. I was wondering how I could possibly catch up to him when for some reason I started to spin. Ok, zipping forward was one thing, but making me zip backward was just mean! Fortunately, a few seconds later, I spun back again. And then as my pulley hit the brake line and my feet hit the wood of the ramp on the receiving platform, it was over. My flight was over. Darren was there ahead of me and showed me his slightly shaking hand. I grinned at him and said, “That was fun!” He laughed and said “Terrifyingly awesome! Let’s do it again!”

Here's the group shot with our guides Keir and Aldo, from Ziptrek, and the two Heathers, our adventure partners for the days.

Photo credits: Ziptrek staff photographers.



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Haleakala - House of the Sun

Haleakala (House of the Sun) on the island of Maui, a truly amazing place above the clouds. If you get the chance to go then take it, but also take some patience as the drive to the top is a long and winding road. (The image above is looking west at the peak of Mauna Kahalawai in the West Maui Mountains).

The peak stands at 10,023 feet and looks out over a barren wasteland of volcanic rock. Getting up there does take some time as the road is very slow going. The speed limit on the Haleakala Highway in most places is between 15 and 20 mph and there are lots of blind turns (I counted somewhere around 30 blind hairpin turns), but about half way up you begin to rise above the clouds, which is really cool.

If you're not use to altitude then you'll definitely begin to feel it. We stopped at the visitor centre at around 7000 feet to use the bathroom, and as soon as I got out of the car I could feel how thin the air was; a bit more difficult to get a full breath and a slight pressure in my chest.  Up at 10,000 feet was very noticeable. You do get used to it, but you have to take slow deep breaths. It can be very disconcerting if you haven't experienced it before.

We also got really lucky with the weather. We had a clear day, very little wind and no rain. I have heard of other's experiences up there in the blowing wind and rain, and very cold temperatures. When we left Ka'anapali the thermometer in the car read 82F (27C), at the summit it read 49F (9C). I suggested to my my wife that she should bring her winter mittens, we already had our winter coats going down there from Canada in February. I was pretty ok in a t-shirt and hoodie, and my wife was happy to have had her winter coat and mittens.

So make sure you put this on your travel bucket is worth the drive, trust me!