Monday, April 22, 2013

Mr. Smith Goes To Photoshop World

Photoshop World Keynote Address
Where do I begin? If you follow my Blog, you know that I made a trek to the promise land last week by venturing down to Orlando to attend Scott Kelby's Photoshop World. What an experience. This was my first PW as I had resisted Scott's invitations to attend for many years, not because I didn't think I would get a lot out of it but simply because I couldn't make the time to go. This year, I decided it was time and I am so glad I did.

Wedding Photography Pre-Con Workshop begins
From the minute I arrived at the hotel, I knew this was going to be a very special few days. After checking in, I went to my room to drop off luggage so I could make a beeline for the convention center to register, get my passes, etc. and find the meeting room where my pre-con event was going to meet. I was signed up for a 7-hour experience with Joe McNally and after registering, I wandered up to my meeting room. On the way, the wedding photography pre-con had already started as folks were busily snapping away at a bride and a groom who were posing in the lobby area.

I made it upstairs only to run into Joe McNally in the hallway. I have followed Joe's work for a long time and was anxiously looking forward to learning some of his lighting techniques. I told Joe how much I had been looking forward to his class and in a matter of seconds Joe made me fell like we had known each other all our lives. That's par for the course at PW as every instructor I met was down to earth and quickly put attendees at ease while engaging in conversation.

Joe's workshop was called "Characters on Location", conceived as a one hour introduction to Joe's photography followed by a photo shoot at a local studio with 5 models, various sets and a wide variety of lighting at our disposal. Two male and three female models were our guinea pigs as Joe went through each concept, offered suggestions as to possible images that might be created and ways to light them. He then turned us loose to split up and shoot away.

Joe moved from one set to the other offering his thoughts and answering our questions. At 4:00 pm he jumped in and walked us through how he would shoot a certain image concept and took his turn at shooting one model indoors and one outdoors.

Dave Black, long time Sports Illustrated photographer
The next day brought the start of the actual conference which used the movie Top Gun as its theme. The top two floors of the convention center were for classes and the bottom floor was set up as an airplane hanger to house the Expo where companies could offer their wares - Adobe, Canon, OnOne, Really Right Stuff, Midwest Photo, Epson, etc. Scott made it a point to tell me before the conference that I should attend classes outside my wheelhouse, i.e. not to go to the sports photography classes but to go to ones involving other aspects of photography I wanted to learn. So, I attended classes on creating composites, concert photography, character creation, small flash lighting, glamour and fashion photography, making prints and aviation photography to name a few; but, I admit, I couldn't pass up the chance to attend one of Dave Black's sports photography classes. How could I not go to listen to a man who brought us so many Olympics through the magic of his lenses?

The Expo was a treat. It gave me a chance to not only check out all kinds of new gear but there were several shooting areas with models posing under lights. The models were more than happy to pose as you directed and you could move the lights around at your whim to set up any kind of mood you wanted.

Each day brought a different model or models with different backdrops. Since the Conference had a Top Gun theme, the Westcott set followed suit with a Top Gun/Aviation set. It was very enjoyable to shop and shoot, all under one roof.

+Scott Diussa rocks out at the After Party
Scott Kelby tickling the ivories
The Wednesday night bash at BB King's Blues Club gave me a chance to dabble in concert photography as Scott K's band Big Electric Cat took to the stage after dinner and rocked the house. Scott Diussa from Nikon Professional Services sat in on one number and shredded on a dueling lead duet with Antonio, BEC's lead guitarist. Unfortunately, the concert photography class I attended, taught by noted concert photographer +Alan Hess, wasn't until the day after the gala at the club. Alan's thoughts, tips and tricks would have been incredibly useful in getting better shots at the club.

The Masters of photography gather for the evening presentation "The Art of Digital Photography" 
If I could pick two highlights among the many highlights it would be Thursday night's presentation "The Art of Digital Photography" featuring the vision and the works of several photography masters including Moose Peterson, Joe McNally, Dave Black and Jay Maisel. To sit and watch these giants' recent portfolios flash across the screens was mind numbing, leaving me both to wonder why I bother to even try to capture images and inspiring me to get better.

Jay Maisel
The other highlight of highlights was meeting and chatting with Jay Maisel, a living legend in the world of photography. Mr. Maisel was incredibly humble and self effacing but I still I felt like a schoolboy in his presence.

One of the instructors I was anxiously looking forward to meet and learn from was Joel Grimes, the guru of image composites. After taking his class, I couldn't wait to get home to  and take a stab at creating a composite of an image I took at the Westcott booth and one I had taken a couple of years ago of a jet fighter, using Joel's easy-to-follow technique as taught during the class.

Last but not least was the class I took from Glyn Dewis, a UK based photographer who has embarked upon the concept of character creation through photography. One of the things Glyn has done is create a fictitious movie poster from his images (he used the new James Bond movie Skyfall) and he encouraged us to do the same. Since the conference had a Top Gun theme, I thought it might be fitting to follow Glyn's lead and create a fictitious Top Gun sequel poster. I checked out the original movie poster, and following its layout, I created my fictitious poster for a movie that will never be made, Top Gun Stealth 3D.

So, can you tell I had a blast at Photoshop World? If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to go to either the one in Orlando in the Spring or the one in Las Vegas in the Fall. Not only will even the most experienced photographer learn new tricks and methods, you will leave invigorated to get out there and shoot. My mind is racing with new ideas, concepts and techniques and I can't wait to use them. It was a week I'll never forget as this old dog definitely learned some new tricks.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Cool post Mike. I haven't had the chance to go to Photoshop World. It's on the list...I'll get there eventually. I have to admit, it does sound a bit overwhelming & intimidating, whilst being inspiring! Anyway, thanks for the insight.