(Above: iPhone shot of Nikon’s huge booth right at the front door of the expo hall).

This was a quick trip: up one day and right back home the next, but it was totally worth it (plus I got to do a session on “Photoshop for Travel Photographers” at B&H Photo the night before, and it went really great — thanks to everyone who came out, and to the awesome team at B&H Photo for the honor of letting me teach there. I had a wonderful crowd and met some really nice folks.

(Above: This was taken right before my class at B&H Photo started — photo by my buddy Dave with his iPhone).

I didn’t have any sessions at the show itself, (just a few meetings) so I got to do my two favorite things: (1) Check out all the latest gear from the vendors, and (2) watch some demos and presentations at some of the booths (that totally rocked — more on that in a minute).

I was loving the Nikon Theater
Right when you walked in the door, Nikon had a theater where they featured presentations from a number of Nikon shooters and it was fantastic (by the way: Canon had a presentation stage as well, but their stage was more set up for training with live shoots, whereas Nikon’s was more for inspirational talks and teaching. Both were packed. Both were awesome).

I spent a lot of the day at the Nikon theater, first watching the adventure photography of Corey Rich. He chronicled his 14-day project in Mexico creating promo stills and a DSLR movie for Nikon’s launch of the D4. His presentation was really great in that his point was, “Look at this amazing video, just a few regular guys made, you can do this, too!” Of course, I wouldn’t repel down a waterfall to shoot a pro-kayaker going over waterfalls” but outside of that, he showed that it was just some guys with the D4 (and a lot of talent) can make something special (and his video and still both were awesome). Very good presentation all around (and his movie is below — you’ll dig it).

Later in the day I sat in on a Beauty/Fashion presentation from award-winning photographer Dixie Dixon and she was just terrific. She’s got really beautiful images, very cool behind-the-scenes videos (really well produced), and a very genuine, fun presentation style. She’s doing big work for big agencies and corporate clients, and creating some really wonderful images, and she’s just 22 years old. I picked up a few great ideas and tricks from her presentation, too! The crowd was totally with her the whole time (I already asked her to do a guest blog here, so you’ll hear more from her here soon). In the meantime, here’s one of her behind-the-scenes videos:

After that, two Nikon DSLR movie makers took the stage and brought up a slide showing that they created their movie using a crew of 120 people, and they had to close off like 8-blocks of a big city (and just how hard that was to do), and they listed all their expensive gear, and on and on. They basically took the opposite approach of Corey. Instead of saying, “Hey, you guys can do this!” they basically said “You’ll never be able to do this, so just sit back and soak in our awesomeness.” I’m sure their movie was amazing, but I left right then (Since I’ll never be able to do any of what they’re about to show, anyway).

(Above: Another iPhone shot — that’s Robert Beck in the Nikon Theater).

Lastly, I made it a point to come back and catch Sports Illustrated’s staff photographer Robert Beck and his presentation and it was terrific. He has some absolutely iconic sports images (it’s wild to see the image full screen first, and then in the next slide you see it on the cover of Sports Illustrated) and his stories and insights were awesome. Lots of great learning moments there, too (he said a few things that really resonated with me). Really glad I got to see him present.

All-in-all, I learned a ton in just those presentations and it was totally worth the trip up just for those.

The Gear
Ahhhh, the gear. I wish I had had more time to visit booths and check out stuff, but I spent too time learning (LOL!!!). Here’s some cool stuff I did see:

(Above: It’s really exciting to come around a corner at the trade show and see one of your shots really big on the wall. This is the Elinchrom booth — iPhone photo by Matt Kloskowski). 

Manfrotto (Elinchrom and Lastolite)
I went by Elinchrom’s booth and they had the new updated strobes that are replacing my beloved BXRI 500′s (the new ones are just BXR 500) and they have a few nice new features and will be shipping next month if I remember right. Lastolite had some very clever new flash modifiers (snoots, brackets and stuff), and a very interesting gobo rig with drop-in patterns for creating interesting backgrounds. They also had some cool resizable softboxes (they convert from strip banks to rectangles, and octas and stuff). I’m continually impressed at Lastolite’s innovation in modifiers — they are really kind of leading the way these days.

Broncolor Lighting
Broncolor and Hasselblad had an off-site exhibit (about a 10-minute walk from Photo Plus) called “Shoot NYC” and it was in this hip location where they set up all these different lighting set-ups (all based around a Ducati motorcycle, so they had the cycle lit, a cool helmet  for a product shoot, and a racing boot at another shoot, and it was just a really cool theme and layout). I got to see the new Broncolor packs they intro’d at the show and I was really impressed.

F.J. Westcott
They had introduced a 1000-watt LED-powered continuous light (it was small and round, more like a regular studio light) that looked really interesting. They’re going to send me one to review and I’ll let you guys know how it works but it was really incredibly bright and I’m looking forward to giving it a whirl.

Sony DSLRs
They had a big presence again (though it didn’t seem nearly as big as last year’s), but they had a couple of presentation stages and I watched part of a session on shooting babies and they had an adorable, very well behaved little cutie there and the woman doing the shoot for Sony (Sorry, I wish I had her name), was very good and made some wonderful images live in the front of the crowd. Almost made me want to shoot babies. Almost. ;-)

(Above: You can see Canon’s Live Learning Stage on the left, with Wedding Photographer Denis Reggie giving a presentation. Great presenter and of course, fantastic wedding photographer). 

Canon
Canon’s booth was jammed, and they had lots of levels of depth, and a very cool “Car crash” scene you could film with their DSLRs. I only did a brief walk-through, but they had the type of booth you felt like you could really spend some time in just exploring. I can’t imagine what it cost.

(Above: A quick snap of Nikon’s Mad Science Lab set and actor. This guy would go non-stop for hours. Don’t know how it did it. Maybe he is “mad”). 

Nikon
Nikon was jammed as well, and they had a Nikon 1 stage with Salsa dancers, and a Fosse-like tap dancer (among others) and over at the DSLR side they an elaborate “Mad scientist’s” lab with an actor playing the part to a “T.” RC did an HDR of it, but here’s a quick snap from my iPhone in the meantime. They also had a tall platform where you could look through some really long glass, of course they had that awesome theater up front when you walked in the door.

Other booths
Epson’s booth was big and hopin’; Peachpit Press had a booth and they were so busy I could only get one of them to even look my way. We had a NAPP booth there and I heard from our crew it was doing really well, so that was cool (stop by and see my brother Jeff — coolest brother ever — plus they have some show specials). Olympus had a fairly good size booth, but it was kind of buried behind the massive Nikon booth so unless you were standing in just the right place, you couldn’t see them. I saw the Sigma booth and they had a good crowd and a shooting theater too. Tried to get to see it, but got swept into an impromptu meeting and never got back over there.

Maddening Inspiration
One thing that always strikes me about Photo Plus Expo — there are a LOT of fabulous images everywhere you look (they’re literally lining the walls of the Epson booth, and at MPIX Pro, and at every paper company, and on every flat-panel display in about every booth). It’s really inspiring to see so much great work, but at the same time, so much of it is so good that it makes me want to take all my gear and toss it in a dumpster. Weirder yet, simultaneous to feeling all that, I want to just run out and shoot (which is probably why my gear went with me on the plane instead of in a dumpster at 28th and 8th, which I briefly comtimplated). I would have like to spend another day or two there wrapped up in this “inspirational self-loathing” (hey, I coined a new phrase — I have a reason to live!) just to catch some more sessions and looking more to learn more.

Wrap Up
Overall show seemed crowded everywhere I went, and everybody seemed to be having a great time (I sure did). I wish I’d had a chance to see more of the booths, but before I knew it, it was time to head for the airport (Matt and RC are still there tomorrow though, so keep an eye out for them, and trip them if you get a chance. They’re young. They can take it). By the way: Peter Hurley took an incredible headshot of Matt while he was up there. Matt actually didn’t look horribly grotesque, which I think says volumes about Peter’s work. ;-)   By the way; we have a class coming out on Kelby Training Online from Peter that will totally rock!!!

I’m off Washington DC on Monday
I’m already back home now (I told you it was a quick trip), and I’m off to Washington DC on Sunday (no football game — the Redskins on are the road)  for my “Photoshop for Photographers” seminar on Monday (hopefully, I see some of you there: here’s the link if you want to come join me for the day), and I hope you all have an awesome weekend!!!