Category Archives Events


The blurry photo above was taken with my iPhone just a few minutes before the doors opened to my new Photoshop seminar. It shows the calm before the storm.

On Friday, in our nation’s capital, I met some of the most gracious, patient, and downright forgiving people on earth, because for two hours, at the kick-off of my “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks,” at the Washington Convention Center, I had absolutely the worst audio problems I’ve had in the 16 years I’ve been doing live Photoshop seminars.

I am not kidding.

Before the doors opened, we had tested, tweaked, and toned the center’s audio system (I took the photo above during the soundcheck. That’s Corey Barker walking through the ballroom as we were tweaking the audio. Luckily, we were in such a large ballroom that the in-house A/V company had an audio tech right here in the room with us). The sound check went fine, the doors opened, 700+ people poured into the ballroom, and after a few announcements, I was introduced to start the seminar.

I walked to the front of the stage, and said, “Well, good morning everyone,” and that’s when the problems started. During the next sentence, my mic cut out. Then back in. Then out. One of our staff rushed to the stage and quickly swapped out my headset mic’s batteries. It worked. For about a minute. Then it cut out again. And again.

We swapped out headsets. It worked for around two minutes. Then we tried a lav mic. It worked. For about a minute. I could go on and on, but what we wound up doing was moving my laptop over to the podium, rewiring everything, and I did the class standing up from the podium using the podium mic. This is just not how I wanted to start the first stop on my brand new tour. Arrrggghhh!

After the break, they had brought in four new speakers on tall stands; they ran new cables, and brought me yet another mic, and it worked. For about 4 minutes. At one point, the only way we could get the mic to work was to have Corey sit beside me on stage and hold the mic’s wireless receiver up over my head. If he moved, even an inch—it went out. This was the convention center’s in-house system, so it was totally out of our hands—all we could do was complain to the A/V techs troubleshooting the system (which we did. Vigorously!).

During lunch, the A/V company (who now had three techs frantically working on the problem), finally swapped out the mixing console, and it (a bad console) turned out to be the culprit. The audio was great the rest of the day, but let me tell you—that was the longest two-hours of my training career.

It’s not that amazing that we had such a catastrophic audio meltdown; stuff like that can and will happen, and always at the worst possible time. What is amazing is how gracious, patient, good-natured, and forgiving the audience was. They hung right in there with me the entire day—we laughed, we cried, we gritted our teeth the entire morning, but we made it through alive, and at the end of the day, somehow we brought that plane in for a smooth landing (although we did arrive at the gate about 25 minutes late).

Yesterday, I saw the first review of the seminar, from Karen Akerson of Svenska Studios (and yes, she did mention the audio), but you can read it here for yourself (here’s the link). There’s also a photo of me during the day, and I probably looked as blue as the tint she added.

Thanks to all my friends who came out (like Jeff Revell, who brought me a copy of his brand new book, “Canon 50D; From Snapshots to Great Shots!” which looks absolutely outstanding!) Also, right before my flight, I had been handed the first copy off the press of my new “Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks” book, and I actually gave away that signed first copy as one of the giveaways at the end of the day. Hey, after the audio problems, I nearly gave my laptop away! And my plane ticket. And rental car, and…..

I do want to offer my humble thanks to everyone who endured those audio problems right along with me, and thanks for all your kind words of support during the day while audio grenades were going off all around me. Your attitude and the smiles on your faces out there kept me in the zone and focused on what we came to do—put the rest of the world on hold while we immersed ourselves in creativity and learning some really cool new Photoshop stuff. My hat’s off to you all.

NOTE: Photoshop genius guy Corey Barker (who helped me develop the tour, and helped immeasurably on Friday) is taking the tour to Richmond, Virginia on May 27th, and it is filling up fast. If you want to go—better snag your seat now (here’s the link). My bet is; the audio will be perfect! :)


So after I shot the Honda Superbike Races on Sunday in Birmingham, I hopped a flight (well, two flights), up to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to be a part of Moose Peterson’s DLWS (Digital Landscape Workshop Series) “Outer Banks” workshop, which kicked off Sunday night (I’m not teaching; I just came to shoot and hang out with my buddies Moose, Joe McNally, and Laurie Excell, and I had a blast (That’s right; I did this morning’s sunrise shoot then headed to the airport to head back home).

They’re still going to shoot sunset today and sunrise tomorrow, but I’ve got to head back home, see the kids, and then get ready for my Down & Dirty tour in DC (which was sold out last Friday with over 700 people for the day). Also with me was the ‘Bad Man’ himself, Brad Moore (who used to work as staff at these DLWS events, so this was old home week for him!).

I’ve got to tell you this about DLWS: they run an absolutely first-class, well organized, and most importantly downright fun workshop experience from beginning to end. Everybody here is having such a good time, and the crowd is so into it—they’re really hungry for the information, and they are getting it here by the armloads.

Yesterday we started the day with a dawn shoot out at a local lighthouse (this is lighthouse city out here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina), and while it wasn’t a spectacular sunrise by any means, we still had some fun (I’ve only taken a peek at a few shots so far, but here are a couple [above and below] from yesterday’s morning outing).


When the light got too high in the sky, Joe McNally did an awesome on-location small-flash portrait shoot with a local model, and I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Joe, every time is just amazing. Seeing how he sets up the shot, adjusts for problems with light, and explains how to walk away with a client-pleasing shot is just something to see, and everybody was eating it up (the shot below is Joe during that mini-session; taken with my iPhone’s built-in camera).


Then we were back in the classroom with Moose, Joe, Laurie, and Kevin Dobler (who was doing some of the Photoshop training—and did a great job by the way). After the classroom sessions, (and a late afternoon snack); we headed out to some sand dunes for a sunset shoot, but got totally socked in with rainy weather.


So, Joe pulls out some SB-900s and we did another portrait shoot, in the rain, with Photoshop TV’s own Stephanie Cross as the model, and it rocked. We’re all huddled (about 40 of us) under a shelter, and Joe has her standing just out in the rain, in a raincoat and hood, and came up with a great shot, despite the conditions (like Joe says; your photo editor doesn’t care about how harsh the conditions you encountered; you’re being paid to come back with a shot, and if you want to work for them again, you’d better come back with a shot; and he showed us what to do to get that done—-using High Speed sync).

This morning we headed out to a commercial fishing port, and the highlight was an area with old rusting hulls and salvage boats that were great for HDR stuff. We were all walking around and at one point Joe and I were walking over to these two big boats and I looked at Joe and said something really stupid. “Joe…you shoot much HDR?” He gave me the look you see below. I had to capture it.


So that became the running gag for the day. “Hey Joe, do you think this would make a good HDR shot?” Hey Joe, is this like that HDR shot that National Geographic asked you to do?” It ended up with an HDR breakfast shoot of pancakes joke about an hour later. Just the look on McNally’s face above said it all.

Anyway, after that, we had to head out, and I’m already on my way home. Had a great time, and I saw first-hand why every single DLWS workshop for the rest of the entire year is already sold out in advance. Moose Peterson and his staff have put something very special, and very unique together here. It’s an experience like no other, and I was as excited as everybody else there just to be learning from Moose, Joe, Kevin, and Laurie, and to be spending some time together doing something we all love. Plus, I never had to dive out of the way of an oncoming car or motorcycle moving at 140 MPH. That’s a bonus. Below are some chairs on the back of that house I shot above. Yes, I just took a few minutes, sat in them, and looked out at the beautiful shoreline. I know it’s a throwaway shot, but now those chairs will bring back fond memories of a morning shoot in May.


One last thing: I met so many people who came up to me and said, “Hey, I read your blog first thing every morning.” I was really tickled, and wound up meeting some really cool folks, including one sports photographer that I’m going to hook up with when I shoot the Indy 500 later this month. Small world.


Hi gang. Here’s what’s up:

  • Shooting the Sun & Fun Fly-in
    Last Friday my buddy, and co-workshop instructor, Bill Fortney hooked me up with media credentials to shoot one of the largest aviation events in the nation, the Sun & Fun Fly-in, in Lakeland, Florida. I was pretty psyched because that afternoon they had an airshow, and I had amazing access (right next to the runway), and what I was really excited about was shooting a squadron of F-16s. They were scheduled to take off around 5:00 pm, so we shot some classic warbirds and stunt planes while we were waiting, but then my cell phone rang and sadly my mother-in-law Barbara was on her way to hospital, so I immediately packed up my gear and headed back home (after all, there will be other airshows, but my mother-in-law is very precious to me). She’s still in the hospital, and she’s really struggling along, so if you’re the praying type, and don’t mind sending a prayer her way, she could really use it. Anyway, I barely shot any frames, but I kinda liked the one you see above of a WWII era Grumman F4F Wildcat (click on it for a larger view). It was my first time shooting aerial photography, but I can tell you this—-it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed it a lot, and I got a whole new respect for people who do it well. Now, next time if I could just get a shot of those F-16s. ;-)
  • Pinhole Photography for Digital
    After I ran that piece last week about the pin-hole camera construction kits, Michael Tapes dropped me a line about a Pin Hole adapter for DSLRs (so you don’t have to process film), that is actually a body cap made for pinhole photography. They’re fairly inexpensive (in the $30 range) and you can find them right here. Thanks for the heads up, Michael.
  • My Landscape Workshop is Sold Out
    Just a heads up: My landscape workshop in Savannah, Georgia with Bill Fortney is sold out. Thanks to everyone who signed up—-looking forward to spending that week with you all. I can’t wait!!!!
  • Photoshop Down & Dirty Tour Update
    Two quick things: we now have over 600 people signed up for the Friday, May 8th kick-off for my Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour in Washington, DC. If you’re thinking of going, I would sign up now (here’s the link). Also, the amazing Corey Barker (who helped me develop the tour) is taking the Down & Dirty Tricks Tour to Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday, May 27th. You can sign up for Corey’s tour right here.
  • Memory Cards Sense Fear
    I heard it again this week. Another photographer talking about how when you need it most, you look down and your memory card is full. It happened to me at the Grand Prix of St. Pete, and this photographer was relating his story to me. The moral of the story—if you’re heading off to shoot something important, better check your memory card on the way.
  • CS4 Book For Digital Photographers Reviewed
    Yesterday I saw a review of my book, “The Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers” over at Ronald Martinsen’s Photography Blog (Unfiltered reviews with real feedback), and he did one of the most in-depth reviews I’ve seen in quite a while, going chapter by chapter through the book giving his take on each section. You can read the review right here.

That’s it for today folks, see you here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday, and then I’ll be back here on Thursday for another installment of “Embarrassing Photo Thursday.” Have a great one!


I’m sitting at my desk one day—the phone rings, and I hear, “Hey, ya Mook; it’s McNally.” He told me he called to tell me that he was putting together a special week-long small-flash lighting workshop in the amazingly beautiful, lush, tropical island of St. Lucia down in the Caribbean, from July 5-12th.

He told me that it would be limited to just a hand-full of students, and each day we’d all be shooting on location, including hands-on shoots on the beach, in the jungle; we’d be shooting all around the tiny island, and lighting everything from mountain bike racers to professional models, and that he was going to just immerse the class in how to absolutely nail location lighting with small flash.

He said he’d cover his techniques for mixing flash with available light, how to incorporate reflectors and diffusers, how to work with remote flashes, using color and gels, and basically he was going to share his whole bag of tricks on how to get pro results from small flash for your location portraits (which is the subject of his #1 bestselling book, ‘The Hot Shoe Diaries”).


He went on and on about how unbelievable the island was (he said it was a true paradise) and how incredible the resort was (he had been there many times before), and how gracious the owners of the hotel were, what an amazing location this was for a workshop, and the whole time I was thinking, “This sounds amazing; I’ve gottta sign up for this workshop!” and then Joe says, “…and I want you to come down and teach a class one-day on how to finish your images in Photoshop.” I said, “Are you serious?” He was. He had me at “Hey, ya Mook!” I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor. Long story short; I’m so there!!!!

Anyway, now that I’m the official guest instructor, I’m inviting you to be one of those 12 students that will spend a week in paradise learning from the master of small flash. On the last day some Photoshop Mook will show up and share some of his favorite Photoshop techniques for correcting, retouching, and finishing the breathtaking images you will have taken during that week with Joe. I should have lots of shots to work on, because I’ll be sneaking into some of Joe’s classes and shooting right alongside you. I just can’t wait!!!!


I asked Joe to tell me, in his own words, what the experience that week will be like. Here’s what Joe said:

“I have been blessed to have a bit of a second home in the Caribbean for 15 years–Anse Chastenet. I have always found a welcome there, and every time I have been there, I have found new inspiration about what to point a camera at. To be a better photog, stand in front of more interesting stuff. And in St. Lucia everything is interesting. The people, the setting, the light. We will work and shoot a lot for the week, and also mix in some hammock time and more than a few drinks with umbrellas in them.”

The lush tropical Anse Chastanet Resort he mentioned is our home for this workshop (you can see some of the views in shots above, taken by McNally himself—Here’s the link with workshop and hotel details), and if you scroll down that page a bit, you’ll find the info on Joe’s “Hot Shoe” workshop in paradise, which kicks off the evening of July 5th with a meet and greet. It’s going to be the learning experience of a lifetime for just 12 lucky photographers, and I hope I’ll get to shake your hand, and go shooting with you down in St. Lucia in July.

NOTE: Joe wrote about the whole thing on his blog; here’s the link to read about the resort, the island, how he wound up down there—the whole nine yards. A great read!


On June 24-28, thirty photographers will join me, along with landscape photography legend Bill Fortney, and fine art photographer Joanne Wells, for a photography and digital imaging workshop in the beautiful surroundings of Savannah, Georgia that will change how you shoot and process your images forever. You’re invited to be one of those thirty photographers.

This workshop, produced by the wonderful folks over at the “Great American Photography Workshops,” will combine on-location shoots each day, with classroom time focused on one topic; how to create stunning landscape images.

We start each day with a dawn photo shoot at some of the most beautiful shooting locales in the entire South. Then, after we break for a yummy breakfast, we’re in the classroom where you’ll learn about digital photography, about processing your images in Photoshop, and about how to combine the two to create really captivating images.

After lunch, we’re back in the classroom for more learning, and then as the beautiful light descends upon Savannah, we’re back on location shooting landscapes. After our shoot, we break for dinner to unwind and talk about the day’s experiences.

Now, I have to tell you, this will be the third landscape workshop I’ve done with Bill Fortney, and Bill really knows how to make these workshops an awful lot of fun. You’ll learn a bunch, you’ll laugh a bunch, and you’ll come away with some images that not only will wind up in your portfolio, you’ll definitely be framing and hanging some of these on the wall.

Because of my schedule, this is the only landscape workshop I’ll be teaching this year, and as someone that reads my blog, I hope you’ll be able to come to spend these five-days with me, Bill, and Joanne shooting, laughing and learning in the beautiful scenery of Savannah.

It’s $795 for the workshop, and obviously, space is very limited (both of our previous workshops were sold out well in advance), so if you want to go, here’s a link to more details and where to register. I really hope I’ll see you there, because this is a workshop you’ll never forget!


I know I kind of mentioned this in passing a few weeks back, but last week we officially announced the launch of my brand new Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour, which is kicking off in Washington, DC on Friday, May 8th at the Washington Convention Center.

If you’re thinking of coming, I would definitely sign up now, because since we announced it last Thursday, this has been the fastest filling seminar in our 16-year history, and I want you to come spend the day with me (especially if you’re a reader of this blog).

This tour is all about Photoshop special effects, and creating the same looks you see in magazines, on TV, in Hollywood and on the Web, so I’m not going to be doing the standard stuff (like teaching color correction, or sharpening, or Camera Raw); instead this totally a day of eye-popping, jaw-dropping, way cool special effects—the kind of stuff that clients just love and I hope you’ll join me for this very special live seminar in DC. It’s $99 for the full day event (only $79 if you’re a NAPP member).  Here’s the link with all the details. Hope I see you there!