Let's Photowalk

By Roger (13 September 2015)

Downtown Omaha

Yes, I missed the blog, last weekend. I was out in Nebraska, on a thunder run, to drop off a vehicle. (A thunder run just means we drove the 1,300 miles, with one quick stop.) Naturally, I had a camera and spent a late afternoon walking around, taking in the scenery and snapping a photo or two.

You know you should go out with your camera more often than you do. It's good to practice, and it's always nice to spend a couple of hours with folks who also enjoy making photographs. And the weather is, finally, cooling down, here in Virginia. It must be time for some photowalking.

Here are a couple of opportunities for you.

While we were out in Las Vegas, we met with the fine people at 500PX. They have a photowalk, sponsored with Fugifilm, on the weekend of 26 September, and asked me to run one of their walks. I didn't hear anything for a couple of weeks, but they contacted me, Monday. With just a little time to prepare, I picked an easy pleaser, in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Harpers Ferry signage

We've been to a couple walks here, and it's a great location. There is a good variety of photography subjects, with the history, landscape, old architecture, trains, and lots of people. We will meet at 9 a.m., at the Amtrak Station, on Saturday, 26 September. There are several really nice prizes, if you choose to enter their contest. The walk is free, of course, and you can sign up HERE.

This walk has some steps and a hill climb, but Thomas Jefferson said the view, alone, was worth a trans-Atlantic voyage. At least, that's what they claim on the plaque,  honoring his visit. We'll stop there, too, just to see if he was right.

Try your vintage processing

Try your vintage processing

Your second opportunity is the Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, on 3 October. Mark and I have been WWPW leaders for five years, now. We've always got it marked on our calendars as a must-attend event. This year, we're going back to Culpeper, VA.

Our Culpeper route is very easy walk, with no steep hills and lots to see. You've got another train station (I like trains!); a farmer's market; and the old town area, filled with people and history. We were in Culpeper for the WWPW in 2006. It's always nice to visit a location you haven't seen in a while.

We'll meet at 9 a.m., on Saturday, 3 October, at the Amtrak Station. We'll end at a nice pub, The Beer Hound Brewery. You can join us by signing up HERE. This walk is also free, but you must register.

So, get up off your couch, and come join us for both walks. Bring any camera you want to carry. Learn new skills. You'll have a great time.

Photowalk style is always casual

Where Neon Dreams Go to Die

We headed out to Vegas for PSW15, a day early, last week, specifically to visit a place I’ve heard of for years—The Las Vegas Neon Museum and Boneyard.  Vegas is not known as a sentimental place.  Lots of Casinos and hotels have come and gone, but pieces of their histories have been saved.  

A few times a month, the museum allows small groups of photographers access to the more than two acres of old signs and rusted reminders of glory days gone by.

The lobby is carpet salvaged from an old casino and starts to set the atmosphere.  While we were waiting, we got to witness a legendary Vegas tradition.  A young bride and groom and their properly lubricated wedding party pulled up, and the over the top wedding coordinator came in.  Vegas Elvis was there to meet them and have a quiet word with the two before leading the group out into the neon for a ceremony.

Later, after our tour, we noticed that the security guard looked vaguely familiar…nah, it couldn’t be. Finally, our time rolled around, and we were allowed out onto the property.  Rules were pretty straightforward, don’t touch anything and don’t cross over the rocks.   Many of the old neon lights and regular bulbs are broken.

Some contain mercury.  You start finding some of the old big name signs which have been torn down for the new “improved” glitzy casinos; places like the Sahara, or the Stardust are just memories preserved here.

Now this is definitely my type of photography.  I love the abstract shapes and details you can find around every corner.   I like how the rust and glass combine for very unique textures. 

Tucked in back I found the sign for the now failed Liberace museum.  They have restored it to working order to keep that pink glow alive. 

For Roger though, this is definitely not his scene.  He is a people person, but got some really interesting shots.  

The yellow arrow shot is one that I happily admit, I wish I had seen and shot. That is one of the things we enjoy in working together, the chance to push the other and expand our comfort zones. 

One of my very favorite neon “things” was the exceptionally creepy giant Neon duck.  I don’t know from where he came, but he photographed really well.  I think the details are as interesting as the whole. 

The museum is not exactly easy to get to as it is way, way north of the strip; North of Fremont street as well.  The surrounding building had vibrant art as well.  

This geisha face turned out to be my favorite picture of the entire trip.   

It was pretty warm, even though it was sunset, and the beers, when we finally got back to the hotel, were very cold and refreshing.   I can highly recommend a side trip to this quirky place the next time you wind up in Las Vegas. 

Wrap-Up: Photoshop World

By Roger (16 August 2015)

Mark and I just finished Photoshop World, and I’m still on the road. This will be a short one.  I’ve left Las Vegas for the east coast and Newport, Rhode Island. The only photos I have with me are from this week’s PSW, so I thought I’d interrupt the learning resources series with a quick wrap-up of the week in Las Vegas.

A couple of weeks ago, in the Conferences and Workshops blog, I may have mentioned PSW, a time or two, but we didn’t do our normal “You-Should-Go” blogs this year because we’ve done them so much in the past. But can I give you the bottom-line, up-front summation of this conference? You should go.

Aside from the craziness of going to the desert in August, we had a great week. Start planning and saving now for next year’s conference, 9-11 August, again, in Las Vegas.

We always try to these events early to explore on our own. This year, that exploration took us to the Neon Sign Museum (link). Mark will have that blog, later. This kind of shoot is Mark’s territory; abstracts have always been tough for me. I’m much more comfortable with people. So, although I made some attempts that were acceptable, one of my favorites was this old sign. It isn’t an abstract, but it definitely caught my eye.

Neon Sign Museum

Neon Sign Museum

Our second “adventure” was spontaneous. While we were having a fine dinner in the Ri Ra Irish Pub (link), we admired the décor. We asked the manager for permission to make some photographs around the bar. He wanted a license to use them for the business and a promise we wouldn’t interfere with the flow of the pub. Easy enough. 

We showed up at 8 a.m., before most folks would be in for breakfast. I only photographed a couple of places in the bar, for a total of 40 photos. It was another opportunity to shoot something I don’t normally shoot.

Ri Ra Bar

Ri Ra Bar

I know some photographers don’t feel comfortable asking for things like this, but think about the worst case scenario: the manager could have refused our request, and we would have continued to eat our dinner. Look for opportunities and try to make them happen.

For me, the model shoots are always the highlight of the conference. Westcott (link) did their usual bang up job, bringing models and sets to demonstrate their fine products. I own many of their products and will, undoubtedly, buy some more, Since they are advertising on the expo floor, there is no fee for this. As you can probably imagine, fees for models, make-up artists, and sets can add up quickly. Here is your chance to try something like that, without spending any money.

Westcott Model Shoot

Westcott Model Shoot

In addition, the PSW folks set up several available-light-only sets, with models and still life subjects. Naturally, I went for the models.

B&W bride

I especially enjoyed the one in the wedding chapel. We had a large window and several light panels around the chapel. No reflectors, no flash. Restrictions can force you to try new things to compensate. Several of the PSW instructors would wander in and offer assistance and critique.

Looking for his bride

Looking for his bride

We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Talk to your models. These models were surrounded by multiple photographers. Too many weren’t saying anything. When there are 30 photographers surrounding them, clicking, without a word spoken, the situation turns awkward. Awkward situations do not usually make for good photographs. Talk to the models; direct them to what you want. I’ll climb off the soapbox.

The conference was loads of fun, and, to tie this blog to the previous two, I talked to many of the authors. Yes, I bought more books.

Time to head out and take some photos of Newport and enjoy the grandchildren.  See you next week.