Photoshop World – What a Blast!

I’ve just returned, very tired but very inspired, from Photoshop World 2012 in Las Vegas.  PSW is a semi-annual (Orlando in the Spring, Las Vegas in the Fall) event of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.  If you don’t know about NAPP and you’re into photography, design, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and video, you definitely should look into NAPP and all its programs, events, training and other benefits ( ).

Anyway, event-central was the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel.  The Mandalay is a fantastic venue for something like this, although I’d hate to think about how many miles I walked INSIDE the hotel complex during the 4 day event.  The main event was Photoshop World, but actually, the hotel itself offered some interesting details to shoot.

I’ve been to more than my share of professional and trade shows and conferences, and for the most part, I’ve found most to be boring at best, and more often a waste of time and money.  Most are primarily a vendor trade-floor with a few breakout sessions or speakers that might be worth attending.


Classes were packed, 2 or 3 concurrently, starting at 8:00 and going into the evening.  And, although I obviously couldn’t attend more than one for each slot, I might’ve if they were spread over more days and times.

OK, enough PSW and NAPP propaganda already!  What about a few of the more inspirational and instructive highlights, of which there were many.

One of my favorite instructors is Julieanne Kost , actually of Adobe.  She is not only a really terrific instructor with an engaging wit and dozens of voices and sounds to punctuate her sessions, but she is a fantastic photographic artist.  Check out her website ( ) for a huge collection of tutorials and instructions, all really easy to follow, and FREE.  Don’t miss her Blog and Portfolio tabs.

Most everyone knows about Moose Peterson as a world-recognized photographer of wildlife, endangered species and landscapes ( ).  I had the pleasure of taking a workshop from him in 2009, and it’s always fun to hear what he’s up to and to see his newest stuff.  So, seeing the results of his venture into the world of Aviation was really fun and brought a completely different perspective of the world of “flying art”.  Moose says he’s often asked, “Where did this (the world of planes) come from.”  He quotes another icon of photography, Jay Maisel, “Light, Gesture, Color”, to which he adds “Romance!”  How cool is that!  Don’t miss seeing some of what he covered in his class on “The Art of Aviation” at .

Joe McNally is an absolute magician with a handful of speed-lights, not to mention studio lighting.  He is the lighting Guru.  I don’t use much studio lighting due to what I typically shoot.  So, other than the periodic snapshots of family and the dog, I rarely use flash, and certainly not large-gun lighting.  Joe has this amazing (and entertaining) way of showing the amazing results that can be had with one one (I say again “ONE”) speed-light.  Then he added one more, then one more, and yes, finally an entire studio setup.  The main thing I took away from his sessions was that using off-camera lighting, even by small speed-lights,and even sometimes using junk as modifiers (sheets of paper, black jackets, etc.), one can take flash-shooting to a surprising level.

Dave Black brought in the two-time world champion gymnast, Hollie Vise, who put on our own private balance-beam exhibition while Dave shot (tethered to the super-screen monitors so we could all see) and explained points of gymnastics photography.  He’s one of the country’s leading sports photographers covering a variety of sports, not just gymnastics.  But here we were, only feet away from a champion, and world-class photography expert, a fog machine, and a studio lighting setup.  Like others, I squeezed off a few shots just for challenge, but sadly without connection to the lighting and with my vantage off to the side, no success. But this was a really fun way to learn something about a genre of photography that I’d probably never be exposed to otherwise.

And of course, the regular NAPP team (Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, Pete Collins, Corey Barker, and NAPP’s leader, Scott Kelby) are all amazing teachers and successful authors.  Each of them regularly pulled out tips, tricks and hidden things that remind me how impossible it is to master even most of the features of Photoshop and Lightroom.  I particularly enjoyed listening to, and having a few minutes to visit with, RC Concepcion (  Aside from his enviable portfolio of work, his stories about his mother, father and family and how they have influenced not only his photography but also his life were very inspirational.

OK, so as trade-show expos go, this one is different too.  Yes, there was the expected collection of photo gear, software and travel workshops.  But the neat thing about the expo (other than it was sized nicely to make the floor-walk tolerable) is that there were tutorials, shows, and even model-shoots set up for anyone who wanted to take the time to watch or shoot.

I’ve never done portrait photography, but it was fun to give it a try.  Before you chuckle at this first try, understand that there was always a dozen or more shooters engaged in a form of somewhat civilized combat struggling to get an angle on the models.  I just did what I could and tried to put to use a few of the things that I’d picked up earlier in the week.

I’m a huge fan of both Nik Software and OnOne Software.  Both had great demos and plenty of folks to answer questions about their plug-in apps.  I’ve used both for years.  I ended up upgrading suites from both to the next versions.  My thanks to Brian Matiash, OnOne’s Curriculum & Education Manager, for the extra time he spent chatting about their new suit as general photo interests.  I can’t say enough about Brian’s weekly “Perfect Inspiration’ series, available (Free) on OnOne’s site at .  Not everyone will immediately relate to the “inspirational” rendering of photo images, but you owe to yourself to take a look.  I suspect you’ll find, like me, that it may take your work in a direction that you didn’t expect.  And, Brian is a fantastic photographer!

Speaking of putting fun ways to put learning to use, there was the “After Hours Party”.  Hosted by NAPP at the House Of Blues, it was highlighted by Scott Kelby’s own long-time band, “Big Electric Cat” performing some great old rock-and-roll on the stage.  A real-world chance to shoot a full-on concert up-close.  And man, can his wife, Kalebra, sing!

There were lots of other highlights in the some 15 class sessions I attended.  Too much space devote to this post already, but I’m still in the after-glow of so much quality content, so many real greats of the art, and so much entertainment from a truly enjoyable and fun-packed conference.

So, when my feet, brain and liver recover from a very busy four days, I expect that I’ll reserve for PSW 2013 in Orlando so as to be sure I don’t miss the early-bird cutoff.


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