Category Archives: Travel

Photoshop World

Mike Vujovich & Joe "Numnuts" McNally

Me & Joe "Numnuts" McNally

In case you missed the epic saga that was Washington, DC here on the blog, I recently headed to the nation’s capital to shoot for a couple of days and then attend Photoshop World. I was especially excited to not only visit DC for the first time in my life, but to have my good buddy and mentor, Dave Vernon, tag along for the wild ride.

What is Photoshop World, you ask? Well, the name says it all! Created and presented by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, the brain child of the great Scott Kelby, this biannual conference is the première conference for photographers, editors, retouchers, graphic designers, and computer geeks. While the name of the conference is Photoshop, the classes and presentations offered ranged in everything from photography to lighting to retouching to portfolio building and more.

Every day lasted around 10 to 12 hours and was packed with loads of education and fun. I was able to take classes with some of the greatest people in our industry including Joe McNally (scratched that off my bucket list!), Dave Black (official photographer for the Olympics), Jay Maisel (not only engaging and funny, but his work will take your breath away with its simplicity), Joel Grimes, David Ziser, Moose Peterson, Scott Kelby, RC Concepcion, and Greg Heisler (this guy has shot almost every Time Man of the Year cover for years).

Needless to say, I came back with more inspiration and motivation than I’ve had in years. I’m hitting the ground running so stay tuned for more personal projects, concepts, ideas, shoots, images, and all around madness! Mwa ha ha ha… ha… ha…

Okay… serious time. While Dave chose to review Photoshop World, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and present you with some comedic relief, courtesy of two bumbling Illinois photographers in the nation’s capital. Enjoy!


Photoshop World Expo

Photoshop World Expo

What would a vacation be without some comical, “I wish we hadn’t done that” moments:

  1. Strap on Vuji’s suitcase breaks immediately after arrival in DC
  2. Vuji & Dave get lost on the way to the condo
  3. Dave forgets entire PSW registration packet at home
  4. Dave forgets polarizer, also at home
  5. After a brief phone call with the good folks at Arlington inquiring about shooting at sunrise, Dave informs me that… “we will be shot if we enter Arlington before 8 a.m.”
  6. Dave leaves camera cards at condo during first day
  7. Dave also runs out of batteries on first day
  8. Vuji forgets medication at home; fights narcolepsy off for five days
  9. Vuji & Dave miss shooting at sunrise on second day as was planned
  10. Vuji loses conference badge on train to PSW first day; ends up half hour late to opening ceremonies

Things I Learned About Washington, DC

  1. There is not a single working “up” escalator in the entire DC subway system.
  2. Watching Marine One make a landing really is all that and a bag of chips.
  3. Picnics along the Tidal Basin must be the DC equivalent of dinner and a movie.
  4. Tripods are the number one threat to national security, especially in downtown DC.
  5. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is a photographer in the capital.
  6. Even the dorkiest of dorks looks sophisticated and suave in a business suit.
  7. If it sounds like someone is speaking in a foreign language, they are.
  8. The reflecting pool is not located next to the Washington Monument; the Washington Monument is two-tone.
  9. Cabs aren’t as expensive as you think; use them often and your legs/hips will thank you for it.
  10. In DC, you ain’t one of the cool kids unless you run and/or bike at all times every day.

Washington, DC (Part III)

When I started diving into these posts for Washington, DC, I didn’t realize two things: how amazing I truly felt the experience was and that I have the unrivaled ability to ramble especially when telling a story. With that in mind, dear followers and readers, I promise to keep this next (and final) installment of our journey to the bare minimum. Enjoy!

Dark, Silent, Reflection

As part of my photography resolutions for this year, I wanted to push the boundaries of my images. I have very little experience shooting at night and even less with using extended shutter speeds to create effects with water and light. With that in mind, I was excited to visit the monuments and memorials once more, but with darkness all around (as dark as it can get in downtown DC).

We hit the WWII memorial again, which was disappointing as the lights and fountains were off, then on to the Lincoln Memorial and then back toward the Vietnam and Korean war memorials, where I got to try another technique I had never thought about, light painting.

For those who aren’t aware, light painting is basically what it sounds like: you set the camera up so that little to no ambient light is coming in the shutter and using an extended shutter speed (3 seconds or more works well), you take a flashlight or light source of your choosing and “paint” an object. Whatever the light falls on is only what the camera records. The last step is putting them all together in Photoshop. You can see my first real light painting above.

One of the most memorable experiences for me personally was when Dave and I headed down to the Vietnam Memorial. With my father being a Vietnam veteran, I was humbled to see this tribute to the experience that was that conflict.

When we got there after hours, it was so dark and quiet. Even in the middle of downtown Washington, you could hear a pin drop and both Dave and I quietly worked angles, light, reflections, and shutter speeds without barely a word; it was pretty intense.

After that, we trekked back to the condo and crashed. With all the concrete we walked on, a soft bed was well deserved. Until the next day…

Why Aren’t There Escalators at Arlington?

While we fully intended to get up before dawn to catch the sunrise over the Tidal Basin, these two warriors weren’t really up for that, but we did end up there shortly after dawn to catch the rising light. After another decent shoot around the Basin and Jefferson Memorial (where I caught the image you see here), we hopped on the Metro (with the throbbing ache in my hips and legs, as I’m sure Dave’s too, this was an easy decision for the rest of our trip) and headed out to Arlington National Cemetery.

Again, I was humbled. Arlington is both beautiful and somber. That’s probably why I didn’t feel like taking as many photographs as I did in other parts of DC; there are just some things that you have to experience and you can’t really capture in a still frame. One experience I’d like to share with you is President Kennedy’s Grave.

When you walk up to the small plateau where he is buried with Jackie and John Jr., there are stairs and throngs upon throngs of people. However, when you approach the grave-site itself and step up to see the “eternal flame,” I was truly amazed; the area was dead silent.

All those tourists all gathered around, but no one said a word. With the notion of respect for the dead hanging heavy in the air, I didn’t even turn my camera on until we walked down from the plateau.

We saw the Tomb of the Unknown and all the other memorials, but I was most captivated with another moment as well that occurred near the end of our Arlington excursion.

As we came around the corner of the U.S.S. Maine memorial, we noticed a few people standing still, watching something across the cemetery; it was a full military funeral procession, soldiers, horse-drawn carriage, marching band, and all. We stood and watched silently as the progression came our way and passed by. No one moved or spoke until they were well out of sight. Powerful stuff, let me tell you.

Second Day Wrap Up

After we made it back across the Potomac, we made our way to the National Archives to catch the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights, then on to the conference center to get pre-registered for Photoshop World.

With sunset coming, we decided to trek back to the World War II Memorial in the hopes that the lights and water would be on. We lucked out and spent almost an hour shooting the blue hour and the falling night. My favorite from that series is shown to the right.

And, as any self-respecting tourist in Washington, DC is required to do, we made sure to pass by the “House America Built” on our way home. Of course, the police officers made sure that we knew no tripods were allowed around the White House. I didn’t snap any photos as I was too busy looking for Navy SEAL teams in the bushes around the gates after a story Dave told me about “men in black” standing in the trees the last time he visited the capital city. No luck though…

We made our way back to the condo and quickly drifted off to sleep. The next day came the start of the best photographic and design conference I’ve ever been to and probably ever will. More on that to come…

Washington, DC (Part II)

When we last saw our adventurers, Mike & Dave, they were being tossed back into harsh daylight with their tripods and the rattled nerves, courtesy of the Washington, DC city police… let’s see what lies in store for them now!

This Mall Ain’t Like High School

After our little tussle with the DC police, we headed south and made our way over to the U.S. Capitol. Now, before I go on, I have to tell you one thing I learned about Washington: everything is big. And, I don’t mean like Big Mac big, I mean the architects had no clue about portioning in the capital city. Even the Department of Commerce is about the size of four or five normal city blocks in any other metropolitan town.

Seeing my first “real” Washington sight was amazing and, on top of that, to know that the rotunda we were looking upon sat on top of the place, where all laws, privileges, and freedoms that we all enjoy daily, were created… that was the best. Fair warning: I’m a pretty sentimental guy when it comes to history and America; I think it comes from my dad, but we’ll get to that later.

We didn’t want to risk shooting with our tripods at the Capitol so we headed down to the Mall. The first thing that struck me about this part of DC was that it looks exactly like it did in all the old 1800’s photographs you see; the area is littered with old buildings and a strip of gravel roads (yes, gravel!) leading up to the steps of the Capitol building. It took a little getting used to calling this area “The Mall,” but I quickly adapted.

There was lots to see around here as the Smithsonian, or a portion of it, was surrounding us. Dave and I explored The Castle, the original Smithsonian building, which now stands as the museum’s visitor’s center, and found ourselves exploring some of the most beautiful gardens and landscaping I’ve ever seen. It’s good to see my taxes going toward something useful!

Has It Always Been Two Colors?

As the sun sank lower in the sky, we headed toward the monuments. First on our agenda was the always-looming Washington Monument. Again, you never realize how large these things truly are until you stand next to them and the monuments were no different. Even though the monument was still closed for repairs, the scaffolding had been removed so we were able to shoot some great shots without that obstruction. And yes, if you were wondering, the Washington Monument really is two colors… white and not so white (long story short, money ran out partway through the .

We continued our trek through the World War II Memorial, which is relatively new and quickly became one of both Dave and my favorite memorials to shoot, and then on to the Lincoln Memorial. Being a resident of the Land of Lincoln and growing up in the Springfield, Illinois area, I was spellbound. Well, disappointed first as the reflecting pool had been drained and was being worked on, but then spellbound by the sheer size again and the beauty of looking out from the entrance to the monument and seeing DC in all her glory.

We knew we would be back later so we headed over toward the Tidal Basin to catch the brand new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. While there was a lot of controversy over the construction of this memorial, I think it turned out well and was beautifully done. Sunset was quickly approaching so Dave and I split up (translation: I got lost) and sought out our own locations to shoot the sunset, monuments, and of course, the cherry blossom trees, which were in bloom around the basin, all while dodging throngs of tourists from all over the globe.

The Boys Are Back In Town

While looking all over for Dave making my way toward the Jefferson Memorial on the far side of the Basin, one of the coolest things happened: the President came home! Say, what? That’s right… Marine One came in for a landing on the South Lawn and flew over the Tidal Basin. From what I had heard, Marine One always flew in with two identical helicopters as “decoys” when transporting the President, and didn’t you know it, there were three choppers there. I took a chance and snapped a few photos of the middle chopper and I lucked out… the middle chopper actually landed at the White House so I guess I can say I’ve photographed the President… umm… kind of.

I continued my search for Dave trek over to the Jefferson Memorial, another one of my favorites especially after capturing the image you see here, then continued on around the far side of the basin, completing my loop shortly after sunset. I finally found Dave shooting blue hour material around MLK and I snapped a few images of the Jefferson from across the Tidal Basin myself. With night having fallen, we turned our attention back the way we came: Lincoln Monument, Vietnam/Korean/WW II Memorials, and Washington Monument.

To Be Continued …

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