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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 I)

I hate to admit it, but shortly after watching “The Bucket List,” I did the same cliché thing that everyone else did and created my very own bucket list. No, really, I actually have a small notebook that I write ideas and things I want to do before I kick the big one. What does that have to do with our nation’s capital, you wonder? Well, I was lucky enough to recently scratch not just one or two, but three items off my list in the course of five days: visit Washington, DC, attend Photoshop World, and meet the great Joe McNally!

It Starts…

Ridin' the Storm Out

Ridin' the Storm Out

Let’s back this story up a little way first and head back to October of last year. For most of 2011, I had planned a trip to Washington, DC to see the sights and, of course, shoot as many photographs as I could. I have  never been to the capital city and being the history and government buff that I am, I’ve always wanted to go.

Life got in the way and my plans for traveling in the fall got derailed temporarily. That’s why I felt it was serendipity when the good folks at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) announced that Photoshop World was going to be held in DC in March. I was ecstatic; this was my chance.

While I had plans to attend no matter what, my good fortune continued when, on Cyber Monday, they announced a “buy one, get one” deal for PSW registration. I immediately contacted my good friend and personal mentor, Dave Vernon, and, after a few minutes hesitation, convinced him to come along.

The months quickly flew past and March finally came.

From Motown With Love



There’s nothing more degrading to the nerves than an early morning flight; there’s something so wrong about getting up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a plane, but I was so excited, I barely noticed. Dave and I flew out of Bloomington, Illinois (great airport!), stopped off for a small layover in Detroit (also lovely!), and then on to Washington National.

If you ever have to travel to DC, make sure to fly in to Washington National. While I haven’t flown into Dulles, something tells me that the view isn’t as beautiful as flying in, the plane banking for its final descent, and looking face-to-face with the Washington Monument.

We got all our gear and grabbed the Metro over to Union Station to find our condo. Wait a minute… condo?!? That’s right. We tried out the new website, AirBNB, and I have to say it’s awesome! We stayed in a small apartment across from Union Station right on Capitol Hill for only $120 a night; you can’t beat that at all!

I think Dave was as anxious as I was because we barely got in to the apartment before we dropped our bags, grabbed our cameras and tripods, and headed out.

Where You Boys Headed With Those Tripods?

Ridin' the Rails

Ridin' the Rails

No sooner did we hit the streets than we got stopped by a faithful member of the Washington City Police inquiring about our tripods and where we were headed with them.

We weren’t really sure where we were headed, but the officer let us know that we should avoid U.S. Capitol grounds with the tripods. If we wanted to shoot there, we needed a permit and could get one in the police office, which was… that’s right… the next building.

We headed in and after going through another security check almost as strict as the airport check, we were ushered into a small area with a desk behind a piece of glass. The woman there said, “Takes five days if you want to apply.”

Thanks, but no thanks as we would be back in the Land of Lincoln by then; we’d take our chances. After this little half hour detour, we headed back into the sunshine and toward the monuments.

To Be Continued…