Author Archive

November 15, 2013

The Digital Photo Workshop with David Black: Yosemite

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A weekend in Yosemite with David Black… Sign me up! Last year at Photoshop World I had a very rare and random experience. I won a workshop pass from “The Digital Photo Workshops” team with David Black. It turned out to be a very Enlightening experience about the world of photography.

 IMG_1357I prepared for the conference by worrying that my gear was not up to the task. I have a Cannon 20D that is pretty old but I didn’t have a budget for a new one just then. I ended up borrowing a Cannon 60D from another high school and it was a good thing I did! We pushed the very limits of the 60D and I ended up wishing I had a little better model but it got the job done. Also I was very glad that I purchased a 256 GB Solid State Lacie Rugged Hard Drive with Thunderbolt 2 which made backing up go in seconds rather then minuets and when you have the opportunity to be with some of the best you need the time to ask questions not waiting on hardware. Also I bought a great bag from case logic that allowed me to pack my Wacom, MacBook Pro, and both the 20D and 60D. The only thin I regretted not having was a neutral density filter, a polarizing filter, and a shutter release for the 60D. I packed 3 batteries and ran out one day. I also had two 32GB SD cards and they were over kill but it was nice to have space. My wife bought me a nice microfiber cloth 12” X 24” which was very nice to have.

IMG_1237The travel to Yosemite took some planning and research. I stayed at the Cedar Lodge in a very nice room for $110 a night as opposed to $200+ to stay in the park. The drive was about 35-40 min to the main lodge on a pretty windy road. I rented a hybrid which was a great cost saver at 40 Miles to the Gallon. I flew into the San Jose Airport and drove out through Merced and In all the drive was about 4 hours.

The first night we had a meeting where we met our Instructors: David Black, Rob Sylvan, Jeff Leimbach, and Randy Van Duinen. I had met some of them at Photoshop World and I felt very welcome even though I cam in a little late. Randy did a quick lesson on how to set up a camera for HDR so we would be ready for the next day (Sunlight meets shadows…Valley). I had no idea what HDR was so it was very useful. Dave showed us some of his photos and told us his main goal was to make sure we were able to go home and do light painting. He also told use the keys to composition three across, three vertical, three deep, and then light the subject.

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The next day I ended up not being able to find the group so I was late. Ugh I hate being late but there I was late twice in a row. I found the group after about an hour and I jumped in. Rob stayed behind with me so I could get some one on one training and some good pictures.  The day was really great and I came away with some amazing shots for the first time I’d ever been out taking pictures.

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After we had some shots we came into the classroom and we had assisted editing time where we worked on our own images and were able to ask questions about how do I do… or what do you think… How could I… it was very informal and it worked out really great!

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While we were doing some editing Dave was in the other room setting us for light painting. He showed the entire group and then asked half of us to keep working on photos while he worked two stations with the other half. The whole setting was professional but casual all at the same time which was just great!

That night we went out and did some light painting in nature. Dave lined us all up on these dead bushes and was saying isn’t this going to be great! We were all wondering what Dave had for lunch but we did as he said and just as the sun was down he light up the bushes with the Brinkman spot light and a 30 second exposure later… complete magic! One of my favorite shots that I brought home from the trip. IMG_1226

The next day it was more of the same in a different location. We did some reflection shots and some moving water. We moved back to the classroom where we set up our own light paintings with our own cameras. Then later that night we went to an old chapel and did another light painting where we had the opportunity  to uses the Brinkman’s to light the scene ourself. Once we were done at the chapel there was a group of us who wanted to stay and do some star trails. So I setup in a field and took 50 Exposures of 30 Sec each. I had a nice shot as it was pointed at the North star. I was looking at others shots though and well… I was jealous! Rob had a great shot with the stars over half dome and I wanted one.

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I drove back to my hotel that night feeling defeated because I didn’t get my star shot I wanted. I did the only logical thing I could think of and checked out of the hotel and drove back to Yosemite at 1AM. I parked in a field and spent the next three hours working on my star shot. The exposure was 61 min at 200 ISO and it came out great! I left the conference that day feeling as though I had slain the giant!

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It was a great experience full of great instructors. If you get a chance to go do not pass it up for anything.

6:05 PM Permalink
April 26, 2013

Review of Photoshop World 2013, Orlando FL

A rare opportunity to shoot with Moose Peterson.

A rare opportunity to shoot with Moose Peterson.

I was privileged enough to be able to attend Photoshop World in Orlando Florida on April 16th – 19th 2013. It is worth some time to reflect on my experience to provide insight to others who may be trying to decide about the conference. I am approaching the review trying to be as neutral as possible. I am a beginning level photographer but a very avid user of Photoshop for Graphics design. I attended the conference to be able to learn about photography from individuals who understand photographs on a professional level.

Summary Photoshop World 7 of out 10
It was a good conference for a teacher but probably not a repeat because it is highly focused on individuals who already understand photography. As a teacher new to photography I was a little out of my element and didn’t know too many people. The information was relevant and will be used but in the end it just wasn’t quite right for a teacher. If you are a photographer by trade however it is a must go and it happens twice a year. The conference was well organized and easy to navigate once I found the right concourse at the convention center. I could not be happier with the staff and trainers they were pros in every aspect!

April 16th – Pre-conference Photo Safari with Moose Peterson: 8 out of 10
I chose this pre-conference initially because it was some time in the actual field taking pictures. Moose was the right person for this situation. He had many connections to Fantasy of Flight which was great! All the planes were pulled out of the hangar for us and setup on the grass. The sky was cloudy, the temperature was great, and he even had re-enactors come in to pose. There was help available from his two son’s who were very knowledgeable. Also Frank Doorhof came with us and provided some additional knowledge. The group of photographers was small and very friendly. The expertise was very high, all were helpful and the weather was great. I felt like it may have been a little long as we were there from 1:30-6:30 maybe about 1 hour less would have been perfect. We were all pretty wiped out by the heat which contributed to our anxiety to return. Make sure you have water and a couple snacks. In the end I would rate this as a 8 out of 10. Make it just a bit shorter, add some onsite shade/water (Or come prepared) and just a little more time in a classroom talking about the camera.

We could not have asked for better weather!

We could not have asked for better weather!

Opening Session April 17th: 6 out of 10
I’ve attended many opening sessions in my life, this one was not a bad session but it was not riveting. It started with a video they made at the NAPP headquarters and the used the Top Gun Theme. It was a good way to introduce the teachers of the sessions and see their personalities. Adobe’s Julianna Kost shared some sneak peaks into Photoshop and they gave out some awards to some very deserving people. The major down fall of the session is that it didn’t get me feeling super excited about the days ahead. For this the session earned a 6 out of 10.

Work Shops April 17th-19 7 out of 10
The workshops I went to were good for the most part. I attended one with Terry White about his Lightroom workflow and I was completely stunned at how amazing it was. By far the best session I have ever attended at any conference. Without fail I learned at every session I attended without putting forth very much effort. The speakers were the pros and it was obvious from the beginning of the session. I bought a speed pass which turned out to be the best purchase I made fro the conference. It allowed for seating in the first two rows that had tables not only chairs. I was able to put my laptop on the desk and follow along but there was no power so charge up! I was pretty disappointed that there were no computer labs to do training in. The tracks the offered were good: Lightroom, Graphic Design, Business, General Photoshop, Lighting, Photoshop for Photographers, and Photography Technique. I also liked that they had a workbook that had notes and instruction from most of the presenters. The work book is about 500 pages in length and a little heavy. Many people carried them around for the conference but Mine stayed in the hotel. All in all the conference workshops were good workshops, they were focused on a specific topic and didn’t deviate too far from it, you were given what you were told.

Photoshop After Hours Party BB King’s April 17th 6 out of 10
I give this one a six instead of my original five only because Scott Kelby has some mad skills on the piano and Guitar. The after hours party tickets were $70 and provided a very prominent exclusive area in Orlando as well as a nice buffet. They had a band playing comprised mainly of Scott Kelby’s family which was extremely talented. I think had it not been my first time and I felt a little more comfortable it could have scored a 7.

Expo April 17-19 5 out of 10
I was expecting a little larger Expo having attended Adobe MAX, ISTE, and TCEA. The key players were there; Adobe, Manfroto, Cannon, Epson…. I was kind of surprised that the conference didn’t have workshops going on during the Expo hours. I’m sure that was an effort to make sure the attendees went to the Expo. There were all kinds of trainings in the Expo but it was just a different setting from the workshops. I was expecting to see some pretty cheap pricing but short of the Cannon 60D being sold for $650 ($700 online) I didn’t see too much that kept my interest. I spent 3 hours of the first day in the hall and that was about it.

Midnight Madness Thursday 18th 7 out of 10
Midnight Madness was fun because everyone was just having fun. The hosts were relaxed and there was no expectations for the time we were spending together. There were games and my favorite part “Things to do in Photoshop to people you don’t like” There was some cool stuff shared and then there were doughnuts for everyone. They had an on the spot photo challenge where teams had only 5 min to get a perfect shot. I ranked this one a 7 because it was fun and a chance to relax.

As a final recap I’m glad I went. I had a chance to have some actual face time with the pro’s and it was good. I learned how my camera works and I think I can get a pretty good shot now.

5:50 PM Permalink
May 5, 2011

Business Professionals Of America National Conference, Washington DC

I am coming to you with this post after having attended a general session of 5,300 business students that took place at the base of the washington monument in washington! It was a site to behold, I am not sure there is a way to describe all that just took place. There was dancing, leadership, and life altering realities. As an advisor for nearly 63 students it is humbling to see such a site.

I want to take time and share while it is fresh. I did a workshop today about the Digital Publishing Suite. Normal attendance to the sessions are about 30-50 people. If you are really good an have a great topic it can get up to 80. My workshop was “From InDesign to the iPad, the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.” I had 220 pre registered for my workshop. They moved my presenting room twice. I found out about the mass that was coming only days prior to the workshop. I have been unsure if I am up to the task of being an AEL, if I am qualified, if I know enough. So with doubts in my head I went in to the session confident that I knew my software. In all honesty with as much humbleness as I can muster I did us proud! It rocked from beginning to end. I get too excited at times and it can detract but I was able to maintain my composure and really have a great session. They were turning people away cause there were no seats left 3 min into my session. I used some files that were provided by Adobe which worked great! It was the best session I have ever done. Not one thing when wrong, not one key stroke was out of place. I had answers that were fun and realistic.

The audience consisted of several state directors of Career Technical Education, Local Advisors, and students ranging from 15-40 yrs. the message to them all was CS5.5 and how it changed the way we interact with InDesign. Ooohs and Awes around the room. I am excited to share it with all of you this summer at the AEL Summer Meeting.

Last thing, I have been invited to meet with the assistant Secratray for the Department of Education While I am in Washington DC. I was asked to be one of 15 panelists to answer questions about education trends. I was chosen to provide insight about the current and future trends of technology education. I will let you know how it all goes on Friday. Please send me your thoughts and ideas about the current trends of technology education so that I can provide a collaborative  answer from the Adobe Education Leaders. I would like to try and make sure our voice is heard.

 

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February 24, 2011

Digital Publishing Suite for Education

Digital Publishing Suite for Education

 

I had a snow day from school today and I listened to the webinar, CQ/CRX —  Adobe Day Software Solutions. I realized as a new AEL that I have lots to learn. Daniela described it as trying to drink from a fire hydrant. I felt like the guy who walked in to a movie half way through and can’t find a spot to sit! Then I realized that I was not asked to be here to find a place to sit, but to make a place to sit. So I am making a place for myself to sit, maybe I am way off on this post or maybe I am right on. Either way I am putting my chair down and getting to work so let me know how I did for my first time.

 

History:

 

I Watched a podcast from Terry White, Adobe Evangelist, a while ago and it was all about this great publishing tool Adobe Labs was working on. The idea was that you take an InDesign File and you can use this suite to bundle it and publish for the ipad. I was intrigued instantly and spent a lot of hours understanding it starting in about October. So I figured it out and got a document to work, it was so cool to see content I created on my ipad. The next thing I did then is obvious to anyone in education. I showed my students! We made fake magazines for Mega Mountain Resort (That’s a fictional place) It was the spring catalog and we integrated Multiple state objects, animation, hyperlinks and all. We used it to look at the new features of InDesign CS5. That all happened in early January. I had a student who enjoyed it so much that she offered to do an independent study to create a student handbook to be put into an app made to host materials from our school on itunes.

 

I am really not a programmer  so the app thing scared me a lot. I was able to get in on the prerelease for The new Digital Publishing Suite and found that the documentation was easy stuff! They laid out every tool I would need to take my file from InDesign to the ipad, including a piece of software to make the app! But as it makes sense there is also a cost to using such great tools.

 

Current situation:

 

I have my student building the handbook and I am doing the research about the app when I find out that Apple is charging $99 a year to be a developer, they have a solution for free for universities offering degrees but not high schools. The new suite from Adobe has some pretty competitive pricing for the publishing tools, however if you are an educator, commercial business pricing is too much because you have no revenue stream to fund the endeavor. If you are making a magazine every month and selling thousands of issues then yes I think that the pricing is right on. However if you are only publishing say 5-10 issues a year with a subscription base of public education well the money isn’t very good, you do it cause it is what is best for kids and education.

 

I have a tendency to want to do things other people don’t think of. A lot of you have probably experienced that. I see the Digital Publishing Suite as an opportunity to teach students to create for mobile devices. For example our school newspaper only gets printed like every 2 months because it is expensive to print. But what if we could take that same newspaper already developed in InDesign and send the new issue out to an app that was installed on the kids mobile devices? What if they could access the student handbook and their teachers could post updates to classes all from the app. This could all be accomplished through the Digital Publishing Suite.

 

There is a lot of possibility there, however for now I only am worried about getting an opportunity to use the Digital Publishing Suite in my classroom. With the current price structure I see a major difficulty to offer this to my students. We are already planning to export to SWF and Interactive PDF for the school but an app that could be had in the Mobile World, that is what my kids are craving to learn. They want to carry their design with them and share it with their friends. They want to show of and let everyone know how cool this is. They’ll go home and pressure mom and dad to buy the software. Big props to Adobe for coming up with such a great tool.

 

Proposed solution:

 

I think the current pricing model has been thought out very well and is practically a bargain for big business especially if you only need one issue, in that case Adobe will build the app for you. But even if you need multiple issues they will provide the software to allow you to do so. Who knows maybe in the future we call it Appweaver! Just saying that would be very cool! For educators however the pricing model needs to be adjusted very slightly. I understand that business costs money and that your own app for your high school should not be free. so my suggestion is this. Instead of a monthly fee perhaps it gets changed to a yearly fee so that the educator can process one purchase order instead of 12. Perhaps that yearly fee is around $100-$300, myself I would pay $500 from my own class budget for the publishing and then it makes sense to pay for software as well. I think the rest of it all makes sense. At .30 cents an issue it seems fair.

 

So to wrap up I am totally excited about the new Digital Publishing Suite and I think it is going to fill a major need in the publishing world. The look on my students faces when they saw their magazines rotate with the ipad was priceless. Any thoughts about bringing the Digital Publishing Suite to Education would be greatly appreciated. I am doing a workshop for about 60 people or more at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference and I could use any input that can be provided about Digital Publishing.

 

Dan Armstrong

Director of T-Wolf Productions

Lake City High School

Coeur d’alene ID

Adobe Education Leader

 

10:16 PM Permalink