Hey all! Ben and I just returned from a trip to Winnemucca, Nevada, where we spoke at a weeklong photography symposium called Shooting the West. This was an amazing trip for me, in more ways than one. First of all, we’re “between RVs” right now, so we’ve been spending a lot of time in one place (Florida). Being a travel photographer, I haven’t really been shooting much lately, mainly because I haven’t really been traveling much lately. Since our events at Shooting the West took place both in the classroom AND out in the field, it gave me a chance to do a little shooting. Yay for shooting!

Second, I can’t express enough how enjoyable it was to work with the gang at Shooting the West, and that goes for the organizers and the attendees alike. Everyone was so welcoming and charming. It truly felt like we were a part of one big family. To give you an idea of what I mean, get this: At the beginning of the welcome talk, attendees were asked to raise their hands if they’ve been attending for more than two years, then more than five, then ten, and so on. Usually, at events like this, fewer and fewer hands go up with each increase in years. With Shooting the West, it was the opposite. Not only did more and more hands shoot up each time, but there were a bunch of folks who had attended for ALL 27 years the event has been taking place! That, my friends, is amazing.

Finally, Shooting the West provided a big first for me, personally. Usually (ok, always), Ben is the one up on stage, teaching, and I am in the back or wandering around helping students keep up to speed. And to be honest, I’m good with that. I enjoy it. But this time, I actually got to speak as well. I knew I didn’t want to cover anything technical. Ben is the master at that, so I wanted to do something different. Instead, I titled my presentation “The Photographer’s Journey” and tied in our life on the road with my personal evolution as a photographer. Let me tell ya, I was nervous as hell, but everyone seemed to really enjoy it, and I feel honored to have been able to present (for the first time) in front of such a wonderful group of people.

Ben, being the veteran teacher that he is, was the keynote speaker for Shooting the West, and he taught a good number of workshops as well. We had a full-day class on HDR photography, a full day on panoramas, and a full day on post-processing. For the HDR and pano classes, we spent a lot of time in the field, which was a blast. Winnemucca is a cute little town about two and a half hours east of Reno, Nevada. It’s got lots of lovely, historic buildings in the downtown area and is surrounded by picturesque mountains, which were blanketed with snow during the week we were there. (This was a major bonus for the panorama class!) We also were welcomed to the Curtis Farm, which is home to LOADS of old cars, tractors and other odds and ends. Basically, it was the perfect place to practice HDR photography.

The week ended will a full-day “rendezvous,” which basically consisted of several different shooting locations that everyone could float between at their leisure. My favorite was the airport open house, where loads of vintage planes and cars were out on display, set in front of a beautiful, mountainous backdrop.

The entire week was just fantastic and made very special by the beautiful people and scenery we encountered the entire time.

So what’s next? Well, we’re about to head abroad for two months, where we’ll be shooting and exploring a LOT. In two days, we fly to Hong Kong, where we’ll board the beautiful Crystal Symphony cruise ship, which will serve as our home as we move north through China, Japan, South Korea and Russia before crossing over to Alaska and then heading down the west coast of the U.S. Needless to say, there will be lots of photos showing up here over the next few months! Stay tuned!

For now, here is what our experience at Shooting the West looked like:


Ben is about to present the keynote at Shooting the West.


A cute old Chevrolet truck that I shot during the HDR class at the Curtis Farm.

A "selfie" at the Curtis Farm during the HDR workshop.

A “selfie” at the Curtis Farm during the HDR workshop.


Here’s Ben, shooting a car that is over 100 years old!


One of the techniques covered in the panorama class is the “Panolage.” Here is one I shot overlooking Winnemucca and the mountains in the distance.


Ben is instructing students in the field during the panorama workshop.


The town of Winnemucca and the surrounding mountains, shot from the top of Winnemucca Mountain, right before sunset.


Ben is giving pointers on shooting sunset.


A panorama I shot at sunset on Winnemucca Mountain


Sunset on Winnemucca Mountain


The old firehouse building in downtown Winnemucca. This image was given a duotone treatment.


This fun building was right across the street from the convention center where Shooting the West was held. I obviously doctored this one a bit.


I loved some of the old signs in this town! I shot this image during the HDR class.


Here, I’m giving my presentation, “The Photographer’s Journey” at Shooting the West.


Ben found an old gas station in town so we stopped by so he could shoot it.


A beautiful plane that was on display during the Winnemucca Airport open house.

A beautiful plane that was on display during the Winnemucca Airport open house.

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A little something I hand-lettered after the event :-)

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