The Big “O” in Las Vegas

On September 25, 2011 by DaniLew

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When a mature single woman goes to Vegas for her birthday it’s assumed that she had the time of her life. Well, I did, and it had absolutely nothing to do with scantily clad men, er… almost nothing to do with scantily clad men!

PSW Opening Keynote activities - taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

PSW Opening Keynote activities

Image above made with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

The truth?

Las Vegas, Nevada is a vibrant city full of life and lights on 24 hours a day/7 days a week and surrounded by mostly men I was bound to have a bit of fun on the side. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m referring to the ultimate photography conference held twice annually since 1999: Photoshop World.

I was priviledged to win a full-conference pass by commenting on D-Town TV #86 but I could not afford to stay at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Instead I stayed at the Imperial Palace Hotel which is center-strip.

Anyway, I also could not afford to attend one of the Pre-Con workshops on Tuesday so instead I joined a Photo Walk suggested on the NAPP forum and lead by Tiffany, a Detroit native. We were joined by three gentlemen: Harold, Mike, and Corbin where we walked from Mandalay Bay to Bellagio in 106 degree heat.

Las Vegas-PSW Photowalk - Mandalay Bay Hotel (black and white infrared) - taken with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

Las Vegas-PSW Photowalk - Mandalay Bay Hotel (black and white infrared)

Image above made with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

I was so exhausted from the PhotoWalk that I skipped the First-Time Attendee Orientation class by Larry Becker. Thankfully, Tiffany provided me with the cliff notes version or I would’ve been completely lost.

The long list of quality classes and the luminaries teaching them made me wish I had the power to clone myself at least twice. Seriously, the choices were Overwhelming! This did not even include the bonus classes on the expo floor or the expo itself.

Day 1

In the Opening Keynote Address on Wednesday, Adobe announced it’s cloud-sharing non-destructive editing app called “Carousel”. I loved the idea of it and will probably get it after I purchase an Apple device (probably an iPad2).

First classes of the day and my angst was already on Overdrive. The expo floor had not opened yet and we had already received the news that Color Efex Pro 4 was just announced by Nik Software as well as Perfect Photo Suite 6 by OnOne Software. And that both would be shown throughout the convention. I’m a Nik Software fanatic and I was tempted to skip the morning classes and just drool wait by the door.

Instead, I convinced myself not to waste an opportunity to see Joe McNally teach lighting for 2-hours…. or perhaps I should go to Frank Doorhof’s for the first hour? The rest of the day continued with my mind in a wrestling match with my heart; one wanted to see a favorite photographer while the other wanted to see another instructor that could perhaps become a favorite or wanted to run up to the expo floor to see what amazing models Westcott had on display.

Westcott's Painted Alien Model at PSW - taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

Westcott's Painted Alien Model at PSW

Image above made with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

The white background allows you to composite the model and eggs into any background or other image.

Day 2

This day was actually worse but better. Thursday was my birthday and I decided watch the sunrise from my room’s balcony, miss the first class (because I could not decide which to attend), have a leisurely breakfast because it was going to be a long day. The middle day of this conference is usually the fullest most-intense tightly-packed full-on schedule of Outstanding classes and lectures imaginable.

I won a gift (Spyder 3 Elite!) from Scott Kelby in his Travel Photographers class just because it was my birthday, Jay Maisel made me cry (and laugh) during his class, and I was totally gobsmacked with the amount of valuable information presented in two classes with Jack Reznicki and Ed Greenberg.

I never miss the first day of NFL but I’m so glad I chose to stay and be truly awed by the dignitaries that touched my soul during each of their Art of Digital Photography presentations later that evening.

PSW gurus - taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

PSW gurus

Pictured above: Moose Peterson, Joe McNally, Dave Black, Joe Glyda, Julieanne Kost, Jay Maisel, Jim DiVitale, Gregory Heisler, and Jeremy Cowart.

Day 3

The last day was completed by 4:00 pm but it was still full of seemingly endless choices on an array of topics taught by some of the best in the industry. Somehow, I went left when I should’ve gone right but I was too tired to move to the desired class, so my brain smiled and I enjoyed the video class taught by Richard Harrington. Great, now I want a DSLR with video.

The day ended with the Conference Wrap-up which included expensive prizes from the host and several vendors.

PSW Conference Wrap-Up - taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

PSW Conference Wrap-Up

Images above made with a Nikon D300 camera and Tamron 17-50 lens

Conclusion

I told my friends and family that although I was surrounded by geeks, gear-heads, and gurus I felt like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert with a backstage pass. Yes, the rumors are true: the instructors were friendly and available for questions in between classes and the participants were kind and courteous. When Scott shook my hand after a video interview and welcomed me to the conference, Terry White smiled and said hello across a lunch table, Julianne Kost talked with me from the conference center all the way through the Mandalay Bay lobby, and David Ziser asked me if I got it…. Well, yes, yes I did. And it was Amazing!

Even now, two-weeks later, my brain is still reeling from Overexposure (of the best kind). Ideas for personal projects, utilizing the tips and techniques I learned, and getting my business a kick in the seat of its pants are all vying for priority.

Imperial Palace Tower 4 panorama (black and white infrared) - taken with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

Imperial Palace Tower 4 panorama (black and white infrared)

Image above made with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

I only have one regret: that I did not participate in any of the after-hours activities. That will be remedied next year. 

All title innuendo aside, the next Photoshop World is in my neck of the woods: Washington DC, March 24-26 2012. I promised myself that I will participate in all of the tweet-ups, parties, get-togethers, etc. In addition, the coming conference is happening right around the peak time for Japanese Cherry Blossoms. I’m pretty sure one of the Pre-Con workshops will include a sunrise shoot at the Tidal Basin.  If not, I will suggest it.

Regardless of my conjecture, I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be another fantastic conference. I’m so there!

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