Unforgettable Tasmania

skitched-20080414-150838.jpgNow that I'm back from the Lightroom Adventure: Tasmania, I've been reflecting on what made it such a success. It's not often as adults that we get to have that "outward bound" experience offered to teenagers. That's too bad because the chance to work closely with 25 pros on a group project in a wild and unfamiliar context is something rare and special. I think all adults should do it every few years both for personal and professional growth.

All of us, even the full-time photographers, were thrilled to have the time to focus entirely on taking pictures, especially because we had such a entrancing subject, the Australian state of Tasmania. Most of us didn't know each other, and we all made lasting friends who will also be useful professional contacts. Mikkel Aaland deserves credit for creating such a great group and sending us on such a magical journey.

Credit also goes to one of the major sponsors: Tourism Tasmania. Many places have departments devoted to promoting tourism, but TT has created a winning formula. Our guides, Josh, Shaun, Matt, and Ben were jovial, patient, and well-informed. Their logistic skills made it possible for the photographers to focus entirely on making art. Without them it would have been a much less successful trip.

Our other sponsor, Adobe, sent a team of professionals who were very interested in how we used Lightroom and open to suggestions for improving it. It's clear that this kind of customer involvement makes Lightroom a better product. Winston Hendrickson, Melissa Gaul, Bill Stotzner, and Angela Drury were the perfect example of what makes Adobe so successful - and they were amazing photographers, too.

Credit also goes to O'Reilly, publisher of the Lightroom Adventure books. These books cost more time, effort, and money than the run-of-the-mill computer book, but the result is better than anything else you'll see in the computer book section.

Lightroom 2.0 should be out in a few months - it's spectacular. Check out the public beta, and look particularly at the new localized corrections, the ability apply Lightroom's adjustments on discreet regions of your photo. Lightroom can take an ordinary picture and make it extraordinary.

Mikkel hopes to publish the new book, "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Adventure 2," when the program itself ships - I don't know how he's going to pare down the hundreds of spectacular pictures from the trip to the few dozen that appear in the book, but it will be a must see. We also talked about selling a companion book that includes more of the pictures to benefit the Tasmanian Devil - I'll let you know where you can get that. It will be worth it, I promise. Just ask the generous Tasmanians who paid a total of $7,000 for prints of our pictures at last night's closing reception. All of that money will go to the Save The Tasmanian Devil fund, too.

Finally, if you've been inspired by our pictures from Tasmania, maybe you'd like to take a trip there yourself. Tourism Tasmania is sponsoring a contest for a trip for two to Tazzie. Sign up at xyzadventures.com. You'll never forget your visit to one of the world's last unspoiled places. I know I never will.