Well I’m finally back in the good ole U, S of A! While I love Europe, the people, food, culture and the countryside, unfortunately I have family and obligations to return to like everyone else and they reside on this side of the globe.

Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for the folks at Calumet Photographic and California Sunbounce for the opportunity they have given me to share my American photographic style with my European colleagues–whom in return have shared their style with me, a true marriage of the minds.

The European people and photo industry truly greeted me with open arms and impeccable hospitality. The response was tremendous, with press and almost 400 people in attendance. Not to mention the great food, drink and culture they shared with me–I still remember in Belgium where we sat at the table enjoying great beer and words of wisdom as the photographers practiced photographing one another with my camera. From there, some of my new friends from Holland spilled over to the dinner table–now we’re looking at three “Dutch” female photographers all volunteering to be assistants for the next one on one Virgin Islands trip!

After our last stop in Munich, I headed for the Hauptbahnhof to catch an ICE train to Wurzburg, the high-speed train ride took 2-hours through the beautiful countryside that allowed me to reminisce about my military days in Germany. Upon my arrival at the bahnhof, I was met by the Managing Director of Hensel Lighting, Joachim Renschke. He would help me with my luggage then take me in his car to the wonderful hotel in downtown Wurzburg. After giving me a few minutes to check-in, we headed to a beautiful, at least 250-year old German restaurant where we ate some great food at a reserved table. I’m still trying to remember the name.

The next day I toured the multi-million dollar facilities of Hensel Lighting were I was photographed with Mr. Renschke for the German press. I felt honored to finally tour a factory filled with German engineering and precision. We also spent time in the conference room with the Export Manager, Christian Lutz, whom I’d meet before in New York. It was great to see him again and all three of us shared some wonderful ideas that would benefit photographers that utilize Hensel equipment. It was great to see how Hensel is moving forward with improvements, new products and ideas and I can’t wait to be a part of that future.

After spending one more night in Wurzburg, I took another ICE train to Frankfurt–this was a quick one-hour ride as the train reached speeds well-over 150 mph, though sitting on this luxurious train it doesn’t feel so fast inside. We had a misconnect with Leica, so we skipped the factory tour for my next trip, but we had a great conversation on new things for Leica and I can’t wait–they were happy to see I brought my new M-8 with me, though my shooting time in Europe was very limited.

All in all this almost two-week trip was exhausting and exhiliarting. It brought back memories of the three years I spent in Europe as an active-duty, U.S. Army soldier.

I enjoyed meeting new people, seeing old friends, and learning about a great future with Calumet Photographic Europe. California Sunbounce, Hensel, Leica and even other fascinating possibilities that involve not only Europe, but other parts of the world and I can’t wait for 2008 to hit! The hardest part of the entire trip was sitting at the Atlanta airport for almost another 5-hours, after an almost ten-hour transatlantic flight, as the airport was shut-down due to bad storms. Most of that time was in the baggage holding area where you reclaim your bags briefly to clear Customs, as no airline ramps were open during these lighting storms.

The Calumet and California Sunbounce European Tour ended for me when I finally arrived home at almost 1:00 a.m. on the 15th. I’m taking at last 12-hours of rest as we gear up for the Chapel Hill workshop this weekend, followed by Philadelphia, then Glamourcon in Los Angeles, then Atlanta before we hit the Virgin Islands again! While my bones and muscles are still sore and the jet-lag is not too bad after a couple of margaritas or mojitos, no words can merely explain this generous experience of the European people and photo industry as they have given me a new outlook in photography–thanks to all involved, you illuminate my world of photographic possibilities and I’m forever grateful. Thanks, rg sends!