Here we are with 5 days to go to Christmas and tonight I decided to do a nutty thing, I drove to Bellevue after work to do a little Christmas shopping.  I needed to pop into Bell Square Mall to get something for Lisa (can’t say what, as she reads this) and it was totally manic.  The traffic was really bad and parking (as you would imagine) was also terrible, but I got in pretty quickly by taking some back streets.  It was totally chaos in the Mall – far too many people.  I managed to get one thing I wanted but the other was sold out so I’m going out again tomorrow (very sad about that).

It was actually a nice evening tonight, a little cold but we had a clear sky and it was dry, so I thought I should grab a picture for the day.  In Bellevue at 7pm every night they do this sort of street show called “Snow Flake Lane” where all these actors come out in costume – loads of them are dressed as toy drummer soliders – and they dance around and play instruments entertaining the shoppers.  I totally hate this, it’s a complete nightmare and not entertaining at all!  So I needed to grab a picture quickly and get out of Dodge.

There are loads of really pretty street lights around the city center, Bellevue do a good job of adding loads of Holiday lights, but at street level it’s pretty hard to compose an image that really shows the lights at their best.  So I decided to get some height and shoot down.  Tonight’s image captures the traffic and lights in the city.  I love the blue lights all over the buildings and the holiday lights on the street lamps look cool too.  But my favorite part is the blurred motion of the vehicles as they enter the city.

Tonight the guys played hide and seek.  Excellent hiding I thought.

The weather out side is not great at the moment – well I do live in Seattle so what do you expect?  Anyway we are getting a lot of rain right now so I’m having to be “creative” finding new pictures to post.  Tonight is no exception so we are going back to warmer/dryer evenings in Bellevue Downtown Park.

This picture was taken in the park after sunset.  They have this large expanse of grass in the middle of the park and all around the grass is this long curved walking path.  Next to the path is a collection of small ponds (really it’s a water feature) that also goes around the park.  Well I found that if I stood in a specific place I could capture the path, some of the water and reflections of the larger buildings in downtown in the water.

As the sky had this great blue color (remember this is after the sunset) and the lights around the park were on and the buildings were lit up I got a great composition and I think a nice picture.  Hopefully you like it too.

I’d start hoping for nice or at least dry weather or you are going to get some pretty poor pics for the remainder of December.

I spoke to Carter tonight and he said he felt on top of the world!  No idea why.

The Bellevue Downtown Park is right next to Bell Square Mall – which by the way if you haven’t visited is a pretty impressive shopping mall, just ask Lisa!  Just by the Mall where the part starts is this large fountain surrounded by lamps.  I have no idea if it’s here to signify anything but it’s covered in flags.  I was there for the sunset and took this image just before the sun went down.

The challenge with this picture was getting a shot with no people and no wind.  Obviously I failed as you can see by the movement in the flags.  That said I didn’t really do anything to this image in Photoshop, this was pretty much what came out of the camera.

I liked the one tree at the front of the image, it kind of added some nice foreground interest and I liked the leaves and flagstones one the floor.  The sky looked cool too so the picture came out well.  I think this is my last Downtown Park image so don’t expect any more.

I had planned to take a load of images this week as I’ve been off work now for 9 days.  But it’s pretty much rained every day, been really crappy.  So not a good week for photography.  But I plan to get out soon and grab some nice pictures.  I’m still pretty amazed that I started this thing on January 1st, and here I am on November 25th and I haven’t missed a day.  Only 36 days to go and I made it.

Tonight the guys found a new balls game to play, I have no idea what it’s called but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Sometimes the most interesting thing to photograph really is right behind you.  This proved to be true today when I shot this “interesting” tree in Bellevue.  There I am, walking about with my camera looking for something cool to shoot and I’m not feeling that inspired.  So I literally lean against this tree.  While I was thinking of how frustrating it can get some days I turned and looked at the tree trunk.

I don’t know what type of tree this is or what was happening to it, but it looked like the bark on the tree was splitting and peeling off.  Then I looked up and noticed that the sunset had given the sky an interesting hue.  I also liked the small number of leaves in the tree, the fact that they had all nearly fallen kind of helped the picture I think.

It was getting a little dark so I needed to put the camera on a tripod to take this one.  But I was worried that if the wind blew too hard the branches and leaves would all have motion blur. So I took lots of shots hoping that one of them would come out well.  Ironically they were all pretty good, but the one I’m posting tonight had (I think) the best focus.  The texture in the tree trunk is really cool here.   Quite gnarly with bits falling off and the sky is very interesting.  I shoot all my pictures in raw (that means I have all the data the camera saw when I get home) and while I usually leave the camera’s white balance setting on auto, I can fully change it when I get home.

Once I loaded the picture onto the computer the tree color was slightly off so I color corrected for the tree and the leaves and this is what gave me the blue / purple sky.  What I saw was kind-a dark blue, but this looks really nice so I left it.  I do think the tree and leaves are pretty close to what I saw.

Tonight Carter challenged Master Chief to a marshmallow tower building competition.  Let’s be honest, he didn’t stand a chance!

Here’s another shot from the park, this time (again) from before the sun went down.  I’ve already posted one picture that showed the large expanse of water above the waterfall, but I also shot this other shot taken from a different position.

Off to the side of the park is this tall apartment building and it was casting this great reflection in the water.  I just had to shoot this one!  Also behind the building the sun was casting this nice red sky.

As it was early there were still quite a few people walking around so this picture took some time and patience.  Having said that I never would have got a shot with nobody in it (there were too many people) so I had to take a few folks out with Photoshop.  There are a few things in this picture that I’m not that happy with (trash cans, park signs and even ghosts of people moving) and in truth if I spent a lot of time, I might be about to remove them.  But the issues are so small you probably wouldn’t even notice them if I didn’t call them out.

Other than the people in Photoshop I didn’t do too much processing on the final image.  A little sharpening and then a slight blur to provide a nice soft focus.

The boys had a great night playing Bingo.  After several hours they succeeded in winning nothing.