It’s funny what you find when looking for something interesting to shoot.  I was walking around Redmond (the old part of town) and walked past this closed down restaurant called Acapulco Fresh.   What caught my eye was the fact that the place was falling apart and pretty dirty yet still had the word FRESH above the door, but clearly it wasn’t.

So I took the shot, got home and promptly forgot about it.  I found it today and thought it might make an interesting posting.  One of the reasons I went round the town in the first place was I wanted to see if I could find things to shoot near home (rather than make the assumption that to get great pictures you have to visit great places).  What I found out was that you can get pictures anywhere, you just have to look.

This was an interesting shot as I wanted the sign (obviously) in the composition but the sun was in the way.  So first I stood back and put the tree in the way.  This was OK but the tree in the image was totally in shadow, so I added a little bit of Sun to the right and that lit the tree and helped the image.  Not great but came out OK.

Have you ever tried to spin a yoyo that’s half your body size and weight? No, well apparently it’s pretty hard to do.

I thought tonight we’d go back to Las Vegas.  On my last day there we had some time before our flight left, so decided to check out some of the other hotels.  (It was pretty hot outside so the idea of spending time in an airconditioned building sounded great).  As Caesars Palace is so grand, we thought we’d go there.

Most of the hotels aren’t too keen having photographers walking around the casino taking pictures, but they don’t mind you shooting images in the shopping areas.  Which is cool because Caesars has the most amazing shopping mall – I guess that’s what you call it but it’s like no other mall I’ve ever seen.  Firstly everything is inside but to make it look like you’re walking the streets of Italy they paint the ceilings blue with fluffy clouds.  Then every now and then you reach a super elaborate section with big pillars and statues and usually a beautifully decorative ceiling with amazing sky-lights giving you lots of natural light.

Of course you can’t have a mall without a huge fountain!  They have several, some with water features that shoot water across the room.  Again very very impressive.  At the end of the shopping area (I can’t bring myself to call it a mall again), is this three floor collection of shops which again is very decorative (following the theme of Caesars Palace of course).  They have these beautifully curved escalators the take you to each floor and some of the most expensive shots your’ve ever seen.  Think of a designer label and it’s here.

As the shopping area at the end was so impressive I had to take a picture.  So I set up the tripod so it overlooked the majority of the shops and captured the image below.  The light in the area wasn’t that bright (there was some natural light coming down from skylights above) but I had to have a long exposure to get the shot.  This of course meant that any movement looked blurred but I quite like this in the image (especially the people on the escalators).

Looking at the image I think it would make a pretty cool puzzle, there’s so much detail so finding matching pieces would be fun.  The colors are all bright and the statues are great (never photographed so many boobs in my life).

The guys got some “personal” flashlights tonight, all color co-ordinated to their uniforms. I think they looked pretty cool!

While at Photoshop World we stayed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.  This was a pretty nice hotel and every day we’d get up and walk down for breakfast (through the casino), walk past the shops (through the casino) and then go to the conference center (through the casino).  Pretty much all roads take you past some table or slot machine area.

Anyway one shop we past regularly was this liquor store.  What caught your eye was the gold window framing and the pink lights in the window.  It really was very pink and everyone who walked past seemed to stop and stair for a few minutes. Just across the walkway was a lit up purple waterfall but the shop got you first every time.

The trouble with this window was that it was in pretty low light.  I tried shooting this a few times but none of the images came out that well.  Then on the last day I had a tripod with me and grabbed a sneaky shot, and I’m really pleased I did as this came out really well.

I put a heavy vignette on this image as the background on the right was very bright and it pulled the eye away from the pink shop window.  So that’s why it looks darker on the right.  In the end a cool picture and a wicked liquor store – that happens to be right by the casino – what a surprise!

Tonight the guys decided to play laser tag!  It was a draw.

Last week I visited Leavenworth and if you’ve never had the chance to go you should definitely check it out.  This is a small city in Chelan County in Eastern Washington and the entire town is modeled on a Bavarian Village.

Leavenworth was originally a gold rush town and started to really grow back in the 1890s.  At the end of the century the railroad arrived and enabled the buildup of a healthy logging and sawmill industry.  By the 1930s the sawmill demands fell off and the city fell on hard times and 30 years later almost faced extinction.  The town’s people knew things were not good and around the 1960’s decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance with the goal of building a tourist industry.

Rather than make it just a cosmetic facelift, the whole town rallied round and worked hard to really make a Bavarian village in the middle of Washington, and started to run a number of Bavarian festivals, one of the largest being the Christmas Light festival in December.

Amazingly the whole idea worked and the town became a huge tourist attraction.  This is great as it saved the town, but the downside is that when you go there the place is full of people.  They have these amazing buildings that look wonderful, but you can’t shoot them as there are 400 people outside standing around with cameras (very annoying).  I suspect that if you want to photograph the architecture there you need to go either very early in the morning or late at night!

So when there I started taking pictures of things above ground.  Some came out, and some didn’t.  Today’s posting was of the Schocolat handmade chocolate shop.  I took this picture for Lisa who LOVES chocolate, and as she liked the picture I’m posting it tonight.

Carter and Master Chief decided to get the bino’s out today and do some bird watching.

It’s kind of funny that when I started this picture a day thing at the beginning of the year, I didn’t have any pictures to post, I had to photograph something each day to get a picture up.  That first week was really hard.  Over time I found that I could go out for the day (on a Saturday or Sunday) and take lots of shots, then I’d post one and have some back ups.  Now I have LOADS of pictures to choose from.  I still go out at the weekend, but the pressure is definitely off.

So it’s quite odd that I’m sitting here tonight and I can’t decide what to post.  I have all these pictures and I can’t pick one.  One of the problems is that when I take and save the pictures, I like them.  But after a few weeks I look at the pictures and think, “it’s just OK” and one of the things I didn’t want to do was post “just OK” images.  As a result I spend a lot of time asking Lisa and the kids for their opinion.

Anyway, I was looking though my collection and came across this picture of mugs from Starbucks in Seattle.  When I took this, I walked in the shop and took a couple of pictures and saw these mugs on the shelf.  I kind of like to do these depth of field images where the front and back is slightly out of focus and the middle is in focus and I thought the mugs might look cool.

Another reason I’m posting this image tonight is in homage to Lisa.  She is currently off dairy and for a person who LOVES her coffee (like 2 or 3 latte’s a day), she is suffering.  So Lisa, this ones for you.  You’ll get your coffee back soon.

Today Carter and Master Chief decided to enjoy a little robot torture.