Hello Friends and Family,

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Photoshop World, Las Vegas, Part 1

This week I attended Photoshop World in Las Vegas. For those of us who love photography, it is like being in Photoshop heaven. At the same time whenever I looked out my hotel window at the Mandalay Bay, I could see the Las Vegas version of the Statue of Liberty — a sight that focused our memories on the anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Thursday night, as usual, we were delighted as some of the world's best photographers shared some of their recent artistic endeavors. But it was Joe McNally's presentation that brought tears to many eyes, mine included.

Joe is one of our country's premier photographers — having contributed to Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Fortune, New York, Business Week, LIFE and Men's Journal, among others. His studio is near Ground Zero in New York City.

After the horrific event, he asked himself, "What could a photographer do in the wake of such a tragedy?" His answer employed a one-of-a-kind giant Polaroid camera that captures life-size images. Joe began filming the first-responders — with the intention that Americans would never forget their sacrifice.

The result was the Faces of Ground Zero exhibit to honor these brave Americans — displayed at Grand Central Station. You can view some of the images by clicking here.

Ten years later, Joe has updated the exhibit to include current photos of those same heros. The works are on display at the Time Warner Center through Sept. 12, 2011. Joe hopes that the photos will be part of a permanent exhibit at the Ground Zero Memorial.

Besides looking at photos, what would one do at a Photoshop conference, the uninitiated might ask. One obvious answer is simply to be inspired to go out and create your own beautiful images. At the Photoshop World in 2009, I found the time together with some great weather to get out and try out my then new 70-300 mm zoom lens. Because of other photos that I have captured in the last two years, I never got around to sharing these. That oversight is hereby remedied.

The photo to the left is New York New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino's version of the famous Chrysler Building — the real one, of course, is located in New York, NY.

I don't recall a roller coaster in the real New York City but Las Vegas has one. The cost for one ride is $14. If you a real coaster enthusiast, you can get an all-day "Scream Pass" for $25.

Back to Photoshop World, one of the main reasons for attending is to learn how the gurus would attack the photography and post-processing of just such a site. I'm not going to give away any of the secrets that they have passed on to me — but let's say that they have given me some great tips on how to make the photos better. I still have to practice, hopefully you will enjoy the fruits of my efforts.

Each year that it has been in Las Vegas, the conference has been held at Mandalay Bay. For those of you who have never visited, it is an enormous hotel with a huge convention center — 44 stories, 3,309 hotel rooms, 24 elevators and 135,000 sq. ft. of gambling.

Speaking of gambling, it looked to me that both two years ago and this year, the economy has imposed a penalty on the casino business. Even the high roller tables were not busy.

Of course, the one aspect that has not changed is the lingering cigarette smoke one finds in the casinos. Since I live in a totally smoke-free environment, I find it quite annoying. Don't these people know that cigarette smoking will kill you?

I guess some of us do.

In addition to the hotel, casino, convention center, shops and restaurants, Mandalay Bay also boasts the 11 acre Mandalay Beach with three heated pools, a wave pool with connecting pool for small children and a lazy river that features a small waterfall. The wave pool contains 1.6 million gallons of water and creates waves in 90-second intervals with heights ranging anywhere from two to four feet.

Two years ago I saw the performance of Disney's musical, The Lion King. It was spectacular — if you ever have a chance to see it, do not miss it. The run will end this year to be replaced by Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, a Cirque du Soleil show. By my count this will be the eighth Cirque du Soleil show running in Las Vegas. Amazing!

Speaking of shows, have you ever seen the Blue Man Group? Self-described as comedy, music and multimedia theatrics — combining all three, plus a generous spot of blue for the makings of a totally unique form of entertainment.

And entertaining, they are — fantastic! Mizuki and I saw them on an even earlier trip to Las Vegas for Photoshop World. Don't miss them either.

Next door to Mandalay Bay is Luxor — you know, the pyramid. The theme is well played with Egyptian touches everywhere.

Even the signs are in hieroglyphics. Let's see, which way to the Men's Room?

We end this week with the Sphinx guarding the pyramid. Wonder if he'll be around as long as the original.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com