Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Photoshop World, Las Vegas, Part 2

More from Las Vegas — including the MGM lion. Wikipedia provides some history that was new to me — originally, the main entrance to the MGM Grand on the Strip was inside the mouth of a giant cartoon-like version of MGM's mascot, Leo the Lion — but this entrance feature was changed to a more traditional entrance. It seems that many Chinese gamblers avoided the casino or entered through the back entrance, due to the feng shui belief that entering the mouth of the lion was bad luck. In 1998, this huge bronze statue of Leo was added above the entrance to keep with the MGM Lion theme, while not scaring away their more superstitious guests. The statue weighs 50 tons, and at 45 feet tall, on a 25-foot pedestal, is the largest bronze statue in the U.S.

Inside the MGM Grand is the lion habitat with up to six lions — or should I say lionesses. It is enclosed in glass so visitors can get an up-close look at these magnificent animals.

And they can get a good look at you. This female looked like she was perusing the menu for her next meal.

You'll recall my many-part series on MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Scottsdale but they did not have a guitar as big of the one in from of the Hard Rock Cafe. In the interest of honest journalism, I have to confess to a bit of Photoshopping here — I had to remove the power lines that run in front of the guitar headstock — they diminished the aesthetics of the picture. I hope you cannot tell where they were before I worked that Photoshop magic.

Down on "The Strip", I encountered a showgirl. Perhaps not a real one, she was handing out those discount cards that every other person along Las Vegas Boulevard seems to be dispensing. But she agreed to let me take her picture — quite cute, I think.

Another card vendor — another look — also cute.

For those few of my readers who have never been to Las Vegas, you will find that each hotel tries to outdo the others with their theme. Caesar's Palace, naturally, tries to take you back to ancient Rome complete with scads of Roman statuary — including these trumpeters.

The Paris Las Vegas Hotel offers a half-size Eiffel Tower. Located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, visitors can catch great views nearly 50 stories above the ground. From the observation deck, which stands at 460 feet, guests are able to see the entire valley. While all types of guests come and see this attraction, the Eiffel Tower is considered a popular romantic destination. Don't be shocked to learn that such romance will cost you $10 during the day and $15 at night. By comparison, admission to the real Eiffel Tower in Paris will set you back 13.4 € ($18.49) for the elevator to the summit.

At the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, you will find extraordinary architectural detailing such as this bell being rung by two mythical creatures. The power of the 300 mm lens shows detail that most of us cannot see (or do not notice) with the naked eye.

Can you tell that it is not a real bell? It is not hollow. And did you notice the crack in the ersatz bell? It looks like a fissure in stucco.

One of the urgings of the professional photographers at Photoshop World is for each of us to stretch our aspirations. I tried to follow that advice and looked for the kinds of photos that the great modern photographers exhibit. It is not really "my thing" but fun to play with capturing patterns such as these elaborate columns at the Venetian.

Or this see-through ceiling — although I honestly do not remember which hotel this is from.

Or the pattern of the hotel windows — these are from the Excalibur Hotel. And to be truly artistic, did you notice that one and only one window has a white curtain catching the sun?

Lastly, water cascading down tiled steps also fit in that "artsy" category. Hope you enjoy it.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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