Nightmare at the Doubletree Hotel

My Mom taught me if I didn’t have something good to say, not to say anything at all. Sorry Mom, but I’m breaking that rule today. I promise to go back to keeping it tomorrow……

Linda and I were in Tucson recently and decided to stay the night. We’ve stayed at some fantastic resorts there, most notably the Westin La Paloma and my favorite Lowes Ventana Canyon. However, based on proximity to the shoot, and in the spirit of trying something new, we picked the Doubletree Hotel. That’s a good chain, right? Their webpage indicated that they had a spa, pool, steakhouse, shuttle service, and a good reputation. Those are all good signs. How bad can it be? Right? Wrong. Let me recount for you.

(1) Tried to check in a little early and was denied. So much for great customer service.

(2) Instead, took a tour of the facility and discovered the Steakhouse also serves as breakfast and lunch buffet. We did later find out from an overeager staff member that the steaks come free soup, salad, and rice! So much for their nice steakhouse.

(3) Went looking for the hotel’s Mexican restaurant and the hallways smell like a frat house basement a la stale beer. So much for the hotel being clean.

(4) Order Chicken Mole and it tastes like it was seasoned with a bucket of salt. Oh, and this joint was so old and in need of upgrades they still had tube television sets over the bar. So much for other nice hotel food options.

(5) Spent some time at the pool and overheard some nice conversations about the following: prison, drinking liters of vodka a day, and comparing notes on consuming massive amounts of pain pills for recreation. At least one of our fellow guests was considerate enough to share their music… loud. So much for relaxing pool time.

(6) Asked the concierge about the free shuttle and if they had a list of nice restaurants in the area.  She handed us a letter size list three columns deep with choices, but since the shuttle only goes three miles, we can’t get to any of them in the free shuttle. So much for the free shuttle.

Talk about an experience not living up to expectations. I have more, but listing everything would just be overkill. I think we’ve finally answered the question, “how bad can it be?”, for ourselves. Yeah, it could have been worse. At least the company was fantastic (Linda). Yet, I’m thinking the next time we are in Tucson we’ll not be staying at the Doubletree. Just a hunch.

Happy Thursday!

Texture, Dodge & Burn Baby

I’ve been experimenting with textures along with a (new to me) technique in Photoshop called Dodge and Burn. Combine some cool textures with these two techniques and you can do some pretty cool stuff. Here are a couple of examples.

Emma Pew of Black Carl

The first is a shot I originally made of Emma Pew of Black Carl at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival back in May, 2010. The background was all sky and it was pretty washed out.

Emma Pew of Black Carl

I took Emma, used the polygonal lasso tool to crop her out, and placed her on a cool background. I then added a few filters, went over certain parts with the Burn tool, other part with the Dodge tool.

Quinnton Smith & Roxann Mosley

The second is mainly the burn tool. The original picture had Quinnton and Roxann posing, and they looked great, but the bottom of the picture looked awkward because it was showing the underneath of the big truck. Lots of ugly white space. I burned all that out so that the attention would be given to the couple and not the empty space below them.

Happy Wednesday!

Kitt Peak Observatory

Saturday, July 24, 2010 I attended my first Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. A photographer friend of mine Rosemary from DesertRose Images suggested I check it out. While the Phoenix walk was all full, I was able to eek out a spot on the Tucson walk. The experience at Kitt Peak was pretty incredible. Here is one of my favorite shots from the experience.

Kitt Peak Observatory

Thanks again to Barney Streit, Mike and Sandy Hawes, and everyone else who put this on.

Beach & Countryside

Linda and I have been back home from our visit to Sweden for almost three weeks now. Things have settled back into their normal routine; or at least as much as they can during a month where the temperature in the morning at ten o’clock is 100 and keeps rising and rising until it hits 110+ around seven o’clock in the evening. I have just this one last set of pictures I wanted to share from our trip before I get back to writing and posting pictures about “normal” life.

This set is one that I like especially. They tells a story about the landscape. I am anxious to see what folks from the area think. Do my pictures match how you see the place where you live? I also think these pictures tell a story. In fact, I’m not going to tell the story in words. I’m going to just lay them out here and let you enjoy them without me interrupting. See if you can “read” the story these pictures are trying to tell you and comment below.

I appreciate all of you who dropped by to read this series. I am already looking forward to out next trip to Sweden. It may not be next summer but the next time we’re out there it will definitely (if I have anything to say about it) be summer!

Happy Thursday!

P.S. Check out the set on Flickr here >

On the Docks – Smyge, Sweden

One mid afternoon during our recent trip to Sweden, Linda, her dad, and myself piled into the Volvo and headed to the southernmost tip of Sweden to have lunch with Linda’s uncle Lars and nephew Sixten. The town is just east of Trelleborg (think “Swedish Long Beach”). Smygehuk itself is flat, sandy, and surrounded by rocky beaches. It is supposed to be “impossibile to stand any further south in Sweden and still keep your feet dry”.

Sweden (2010) Smyge

I read that Uma Thurman’s grandmother posed for this Axel Ebbe statue named Famntaget (The Embrace) which stands in the harbor. Linda also poses alongside.

Sweden (2010) Smyge

I didn’t think to take a picture of the grub but just imagine ordering a herring burger and the smoked or pan fried herring just came off a shipping boat earlier that day. You get the picture?

Sweden (2010) Smyge

This sign marks the exact position, 55 degrees 20 minutes 3 seconds, and the distance to various locations around the world.

Sweden (2010) Smyge

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. Check out the entire Sweden (2010) Smyge Picture Set by clicking here.