Stairway

“Don’t throw it away right away” are words to clean the house by, especially when it relates to digital photography, because even the worst photograph can sometimes transform into a masterpiece. (or at the very least an acceptable photo)

Look at the picture on the left. It’s under exposed, a little bit crooked and fairly unappealing. The dark scene is of a secluded stairwell hidden in an upscale shopping plaza attached to Caesars Palace. (Las Vegas)

I am not sure why I shot this picture, maybe its decorative sandstone arch caught my attention, but when I arrived home and previewed it, my finger went straight to the delete button. Then after a quick moment of hesitation I decided to send it to a junk folder instead.  A year later, with a bit of fancy Photoshopping and two additional photographs layered onto it, the once dismal snapshot resurrected into a grand staircase leading into the beautiful Mojave desert.

For those who do not have Photoshop or assume it’s too difficult to learn or too expensive to buy, Adobe offers a wonderful alternative program called Photoshop Elements. It is very affordable at around $140 dollars or less. I have seen it priced for as low as $79 dollars and if you find a store that is selling older versions the price could go lower still.

Elements is very easy to use and is equipped with all of the photo tools you might need to repair and enhance your photographs. It includes a straighten tool (in case you were falling down when you snapped the shot) a crop tool, color tools and a list of quick fix tools that will correct exposure, color, dark shadows, etc. with one click of the mouse. Plus, Elements also includes layers, so your creative mind can explode with possibilities.

I hope those who love photography, but haven’t explored creative options, give this little gem of a product a chance. Also, there are many other features of this program not mentioned here that are sure to amaze you.

CLICK HERE to visit the Adobe website.

Metropolis

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People enjoy their ability to think for themselves, to analyze and navigate through complicated equations and prevail over the impossible. They pride themselves on harnessing adversity and transforming it into prosperity. 

Humans are a curious bunch, two-sided like the front and back of right and wrong, friendly and charming when they need something and cold and uninterested when they have everything. One of something isn’t always enough for them either, so the intelligent ones built a metropolis that promises a chance for two of anything.

A metropolis that will seduce visitors into giving away their money, a town that keeps people from their rational mind, a neon village, designed to mesmerize and fool the most responsible among them. A destination, an unexplainable vortex that somehow releases the mind from cohesive reasoning and guides the body into a world of self-indulgence, greed and shameful intoxication.

A world where the rich become the poor and the poor become the rich, a playground where one side of the street is Italy and the other is the Orient, a paradise that romances the senses with a thousand sensations, dazzles the eyes with a million lights and promises the hopeful a billion chances.

Las Vegas, a sparkling resort in the middle of nowhere that valet parks your soul when you arrive and never returns it.

The Last Cigarette

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The restaurant was nestled deep within a charming desert oasis, miles from the main tourist highway. The perfect location for a secret rendezvous of two very unsavory characters.

“Meeting here like this, in the here and now, I feel free,” she said while applying a shiny gloss to her naturally red lips. “But, you are fifteen minutes late my dear.” Her cold, grey eyes fixated on the man who had just entered the bar. “And I detest waiting!”

The man whispered in response, “Yet, here you sit.” His lips gently touched hers. “All those painful minutes later.”

Two lost souls, tormented by emotional pain and hatred somehow found comfort in the likeness of each other. Admiration was the only emotion they could share, because love and compassion, or kindness and hope, had long ago removed itself from their tainted worlds. Now they sat, side by side, in a kind of pretend happiness as the wickedness of their recent deeds mixed together.

“Bartender!” She raised her hand in a demanding wave. “Buy everyone in this run down shack a cocktail.” She looked around the dimly lit room. “Well, it seems we are the only ones here. . . so buy yourself a drink.” She tossed a wad of hundred-dollar bills on the bar. “This money is no longer important to me. Take it.” She grabbed the bartender’s arm and mashed the pile of money into his hand. “How does that feel? Orgasmic, isn’t it?” She threw her head back in laughter, as if her words were the funniest words ever spoken.

Her partner in crime added, “Yes. . . of course, take mine too.” He slid his expensive wallet across the bar towards the confused bartender. “You will also find my bank account’s pin number in there. . . you can have it all!” He raised his glass in a gesture to toast the bartender’s good fortune. “How does it feel to suddenly be a rich man?”

Silence invaded the musky lounge as everyone stared into each other’s eyes, a stand-off between uncertainty and insanity. “Turn on the television,” she directed the bartender. “I like the news.” She reached into her purse and pulled out an unopened pack of cigarettes, then gently tore away the clear cellophane wrapper. “Here, everyone must have a smoke with me.” She laid three cigarettes out on the bar. “Sadly, the best things in life are the worst things for us.”

The television’s emergency broadcast filled the room like a flash fire feeding on oxygen. A bomb was detonated just 100 miles south of the sleepy little bar, releasing chemical warfare, guaranteed to annihilate every living thing within a thousand miles.

“They say smoking will kill you,” she said as the flame from the match ignited the cigarette dangling from her lips. She smiled at the bartender and happily watched the color drain from his face. “But not always.”

She then handed him the lit cigarette.