A SoCal Christmas!! (HDR)

Over the weekend we took a drive to the town of Orange. It was set up for a Christmas Spectacular. Luckily we arrived way before it started. Located at the Orange Circle you can find this tree decorated and ready for the holidays! Palm trees + a Christmas tree = a SoCal Christmas!! Hard to believe it is December already!! You all better be good for Santa!!! Still have lots of shopping to do!!

O Christmas Tree (HDR)

Christmas is over and we started to clean up the house today and take down the decorations.  The tree was our last item to tackle.  As I took a break this morning, I looked at the tree and yes, I HDR’d it and even tried an Infrared Photo (which was not good enough).  As I looked at the tree…I thought why not shoot it monochrome!  As I shot it this way, I decided to go ahead and get a few additional color shots.    I like closeup tree shots and processed my HDR’s from this morning just a bit ago.  They were cool, but we have all seen a tree HDR’d.  I even posted mine on XMas. I wanted something different.

I added the pic into NIK’s Software…played with Color Efex Pro…just ok.  Then tried my original thought of monochrome in Silver Efex Pro.  Then I clicked on the “Antique Plate II” setting and that was it!  I tweaked the contrast and hue/saturation a bit.  So here is my last holiday shot of the season!   New Years is next!!  See ya next year XMas!!

New York, New York – Merry Christmas!

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Merry Christmas to all my readers!  Happy Holidays as well!!  Hope you are having a great time!  What better way to celebrate on Places 2 Explore than the most famous Christmas Tree in the world…Rockefeller Center in New York City!   Best wishes to you and your family!

Austin, TX – Driskill Hotel (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

Tis the season to be jolly!  For those that celebrate Christmas…Santa Claus is coming to town tonite!  Here is a picture of the most photographed spot in Austin during the holidays…the Diskill Hotel Christmas Tree.   A wonderful sight to see.    Hope your tree is decorated and ready for some presents to be placed underneath by Santa!  And if you are not celebrating Christmas….hope you are enjoying your holiday as well!  I added a little snow to Places 2 Explore for the holidays…hope you enjoy!

Grapevine, Texas – Gaylord Texan – ICE!

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24

When we visited the Gaylord Texan a few weeks back…one of the reasons for our visit was to see “ICE”.  ICE is a wonderful holiday exhibit made completely of ICE!   Above you can see a photo of the Grinch and some Who’s enjoying a holiday feast!    It was great to see!   Check the website for times and costs.  Coats are given to you as the temperature is kept below freezing to keep the ice solid.   For the kids (and brave adults) they have a cool ice slide to enjoy!  Its about 10-15 long and adds to the fun!

I set up my tripod for this shot and took my photos quickly!  When using your camera in cold weather…batteries can drain fast!  Luckily it was just a few shots…I had to wait for the traffic to pass by to grab this shot!    Not sure if that turkey is served hot??  After you finish the ICE tour…you return your jackets and can grab a snack and some hot chocolate to warm up!   It was enjoyable and something different to experience!

Here is some info from the their site: With two million pounds of hand-carved ice, Gaylord Texan brings to life the Dr. Seuss holiday classic — How The Grinch Stole Christmas! In a series of colorful scenes straight out of the original storybook pages, the spectacular ICE! attraction brilliantly showcases how the “Whoville-hating” Grinch with a heart two sizes too small learns the true meaning of Christmas.  The unique attraction is created by 40 master artisans from Harbin, China, who magically transform 5,000 blocks of ice into the city of Who-ville. From the Grinch’s frozen mountaintop lair and 20-foot high slides to a variety of family photo opportunities and the picturesque Who-ville including feasting Who’s and Max the dog, the enchanting attraction is sure to make more hearts than just the Grinch’s grow three times in size.

Hope the Grinch doesn’t show up for the holidays near you!