A Few More Vegas Pics And Their Stories

Las Vegas is very photogenic. That’s indisputable.

Las Vegas is very photogenic. That’s indisputable. In addition I’ve found it very conducive for HDR photography. HDR is the technique which extends the range of brightness levels seen in a photograph by compressing the range. I know–confusing.

Your eye sees can see dark darks and bright whites at the same time. Cameras can’t. HDR produces a photo closer to what the eye sees. The raw material is usually a series of three photos taken in rapid succession.

Using different shutter speeds you end up with one underexposed, one overexposed and one properly image. A computer program combines the three produce the HDR.

Unfortunately it’s easy to overdo HDR and come up with some “Elvis on Velvet” results. I read complaints from the photo cognoscenti all the time. I mostly agree.

The reason I thought this shot would work was because of the bright clouds above and deep shadows within the Mirage Volcano. A standard photo would show detail in one or the other but not both.

I’ve already posted one photo from our little journey to Blue Diamond, NV. It was very dark and very cold! We really had no idea what we’d see. Actually the photos from Blue Diamond produced detail not visible to the naked eye. It was just too darned dark!

I am disappointed in most of this series of photos including the one I posted earlier. The exposure was too long allowing the Earth’s rotation to smudge the stars. This is one of the shorter exposures–only 22 seconds which cuts down on the motion.

For those interested it’s f/3.5 ISO 400 using a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens at 44mm. I tried manually focusing by looking at stars, but mostly just trusted the infinity mark on the lens. There’s a little help from Photoshop in bringing down the ambient brightness of the sky and helping illuminate the dimmer parts of the butte.

I have no idea how close the butte is, but probably a mile or more away. We were standing on Bonnie Springs Road just off Route 159 pointing reasonably north.

One night we went downtown to Fremont Street. Years ago before the Strip was developed Fremont Street was the heart of Las Vegas. Nowadays it’s an open air pedestrian mall surrounded by older, seedier casinos. There’s entertainment in the street and a pretty good atmosphere.

As we waited for the overhead lightshow to start this guy walked by! I have no idea what he was doing or why he was there. I only had one shot! What you see if what I got with no cropping.

My Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens was on the camera. That’s a lot of lens for a darkened area. I dialed up to ISO 1600 and 1/250 second for the shutter. The image still needed a little Photoshop help boosting the levels and killing the noise. It looks a little soft and runny to me probably more because of ISO 1600 than anything else. It’s still worth showing.

In the movie this guy will be played by my friend Rick Allison.

Finally a shot from our first night in town. We went to dinner at Mon Ami Gabi a restaurant attached to the Paris Hotel with an open air patio overlooking The Strip.

It was cold that night! Luckily Mon Ami Gabi (and loads of other places) have these radiant gas heaters.

This was a shot I visualized before shooting. It came out just as expected. The soft background is what I wanted and very pleasing.

This was shot with my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens wide open and fully extended. ISO was a noisy 1600 and the shutter speed was 1/125 second.

Making The Most Of The Last Day In Vegas

For the next two weeks the rodeo is in town and Las Vegas is full of boots, hats and oversized belt buckles

Things are winding down. We said goodbye by Michael, Melissa and Max who then set out to drive back to Orange County, CA. We will miss them. Melissa has become Helaine’s sister.

We were stared at on our way down in the elevator. Then, somewhere between 18 and the lobby the man asked if I “was the newsman?” They were visiting from Wolcott and will be on our return flight. This is why I can only vacation with my wife.

IMG_4260.JPGA little poker–with good luck–then dinner with Helaine at California Pizza Kitchen. We’ve had the same guy as our waiter for at least five years and he was back with us today. As usual, I had a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza.

Just across the way at the sports book they’re setting up for some country acts. For the next two weeks the rodeo is in town and Las Vegas is full of boots, hats and oversized belt buckles. Anybody gotta Bud?

It’s quite the eclectic group. The Mirage closes Cirque’s Love for two weeks of vacation while the rodeo’s in. This is not a French/Beatles crowd!

I went up to the room for a little while and on my way down got into the elevator with a guy holding a professional Canon HD camcorder. I asked a few questions and he told me he was shooting construction at the Mirage volcano. It’s currently under construction and officially closed. But, he said, it was going to be tested at 5:00 PM.


I did go back to Venetian for the 7:00 PM tournament. Early on I had 3-Kings, only to find someone with “7s full.” I think I was first out!

If nothing else, Vegas is visually over-the-top. And, whatever was splashy last year has been trumped by something splashier this year… and brighter… and larger.