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.

The Fisheye Cometh

“You can rent lenses?” Yes, rhetorical voice of me, lenses can be rented.

Vacation is rapidly approaching. We’re going somewhere very photogenic so I decided to try something a little different. I rented a lens for “Clicky.”

“You can rent lenses?”

Yes, rhetorical voice of me, lenses can be rented.

I ordered a 4.5mm f/2.8 Sigma fisheye lens from BorrowLenses in California. It arrived today. The rental price and shipping is around 15% of what a lens would cost. It’s a lens to play with, not own.

The lens itself is very different than anything I’ve shot before. There are no straight lines. Everything is spatially distorted.

Distances are distorted too. Everything looks farther away and larger than it really is.

Finding the right tricks to make a pleasing shot won’t be easy. I’ve already thumbed through dozens of photos on Flickr to see how others use this lens (yeah–you can do that too).

Here are my first attempts in no particular order. Click any photo to make it larger.

HD Surf HERO Cam Is Much Too Cool

Making videos like this is almost worth risking life and limb and the near death experience that will surely follow!

I do not surf. However, making videos like this is almost worth risking life and limb and the near death experience that will surely follow! A small $269 HD Surf HERO camera is suctioned to the end of the board. The video is recorded in high def digitally with no tape or moving parts!

It should be noted most people if given the chance would opt for a telephoto lens. This video is what it is only because the HD Surf HERO goes the other way with a very wide angle lens, the opposite of telephoto. A wide angle lens is often a much more versatile choice for photography and video.

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