Las Vegas HDR, Macro and Fine Art Phoography

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The Luxor has the Light

The Luxor Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada.

If you never get to see the actual pyramids in Egypt, the Luxor in Las Vegas is a scale 1:1 replica of the largest of the Egyptian Pyramids.

This photo taken and processed from three different exposures, a whole lot of patience and a lot of frustration over dust on my image sensor, however the end result turned out okay.

Cats in Focus (Wallpaper)

Just a wallpaper of our cat, Blackjack.

This photo was created a fEFew days ago using a very nice Canon 35mm EF 1.4 lens on loan from a friend, and processed in photoshop afterwards.

Feel free to use the photo for non commercial purposes, and link back to this blog, thanks!

From the Top of PH

I mentioned before my issues with trying to take photos from the top of the Planet Hollywood Resort Casino garage.

Fortunately for me, I was able to take many shots during the daytime a few days before I was asked to leave for no reason. The following panorama turned out okay, and has a nice color balance.

It was also a study in how to tame dark clouds that the HDR process often time tends to bestow on photos. The original file is quite large, and you may feel free to download it and use it for free under creative commons, but please simply give me credit and link back to this blog…

Don’t Shoot, I’m Only a Photographer!

“Hey buddy, what’s going on?”

In top secret casino security talk this is code word for “Hey you, what sinister act are you up to!?” and if you try and take photographs in Las Vegas without being surrounded by dozens of other people, and heaven forbid actually use a tripod, you should expect to hear it, or a variation of it.

Welcome to Vegas, just gamble and go away

I admire the strip. Las Vegas boulevard is a beautiful place, full of overlooked hidden secrets that most never see due to the ADD (attention deficit disorder) inducing nature of the town. Get here, get drinking, blow some money on a slot machine or table, see cirque, go home.”

Such chaos is carefully maintained, secretly watched by numerous cameras (both hidden and in plain view), security guards (both undercover and also in plain view), and metro police officers (they are the ones in yellow and black, usually on a bicycle).

It is only when you stop and take a moment to look deeper that you can see Vegas for what it really is. A city with a brilliant flare for the surreal.

 

A place where you can stop and watch as France meets Italy and where Egypt meets medieval England.

It’s this place that I attempt to document. To capture and preserve.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that I was stopped while taking photographs.

The first time came downtown on old Fremont street as Binions Gambling Hall decided that it was a (exact quote) “Homeland Security threat” to allow photography of other hotels from their parking structure.

 

Binions literally followed me out of their parking garage by driving behind me until I was a block away from the casino.

Planet Hollywood on the other hand offered to contact their senior officer and clear me to take shots. After I pointed out that I had been even higher up only a few days ago without incident, he relented, but still held to his guns.

“Just doing my job sir” he answered.
“I understand” I replied. At a whopping 14% unemployment in this city, I really honestly do understand.

I left, tweeted about it and went home.

But there is hope. A great vantage point for seeing the strip can be found on top of the Showcase mall parking structure. You are 14 floors up and no one ever seems to be on the roof.

It made this shot possible, and will enable some great night scenes, in time.

 

Where the Palace Meets The Gods

If you go to only one themed resort while in Las Vegas, it should be to Caesars Palace.

That is not to say that there aren’t other nice themed resorts on the strip. The Luxor is a scale replica of the Pyramids in Egypt and Paris does a good job of looking like, well like Paris.

But the art and history that has gone into Caesars palace is in a word, epic.

 

As you walk through the casino and are led into the Forum Shops you start to notice the attention to detail. Every bit of the resort and it’s shopping has been customized with near perfect representations of Roman art. There is a two story tall statue in the main entrance to the shops, bathed in sunlight during the day and watching the stars at night.

 

The main junction point where the three wings of the Forum Shops separate is anchored by restaurants and contain some of the most detailed statues, centered around fountains and featuring several Roman Gods.

I was first introduced to these statues by my wife several years ago.
To say the location is a popular spot for vacation photos is an understatemet. Over the course of an hour hundreds of people stop to pose with the Gods.

 

As a photographer, these types of settings pose an interesting paradigm. Another subject that has been recorded to film and memory card millions, if not billions of times. How many times have they been taken well?

It took me six years since arriving in Las Vegas to learn the methods to take properly pay tribute to these Gods. The resulting images here were a combination of several exposures, careful post processing and a will and determination. The result was a shoot that saw me taking nine photos of the same scene, putting in about thirty minutes at each angle as people darted in and out of frame and being patient enough to get the shots.

In short, these captures were difficult to create, but worth every second invested.

The Where and the Challenge

Where do you take your photos?

Most of what you see on this site was taken in one of two places, (in some cases a third) either Las Vegas, Nevada or in the Southern Philippines, specifically Mindinao.

Since I live in Las Vegas and work right on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka “The Strip”) getting shots of one of the most photographed places in America is exceedingly easy.

What is not easy however is getting photos which are different enough to stand out.

The problem with a place like Las Vegas or Times Square in New York City is that people have been there, done that and taken the photos. Chances are that if you yourself haven’t bothered to take a picture of it, your friends or family posted up vacation photos on FaceBook. Family vacation? Thanks.

Click like button, glance over photos, move on.

So the challenge is originality.
My drive is to bring people closer to the photos and bring them to a point where they want to look closer.
To be able to bring out an “aha” moment in the viewer that stands to bridge the gap between average snapshot and digital art.

Where Paris Meets Bellagio

It is a funny thing.

No matter how many times I walk past the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, I never cease to stop and look and just wonder how much thought, effort and manpower was put into constructing a man made lake which literally increases the relative humidity in the area when the show is running.

If you take a walk up and around the fountain you find a scene similar to the one here. When the fountains start, the Paris Hotel across the street appears to blend and merge with the Bellagio and they seem to be as one for a brief few moments.

This work here is one of my first that started out realistic and quickly slid towards the surreal. The colors were achieved by changing and tone mapping the image over and over again, and after several tries the result was one that I thought I would post.