I Was At CES 2012 In Las Vegas!

January 31, 2012 by ·  

lamborghini at CES 2012

A Lamborghini And Josh At CES 2012

    Whether I’m in front of or behind the camera there is one type of photography I’ve never been a fan of: Evidence of being there photos. These are the photos people usually use as proof they were at a location or met a certain person and usually they’re just standing there looking at the camera. Years later do people in those photos look at them and reminisce about how they had to stop what they were doing in order to turn around and grin at the camera? I would much rather take a photograph that shows a person in a natural pose, held for a moment within a beautiful scene than a picture that represents an interruption of that moment. Of course for this trip to Las Vegas, my friend wanted some evidence shots, so I willingly obliged. The two shots in this post represent the work and the play side of the trip. I was there to cover CES 2012 which is where the Lamborghini above was displayed and the convention was in Las Vegas, home of casinos, liquor and gambling, which is what the photo below is evidence of doing.

inside-hooters-casino-playing-video-poker

3 Nines on 2 Machines Inside Hooters, Las Vegas

    After long days of walking for miles at CES, enduring crowded monorail rides and walking even more miles to get to my room, I was ready to relax by sliding up to a video poker bar, feeding it some money and then drinking for free until the wee hours while catching up with my old friend, Josh. The evidence photo above was taken as evidence not of being at a certain place, but for us both winning on separate video poker machines at the same time with 3 nines in our winning hands. Something like that deserves a shot and a picture. The above photo was taken inside Hooters Casino, in the back bar. We weren’t staying here but we still spent a lot of time here because it is very chill, has a great restaurant and is just a great place to waste a few hours. Until next time, happy travels!

No Comments · Add a Comment

Inside Caesars Palace Forum Shops

January 30, 2012 by ·  

caesars-palace-forum-shops-las-vegas

Grand Spiral Staircase Of Caesars Palace

    Caesars Palace is an inspiring place to go to because you can’t help but plan a trip after you spend some time in there. I would very much like to travel to Italy and Rome in particular now just because of the walking I did through there. I’ve never been to Europe but now I really want to go and I think Italy is going to be my way in, with Rome being my first Las Vegas inspired stop. Caesars Palace and the Forum Shops are grand and decadent in an ancient Roman way and there are celebrities from time to time to add to the fun. Pete Rose and Dick Butkis were there and Dennis Rodman scheduled to appear later in the day. Last year, I posted a single photo of the fountains in front of the hotel so it felt good to walk through, get some decent photos and ultimately plan a trip to a foreign land.

caesars-palace-statues-las-vegas

The Non-Moving Statues Of Caesars Palace

    The famous moving statues were not operational during my visit so I have a reason to return, which is not a bad thing at all. Since my actual reason for being in Las Vegas was for CES 2012, I didn’t have time to take in a single show, explore new food or do any shopping. I didn’t have the money to do those things either so it was a trip filled with busy days, hectic nights and lots of walking.

Video From Caesars Palace Forum Shops

    Until I go to Rome, I suppose I have nothing for me to compare Caesars Palace to. It is unbelievably vast and is a photographers dream, especially a photographer w/ an 8mm fish-eye lens. While I was in Las Vegas my new lens was my constant companion and it was the only lens I brought. I have become hooked on the all encompassing view as well as the way it forces me to get physically closer to subjects than I ever have before. A prime lens makes you do all the work. That coupled with the fact that my lens is all manual made it feel like I was walking the Las Vegas Strip in 1955 with a film camera in one hand and a bona fide photographic assignment in the other. So get inspired and plan a trip somewhere, take pictures and then when you get back start a blog and write about your adventure using your photos as visual aids. Cheers!

Show Comments · Add a Comment

San Diego Trolley guards: Private citizen security or real police officers?

January 29, 2012 by ·  

san-diego-trolley-arrest-at-city-college

San Diego Trolley Guards: Private Security or Sworn Police?

    San Diego Trolley Guards think they are real police officers. Specifically, they think they are actual sworn peace officers but they aren’t; they work for Heritage Security, a private security company. What they are doing and saying in the video above they are doing as private citizens. The two arrests you see them perform in the video are citizen’s arrests. The problem I have is that the people arrested were placed in handcuffs, one because he smelled of alcohol and the other for smoking. Both of the guards also react rather rudely to my presence; one saying he would arrest me if I stand behind him while the other walks up to me and tells me to get back, then asks to see my ticket and then says to get out of his face. Unless I was standing in a 6 inch hole, there is no way I was in that guard’s face.

    From my point of view, the short guard became annoyed when the fat guard made him aware of my presence. That’s when Biggie said he’d arrest me for standing behind him and Smalls checked my ticket and told me to get out of his face. I really didn’t move, so the little guy decided to go pick on a smoker that happened to light up as he was exiting 7-11. From my point of view, short-stuff was being a fucking bully. Watch the video below and pay attention to how the short guard talks to the guys after they are in cuffs. He’s a cast iron dick.

    I think there is a vicious cycle going on between commuters and security guards: Commuters think most guards are assholes and guards think most commuters are degenerates. They’re both right. Most people in San Diego that ride the trolley instead of driving a car do it because they can’t afford a car or because they’ve had their license suspended; in other words, because they HAVE to. I’m part of that small green minority that’s charging ahead and riding public transportation by choice so I get to bear witness to a lot of trolley guards being assholes to a lot of stinky, stupid degenerates and I’m all for that. However, I was wearing dress pants, a collared button down shirt, a tie, impeccably shined shoes and I was holding a camera when short-stack and extra-large talked to me the way they did.

    I didn’t look like nor was I acting like a degenerate when they were assholes to me. Therein lies the vicious cycle. Or maybe trolley guards really are assholes to everyone. What do you think?

    Below is a video I shot and blogged about in 2009 showing four guards take a guy down for smoking, so San Diego trolley guards have had a pattern of arresting people for petty things for at least a couple years, but they are not sworn peace officers. This makes me question the necessity and the legality of the arrests because as you’ll hear in the videos, they never say they are NOT the police, but, they sure talk like the police.

Show Comments · Add a Comment

Venetian On The Las Vegas Strip

January 23, 2012 by ·  

venetian-hotel-fountain-las-vegas

The Venetian As Seen From Las Vegas Blvd.

    Venetian Hotel and Casino sits on a very grand swath of land on the Las Vegas Strip.  The curb appeal is the best in Las Vegas; it is beautiful and welcoming and once you walk inside you know where you’ll stay next time you come to Las Vegas.  Everything about the place grabs your attention and invites you to come closer for a better look and once you do that, you want to walk inside and see what this is all about.  One of the best things about Venetian is that you can quickly and easily walk in from Las Vegas Blvd.

venetian-las-vegas

Inside The Venetian, Looking Up At The Painted Ceiling

    Venice, the ancient Italian city that Venetian is modeled after is a place of beauty where empty spaces are adorned with things of beauty such as art, marble and crystal.  In the way the Victorians filled their space with clutter, Venetians filled their space with what is needed to make it beautiful, viewable and accessible.

tao-restaurant-venetian-las-vegas

Tao Asian Bistro And Las Vegas Nightclub

    Tao is the restaurant and nightclub inside Venetian.  I did not eat or party in either but I do have friends that have and they only had good things to say.

venetian-canals-las-vegas

The Canals Of The Venetian

    As you walk through the shops, you will see there are actual canals with gondolas that can be rented like a taxi for a relaxing and unique way to get from one end of the hotel to the other.  The shops, the restaurants and the experience are all first class all the way and made a believer out of me; during CES next year, I’ll be staying at Venetian.  Cheers!

Video Of Venetian Shops, Hotel And Casino

No Comments · Add a Comment

Las Vegas Strip At Night

January 21, 2012 by ·  

mgm-grand-lion-and-new-york-new-york-hotel-las-vegas

MGM Grand Lion Glares At New York Across Las Vegas Blvd

    Less than a year after attending the Nightclub & Bar Convention I found myself in Las Vegas again, this time to cover CES 2012.  This was my first time at the show so suffice to say it was a lot of fun and just about as close to overwhelming as you can possibly get.  Now that I’ve had a week to think about the show and edit some photos I do have a prediction that will merge some of the most impressive things I saw at CES:

    Waterproof 3D Eye Controlled Touch Screen Technology will be huge.

    I’ll elaborate on that in future posts.  For now, it will be all about photography and the 8mm fish-eye lens that was my solo companion as I walked through CES and the Las Vegas Strip for 4 days and nights.

luxor-sphinx-pyramid-and-obelisk-las-vegas-at-night

In Front Of Luxor Hotel Pyramid, Sphinx & Obelisk

    For me the Las Vegas Strip ends at Tropicana Blvd. so I never make it to Luxor or Mandalay Bay unless I make a specific trip just for those two places, which is exactly what I did for this trip.  I hadn’t been to the Shark Reef aquarium in Mandalay Bay for almost 10 years and I had never set foot inside Luxor so this was practically a new adventure for me.

luxor-hotel-las-vegas-inside-view

Inside Luxor Pyramid, Looking Straight Up

    Luxor is has more curb appeal than anything else, so I just did a quick run through the place.  A pyramid has a lot of attic space that you just can’t do much with other than stare at so I was not impressed and due to its location on the strip, I recommend you stay somewhere else, farther north on Las Vegas Blvd.

Jellyfish aquarium at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Jellyfish at Shark Reef Predator Aquarium In Mandalay Bay

    On the other hand, Mandalay Bay was an incredibly vast and visually appealing place to spend a few hours.  My reason for going there was their Shark Reef exhibit, which I finally managed to see on my last day in Las Vegas.  It is to aquariums what San Diego Safari Park is to zoos.  The place is dim but not dark so set your ISO at 1600 or higher, aperture at f/3.5 or larger and shutter at 1/60th or slower for some amazing results.  You don’t need a tripod for this but you will want to hold your breath and remain still while releasing the shutter. If you take a knee or lean against something while taking your photos, it will help out a lot.

shark-reef-mandalay-bay-las-vegas

Shark Reef At Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino

    Las Vegas really is a street photographers dream because there are so many people and you have to walk for miles, even after you exit the taxi or monorail.  Seriously, don’t bother with a tripod, just crank up the ISO and have some fun.  There are plenty of inside things to photograph, so don’t be afraid to practice some low light photography indoors before you start roaming around The Las Vegas Strip, or your own hometown at night.

prada-at-crystals-las-vegas-strip-at-night

Prada, In Crystals On Las Vegas Blvd

    Here are two things you might not know about Las Vegas; you can take your alcoholic beverages everywhere and gambling is not the only thing to do on The Strip.  Shop until you drop if you so desire or eat your heart out.  The retail stores and the restaurants are second to none and just as willing as a casino to take your money in exchange for goods and services.

bellagio-fountains-las-vegas-strip-at-night

Fountains Of Bellagio and Las Vegas Blvd

    As I mentioned earlier, I had a single lens with me for this trip and that was a newly acquired 8mm fish-eye which gave me a full 180 degree field of view.  As a photographer, it’s really cool to have EVERYTHING in front of me show up in the viewfinder; it really is amazing how a new lens at Christmas can turn me into a kid with a camera.  Thanks Santa!

No Comments · Add a Comment

Stop SOPA/PIPA!

January 18, 2012 by ·  

Jellyfish mandalay bay shark reek aquarium

Keep Your Corporate Tentacles Off The Internet!

    America, from Columbus until WWI was the Wild West because we didn’t know if anything would survive, supported only by capitalism. There was still no clear business model for making hundreds of millions or billions of dollars so people kept moving west until a way was invented in California: Hollywood Culture.

    What we see and what we hear is what they claim is theirs.

    The entertainment industry was able to become so rich and wealthy in part because they were always able to set the price. They make all that money because they charged us all that money for their product. Well, the internet induced a market correction because paying $10 at a theater is now only ONE way to watch the latest movie and listen to its soundtrack and it’s the only one that guarantees the entertainment industry will get your money.

    SOPA/PIPA gives the entertainment industry a way to protect their failed business model by censoring the internet. That’s how I see it. The internet is collapsing their bloated system that rose from the ashes of a bloated studio system. They think the internet should be changed or molded to fit their business model. I say, fuck that!

    More people, including myself are taking photographs, shooting video and writing words specifically for the internet than Hollywood has stars in the sky so guess what? We win. They don’t get to take away what we’ve built just because it’s costing them money and I’ll tell you why: Their products are not worth what they charge. The internet doesn’t cost people money the internet makes people money.

    Don’t let the entertainment industry, the government or corporations get their tentacles around the internet. A free internet is the voice that people have been supposed to have ever since America became “We the people.” The internet is working because we use it in a way that allows it to work and it is a multi-function tool that every American should be able to use AT THEIR OWN DESCRETION as necessary. Please, we stand to lose everything if SOPA/PIPA becomes law so by all means, spread the word via your blogs and Twitter: STOP SOPA/PIPA!

    Take actual action beyond your blog by contacting all of your elected officials, right on up to the president: Stop American Censorship!

No Comments · Add a Comment

How To Use America Plaza Trolley Station

January 7, 2012 by ·  

america-plaza-trolley-station

The Grand America Plaza Trolley Station

    America Plaza Trolley Station is on the West end of Broadway and downtown San Diego. If you have just landed at the San Diego Airport and intend to take a train, bus or trolley, to your ultimate destination, America Plaza or Santa Fe Depot across the street are the stations to do it. The number 992 city bus is the “airport shuttle” that you will want to familiarize yourself with online. In a nutshell, it runs west on Broadway, turns north on Harbor Drive, passes the cruise ship terminal, loops through the airport and then heads back on the same streets in the opposite direction.

America Plaza Trolley Station

Inside America Plaza

    You have two trolley lines, both going two directions on two different tracks at America Plaza so you must pay attention to which train you board. In the photo above and the first photo of the post, the track in the foreground will hold the blue line trolley going north to Old Town and the orange line trolley going to Gaslamp District. The other track will hold blue lines heading south through South Bay San Diego to the Mexican Border and the orange line heading to east county. If you need to get to a green line trolley, take the blue to Old Town for that connection. Just like with the 992, if you look at and print out available maps and timetables for the trolley online ahead of time and familiarize yourself with where the lines go, you’ll do just fine.

American Plaza Trolley Station

Dad Checks The Map As Son Watches The Trolley

    The trolley is going through a $620 million renewal right now, so by 2015, this will be outdated information. The trolley cars in the photo above and in the video below will things of the past. San Diego will have sleek new trolley cars that will enable the green line to extend all the way to 12th & Imperial Transit Center. The whole project will make trolley travel more pleasant much faster and will make more sense than what we have now. I have a post that details the entire San Diego Trolley Renewal Project which includes a map of what the new route lines will look like. Living downtown is looking more appealing everyday and I think this new trolley system will make the America Plaza area especially desirable. Happy travels!

Trolleys & Travelers At America Plaza

Show Comments · Add a Comment