January 23, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut ·
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.
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 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.
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
January 21, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut ·
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.
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.
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 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 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, 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.
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!
January 7, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut ·
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.
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.
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
December 9, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
First View Of Christmas Tree & Lobby Of Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado at Christmas has a very unique feeling on all five senses; it is a quintessential Christmas experience. I was so impressed with The Del’s Christmas lights last year that it helped add to my pre-Christmas excitement THIS year! This year, the theme for the tree is “Silver Bells” and it is beautiful. As soon as you walk into the lobby, you are greeted by décor that would make Queen Victoria proud.
Grand Staircase and Elevator Inside The Del
The lobby of The Del is massive, large enough to hold a Christmas tree that’s a good 15 feet tall. I think Christmas invokes thought of the past because Christmas, fun as it may be as an adult, is nothing compared to the pure awesomeness that it is to children. When you are inside The Del, you can see right away that the architecture is different than any other hotel you’ve ever seen. It’s one of those amazing things from the past that has survived 123 years & counting. I think seeing the distant past like this makes us think of our own past and childhood and that’s what makes being at Hotel Del Coronado at Christmas so fun and so special.
Decorations and Annual Hotel Del Coronado Christmas Ornament
The decorations on the lobby Christmas tree are worth a good look from you. It has a very dense assortment of ornaments, in keeping with the Victorian way of having a beautifully cluttered eye for interior design. It is beautifully decorated and there is even an annual Hotel Del Coronado Christmas tree ornament available in the gift shop.
Asleep In The Lobby Of The Del
Above is the foyer that separates the lobby and the main entry. If you walk out those double doors and take a left you’ll be on the southern end of Orange Ave., the main thoroughfare of Coronado. If you take a right after exiting the doors, you’ll be able to wonder through the grounds of The Del, past the Skate by the Sea ice rink and eventually end up on the beach and the vast Pacific Ocean. When you are all done, head on back and have a quick nap in one of the comfy chairs, just like the gentleman above. Below is a video that shows the ice rink, the exterior lights of The Del and a glorious Coronado sunset. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
December 8, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Golden Hour Ice Skating At Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado at Christmas is just about as Christmas as San Diego gets. If you would like a quintessential Christmas in San Diego, The Del is where to go, especially with the addition of their annual ice rink. Skating By The Sea literally allows you to ice skate right next to The Del, the beach and the sea, with great views of Point Loma and California sunsets. The rink is in place until the New Year, so get down here soon! The photo above shows the glorious Hotel Del Coronado bathed in golden hour sunlight as ice skaters enjoy a sunset session of fun in the sun… And skating!
A Lucky Couple Has The Ice To Themselves
A little planning and patience can go a long way, so let me prepare you for something; the 3 hour skate sessions cost $25. That price is absolutely the best deal in town and I urge everyone to head down and check it out sooner rather than later because if you play your cards right you can take you wife, husband, lover, mate or friend to the Hotel Del Coronado and ice skate, all by yourselves as the sun sets behind Point Loma, a clear blue ocean and a thick blue sky.
Christmas Lights On The Del
Once the sun goes down the lights turn on for the visual side of The Del during Christmas. 3 hours is a long time so don’t think you have to spend that entire time skating; you can skate for a while, then hop off the ice for something hot at the rink-side coffee bar that includes chairs that circle wood burning fireplace heaters. You may get on & off the ice as you please during your 3 hour session so pace yourself, explore The Del and notice all the little details of the hotel. The lobby is decked out for Christmas as well, so be sure to walk through there and you can also check out my photos of The Del during Christmas last year.
Zamboni Machine And A Coronado Sunset
You don’t have to be a registered guest to ice skate or explore the grounds, shop in the stores, eat in the restaurants or walk through the lobby of The Del. I’m telling you, a 3 hour $25 ice skating session will change your view of life and help you realize just how fortunate you are to live in or visit Coronado, CA. Below is a video that shows what a scenic, great time it is to Skate By The Sea. Cheers!
July 5, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Flower Shaped Fireworks On Imperial Beach Pier
Imperial Beach hosted a gigantic fireworks display, launching fireworks off their pier for 2011 4th of July Independence Day celebrations and guess what? That’s a 7 minute bike ride from my house! I’m serious; my total commute time was a mere 30 minutes (because I made two trips) while automobile traffic was a parking lot nightmare. Getting out of Imperial Beach and Coronado; the entire Silver Strand looked like a cross between a drive-in movie parking lot and a Taco Bell drive-thru line at 2am. What is the lesson to be learned here? Next year, if you go to Imperial Beach or Coronado to see the fireworks on the 4th of July, ride your bike!
People At Imperial Beach On The 4th of July 2011
Most people start arriving during the day, and even though it’s more crowded than usual, it’s never out of hand. In the photo above you can see people patiently waiting for darkness and fireworks as well as being issued a ticket for having alcohol on the beach.
IB Woman With Amputated Arm
The lady above is always around Imperial Beach pier and was enjoying the live music when a phone call interrupted her. I snapped this shot because the way she’s holding her phone, her white wrist wrap and the color of her fingers matching her hair did a trick of the eye on me, making me think she was a double amputee. The tattoo on her right arm is a classic frontier star with the word, “SHERIFF” in the center.
Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky
IB pier was gated off by the time I arrived due to the large amount of pyrotechnic booty that had been carefully placed about. Sunset was to happen exactly at 8pm and the show at 9. This is where the magic was going to happen, this is where we can all say, “Boom goes the dynamite.”
During summer it’s not exactly dark at 9pm, so the opening barrage of fireworks had nice wisps of clouds behind them. The opening volley of fireworks is where you’ll find some golden moments of photography because during the explosion of the first set is the ONLY time you’ll have a smoke free sky, so you can actually include the sky in the background of your fireworks shot. As you see in the photos above, smoke becomes a problem very fast. The pic on the left was shot at 3200 ISO & the right at 1250 ISO.
I didn’t have a tripod so I had to find a combination of ISO and f-stop that would work with my self-imposed handheld photography shutter speed limit of 1/20th of a second. The f-stop turned out to be easy, wide open! For the lens I had that meant f/3.5. I wanted to include a lot of foreground/people in my photos so my ISO was determined by the lighting of the foreground; I cranked it up high, from 1600 to 3200 if the foreground was dark or dropped it to 200 if there was already ambient light around, such as those taken with people seated under lights. Whatever my ISO was, my shutter speed was always slow, 1/20th of a second or slower so I made sure to stand still, hold my breath and press the shutter release button with a surgeon’s delicate touch for each & every frame. What that did was keep my own personal movement and the movement of the camera to a minimum. These are the problems that I have to compensate for by not using a tripod. I sacrificed stability in favor of mobility since I was going to spend the entire 16 minute show running around.
Imperial Beach Portwood Pier Plaza Sign
The photo you see above is the main sign at the foot of the pier, in the center of Imperial Beach’s Seacoast District and is an example of planning ahead in order to get ahead. I knew the show would last 16 minutes, so I made sure I was near the Imperial Beach sign at the 16th minute for two reasons: First, because I wanted shots of the sign silhouetted by the fireworks and second, because from that spot I was already off the beach and the pier. In other words it made for a great shot and a great escape! Cheers!
July 4, 2011 At Imperial Beach, CA Pier
May 27, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
On The Tarmac At San Diego International Airport
For the second time in four months I was fortunate enough to go on the San Diego International Airport Terminals to Tarmac Tour. This tour is a great way for you to involve yourself with and educate yourself about the larger than life role Lindbergh Field plays for San Diego. Back in February, when I went on the Terminals to Tarmac Tour for the first time I tried to be as meticulous as possible, recording video, snapping photos and taking copious notes. This time was a little different because I just wanted to have fun. And take pictures, so that’s what I did.
When you take a tour you are, in effect, gambling because you know what the best and worst case scenarios are, agreed to them and then rolled the dice. The quality of the tour, the tour guide, the weather and your tour mates are all beyond your control and that’s what makes tours into the unknown so exciting. If you don’t know exactly where you are going then you don’t know exactly what will happen and that should add some bloody EXCITEMENT to your life! The Wright Brothers made their first flight in 1903, nine years before my grandfather was born and yet here I am, for the second time this year, learning about an industry that didn’t even exist when my dad’s dad was in elementary school! Just imagine what American citizens in 2111 will be learning about. No one knows for sure, but what I can tell you is that on this tour you will learn why San Diego Airport is a leading economic engine region for the region, get to walk onto the tarmac and stand right under the west end of the runway as planes from all over the world make their landing approach and roar past you, right over your head. There is an interactive, multimedia employee blog featuring Lindbergh Field from the perspective of front-line Airport Authority employees called, The Ambassablog that is full of “in the trenches” info about the airport. It’s a great read and is a great supplement to what you will learn on the tour. The above right photo shows my tour mates looking skyward at a plane while the above left photo shows the progress of the new addition to terminal 2.
Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky
It’s worth noting that my tour mates on the San Diego Airport Terminals to Tarmac Tour (besides my cousin) where a group of about a dozen home schooled kids, along with four or five of their moms. My cousin & I were the only other adults on the tour so we had a discussion or two about home schooled kids. My opinion is that home schooling is stupid because the day a kid steps out of home school is the day they realize the real world has nothing to do with their home, or their schooling. Just like saplings need wind to develop bark so they can grow into a tree, children need to know that the funny part of a joke is called a punch line, which means that in order for a joke to be funny, somebody has to take one on the chin and that person might be them. I don’t believe that’s something that can be taught, I believe that’s something you’ll only appreciate after personally giving or receiving a crack on the jaw. You can’t accurately describe a rock concert or being in love to some one that hasn’t personally and physically experienced them because these are life experiences that are personal and different for everyone, as opposed to what your mom tells you it should be. Seriously, can you imagine being turned loose on the world at the tender age of 18 with only your mother’s knowledge as a basis for how to function in society? Maybe it’s not that bad but I’ll tell you what, I needed school and I had to take some licks that were real world lessons no home-school can provide.
March 16, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Mirage Casino Volcano Erupts On The Las Vegas Strip
During my trip to Las Vegas last week, I had a loose agenda. To attend the Nightclub & Bar Convention with my friends and to take some fresh photos of Las Vegas. I did manage to get some good shots of the people I saw walking along the Las Vegas strip, but what I really wanted was to take some original shots of Las Vegas landmarks that were new and different. This was a challenge because every time I thought I was heading to an area or taking a shot I thought was unique, I inevitably saw other photographers in the area. So, relative to my other Las Vegas posts, this one will have the fewest number of photos because being unique on a strip full of cameras is not as easy at I thought it would be.
Fountains Of Bellagio
What I really wanted was to create some images that had a timeless quality to them. What I mean by that is I wanted some Las Vegas photos that were recognizable yet unique. I wanted photos that were obviously taken in Las Vegas yet didn’t necessarily scream when they were taken.
Pirate Show At Treasure Island
What that ultimately came to mean was that after four days and three nights in Las Vegas, I ended up with five photos of the strip that I’d like to show the world. Averaged out, that’s the equivalent of one keeper every 19 hours. And you thought photography was easy didn’t you?
Aria Hotel & Casino
The shot above is what I would consider to be my most original shot taken while I was in Las Vegas. This is the only photograph I made where I didn’t see any other photographers before, during or after I made it, so for now, I declare this the Mt. Everest of Las Vegas photos.
The Fountains At Caesar’s Palace
Way before I knew anything about Las Vegas, I knew about the fountains at Caesar’s Palace because of Evel Knievel. He had one Hell of a crash in 1967 when landing after trying to use a motorcycle to jump the fountains in front of Caesar’s Palace. He wanted to do something that had never been seen before, which is what I suppose I was trying to do as well, except I use a camera, not a motorcycle. It’s hard to gauge failure with stuff like this because it is very relative. Evel did jump the fountains but he fucked up the landing so he broke 40 bones and ended up in a coma for a month. Today in 2011, daredevils have gone the way of the Dodo bird, yet photography has flourished. In my head, that makes me the daredevil today and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Heh heh… Good luck!
March 13, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Traveling Clown Folk On A Footbridge Over The Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas can be as much or as little as you want it to be, no matter what you want to do. For me, for this trip it was about catching up with old friends and having some fun with my camera. I didn’t want to take the same old Las Vegas photos that everyone takes, but at the same time, I had no idea what I wanted to photograph instead. I had no idea how I would get shots that were or could be unmistakably Las Vegas yet be different from what has already been done a million times before. The people turned out to be the answer.
In Front Of The Mirage Casino
I did a lot of shooting from the hip for these photos, which is always fun and a little bit scary because it is so not the way I usually take photos. I’m used to my viewfinder so shooting from the hip is hard for me. I missed a lot, but the Las Vegas strip is a busy place so I ended up with a few that I liked. The moral of the story: Practicing helps out a lot, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not good at it right away. Eric Kim has a great post that explains how to shoot from the hip that is a great read that will help you out a lot.
Thanks to random timing and the position of my camera, the woman above will always be known to me as Jynn Palazzo. I wonder what the actual odds are of something like this photograph happening are, where the woman’s name actually turned out to be Jynn Palazzo. I tried search engines but came back with nothing so I don’t think a person by that name exists, but how celestially cool would that be if it worked out? Really cool!
A Chiseled Woman With Caesar’s Statues
There are so many different people walking up and down Las Vegas Blvd and it can be so crowded that it might seem paralyzing but I promise you this is a place where you can open carry your camera and take all the photos you want.
The Familiar Pose In Front Of A Fountain
What I like best about shooting from the hip is avoiding situations like what you see above. Looking right into the camera and smiling can be a good photo, I just don’t understand why people try for it so often right off the bat. I like candid and unposed photography much better.
The Deciding Couple
The sidewalks on the Las Vegas strip always have lots of people on them, so shots like the one above, with a couple that seems to have the place all to themselves is a rare treat. This is in front of The Mirage Casino’s volcano.
Waiting For The Bus & Missed The Spaceship
The architecture and shape of things along Las Vegas Blvd are like nowhere else. From the photo above we could imagine being in a spaceport and the woman is checking a space schedule for the spaceship looming over her head.
I don’t know for sure if it was his snake or not but the guy in the photo on the left happened to be walking in front of me so I stuck with him until he eventually set his snake down and just started hanging out, at which point I took his picture. Most people didn’t even notice the snake and the guy didn’t seem to notice any of the people so I’m not sure what his game was.
The fountain and the woman to the right are in front of The Monte Carlo. The wind was blowing water all over her, so she was turning away from a spray of water when I snapped the pic.
Me, Being Reflected In A Restaurant Window
I was pleased with the photos I made during my time in Las Vegas. I’m happy to say that my shots didn’t seem like ordinary, cliched postcard shots… They seem to be unique, so I feel good, and that’s what this trip was for in the first place.
Apple On The Strip
I was happy to be on an internet and computer-free regimen the entire time I was in Las Vegas, but others can’t do without, and the woman above was one of them. Anyway, that’s my take on people of the Las Vegas strip. I hope it helps to inspire you the way Vegas inspired me. I also attended the nightclub and bar convention, so be sure to see my post and photos from that event as well. Cheers!
March 13, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut ·
My Wristband For The Convention
The people I’ve known the longest go back, way back to the days I lived in Denver, CO. Unfortunately most of us, including me have moved away from Denver, towards warmer parts of the country. It is very rare for all of us to be in the same state, let alone the same room for any length of time but recently it did happen, and with a big helping hand from my friends, I was able to attend this gathering, with my camera.
Laser Displays Make Anyone Look Like A Rock Star
Anything that can be served in or placed in a bar or nightclub are what this show is about. My Denver friends are all current or former owners & managers in the service industry, so it’s one of those fun business trips fun them, but for me it was a little bit different. I got some great insight into what goes in to making a club or bar successful and just how much thought goes into making sure their customers like what they see and love what they drink while inside.
The Only Way To Know Is To Try
It doesn’t matter what the bottle or the woman that’s serving them looks like, the only way to know which new alcohols are good and which are shit is to try them one shot or one cocktail at a time for eleven hours, over the course of two days. Welcome to Las Vegas!
This is better than any gadget or technology show for two reasons: First, it’s in Las Vegas and second, it’s a trade show where as a representative of a company it is your job to sample every type of alcohol in the building. Yep, and the iPad doesn’t even support flash.
This Show Is About Alcohol…
And Having Fun
And Smashing Through Groups Of People
There is a reason this show is not the drunken frat party you think it must be if it’s a convention center filled with a bunch of professionals right in the middle of sin city: They are professionals so they are not a threat. The people at this show are the people that have to deal with the drunken idiots on a nightly basis, so they know how to act properly when alcohol is involved, even obscene amounts. This is a professional show for businesspeople that know how to get drunk in an exemplary and highly professional manner, not amateur night.
The next time you are in a bar and you see a group of people that are being a little more obnoxious and loud than you would normally think would be allowed in a place like that yet they get constant, attentive service and never have a break in their good time, then they are a group of pros in the service industry just letting off steam and the staff of the place knows it. They also know the group will regulate their own party just like mafia would, so if anyone actually did start doing something that would legitimately ruin the party a stick would be brought down between that person’s eyes, bringing him or her back into line long before anyone else even saw a problem… Because they are professionals. It was a great experience that had me learning new things, spending quality time with old friends as well as engaging in some old fashioned street photography, which turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the trip. You’ll want to be sure to check out my next two posts which will consist of the people and sights of the Las Vegas strip. Cheers!