January 21, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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!
December 9, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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!
November 18, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 2 Comments
Green Army Man & Miss Pan Am
Halloween is a fun time, no matter how old you are or whether or not you have a costume. As you get older, the candy we seek is of the liquid variety and the costumes lean towards sexy & clever rather than scary & traditional. That’s just awesome isn’t it?
Puss ‘n Boots
At a Halloween house party, couples will match up their costumes for twice the fun and twice the laughs. Above we see Puss n’ Boots out by the pool, enjoying the party and the San Diego weather. Not shown in the photo is the great pair of black leather boots, complete with a flared cuff at the top. Little details like that really bring a costume together.
The Wal-Mart Couple with Poke-a-Hottie and our Local Sherrif
This was no ordinary Halloween house party; there was a costume contest and prizes, not to mention a complete buffet with some scrumptious food along with a bar that was very complete and free flowing. The couple on the left is The Wal-Mart Couple and they were the big winners of the night. On the right are Poke-a-Hottie (Barb) and our local sheriff (Tim), the gracious hosts for the evening.
The Backyard of the Halloween Party
Tim & Barb’s house is a great house to hold a party; plenty of room, wide open floor plan and speakers placed everywhere, so the music was everywhere. The decorations, the catered buffet and the effort put into the costumes made this a very fun party indeed. As I said my good-byes, Barb said this party is held every other year, so my 2013 Halloween costume is going to rock and it might be water-themed in some way, do I have an excuse to end up in their clear-as-glass pool!
Me As A Monk, Holding A Rifle
The best shot of the night was taken by Chris Callaway. Above we see a monk with a rifle, his shadowed eyes hide his gaze, but that smirk and chin are unmistakable. I was picked up at San Diego Airport and brought more or less directly to the party, so my borrowed costume was hasty and easy, yet perfect for me. I can’t explain why I’m holding the rifle like a breadstick other than I must have been in character and monks don’t know how to use rifles. Happy Halloween!
October 17, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 5 Comments
Victory Theater Zombies!
May I proudly present to you, direct from the Victory Theater, my friends at Technomania Circus presenting – The Zombie Show! They have a new, grand Victory Theater at 2558 Imperial Ave. and it is perfect for what they do. What they did on this occasion was entertain us for a couple hours as Zombies, wrapping up the music and laughter filled evening with The Zombie Rapture. Besides the show and their gorgeous new theater being awesome, it was just flat out great to see the whole gang again. How ironic that it would be a theater full of Zombies that helped to bring me and the blog back into the world of the living!
Dr. Techno & Zombie Springer
Dr. Techno and the troupe will soar to new heights at this new theater; I have no doubt about that. It is huge with seating for about 200 people, men’s and women’s bathrooms, a snack bar a store and a full on lighting & sound system.
Zombie Food – Crickets and Worms
The shows at Technomania Circus are interactive and sometimes include complimentary snacks such as bacon, cookies or candy. This show included crickets and worms. I tried the crickets, which tasted like seasoned popcorn that had antenna.
A zombie hospital is not a place where zombies are treated for their injuries and released. No, a zombie hospital is a place where zombies treat the living, usually until they die from it. Above an audience member is about to have some vital and not so vital organs removed by a zombie doctor.
Zombie Paul Moeller
Paul Moeller and his lovely wife, Mary have become good friends over the last couple years and it’s always a treat to see what they have come up with since I talked to them last. As you can see, Paul has recently become a zombie, wearing his brains in the very zombie-chic style of, outside the head.
The Cast Of Technomania Circus After The Zombie Show
During the month of October, there are Haunted Tours through the Victory Theater where you can see Satan & his imps at work, visit an alien gravesite, design your own grave and even have a mock funeral so be sure to check out Technomania Circus’s website for all the gory details. Next month they are having a Vaudeville show and next week DangerHouse Productions will be presenting, Fear Beautiful Fear at the theater, so head down there and show your support for San Diego’s only performing circus. Cheers!
July 5, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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
June 24, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Coronado Village Theater Main Screen
I attended the grand opening of Coronado Village Theater last night and I was very impressed. I’d never been in a theater like this before, one that pays homage to vintage theaters from long ago. The theater originally opened in 1947 but has been closed since 2000 so this is really a big deal for Coronado. This is the theater where an entire generation of baby boomers AND their kids saw their first movie. This is a piece of post WWII Americana that has been brought back to life and everyone gets to enjoy it! Village Theater is located at 820 Orange Ave. Coronado, CA 91228 and the phone number for showtimes & dates is 619.437.6161
Theater Box Office
The original marquee has been restored and, just like back in the day there is only one ticket box office. If you want to buy a ticket to see a movie here, you MUST stand in line right here. This is a change from the uber-efficiency we are all used to, but it adds to the buzz around the theater because it forces a line to be formed which will in turn attract more people to the theater.
Hotel Del Coronado Mural
The inside of the theater is very elegant, with art deco eye candy all over the place. This is not your average cinema, this is Coronado Village Theater and it has murals of the San Diego skyline and Hotel Del Coronado on the walls. This theater is adorned with one of a kind art, carpet and fixtures that will require travel guides everywhere to be updated immediately.
San Diego Skyline Mural In Coronado Village Theater
The elegant feel of the theater didn’t stop with the décor. The seats are well padded with a high back and they even rock back a little bit. The aisles are much wider than normal, so moving to and from your seat is no problem, even with a full house. In addition to complimentary popcorn and soda, we were given 3D glasses and ultimately treated to 3D previews of Captain America and the new Transformers movie. I hadn’t seen a 3D movie for 30 years, so this was really something neat to see.
Lance Alspaugh & Will Graham
Lance Alspaugh is the man whose integral involvement kept things together during this decade long project and Will Graham is the ten year old kid that convinced his dad to invest in the theater, resulting in an infusion of cash that finally brought the project to fruition. Funny how things work out isn’t?
The décor and murals adorn the walls of the screening rooms as well the drinking fountain area and the restrooms. I imagine that if the HMS Titanic had its own cinema, it would have looked like this one.
Will Graham & His Father At Coronado Village Theater
The grand re-opening of Coronado Village Theater ended with a showing of a short film that covers the first 100 years of cinema. It was during this time that I snapped the photo above. Standing at the sides of the door are Will Graham and his father. I can only imagine the joy the two of them must have been feeling right at that moment. Below is a video from the evening, cheers!
2011 Grand Re-Opening Of Coronado Village Theater
June 11, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 4 Comments
Golfing Under Blacklight
Technomania Circus held a blacklight theater at their usual in Barrio Logan venue, The Center for Performing Arts last night and I was there, right in the front row, which I think are the best seats in the house. For those of you that don’t know, San Diego has a regularly performing circus troupe that happen to be an amazing group of people we all know as Technomania Circus. Dr. Techno is the lead Technomaniac as well as the man that keeps the bacon sizzling. Yes, bacon was served during the show, cotton candy was available and there is a fine art gallery in the foyer of the bathroom. Awesome!
Technomania Circus Art Gallery
This month’s theme was, “Blaaack Liiiight,” always spoken in a deep, menacing voice. Blacklight theater is a lot of fun because it’s like a real life special effect; you don’t get to see everything and that’s what makes it special. The show started at 8pm but thanks to our perfect San Diego weather and long summer days it wasn’t dark yet so we were treated to some music, comedy, juggling and balancing as the sun slowly drifted away.
Balancing On Ladders
This summer will make it two years that I’ve been going to shows at Technomania Circus. It was way back in July of 2009 that I first went to, photographed and wrote about their show and I haven’t looked back since. The address of the circus is 2438 Commercial St. San Diego, CA 92102, right next to the 25th & Commercial St. trolley station. You are certainly welcome to bring food, drinks and cameras into the show and the venue is in an area heavy with taco shops and corner stores so you can get everything you need for the show when you arrive.
Willy Bologna About To Play The Harp
Once we got past twilight it was time for, “Blaaack Liiiight!” This is what we’d all been waiting for and it did not disappoint. They took us all over the place, as you’ll see in the photos and in the video at the bottom of the post. For you photographers out there, the sharp photos were taken at 1/45th, f/3.5, ISO 3200 while the photos that show a lot of motion blur were exposed for 1 second, f/3.5, ISO 800. Ya done good Technomaniacs, ya done real good. See you next time.
1 Second Of Time At Technomania Circus
A Blacklight Creature
Pleasing The Blacklight Gods
Technomania Circus Blacklight Theater
June 5, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
The Moon Sets Over Coronado’s Dinosaur Cage
Coronado is a border town for me because I live right on the border between Coronado and Imperial Beach. It really is an ideal location for me because I can grab my bike, be on Bayshore Bikeway in seconds flat and then head to anywhere In South Bay San Diego, all while basking in the warm California sun. Today was a beautiful San Diego day and I took full advantage of it by riding to Border Field State Park, Silver Strand State Beach and Imperial Beach pier. After pedaling almost 30 miles, I was beat by the time I got back home so whatever San Diego had planned for this evening would have to happen without me. I was in for the night.
How lucky for me that around 9:30pm I looked out my window in response to hearing someone screaming out in pain. Some dude managed to crash himself and his bike into the metal bench that sits at the southern edge of San Diego Bay. He was fine and once I stopped laughing at him I noticed the background of the scene, and it was awesome! I tiny sliver, just a thin fingernail of a moon was setting right next to the Dinosaur Cage on Coronado. Of course I grabbed my Nikon camera and ran to the very bench that had been crashed into to take some long exposure, high ISO photos. I shot the scene above for 8 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 3200 which allowed me to pull some much needed detail from the shadows without blowing the moon’s highlights to kingdom come. It was a great way to wrap up a day that saw me riding all over Coronado and Imperial Beach. I’ve been ignoring night photography for a few months so a small event like this that has me leaping out the door to engage in a little night photography is a welcome catalyst for me because it simply reminded me how much fun night photography is. Cheers!
May 28, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
San Diego Sheriff At DUI Checkpoint In Imperial Beach
In the continuing effort to keep the streets of Imperial Beach safe and free of drunk drivers, the San Diego Sheriff had a sobriety checkpoint set up at 7th St & Palm Ave last night. I suppose you can say that Memorial Day weekend officially kicks of Friday night, so this checkpoint was well timed and positioned to remind motorists not to get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking. Try to remember that these peace officers operate these checkpoints not only to nail intoxicated drivers, but to nail people driving without or under a suspended license. Think of it as a way of keeping honest people honest. If you don’t drink & drive and your license is valid then you have nothing to worry about.
Vehicle Passes Through IB Sobriety Checkpoint
According to the news release posted on the San Diego Sheriff’s website, 692 vehicles went through the checkpoint, 35 vehicles were sent through secondary screening, 11 field sobriety tests were given, 7 vehicles were impounded and 4 people were arrested for DUI. The checkpoint began actual operation at 8:15pm, not at 7:30pm as stated in the press release.
Sobriety (DUI) Checkpoint On Palm Ave In Imperial Beach
The checkpoint seemed to be a well oiled machine and all the law enforcement personnel were in a good mood. The methodology for the checkpoint was very similar to the way rides at amusement parks are loaded up. Cars were waved forward, twelve at a time to a waiting line of twelve officers, so all cars in the line get checked for compliance simultaneously. Once all the officers were done, the cars get waved through and another twelve cars took their place. Since the checkpoint was stationed on Palm Ave. between the stoplights at 9th St. and 13th St. the flow of traffic was very well regulated and caused delays no worse than having to endure an extra stoplight. Kudos to the San Diego Sheriff!
May 2, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
The Art Of Constantine Bautista
I recently attended an art show and charity auction held at Eden, one of the newest clubs on the Hillcrest nightlife scene. Local artist, Michele Jones produced this charity event, which raised over $10,000 for The Lois Merrill Foundation, which helps cancer patients with their medical bills. I was impressed with the layout and the amount of space the place has. Even with all the people, tables of charity auction items set up in the middle of the dance floor, 100 or so pieces of art of from world renowned artists adorning the walls and clustered mingling the art world is known for, there was a nice flow and it never felt too crowded. It never occurred to me that a nightclub would be a good venue for an art show but after being there I can say that it makes perfect sense. Actual art galleries are boxy, usually small and always have areas where congregating people will completely block the walking path of everyone, bringing all foot traffic in the building to a halt. Nightclubs, especially new ones are designed to allow people to walk around, which is what you want people to be able to do at an art show. Brilliant!
Chris, Donna & Constantine Bautista
It was while having this revelation that I met modern artist and painter, Constantine Bautista. It was my cousin that invited me to this event, Constantine being her boss from back in the days when Mr. Bautista had a day job and was not the full on artist he is today. The photo above was taken towards the end of the evening and in it we see my cousin on the left, her colleague and new friend of mine, Donna in the center and Constantine himself on the right. I didn’t hear anyone bring it up during the show so I’ll say it now; Constantine is a damn cool name to have.
Who Brings A Baby To A Club On Saturday Night?
Bear in mind this show took place on a Saturday evening which meant the art crowd folks were in a place they probably had never been before and the nightclub regulars were wondering why there was a woman, crouched over an infant, sweeping the floor with her hand. I would like to point out that if you bring a kid into an adult environment and your kid does something that necessitates cleaning a hardwood floor, everyone will flee the area, turn their backs on you and start a conversation that wonders why the Hell someone brought an infant into a nightclub on a Saturday night. It just got worse for this lady; she walked past me later on carrying the kid, who was now screaming while she herself was screaming even louder, “I need to get him some pants!” What? Sure enough, for some reason, the kid wasn’t wearing his pants.
The Art Of Sean Dietrich At Eden
The art presented were mostly paintings and drawings and a few photographs as well. The venue, Eden has three distinctly separate areas; inside, outside and a restaurant. The show was inside, and as the evening wore on, the outside patio area began to fill up with Saturday night Hillcrest party people, patiently waiting for the charity event to end so their party could begin.
Painting Inside Eden
Art was not just presented; it was created at the show as well. The artist above was working in front of a bank of mirrors, mostly oblivious to the scores of people watching, including me. The mirrors made for an interesting photo and I was even able to include myself in the reflection.
More Art From Charity Auction At Eden
I’d taken a lot of art, drawing, writing, sketching and sculpting classes in school and they always turned out to be the hardest classes for me. Creating art was something that did not come naturally for me so when I was starting out, every time I held a pencil, paintbrush, chisel or piece of charcoal in my hand I never felt like I knew what I was doing. Then I took my first photography class and guess what? I understood it, right away. Everything from the mechanics of a camera, to the science of the darkroom, photography made perfect sense to me. Game on!
Chris Callaway Reflects On Modern Art
So, what is my take on the evening, the venue and the art? All three were awesome. Hillcrest is a great place, Eden turned out to be a great venue for a charity art auction and all the art presented was first rate. Afterwards, my party & I walked along University Ave. until we found a suitable place to eat… But that’s another story. Cheers!