October 27, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
MGM Grand As Seen From The Las Vegas Strip
MGM Grand Casino is going through a grand renovation that will include a new nightclub, comedy club, upgrades to the casino floor and their suites, among other things. They call it a 360 degree resort renovation and it is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
MGM Grand Being Renovated
Las Vegas is a city that I really do enjoy, especially as a resident of San Diego. It only takes an hour to fly to Las Vegas from here and Las Vegas is a place that is WORLDS apart from wherever you live, so a quick jaunt to Vegas from So Cal is technically the best deal on the planet.
Unused Slot Machines At MGM Grand
MGM Grand is awesome in and of itself, but there are two other, very specific things about the place that appeal to me: It is right next to Las Vegas Airport and it has a monorail station. What that means is that you have an easy escape or commute to or from anywhere in Las Vegas.
Future Site Of Hakkasan
Las Vegas is a great place to realize that the world just keeps on spinning, no matter how big a person you think you are. A renovation at MGM Grand does not mean you will be inconvenienced or disturbed in any way… It means you are privy to an amazing, very specific point in time. You get to see the next big thing BEFORE it becomes the next big thing.
The photo above shows what will be a brand new restaurant and nightclub, situated right behind the famous lion of the MGM Grand. The name of the place will be, Hakkasan.
MGM Grand Casino Floor Being Renovated
The main thing you’ll want to take away from this post is that MGM Grand is becoming grander. Next year, between their Wet Republic, a new restaurant and a new nightclub you will want to make sure to stop by MGM Grand the next time you are in Las Vegas. Cheers!
April 2, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Nightclub & Bar Convention 2012
Last year I went to the Nightclub & Bar Convention in Las Vegas as a patron of spirits and member of a group of old friends. This year I went as a member of the press and I was only in town for 1 night with 1 friend, so I packed light and hoped for the best.
Shawn Barnes In Las Vegas
The imposing fellow above is one of my best friends and has been so for almost 20 years. He’s a friend that’s always on my side, no matter how abrasive my personality happens to be on any particular day. Together we have cut a swath of mayhem from Hawaii to Mexico and from Dallas to Denver.
Las Vegas International Airport
Las Vegas Airport, also known as McCarran International Airport is quite vast, which gives you something to do if you have to kill 3 hours like I did. You can wonder through the terminals without having to go back through security, which is very convenient.
Slots Inside Las Vegas Airport
If you want to get any last minute gambling in, Las Vegas Airport will accommodate you. It’s all been arranged to get your money, make no mistake about that. Go ahead and hit the ATM a few more times, you’ll get it all back, I promise.
Rob Hurlbut In A Las Vegas Elevator
I’m really starting to get into self portrait photography while in Las Vegas. Mirrors and other reflective surfaces abound if you look around. I can’t wait for the days when DSLR quality photo capabilities are implanted somewhere behind our eyeballs because in a place like Las Vegas, carrying around a camera can be a real drag. Until then, carry your camera with you everywhere all the time. Cheers!
February 5, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Most of the time I spent in Las Vegas, while covering CES 2012 was spent taking pictures. CES was unbelievably big and besides the physicality of the event a problem I had was finding a way to make all the cool things I saw at the show translate in a cool way in my photos. I failed and I say that with the utmost of dignity; being worthy enough to be issued a pass, being financed enough to make the trip and being experienced enough to survive five days in Las Vegas ended up being the nuts and bolts of my trip, so it was a resounding success.
I did take it upon myself to take some self portraits whilst walking around the Las Vegas Strip. While I was at Caesars Palace I came across the place of worship you see above. The Romans, the society responsible for the empire that paid for the original Caesars Palace were Pagans; they worshiped many different Gods and it was a Quid Pro Quo situation. I lingered at this place for a very long time, lighting & placing incense as I moved about the four stations of prayer. I asked for help and guidance with many things. The word I was looking for at the time was clarity and I do believe the time I spent contemplating at this shrine will give me the clarity I want to enable myself for the success I need.
I am a photographer that stays behind my camera most the time. Think of me what you will, but I see myself as a modern day gunslinger, so you will answer to my weapon before I answer to you. I really do love being a photographer, I love to travel and I love to show the world where I’ve been, things I’ve seen and things I’m going to do.
I’d like to take a break and talk a little bit about the public bathrooms in Las Vegas. They are awesome. Every casino, every hotel and every corner store has a bathroom and none of them will have any problem with you dropping a deuce or clearing your bladder at any time of the day or night. “The Bathrooms of Las Vegas” is probably the title of a blog post just waiting to happen and I’ll read it when it comes out but it’s just too shitty an assignment for me to personally take on at this moment in time.
Mercifully I had to get back to San Diego, so after 5 days and 4 nights in fabulous Las Vegas, it was time to get on a plane and get back to the real world. The photo you see above was taken with one of the last bits of strength I had, which was barely enough to press the shutter release button. I don’t remember any details after this shot was taken; I fell asleep and somehow made it from the airport back to my place without incident. After tending to all the bumps & bruises the laundry and the photos, I stand by my original assessment, which was that the trip was a five star, top shelf, resounding success.
Southwest Airlines is the airline I recommend for any air travel that begins or ends within the United States of America because their employees rock and their prices are the best in the industry. They’ll never hassle you about your carry-on luggage, they’ll let you travel with a small dogs or a cat and and they serve booze on their planes. No other airline is as cool as Southwest and that is a fact. I really do believe their business model is the way of the future and very much look forward to watching as Delta, American and all the other overpriced, baggage fee price-gouging airlines are forced to change how they operate, courtesy of Southwest Airlines. They photo above really was my last act and honestly, I don’t remember taking it, but it did seem like a great photo to anchor this post because travel always involves some form of conveyance and air travel is about the best there is when it’s on Southwest. Cheers!
January 31, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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.
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!
January 30, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
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.
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!
January 23, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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 · 1 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!
March 16, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
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 · 2 Comments
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 · 1 Comment
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!