Colorful Las Vegas

I spent four nights in Las Vegas last week attending John Hartman’s photography marketing bootcamp. The program was fantastic and now I have a ton of work to do implementing what I learned.

But one can’t go to Las Vegas and not spend some time wandering around photographing the over-the-top hotels and casinos. ( You just need to develop the skill where you dodge all the pushy casino people. They will come up to you as you take pictures because you look like fresh meat! So dodge the “ Details of the vegas promo offer for new members” shouts and and pleas to view this here or check this offer there, focus on your photography!  I traveled light and just carried my Canon G12 pocket camera. I took a tripod with me, but didn’t carry it out on the strip so everything I shot was hand-held.

Mirage Hotel entrance panoramic at dusk
Mirage Hotel entrance panoramic at dusk

The photos I’m sharing today are multi-image panoramics. I shot several frames and then stitched them together in Adobe Photoshop. One little trick you may not have thought about is to hold your camera vertically when shooting the individual frames for a pano. That way you get more of the vertical dimension. That’s what I did with this one of the entrance garden at the Mirage. It was about dusk, perfect to balance the sky with the hotel lights. I set the camera on a railing to steady it as I rotated it from left to right shooting overlapping frames. Manual exposure assured consistent exposure with varying amounts of light in each frame. Each individual exposure was 1/8 second.

Back in my hotel room I applied consistent settings to each frame in Adobe Lightroom, then sent the raw files to Photoshop to stitch together. I applied a little curve adjustment, flattened the file, and finally ran it through Topaz Adjust 5 for a number of effects.

It’s really easy to get carried away with the digital processing effects. Some folks like the over-the-top effect you can get, but I prefer something a little bit enhanced but still believable. Did I succeed? You let me know.

Venetian Hotel canal & tower, night view panoramicThis vertical panoramic of the canal and tower in front of the Venetian is also made up of multiple exposures. There was no way to get both the gondolas and the tower in one frame with any ordinary lens. Again, I held my camera vertically, but this time I tilted the camera up to shoot each successive frame. Same Lightroom and basic Photoshop work as with the Mirage. I didn’t run the Topaz filter on this one. For these the individual exposures were about 1/3 second.

The bizarre golden orangy-green color to the sky is from the streetlights and casino illumination bouncing off the cloud layer above. I set my camera’s white balance to daylight because I wanted the warm tone of the artificial light to record on the yellow end of the spectrum. By the time we’d walked from the Mirage to the Ventian it had gotten completely dark so I no longer had a rich blue glow in the sky for a background. That’s something to keep in mind when you’re photographing buildings at dusk. There’s only a short period of time when all the elements come together and you have to work fast to get several unique photographs during that brief window of time.

If I’d been willing to carry a tripod down the crowded sidewalks on the Las Vegas strip I could have gotten sharper original images. That’s a tradeoff I chose to make for my evening fun images.

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