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Pictures first - trip report later! (Many BIG pictures!)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by thoots, May 25, 2005.

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  1. Typhinie

    Typhinie Tourist

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    WOW! I didn't know how much I missed Vegas until I saw these pics. They sure made me feel like I was actually there! Really GREAT pictures!

    I need a countdown now... I have no trip planned. [​IMG] I always have a trip planned! (well ever since I lost my Vegas virginity in March 2004)
     
  2. plandcl

    plandcl Tourist

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    Awsome pictures. [​IMG] I cant wait. Just a few more days and I will be there in person with my wife taking pictures. [​IMG]

    [ May 27, 2005, 10:36 AM: Message edited by: plandcl ]
     
  3. Mia4071

    Mia4071 Tourist

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    The ones inside the Venetian are so good! Man all of them are great! But the ones in there make me feel like I am standing inside looking right at it! Thanks for sharing == I can't wait to get there!!
     
  4. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    thoots - truly wonderful photos of Vegas. I'm crazy with anticipation for our trip next week and these images have sent me over the edge. I CAN'T WAIT TO GET THERE! Sorry for shouting. But, Monday cannot arrive soon enough.

    Thanks, GVJ
     
  5. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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    Time for more pictures! Let's dive in!

    Let's go up to the top of the Stratosphere tower. The indoor viewing area is quite large and comfortable, with room enough for bathrooms, a snack bar, and a gift shop....

    [​IMG]

    ....And a Starbucks, of course! This is part of the seating area for the establishment....

    [​IMG]

    So, if you're on top of the Stratosphere tower, and you have a telephoto lens, aren't you gonna point the thing straight down, and check out the pool? [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then, The STRAT recently opened up what they call "Beach Club 25," an "adult" pool on the 25th floor. The blurb for the thing shows a shapely young woman off in the distance, while the camera focuses on the bikini top she's left behind.

    Here's the Strat's web page about it:

    http://www.stratospherehotel.com/las_vegas_hotel_beach_club_25.html

    OK, so say it along with me:

    "THAT IS SO NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!"

    OK, so let's have a look-see, 'cause we can:

    [​IMG]

    As I expected, looks more like a male walrus party to me! :)

    Now, let's go out on the outside observation deck, and have a look at the Insanity ride. Here it is in full rotation:

    [​IMG]

    And, here are a couple of shots of folks enjoying the ride:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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    Next bunch: Let's check out the other new Strat ride, the X-Scream. Or, as I like to refer to it as, "The Teeter-Totter of Death." If something goes wrong on the way down, they'll be scraping what's left of you off the sidewalk and stuffing it into a pizza box, unless you can maybe control your descent and make a ten-point dive into the pool below.... [​IMG]

    Here's the thing just sitting out there, off the edge of the tower:

    [​IMG]

    And, here's where you're hoping that the thing doesn't go flying right off the ride:

    [​IMG]

    I think the "Insanity" ride is pretty much a "kiddie" ride compared to this thing. They leave you hanging out there, they bring you up and then drop you right down again, and so on. No way in a million years would you get me on that thing!!

    Well, the forum is fighting me every step of the way here. I counted eight images eight times, but I keep on getting the "no more than eight images per post" message. So, let's cut it here and try, try again in the next one.....
     
  7. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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    Then again, you really come up to the top of the Strat for the view. So, let's have a look around. First up, the proverbial Strip shot:

    [​IMG]

    Now, focusing on the other end of the Strip:

    [​IMG]

    Then, here's a "cluster" or something down there somewhere.... [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now, including the Wynn:

    [​IMG]

    Downtown:

    [​IMG]

    And, where everyone would like to be: On final approach to McCarren:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. IllMarty

    IllMarty Orangutan

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    Thoots,
    Wow man. Those are really unbelievable.

    Thanks
    Marty
     
  9. IWannaBeInVegas

    IWannaBeInVegas VIP Whale

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    Not sure if its been asked, but what modes did you use to shoot, like shutter, ISO, JPG or RAW and all that good stuff.
     
  10. RandomTask

    RandomTask Well-Known Member

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    awesome stuff/
     
  11. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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    OK, getting technical here -- non-geeks beware!

    I used a Canon "Pro1" 8-megapixel camera. This is the top of Canon's current "Powershot" line -- i.e., a step below the digital SLR cameras, or "DSLR's." One of the main differences is that I have to use a very low ISO number -- ISO 50 -- to get the really great-quality shots: Going higher than that is akin to "artificially boosting up the gain," and you get lots of "noise" in the pictures. DSLR's can go MUCH HIGHER while still getting great shots, mainly because their sensors are HUGE compared to what's in my camera, or any of the "consumer" digital cameras.

    So, what does that mean? Especially when you're "shooting in the dark," a higher ISO will let you use a short shutter exposure -- I have to use a longer exposure to get my pictures. Thus, I used a tripod, and a few other gadgets to get my pictures. And, that also meant that I couldn't really "freeze motion" during my shots -- if I wanted to get a picture of the cars stopped on Las Vegas Blvd., I had to wait until the light turned red, and they all stopped moving!

    So, I stuck with ISO 50 for all of my shots -- that's the most basic thing.

    Then, probably the most meaningful setting I used was what you would call "a small aperture," which gets turned around into "a bigger f-stop number," in order to "focus to infinity" as opposed to focusing on something close, and having the background get blurry.

    You'd use a smaller aperture number (actually means the aperture is "more open") if you were doing "portrait" work, or perhaps focusing on a flower, so that the background would be blurred. These values might be something like f/2 through f/4. But, if you want to get "landscape" shots, then you want to keep everything in focus, so that requires a larger aperture number (which corresponds to a "less open" aperture). So, on my camera, the most I can go is f/8. That's how I get objects close up and objects far in the distance all in focus, more or less.

    But, a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) means you're letting in far less light, so that requires even LONGER exposures -- so now I've got low ISO requiring a longer exposure, plus the f/8 requiring a longer exposure. Thus, again, I used a tripod and other supports to hold the camera still, as you sure can't hold the camera perfectly still for the kind of long exposures I had to use.

    The next part of the equation is indeed the exposure times -- and most of mine were "long" exposures. I know I want to use f/8, so I used "aperture priority" mode to use that setting, and then the camera chose the appropriate exposure to use with it. But, there are a few other issues I dealt with:

    1. I'm fond of "bracketing" -- wherein the camera takes a picture at the "normal" exposure, then takes one at a lower exposure, and one at a higher exposure. Since any one of these might make a better picture, I like to do that as much as I can.

    2. I also know that my camera tends to "over-expose" a little bit, so I dial in a little bit of "exposure compensation," so that my "normal" shot is a -1/3 exposure. So, with bracketing, that gives me one shot at -1/3, one at -2/3, and one at "0." That usually covers things very well. Plus, when trying to get shots including building lights, a lower exposure is usually needed to keep from "blowing out" the lights badly.

    3. Okayfine, but my camera, in "aperture priority mode," won't use an exposure longer than one second. So, as the sun goes down, I have to go to "full manual mode" to get a longer exposure, such as two or six seconds.

    So, most of the "night shots" were indeed taken in "full manual" mode. But, again, I know I want to use f/8, so it's just a matter of finding the proper exposure time to set. And, my camera helps quite a bit in this task, as it shows an "exposure compensation equivalant" number to whatever setup you choose -- I could be at "0" or "+2/3" or "-1/3" or whatever. So, I used that information to essentially "manually bracket" my shots -- I'd generally take some at an indicated "0" setting, some at "-1/3", some at "-2/3", and some at "-1".

    Yes, rest assured that for every shot I posted here, I've got absolutely DOZENS of shots that I chose from. When you get right down to it, it was really "a lot of work" instead of "fun," though I certainly woulnd't have done it if I didn't enjoy that kind of thing!

    There are still a few other things to mention: I didn't use "RAW" at all -- these are all just the highest-quality JPEG images straight from the camera. I did a little bit of tweaking to most of the images in post-processing, mainly using a "levels" control to boost up the "midtones" on a number of shots, which kind of brought up the light level "on the buildings," without changing much of the rest of the "night" images. And, I use a little bit of "unsharp mask" after I resize each picture, and that's pretty much the story about that kind of stuff.

    I used a gadged named "The Pod" quite a bit for "indoor" shots, which included the shots from the Stratosphere towere. "The Pod" is basically just a "bean bag" with a camera mounting bolt on it. At the Stratosphere, I just placed the camera, on "The Pod," down at the bottom of one of the windows, aimed, and used my camera's "remote control" to snap off each shot. Helping this is how my camera has a "tilt and swivel" LCD screen, so I could point that up at me while I was aiming.

    I took something like over 400 shots from essentially the same position from the Stratosphere, as the sun went down, varying the exposure setting both to keep up with the lower light levels, and to do the kind of "bracketing" I described above.

    I also used "The Pod" for lots of indoor shots, like at the Venetian -- I've got more of those to dig up and show you folks, believe it or not. Then, I've also got this Hakuba "camera clip," which is like a great big "alligator clip" with a camera mount on it -- I actually attached that to the railings around the new Forum Shops expansion, in order to get stable shots from in there.

    Finally, I should mention that it was quite a challenge to get stable shots from the Stratosphere "outdoor" viewing area, and from the Eiffel tower. It was especially windy when I was up on the Stratosphere tower -- there was just no way you could get a "stable" shot from out there, so I'm glad I had the indoor area to fall back on. The Eiffel tower wasn't quite so windy, but it still presented quite a challenge for true, long-exposure night shots. Again, none of my clips or clamps could really help -- the best I could do was to press my camera's lens barrel into the corner of one of the "viewing ports," and hold it as still as I could while the wind buffeted against me. I was quite relieved to eventually find that I actually managed to get a few stable shots while I was up there!

    So, that's the story of all the technical details!
     
  12. ncgirl

    ncgirl Guest

    OK so I am not sure if this was addressed but:
    thoots can or did you post all your pics in one
    spot. I would love to be able to view them
    without scrolling through the posts.
    Thanks
     
  13. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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  14. pebbles

    pebbles VIP Whale

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    What can I say, Superb, Awesome, Incredible, photographs.

    I need to study my camera handbook, because my pics are not in the same league as yours. Excellent job, keep 'em coming!
     
  15. ncgirl

    ncgirl Guest

    Thank you so much
    I forwarded the address to my family
    A preview of what is in store for them !!!
     
  16. LKN-NC

    LKN-NC Low-Roller

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    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing with us.
     
  17. Viva Lost Wages

    Viva Lost Wages Tourist

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    Thoots, awesome pictures!

    I love to take photos with my now obsolete feeling 3+ megapixel camera when I'm in vegas but yours blow mine out of the water. Hmm, let's see...I'm going to vegas in about 10 days and I wonder how much a nice, new camera costs... (runs off to search camera ratings..)


    Viva Lost Wages
     
  18. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

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    First of all, of course, thanks everyone for the kind words, again!

    Well, I'm partial to Canon, and (of course) partial to the Canon Pro1. But, the Canon G6 has received quite a bit of critical acclaim, and the new S2 IS has just been released -- a 12x zoom with "image stabilization" that'll help you keep the camera steady as you zoom in.

    Or, just bring along a tripod, turn off your camera's "flash," and set your camera for a two-second delay or similar if it has it. Check out my ultra-geeky technical details if you can ferret out any pertinent details from that.

    I hope that helps!
     
  19. VAVIP

    VAVIP Guest

    pictures

    Loved the pictures - can't wait to go again later this month :D
     
  20. tvon

    tvon VIP Whale

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    i have a similar digital camera (panasonic DMC-FZ10), almost a digital SLR, but not. I always have a hard time getting good night shots in vegas.. this next trip im going to take a tripod... but can you give me some more info on what settings you used for night and evening shots (the ones of mandelay are amazing)
     
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