Let’s have a look at some of my favourite photos from my recent holiday. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of what Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are like… It’s an amazing place and somewhere you should definitely visit at least once, i plan on getting back there as often as possible. There is so much to do on the strip and no end of cool stuff to do in the surrounding areas. If you’re heading out there and want to explore it properly i’d recommend spending at least a week and renting a car for a few of those days. I didn’t take as many photos as i expected whilst i was out there, i ran through and shortlisted about 50 and have since cut those down to my favourite 10 photos which i’ll share with you below. These aren’t necessarily my best photo’s from the trip but give a good overview of the different things there are to do, besides the obvious!
10. We Make Champions – Las Vegas is famous for a lot of things and boxing is one of them. I’m a big fan of the sport and try to watch as many fights as i can. This city is home to arguably one of the best fighters in the world, Floyd Mayweather Jr. The Mayweather Boxing Club isn’t open to the public but that didn’t stop me from swinging by to grab a photo. There were loads of cars parked out front which meant i had to point up to get a good photo, i really like the composition of this, i was stood pretty close and used my wide angle 10-24mm lens. We even saw Floyd Mayweather Sr out front, how cool is that!
9. All Of The Lights – If the bright lights of Las Vegas are something that you like then you’ll love The Neon Museum, they offer guided tours of their lot which is full of signs that have been collected and donated over the years. The tour guides are really knowledgeable and it’s great to wander and take photos. We did a tour during the day but they also offer night tours with some of the lights in operation which looks really cool too. The rules on cameras are pretty tight, i was told i could only bring my camera with a single lens attached and no camera bag. I decided to take my 10-24mm wide angle and i’m pleased with the shots i got, below is my favourite.
8. Location Unknown – It must have been an hour or so after we left Horseshoe bend, i asked Holly to check out the window to see how good the stars were, i really wanted to find a decent spot to take some shots of the night sky. In the end i decided to pull over by the side of the road, we were somewhere in South Utah but that’s as much as i could have told you. As soon as i got out of the car and looked up i just laughed to myself, i couldn’t believe how many stars there were, I’ve never seen anything like it. I was also shocked at how cold it was, it couldn’t have been much above freezing. I grabbed my tripod and set up for a few shots. I wanted to take more but it was so cold i couldn’t stand out for any longer. I used my fisheye lens for this at an aperture of f/2.8, the ISO set at 3200 to capture loads of light and a shutter speed of 30 seconds.
7. King Khan – As soon as it was announced that Amir Khan would be fighting i grabbed a couple tickets. It was a great fight and he boxed really well. A couple days before the fight the MGM hosted a public workout and press conference, this was a great chance to take some shots, it was pretty busy and very dark inside the casino, i used my 60mm lens for this shot and had to push the ISO up to 3200 to give me a fast enough shutter speed. I love the composition of this photo and think it looks great converted to black and white. It would rank a bit higher but i’m not overly happy with the sharpness, i think the focus is a bit soft on his face. If you’re a fight fan then this place is for you.
6. Cardboard & Canyon – We really didn’t spend long at the Grand Canyon, maybe an hour, it’s one of my favourite places in the world. I plan to spend longer there next time and dedicate some serious time to photographing it. We visited the South Rim and after parking up walked to Mather Point which is one of the main viewing locations. This picture is a double exposure of some cardboard letters and the Grand Canyon, i really like this shot and it came out perfect. I got Holly to hold the letters up against the sun for the first shot and then added the Grand Canyon texture with the second, i love the clarity in the letters and the fade from left to right. I used my 60mm macro lens for this shot.
5. Welcome To The Fabulous – the Vegas sign is pretty cool, it’s always fun to visit and take a couple photos, you’re not missing out if you don’t though. I see it as more of a tick in the box than an actual attraction. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most famous signs in the world and instantly recognisable. It’s probably too far to walk unless you’re staying at the south end of the strip so best to get a cab or stop off in your car. I wanted to be a bit creative with this shot so used a double exposure, which i love. I grabbed a deck of cards from one of the gift shops and used a pair of kings as the prop. In card games Kings are often referred to as Cowboys, i used these cards deliberately as the National Finals Rodeo was in town which is a massive event. I tend to use my 60mm macro lens for double exposures because its such a sharp lens, i plan on doing a tutorial on these soon so stay tuned if you’re interested in learning my technique or picking up some tips.
4. Heritage & Haze – As we pulled up to the park entrance i asked the attendant what the visibility was like, he said that yesterday it was really cloudy but today was much better. They had a sign up at the entrance stating that no refunds would be given for poor visibility or cloud cover, this made me pretty worried but i trusted his information. When we got up there you could still see some clouds and haze but nothing to cause an issue. It’s actually a really difficult place to photograph from the rim, i wanted to provide some depth and show the layers in the Grand Canyon so decided to use my 60mm lens for this, it gives the photo a compressed look and the clouds in the background add for a nice effect. I’m really pleased with this image and would consider it for a large print. I used an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO of 100.
3. Back It Up – Yep, that’s right, behind this enormous wall of concrete is the largest reservoir in the US, Lake Mead. I really like the Hoover Dam, i find it amazing how it’s intended purpose is to provide power and flood control yet it is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. There’s not really much to see here other than what you’d expect but the sheer size and engineering genius of the place is enough to impress anyone. You don’t need to spend a massive amount of time here, i’d say 45 minutes is enough to wander around and visit the shop, you might also want to park up just before the dam (if driving from Vegas) and wander over the Memorial Bridge to get a great view. You can go on a tour of the dam as well which is really interesting so if you can spare the time i’d recommend that. I wanted to grab a cool photo showing as much of the construction as i could. I used my fisheye lens loads on this trip and this photo is just one example. I found a good spot about halfway along the dam where you can see the Memorial Bridge, Visitor Center, Colorado River and the Hoover Dam itself. I originally planned this shot as an HDR but prefer the single image below.
2. Horseshoe Bend – Make no mistake, this place is a LONG way from Vegas. we wanted to get here in time for sunset and planned to visit after the Grand Canyon which meant getting up at 4am and spending most of the day driving. During the summer months this wouldn’t be so hard but we were racing against time because of sunset being so early in winter. There’s actually not a lot going on around here, you literally park up and walk about 20 minutes to the overlook. The bend itself is a meander in the Colorado River and is world famous. I grabbed a few shots but wasn’t happy with the result, ideally i wanted a balanced exposure across the frame but the sunset was so bright and was casting some really dark shadows into the bend it made this impossible without using a graduated filter, which i don’t have. To combat this i resorted to an old favourite of mine, HDR. I had a pretty central spot and used my tripod to take 5 frames at varying exposures, this meant i could get pretty good exposures of the sunset and river and combine them to create a single image. I love this photo and have given it some extra clarity and saturation. I used my fisheye lens for this to capture the whole scene.
1. On Top Of The World – Well, here we are, my favourite photo from the trip, i much prefer being behind the camera than in front of it but on this occasion i couldn’t resist. We stayed at the Encore for the duration (if you haven’t see my post then check it out here) but grabbed a night at The Cosmopolitan as well. I’ve always wanted to stay here and they offer great rates during the week on some of their premium rooms. I’d always thought the view from one of their terraces would be amazing and i wasn’t wrong. We stayed in a Wraparound Terrace Suite in the East Tower, the suites are in both towers and face all directions so try to get one in the East Tower either North West or North East facing to get the best view. Ours was on the 52nd floor which gave amazing views, i had my tripod with me and set it up to grab a load of photos from different angles and in different light, this was just as the sun was setting, the sky turned a crazy colour and the lights were just starting to come alive beneath us. This was taken with my 10.5mm fisheye lens at an aperture of f/5.6, ISO 100 and a shutter speed of half a second. If i had to sum up Vegas in one photo, this would be it!
Hope you enjoyed the photos and if you’re stuck on a holiday destination for 2015 then i’d recommend giving Vegas some serious consideration. If you want to know more about the area or my favourite hotels and restaurants then please get in touch.