New York in Vegas

New York in Vegas

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Tech Info: Single exposure taken with Nikon D90 using 18-105 @40mm, 5 sec at f/8 with ISO 160

This is a shot of the New York imitation found at the starting of the strip in Las Vegas. There were too many people moving and hence I had to compose the scene in such a way that there were no people in the shot. Couple of people did screw a shot as they came right in front of the lens and stood still for almost 5 seconds. So it took some time to make sure I got it right. While I was trying this, wife was busy looking at handsome hunks and Nidhi was happily dozing in the stroller

How was this shot processed? I usually use curves to get some contrast in the images, but this one had all pixel values in the entire luminosity range. So couldn’t use curves to compress the range anymore. The next option was to use levels. Also since the scene contains lots of lights, they pretty much tend to get blown out. While taking the shot, I had made sure that the amount of highlights that got blown out was almost nil. In post, all I had to use was a little bit of dodging and burning to recover details from those highlights and shadow areas and use layer masking to blend them together. After that it was the usual border and watermarking the image.

I’m in love with the blue hour shots and for some reason I just love long exposures during that time. I’ve way too many shots in the archives and hopefully someday I’ll get to process them. For now this one was done to take a break from my Yosemite series 🙂

Hoover Dam at Night

Hoover Dam at Night

Exposure: Blend of 4 exposures at 10, 13, 15 and 20 secs
Aperture: f8
ISO: 200
Lens: 18-105 @28mm

During a recent visit to Vegas, we wanted to make a visit to Grand Canyon too, but the thought of driving all the way was a put-off for me. I love driving and do get my adrenalin rush once in a while, but long distances are not fun if it ain’t accompanied by frequent stops for my back. So my wife found out that there are bus tours which take you all the way there.

The comfort of not driving itself is a big plus. But the thought of one big bus with 40+ people and a toddler was a big concern. We weren’t sure how Nidhi would react if she goes crazy and more over how others in the bus would react to a cranky toddler. We took a chance and the experience was well worth it. Nidhi was at her best behavior and even got compliments from some of the folks on the bus. Since she was the only toddler on the bus, she even managed to grab some attention. Overall it was pretty smooth, more than I had imagined or hoped for.

The disadvantage of taking a guided tour like this one is that they don’t stop at places where you would want to stop for taking pictures. Plus you won’t get much time at each stop. So you have to make the best of it. I can’t and shouldn’t complain…if I wanted to stop at every spot, then I should have just driven myself right? 🙂 Anyways, the driver did recognize that I was more keen in shooting with the camera and mentioned that he would stop by the Hoover Dam at night specifically for taking pictures. He kept his word and did make a 10 min stop and this is the pic I got from it.

Its a digital blend of 4 exposures, each varying with the shutter speed, tone-mapped with PhotoMatix pro and given some levels and curves adjustments in CS4. I would have been happier if I could have manually blended them together, hopefully one day my aging brain can learn that too 🙂

Bellagio at Night

Bellagio, Las Vegas

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We are just back from a Vegas trip and here is the first shot from the trip. This is the famous Bellagio Casino Hotel and its musical fountains.

The fountains dance to some repeated tunes and when I took this shot, it was the song from Titanic. For the entire duration of the song, the fountains dance and its really a sight to watch.

On weekends, this place gets too crowded. I had to literally guard my tripod using my body as a shield on one side and my daughter in her stroller on the other side. I had some problems in choosing the exposure in getting the entire set of fountains and having enough lights for the backdrop of hotel. Either the fountains would blow out or the hotel would be too underexposed. So the entire of first song went in just fiddling with the settings and by the end of it, I had kinda got the hang. Next was to wait another 15 mins for the fountains to start dancing again. Luckily this time, I got it right enough to get all of them shoot up in air at almost the same height.

Now my wish is to visit the KSR dam in Mysore and get a picture of its fountains 🙂