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For Flamingo and Friends ;)

Thanks for the walk ;))

View this one large to appreciate it.


I just got back today from a family and shooting trip in Death Valley California, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, and Las Vegas. One of the highlights of the trip was the very unique opportunity to shoot from the rooftop of the Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, which I did last night during the blue hour.


The challenge with this shooting opportunity was the unusual low wall that surrounds the roof. This waste-high wall has funny shaped triangular features that jut out and up about every five feet in a similar way to the top of a castle wall. This means that it was next to impossible to shoot a panorama without moving the tripod half way through the shots. To work around this problem I had to extend the camera horizontally out past the edge of the wall. As in, the camera needed to hang out out in space. This was not an easy feat to make happen. I extended one leg of the tripod that would sit on the rooftop. The other two legs were shortened and would sit on the edge of the low wall. The middle post of the Manfrotto tripod was flipped out horizontally and the camera ultimately sat about a foot out past the edge of the wall. I secured the camera with a safety line just in case, and weighed down the tripod with my camera bag because the weight of the camera cantilevered way out there was pulling the tripod over. This setup meant I couldn't look through the viewfinder and had to complete the shoot using the LCD screen, which I am not crazy about.


As the sun set the nice blue hour light did its thing. I love that light! I took about 20 series of eight shots at various light levels and with various zoom settings. The final image is about 16,000 pixels across and the detail is amazing when zoomed up close.


This is not an HDR photo. This panorama was created using single images, but it speaks to the amazing dynamic range of the Nikon D800.


Things to remember when taking a series of photos for a panorama image:


But first, the three things to avoid are:


1. Blown out highlights - Horrid!

2. Image noise - Evil!

3. Image blur - Pure evil!


Use a very solid tripod. Slow shutter speeds mean the slightest shake will kill your final image.


Use a wired or wireless shutter release. Don't touch your camera or you will get blur. If you don't have an external shutter release, then use your self timer. Remember, blurred photos are pure evil. There is nothing worse than having a great series of eight photos, but the one shot in the middle is blurred. That series is now useless.


Use your lowest ISO if you want a large print of the final image. Low ISO means low noise, and noise is slightly less than blur on the pure evil scale.


Don't use overly long exposures. The light changes so fast and you don't want two or three minutes between your first and last shot because the lighting of the sky will change over that time. This means you often cannot use very small aperture openings (higher F stop numbers) when the light is getting low because each exposure could be 30 seconds each X 8 shots = 4 minutes plus time to move the camera between shots means 5 minutes to take one series. Too long.


Check and recheck all your settings. Is bracketing off? Is the +- EVO setting at zero?


Set your camera to manual mode. You can't have the camera changing its settings mid way through your series of photos or the lighting in the sky will vary throughout the final image.


Use your histogram! Trust it more than you trust your by-guess-and-by-golly eyeballing of the image you just shot on the back of your camera. I always take a test shot in the direction of the brightest sky, and then adjust the shutter speed until the histogram indicates there will be no blown out and overexposed highlights.


Often, I also use manual focus for most setups. At times your camera will have trouble focusing in the middle of a series. I avoid this by allowing the auto focus to set the focus, then clicking the lens to manual focus before taking the series of shots. This can be especially important if you have a foreground that is close up. You don't want your focus changing part way through a series.


Any other points I am missing about panorama do's and don'ts? I have made so many mistakes with my panoramas of the past. Every point I just made above is the result of a pano turned useless because of a mistake I have made in the field. Hard lessons learned through mistakes are often unforgettable.


If you have additional points that I missed, please comment with them.

Had a blast and then some. It's hard to be back.


Title credit goes to Bill, a.k.a. Sky Noir. Why didn't I think of it?


This is my last shot from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and it's the only decent shot I got with a sign of daylight in the sky. If I had a chance to do it again I would be sure to get up there at least 30 minutes prior to sunset so I could get the full range of sunset through blue hour, and I wouldn't complain if a few more clouds were there.


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Pedestrian bridges cross Las Vegas Blvd, and give great views. However, the plexiglass that is too high to photograph over made some interesting reflections of the Wynn, Encore and Palazzo hotel signs that were actually behind us.

Once it gets dark the lights on the strip really start to sing. I didn't bring a tripod with me, but the low fences on either side of the pedestrian overpasses worked well to stabilize the camera.

One more from Las Vegas - a long exposure of Las Vegas Blvd (aka "the Strip"), looking north from in front of New York New York. Lots of colorful neon here!

It can get pretty intense jockeying for position in front of the three or four lens holes on each side of the Eiffel Tower. The competition is especially fierce on the Bellagio side, the wait can be 30-60 minutes while people line up for the water show.


I snapped off this three exposure bracket while we were waiting in line for the elevator. A spot opened up right where we were standing, and I took the opportunity for one last shot.


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Similar to the one I posted last week, but this time with the Fisheye. I really like the look of the fisheye, but it's just not as sharp as my other lenses, it's a tough call which I prefer. Only a few more Vegas shots left.


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Nox Noctia


~A few of the world renknowned establishments on the Vegas Strip.


This is a wide angle combination of many exposures in order to show the complex lighting and shapes that the New York New York Hotel and Casino displays at night.


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This view just makes me think of the movie Oceans Eleven. I'm not sure why, since Oceans Eleven had more to do with The Bellagio, I guess it's just the Vegas Strip from above that I associate with the movie.

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Las Vegas, NV

Thanks for stoppin by :)





there's no space for tripod... just a hand-held shot...


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Early evening in Vegas as the sun sets and the lights start to shine. This is the less processed version of a previous image I posted. I was playing around with some filters in Perfect Effects in the other version, this one is a bit more natural and much more like how the scene appeared when the photo was taken. I found the sky a bit boring so I tried a different crop and playing around with some glow filters and with the Focal Point software from OnOne. So here is the original version with all the details.


In the last few weeks I've been studying a lot of post processing techniques and I want to try re-editing some old stuff to compare some of my new techniques and filter plug-ins with how I did it a few months ago. I'll probably try this in the next few weeks for a selection of my older images.

A bird’s eye view of the Las Vegas Strip from the Eiffel Tower at The Paris Hotel and Casino. On the left side of the street is the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino and on the right is City Center. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Marquee Day and Nightclub, and Crystals Mall are visible.


This is a 3 exposure HDR tone mapped with Photomatix.


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From a trip a couple of years ago. Looking down the sidewalk towards Veer Towers and the Mandarin Oriental from between Aria and Crystals.


Single frame shot hand held with my Canon EOS 7D and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8. Processed in ACR and Photoshop CS6.

Street scene in Las Vegas,Nevada,USA

Jupiter 8 50mm f/2


A long exposure shot of the intersection of Flamingo Road and The Strip, Las Vegas.


If you've ever had pizza at the New York NY casino at 2am there's a chance you've sat in this room. And if you didn't drink too much, you might even remember it.


Shot hand held with my Canon EOS M and 18-55 IS. Processed using ACR and Photoshop CS6.


I have to say that I absolutely loved the EOS M on this last trip. Its size, interface, and lenses really shine for general travel and street photography. Lens IS kept me shooting at ISO 800 the entire night where the sensor knocks it out of the park. Small camera, hardly any weight...perfect for navigating crowds on Las Vegas Blvd.

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