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Las Vegas

Hitting The Pause Button

As with most of the world, Las Vegas came to a screeching halt this spring. Getting out of the house for exercise was encouraged, and as I mentioned before, bike rides were part of that agenda for me. The weather was still cool for much of the stay-at-home period, but riding around my immediate neighborhood leaves much to be desired. I realized it wasn’t much of a ride to get someplace that most of us avoid like…..well…..the plague.

Las Vegas Blvd, aka The Strip, is usually very crowded and noisy and no place for a bicycle. Now, the wide open sidewalks (not to mention all those open traffic lanes) made for great pedaling. There was still some traffic, sequenced into tiny parades controlled by the traffic lights, and never enough to be a concern for riding on the asphalt.

The Strip, quarantine, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno

The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, which once held the distinction of being the most expensive retail space in the US, had a mostly empty sidewalk, with some occasional joggers, pedestrians and dogs. You would never see this most times of the year. Just down the street, Fashion Show Mall was just as quiet.

Caesar's Palace, Forum Shops, Las Vegas Blvd, lockdown
Las Vegas Blvd, quarantine, Forum Shops, Nevada
Las Vegas, quarantine, Fashion Show Mall, Nevada

There is one spot that is almost always guaranteed to be busy, no matter what the temperature or time of day. The infamous sign. Other people were here when I took these, casually taking their time with lots of photos and videos, a luxury not allowed when there are 50 people waiting their turn. And yes, I was standing in the middle of the road with a tripod for the street view. This was only around 9 o’clock at night!

Welcome Sign, quarantine, Las Vegas, Steve Bruno
quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno

When I first started my LV Blvd bike rides, I was mostly alone. There were a couple joggers, pedestrians, and another bike or two. There was a very pleasant period where the temperatures and cloud conditions made me opt for hiking instead, and when I returned, all of a sudden, bike riding the Blvd had become a thing. Hundreds of other bike riders were filling the sidewalks and spilling into the street. The mall had even opened up a parking lot to accommodate the riders. Still, it was a far cry from the usual volume of this road.

quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno
quarantine, Las Vegas Blvd, Steve Bruno

Construction was deemed necessary business during the shutdown, and shortly after my first ride, cones and zones became abundant. A short distance off the Blvd, the Las Vegas Convention Center was working on an expansion. This is the most scaffolding I have ever seen in one setting, and I think this photo would be a truly maddening jigsaw puzzle.

construction, Las Vegas

Midweek Monochrome 6-10-20

Yesterday I was out at Red Rock Canyon for the first time in a while…..with my car, that is. The scenic loop drive, closed to vehicles for over two months, has reopened. The new hours are from 8-4:30, also known as skin cancer time. Yesterday was the last time until October that anyone could be out during that time and not melt within an hour. At the entrance station, I asked the ranger why they even bothered opening the drive. I had arrived around 4 and he told me that if took a short hike, I probably wouldn’t get ticketed for after hours violation. Not feeling very comforted by those words, I stayed close to my car…..and waited. These photos were taken well after closing time, and I saw several other vehicles, but no ranger. It gave me an opportunity to play with camera settings I’ve never used before, but in the end, I used RAW images to get the results I wanted. I realized yesterday that we’ve been so spoiled by having bicycle access during the closure and for most of the day, making the drive kind of a letdown.

Monochrome Madness: MM 197

Water is the planet’s most precious resource, especially here in the desert.  Last month we finally had a day of rain that put an end to a string of 116 days without measurable rain at the official weather gauge in Las Vegas.  The previous rainfall was a trace…..enough to wet the pavement, but not enough for the insects or birds to get a drink.  Go back another five days to when there were numbers on the rain gauge.  That’s 121 days.  One third of a year.  At a time of year that is supposed to be the wettest.  Similar stats have taken place throughout the southwest.

As each month draws to a close, it seems the news people tell us how it was the hottest (January, February, March, etc.) on record, or at least a top five.  In 2017, the temperature never dropped below freezing, which has never happened here before.  The doubters of global warming will tell you it’s because we are adding more concrete, thus raising temperatures where the official readings are taken.  I assure you, no one is building near our airport.  Even more remote places are showing elevated average readings.

The photo above is from a previous winter, and is from a lesser-known part of Red Rock Canyon, west of Las Vegas.  It’s probably a good thing that there is not a marked trail to get here.  This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Favorites

Back when I shot with a large-format view camera, I would certainly agree with Mr. Adams.  Now that I use a camera that can shoot hundreds of frames in a day, oddly enough, I still agree.

I spent time in Hawaii this summer, and I’m sure I have twelve photographs that I like from just the first couple days.  When I look at all of the images I have captured this year, and try to envision those which I will still cherish years from now, the process of choosing twelve became clearer.  My time in nature was limited this year, but I made those moments count.  In some situations I had similar lighting or compositions where I couldn’t really define one shot as a clear favorite, but in the end, I think I’m very happy with these 12.

I don’t own a drone, but I love taking photos from airplanes.  This photo from over White Sands, New Mexico looks amazing at full size, with all the dunes at the edge looking like bubbling foam.

aerial photography, desert, dunes, White Sands, New Mexico, Steve Bruno

My ‘backyard’ location of Red Rock Canyon didn’t see me as much as in years past, yet I had plenty of images which made the A list.

sunrise, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, gottatakemorepix

rainwater pools, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve Bruno

reflection, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve Bruno

 

 

Oregon was another place I spent some time last summer.  Although the trip was mainly for a family gathering, I had time afterwards to head to the trails in the Columbia River Gorge.

waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, Steve Bruno

As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii was part of my travels this year, and gave me many great photo opportunities.  My time on the lava fields at sunset certainly stands out as one of my favorite experiences, not just for this year, but for a lifetime.

 

Pacific Ocean, cliffs, Hawaiiold growth forest, Hawaii, trees, gottatakemorepixwaves, lava, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean, Steve Brunolava flow, Hawaii, sunset, gottatakemorepix

 

Monochrome Madness: MM4-30

I’ve had plenty of time in airplanes recently, and this is the view of the desert just east of here in the Arizona desert.  I have crossed this location several times, but never with this beautiful early morning light.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  Next week there will be a theme of Up In The Air.  My photo next week will not be another aerial view….this is just a teaser.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions on how to join in, visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Peek

Earlier this year, I headed out to capture the sunrise at nearby Red Rock Canyon.  I knew a storm front was moving in, and after hiking to reach this spot, it looked as though it might be a day without photos.  Right at sunrise, the sun peeked through a tiny slice of an opening in the clouds.  This lasted for about a minute, and the not-so-distant cliffs in the background (which I had hoped to capture that morning) never fully saw the sun.

Monochrome Madness: MM4-25

My photo for this week’s Monochrome Madness comes from the closest forest to my home, on Mount Charleston.  Australian photographer Leanne Cole hosts this event, and at the start of every month there is a theme week.  In September, it was trees.  I had several images for that category, and this was one that I didn’t include back then.  My schedule became very hectic for a couple weeks, and I didn’t post my photo on my blog, even though you can see it on Leanne’s site.

Next week will be have the theme of in the open.  If you’d like to participate, you can find instructions here.

WPC: Reflecting

A couple months ago, I returned to a favorite hike in Red Rock Canyon.  This particular canyon has water year-round, and I spent a fair amount of time around where a small channel of water was flowing ever so slowly across the boulders.

This is my image for this week’s Monochrome Madness on Leanne Cole’s website.  Since The Daily Post made the theme reflecting this week, I guess I’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-21

Bristlecone Pines.  The ancient forest.  These majestic trees can live to be 5000 years old, and only grow at the highest elevations just below tree line.  This particular group is from the Spring Mountains, near Las Vegas, Nevada, at an elevation just over 10,000 feet.  Many of these can be twisted with stunted growth, usually on an exposed ridge where the dominant winds have a long term effect upon them.  The overall straightness and height of this group made me stop for a photo.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  You can see the work of other’s on her site, as well as instructions on joining the challenge.

Monochrome Madness: MM3-18

This is one of those rare times when the last shot of the morning turns out to be my favorite.  I had been up for sunrise, near that hill in the lower part of the frame.  The first minutes of daylight had a powerful glow, with just enough clouds to add some life to the scene.  As the morning progressed, the light continued to change with the building clouds.  After taking photographs for more than 2 hours, I thought I had exhausted all the possibilities, and was heading back down the trail.  I turned around in time to see this, and fire off a couple shots.  The saturation didn’t have the pop that was present in my early morning pics, but that didn’t matter.  I knew right away this was meant to be in b&w.

You will see this photo along with those of other bloggers in Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.

Fireworks, Las Vegas 2016

Hey, perfect timing Daily Post.  I think this post fits the challenge.

With the 4th of July falling on a Monday this year, the fireworks displays were stretched out over three days in Las Vegas. Last year I was able to watch two displays from my vantage point, with those from the Stratosphere being further away.  I remember there were some interesting patterns to that display, but were intended for a different viewing angle.  I didn’t attend any fireworks on Saturday, but I did make it to the Stratosphere for Sunday night’s show.  Although it was nice being that close, it wasn’t as good as I was hoping for from a photography standpoint, with many images being similar.

Fireworks, Stratosphere, Las Vegas, 2016 by Steve Bruno

That left Monday night, and a return to last year’s vantage point.  After the Stratosphere letdown, I wanted to make sure I got some images that were different from the previous year, and unique overall.  The ‘tails’ were prominent again this year, so I spent a lot of time trying to avoid those, and just getting the burst of the explosions.  No easy task.  All my exposures were on Bulb setting using a cable release.  The display seemed to start a little earlier this year, and the lingering daylight made for some nice shots.

Fireworks over Las Vegas by Steve Bruno

I never thought of shooting fireworks purely as artwork before, but think I succeeded with the top image (looking like a flower), and this one.

Fireworks

Although I did get some similar shots to the previous year, I was very happy with my results this year.

 

The grand finale was no letdown, and this was my last shot of the night.  Even though I was on Bulb setting, this was less than a 1 second exposure.  That’s a lot going on for 1 second.

Fireworks over Las Vegas by Steve Bruno

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