Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Road Trip :: Seven Magic Mountains and Las Vegas

     A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Instagram of these colorful stacked rocks.  I found out later that they are actually an art installation called Seven Magic Mountains right off the 15 freeway on the way to Vegas.  Ever since then, I've wanted to shoot these rocks, and have been thinking of a way to incorporate it into a day trip.  The tricky thing about shooting places like this is finding a way to avoid the crowds.  I figured there would definitely be a crowd in the evening at sunset, so that left only one option - to get there before sunrise.  Let's just say that for me to get to this location (which is about 12 miles once your cross the state line in Jean, NV), it required me getting up at 3:30am.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I won't get up at this ungodly hour for just anything.  Luckily, I conned my friend into driving, and I was able to get a little shut eye by the time we arrived around 6:30am.  

     It was still dark and the moon was still out.

      There is a small parking area once you find the location.  It is visible from the road.
     The moon about to make its exit.
     Ah, here they are in all their glory.  Not a soul around...because those souls are sleeping. 😏

     Here is my friend among the rocks for scale.  I think the tallest one is about 30-35 feet high.

     Once the sun started to make an appearance, this beautiful golden light emerged.  This picture does it no justice.  I saw a lot of sunrises when I was in college (don't ask me why), and there really is something so peaceful and majestic about it.  This was no exception.  By this time, two other people showed up, but they were there just to take some quick selfies with the rocks.

     After shooting the Seven Magic Mountains, we decided that we might as well go into Vegas and wait til blue hour to get a shot of one of larger casinos like the Bellagio or Paris.  But first, a quick pit stop and on to Hash House A Go Go. 

     The Flamingo Road location off the strip is a lot more mellow than the others.  No waiting!

     The clouds were out in full effect!  Too bad they disappeared completely later.

     This is more food than any human should ever eat in one sitting. 😳

     We decided to park at the Bellagio.  Our original plan was to shoot from the Bellagio rooftop.  Since a lot of the larger casinos started charging for parking, we figured if we were going to pay for parking, we might as well just leave the car where we would end up shooting at blue hour.  However, upon further research, we discovered that a better view could be had off to the side of the Bellagio, looking towards the Paris casino.

     To kill the hours we had til sunset, we decided to photo walk from the Bellagio to Fashion Show Mall.

     The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is always cool to check out.  The theme was definitely "fall". 

     I used to frequent Vegas at least twice a year when I was younger.  Their signs and bulletins have really been perfected.  I was impressed with how high tech some of these screens were.  Also, despite recent happenings in the news, I didn't notice a huge reduction in tourists.  This was a Saturday, and it seemed like the usual Saturday crowd getting in for the weekend.

     You know that once I saw this, I made a beeline for the Leica store.  We found out you could leave them your license information and credit card info, and in return they would let you take the new Leica SL (one of their new full frame mirrorless cameras) for a spin for 24 hours.  That is pretty amazing.  I was tempted, but when I saw the camera's size (which looked the same size as a DSLR to me) and its price tag (about $5,000), I decided I'd better not. 😏
     Apparently, this sign has been around for a while.  How did I miss this?!  It is at the Palazzo in case you're wondering. 
     Ah, Honolulu Cookie Company!  I didn't buy any for myself...but maybe one of you has a surprise coming your way!  I'll be honest, I've contemplated eating them many times. 😁😁😁

     After a long stint at Fashion Show Mall, we headed back to the Bellagio to get our tripods.  It was a bit too cloudy for a really clear blue hour.  Oh, and did I mention the hoards of people waiting to take selfies and photos of the fountain show at the Bellagio?
     I learned an important lesson.  When you know you're going to shoot landscapes, always always always bring your widest lens.  I wanted to travel light and just use my 28mm and 85mm in my new Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L (review coming soon), so the 16-35mm stayed home.  I did lug my 70-200mm around for no reason though. 😒😒😒

     I definitely want to try this again.  While the weather was in the 70s and very comfortable, it was a bit too hazy during blue hour.  I see another early morning wake up call in my future. 😬

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