What happens in Vegas…


This is where I was lurking in Las Vegas last night after dark:

Behind the Motel 8

Behind the Motel 8

It’s not quite as sketchy as it looks. It is on the strip, literally across the street from Mandalay Bay. It is also where a friend I made at Photoshop World, Sandra, was staying. We were behind it because there was a nice big concrete pad tucked away back there. You see, Sandra’s not just a Photoshop Junkie like me, but she’s an incredible performer. She goes by SaFire, and is a circus & fire performer. So me, Sandra & Robert (another new friend from PSW) were there to see what kind of photos we could get. Robert had a nice new Canon 5D Mark III, tripod, flash, reflectors, and knowledge of how to use those things. I just had my 40D with a couple different lenses, but no tripod or anything else. While Robert shot nicely exposed photos where you could actually see Sandra pretty well I was shooting long exposures (minimum 1 second) hand held just hoping to get some cool abstract stuff.

After shooting Sandra swinging LED lit poi balls and spinning LED lit hula hoops with no one disturbing us or telling us we couldn’t be there we were ready to move on to the main event.


Just one flaming hoop.

This one was hand held at 2.5 seconds. With as much as she was moving I don’t imagine it would have been too much sharper if I’d had a tripod. We’d picked up some fuel at WalMart after dinner and she had 3 fire hoops with her. First, she spun just one and we took pictures. No one came to tell us to stop, so after cooling down she lit up again but two hoops this time. Unbelievably, no one was around. So, another cool down and then she lit up and twirled all three. It was soooooooo cool! She was moving and dancing and spinning the flaming hoops. Even though I knew I wouldn’t get ANY tack sharp photos I did get a lot of pretty cool ones.

After our success at three separate fire sessions we were ready to call it a night but Robert had the idea to change up the background a little. So Sandra lit up all three hoops again and we shot from different angles. You see, the shots we were getting were cool, but there was no sense of location. This one, you can tell where we are:

Mandalay Bay and Fire

Fire dancing behind the Motel 8 with Mandalay Bay nearby.

Yes, I know it’s not sharp. Handheld, remember? This one was a 1.3 second exposure. They say you shouldn’t handhold anything slower than 1/60 second, and I was so much slower than that. I’m impressed that it is as clear as it is!

Anyway, as Sandra finished up spinning these 3 hoops and was blowing the flames out a little golf cart with “Security” printed on the front came zooming on up. They told her she couldn’t do that here, it was too dangerous, and so we said ok and started packing up. You know, like we were about to do anyway. We’re not sure where the security cart even came from. The Motel 8 is far too small to┬ánecessitate┬ásecurity, let alone mobile security! We speculated that the smaller motels probably contract out the security to an independent security company and that we just got away with the fire for as long as we did because it took them a while to respond.

Even with as unprepared as I was for a night shoot, it was pretty spectacular. Definitely one of the memories from Photoshop World that I will hang on to!