Saturday, September 29, 2012

Painting with Fire

For this last Friday I had signed up for another workshop organized by the Star Circle Academy. This time it was not about the moon but about "Painting with Fire". I got seriously burned the Monday before by a faulty fire place, so for a moment I was not quite sure if I was ready to come so close to fire again. But of course curiosity prevailed...and did not kill the cat...;-)

We met around sunset and got rewarded by one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in a while!

 And my worries vanished by the time Andy and Eric, our instructors, went over the safety rules the third or fourth time. I realized I was safe and with experienced "fire painters".


No sooner as the last light was fading the fun begun.

Although Eric and Andy explained very thoroughly how everything is done, so that we would be able to do this by ourselves, I would rather remark it with a :"Don't try that at home."

We tried different intensities,


and compositions.

And of course goofed around a little bit...

and even managed to set all our cameras on self-timer to get a group shot. Which was not an easy undertaking, to say the least...;-)

But we did not only play with fire, Andy and Eric also brought a wide assortment of fun lights to play with.

Here one of my favorites of the evening. Doesn't that look out of this worldish?

The evening went by in a blast, all of a sudden we realized it's already way past the proposed ending time. We had a brilliant Grand Finale, with all of us sitting safely under a "flying spark umbrella".

In short, it was:

A big Thank You to Eric and Andy for showing us all your tips and tricks and also a big Thank You to Steven for putting this all together. It was for sure not my last outing with the Star Circle Academy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In Pursuit of the Perfect Pixel

At the beginning of this month I attended the Photoshop World Conference in Las Vegas. I was a tiny bit dreading it, I just don't like big, loud cities. But I also was excited, I knew I would learn a lot and meet and make like-minded friends.

After a day fully packed with classes and new information I needed to get my mind off pixels and layers for a bit...what better excuse to grab the camera and go out and shoot. Las Vegas is definitively the city where you can photograph all night long!

The Strip

Statue of Liberty in front of New York New York

It always amazes me how far the hotels go to attract guests, as here the Bellagio with it's inside flower exhibition and the

well known fountains.

Reflection of the "Eiffeltower"

Still home I tried to set up an appointment to visit the "Neon Sign Boneyard", but no luck with that. Tours were only offered in the morning (when I had class) and taking photos for my blog was absolutely not allowed, how a rather unfriendly representative of the museum let me know. I could spend a couple hundred dollars for a permit, but I wasn't quite that determined....
Research on the web though showed that some of the already restored signs where on display throughout Fremont Street, 24/7, free of charge. So I thought that should do.

A nice concierge of the hotel explained how to get there, since it was all the way on the other end of the strip. The following evening then, Fremont Street it was. It kind of puzzled me, that the bus station was named Fremont Experience, I thought that sounded rather dangerous...;-)

After getting out of the bus and around the corner I truly had an experience....A whole block of the street was canopied to display rock bands and movies. You could have your photograph taken with Elvis, any given Star Wars character, almost naked gladiators and whoever else your heart desired...unbelievable. And if you weigh more than 350 lb, you even could grab a free dinner....

A bit off the whole spectacle though were indeed the old, restored neon signs.

Starting with  Aladdin's Lamp from the Aladdin Hotel&Casino, where Elvis married Priscilla on May 1st, 1967.

Andy Anderson, the Anderson Diary mascot which was originally installed in 1956.

The Hacienda Horse and Rider
This is the fist sign that got restored and put up at Fremont Street for display. It was originally put up 1967 at the Hacienda Hotel which used to be where the Mandalay Bay Hotel (home of the Photoshop conference) stands today.

The oldest sign, from the 1940's, the Chief

Sign at the entrance to the so-called Fremont East Entertainment District. Although this sign looks like an old fashion neon sign, it is made out of modern energy saving LED light. Classic meets modern...

The rotating Silver Slipper from 1968. Legend has it, that shortly after it's installation a millionaire, who lived in a penthouse across the street, got annoyed with the lights and asked to have them dimmed down. After his request got repeatedly denied, he just bought the Silver Slipper Casino and had the sign dismantled. One way to solve a problem.....
This sign is huge! Imagine 12 ft high, 17 ft wide and almost 1000 light bulbs.

And of course Vegas Vic, the 40 feet tall and probably most famous of all Las Vegas signs. The 61 year old sign got originally installed at the Pioneer Casino to draw visitors to Las Vegas with a waving arm, moving cigarette and blasting out:" Howdy Podner" every 15 minutes.
Although the Pioneer Casino doesn't exist anymore, Vegas Vic still resides at his original place, which is now a souvenir shop. Unfortunately, or should I say luckily, the moving parts and the voice do not work anymore...

After being so close to all the glitter, it was time to get some distance and overview. The idea was to get on top of the Eiffeltower for a view of downtown and the strip. Not one of my best ideas though....after paying $ 18 for a ride to the top and waiting for quite a while to actually take that ride, one finally emerges on a tiny platform. This platform is of course completely fenced in. I had expected that and had already asked at the entry about it. But got assured that there would be viewing holes cut out of the fence. And there were, just that the holes were barely wide enough to fit the lens not much of composition options here. Also my tripod got frowned at by the security lady and wasn't much of use anyway, since walking people had the platform vibrate at all times.
At least I got to capture a bird eye view of the strip with Bellagio's fountains.

The conference was amazing. And I am sure looking forward to the next one. But I also was glad to leave the City of Sin, 3 days of glitter and bling is all I can handle....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September Conservation Tip

Join the 
California Coastal Beach Cleanup Day
this Saturday, September 15, 2012

With the motto: Every piece of trash you remove, will reveal something beautiful" the California Coastal Commission is calling for their annual clean up day. Together with the International Coastal Cleanup Day which is held on the same day and organized by the Ocean Conservancy, this is one of the largest volunteer events in the world (1). Be a part of it!

Why cleaning up the beach?  Over the year, and especially after long weekends and holidays like the 4th of July or Labor Day, lots of trash pollutes on our beaches. Unfortunately not everybody has yet heard of the "leave only footprints behind" idea....

This trash can harm and kill all marine wildlife. 

To find the closest Cleanup location near you please check out the clean up coordinator

The Coastal Cleanup Commission asks everybody who wants to participate to fill out a waiver form. They are available on site, or you can print and sign one here and then bring it to the beach with you.

Buckets etc. are provided but you are asked to bring your own bags and gloves to really make this close to a zero waste event.

For more info please check out the California Coastal Cleanup website

See you at the beach!

 (1) California Coastal Cleanup website