Unlike many of my posts which have taken you to obscure places around the globe, I stumbled upon The Freemont Street Experience in Old Las Vegas which captured my photographic attention. Interestingly, in speaking to many of my friends who have visited Vegas, the majority never heard of this outrageous location. Imagine this!
“Free live music and custom music videos overhead as well as zipline rides, hundreds of bars and more make for a full-on street party nightly at this five-block entertainment complex located in historical downtown Las Vegas. The 12.5 million lights of the Viva Vision screen dazzle 90 feet above along 4 blocks 365 nights a year and make the Fremont Street Experience a one-of-a-kind venue. Four stages boast live music every night from amazing local and regional talent. Annual festivals bring world traveled musicians from yesterday and today. With direct pedestrian access to 10 casinos, more than 60 restaurants, numerous bars inside and out, specialty retail and free nightly entertainment, the Fremont Street Experience attracts millions of annual visitors.”
Shooting all this neon along with crowds of thousands is a picnic! It does present some technical challenges, however. The lighting changes by the second, so go in with a plan. Periodically the overhead screen displays a show and the street lights are dimmed. There is way too much action for a tripod and you will be relegated to hand-held shooting. Take this friendly tip. If you have confidence in your camera (I am using a Mark II D5 Canon with a Canon Zoom lens EF 24-105mm with image stabilization), set the camera at AV (aperture priority E) and then set to automatic. I know this flies in the face of all of us who gave up auto settings a long time ago. But, the ambient wattage is so great and the street shooting from the hip atmosphere so pervasive, that it will work out just fine. A mentor of mine some years ago suggested that we give ourselves permission to take this counter-intuitive step. After all, these cameras are abundantly smarter than we are. They can calibrate in fractional stops and make readings that we can’t. Don’t just trust me, of course. Go out and give it a try.
I am curious to see what your impressions are as well. SHOOT VEGAS BABY! By the way, ELVIS IS IN THE HOUSE!
Here are just a few images I captured. Hope you enjoy.
You can see more of Rich Smukler’s works at http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com