A Sea of Glass – The Chihuly Exhibit at the Bellagio in Vegas

I’ve always thought the Dale Chihuly glass sculptures are some of the coolest things in the world. I’d love to learn how to blow glass. It always looks dangerous and exotic. I remember when I got my HDTV a few years ago, one of the first shows I saw was when Chihuly was doing this exhibit in Venice. He spent some time in Murano, which is near Venice and a famous place for glass blowing. They made these amazing sculptures then hung them all over Venice. I wish I could have gone there to take photographs of the event!

In other news, I was interviewed yesterday by an extremely nice guy named Victor Cajiao who hosts a podcast called “Typical Shutterbug“. Click there and you can hear my interview. We talk a little about the upcoming book, HDR, do’s and don’t, and this sort of thing. If you enjoyed the show, leave him a comment there — I’m sure he’d appreciate it!

A Sea of Glass - The Chihuly Exhibit at the Ballagio in Vegas

The Floating Umbrellas at the Shoppes at the Palazzo, and the Mac King Show

It was a busy day in Vegas (is any day here not?). We went all over creation… thank you for all the suggestions here on the blog and in Twitter!

The first shot below is from the recent expansion from the Venetian shopping area. It’s really beautiful inside and these designers should be given some kind of award! The best I can do here is try to honor their design with good photo of the place. It’s actually quite a difficult venue to capture! I have it from a few angles. There are many other beautiful ones, including one from down below looking up. I’ll be sure to include that at some point in the future!

After this, my friend Andrew Mayne (of WeirdThings.com) recommended that we go to see the Mac King Comedy Magic Show. It was a great recommendation! I have pretty high standards (without being a snob), and this guy was just amazing. Ethan even got pulled up on stage to do all kinds of stuff… he was in heaven. After the finale, we went to meet him and I snapped this photo of Mac and Ethan. Anyway, I also recommend the show. It’s totally hilarious, family-friendly, and the magic is original and amazing.

Umbrellas at the Shoppes at the Palazzo (by Stuck in Customs)

Ethan and Mac King -sm (by Stuck in Customs)

The hallway to the bar after a bad night in Vegas

There is an amazing hallway that connects the The Hotel at Mandalay Bay with the rest of the casino. It’s long and at its end is a cool bar, which is a welcome respite no matter what kind of night you had in Vegas. Actually, I wouldn’t really know since I don’t drink… but, I do like to hang out in them, drink tomato juice, and process photos on my latptop. Yes, this is lame, I know.

I’ll be going to Vegas again in two weekends. I’ve got a list of places I want to visit with the camera… any suggestions?

The hallway to the bar after a bad night in Vegas

Arriving Home in Vegas

Vegas is filled with all these cool secret spots. I suppose this one isn’t all that secret, but I had never heard of it! This is the entrance to the Skylofts At MGM Grand Las Vegas. And this is just the elevator bank! I got a nice little private tour of some of the suites and they were quite amazing. I have those pics sitting in waiting, still unpublished. At first, I was thinking these were the kinds of places that were saved for the uber-elite whales of Vegas, but the prices aren’t that different than a nice Four Seasons.

I’ve been working on editing a new video of how I took an HDR photo in Yellowstone. I’ll give a first look to everyone that is on the Newsletter list. We’ll try to get that thing out this weekend or so! Now, I can tell you that as I edit this thing… it’s very shaky! What can I say… I just used one of those little Flip Video jobs. So, obviously, I’m trying to undersell the thing…. but maybe y’all can get some good information about how I took one of the Yellowstone shots.

Arriving Home in Vegas

The Inflammable Flammable Restaurant – The FiAMMA Trattoria and Bar

I think this restaurant is amazingly cool. Wood always gives a nice warm feeling to a place, and this place could not have possibly have had more wood inside! I’d love to meet the interior designers of these places… I bet they are real characters. This place is the FiAMMA Trattoria and Bar inside the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas.

I’ll be back in Vegas in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got a lot of unpublished photos from there and there are about to be a bunch more! It’s a shooter’s heaven there… and a nice distraction from the gaming tables!

The Inflammable Flammable Restaurant (by Stuck in Customs)

The Secret Underwater Tunnel

This was shot under the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas where they have this lavish aquarium. It’s really gorgeous and dreamy under there, as you can tell. This area has all kinds of sharks and other wild-lookin’ things that were swimming all around me.

I was fortunate enough to take a private tour of the place thanks to the nice people at the MGM/Mirage management company, who also owns the Mandalay Bay. That allowed me to take the time I needed to set up this 5-exposure HDR shot without tourists getting in the way.

One time I did find a nurse shark in the Caribbean. It was a baby. I followed it for a while until it occurred to me that it might be swimming back to its mom. That sudden realization made me turn around pretty quick.

All of this underwater stuff reminds me of watching those Discovery channel shows about strange ocean creatures. I swear I could watch those things all day. I can’t get over how some of these things have evolved to fit their environment… just amazing. My favorite creatures are cephalopods … I never get tired of those documentaries!

The Secret Underwater Passage (by Stuck in Customs)

A Bit of Hibachi

This is a cool Japanese restaurant in the MGM Grand in Vegas called Shibuya. These hibachi tables can’t really be seen from the front, but they are worth a trip inside if you ever get the chance. As far as I know, approximately 100% of the population likes to see their food cooked in front of them with death-defying knife moves.

And that onion volcano trick is always a winner. The egg shell on the hat never gets old. Flipping the last bit of fried rice at the least suspecting person is another classic.

A Bit a Hibatchi

Strange Things Grow in Vegas

How about this place?

This was shot at a really slick bar called Club Mix at the top of THE Hotel in Las Vegas. A lot of people ask how I end up getting shots when no one is around… Sometimes it is a camera trick, and sometimes I am lucky enough to get into places when no one is around. In this case, the people from MGM/Mirage, who own many of the most beautiful hotels-casinos in Vegas knew I was coming to Vegas and they gave me carte blanche to move around freely. I wore those poor people out because I didn’t get tired… I was like Homer in that episode where he went to hell and was forced to eat donuts nonstop. He kept saying “more” until the devil got frustrated.

Anyway, a big thanks to David and his crew there at MGM/Mirage. I have a ton more shots coming in the future… so, as with other threads, stay tuned!

Last, I have updated my “Things That I have Found That Inspire Me” page. That page may take a while to load… my apologies… but once it is done, I hope you see a few cool things as well.

Strange things grow in Vegas (by Stuck in Customs)

New York, New York

Is it a sad thing to say that one of the most fun things I did in Vegas was walk around by myself and take photos? Yes, I think that sounds kinda sad.

But it’s true! What a great place for photography. The lights are insane, the textures are off-the-wall, and everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes. It’s also a real challenge to try to get everything just right in the photo. With so many light levels working against one another on your sensor, it takes a bit to get it right.

I just finished recording another podcast today with Jim Goldstein from EXIF and Beyond. Whenever that one comes online, I’ll share it with y’all. We talked a lot about HDR and how it can best be used. I usually dial it up or down based on the photo, and this one, like my others, follows the steps in my HDR Tutorial. I can’t think of a better situation for HDR than Vegas at night. I look forward to getting more time in Vegas to go take photos of the other casinos hotels. If you guys have any special requests, be sure to put them in the comments!

New York, New York (by Stuck in Customs)

Grabbing some sushi in Vegas

This place is cool!

They have this huge video wall with a plexiglass 3D sculpture covering the surface, which causes all sorts of interesting angular distortion. It’s really tough to describe, but cool.

I’m reminded of one time in Korea when I went to eat sushi and something bad happened. I should have put this in my 25 Things from yesterday! Anyway… I went back to this special sushi place because I remembered the unagi (eel) at the buffet. They had none when I went back, so I asked the manager what happened. He was very apologetic and said he would have some specially made for me.

He asked how many eel I wanted, and I didn’t know what quantity to say, since I never really knew what percentage of an unagi a typical serving of sushi was.

So I told him 3. It turns out that 3 eels is a lot of food. (is there an s on the end of eel for a multitude of eel(s)?)

He brought me a heaping serving plate full of sushi. I felt so bad for making them do so much work, that I ate as much as I could. I consumed waaaay too much and passed out later that night in my bathroom, cutting my face open on the sink and waking up the next day in a small pool of sticky blood.

But I still love eating eel.

Below is a pic of Shibuya, the sushi restaurant in Vegas. Under that is an older shot from Seoul, taken during full consciousness.

Grabbing some sushi in Vegas (by Stuck in Customs)

Rush Hour went

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x