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“Look within.  Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.”  Marcus Aurelius

I’m giving everyone a break today from all the Hawaii shots.  I dug in to my Las Vegas stockpile and found this shot that I took the first night hubby and I stayed at Mandalay Bay.  This was the view from our room.  

Sin City.  Fascinating City.  City of Lights.  City that never sleeps.  

Most people come to Las Vegas to gamble, drink, party . . .  or even to get married!

I came to live my passion of photography with an amazing group of people I’ve gotten to know over the last year through this 365 Self Portrait Project.  

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“The night before I left Las Vegas I walked out in the desert to look at the moon.  There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high.”  ~Norman Mailer

We drove back to the Valley of Fire this afternoon to catch the sunset.  We then drove back through the northern edge of Lake Mead and found this amazing spot where the lights from Vegas were just stunning.  We set up the tripod and I attempted to do star trails, but didn’t really succeed.  Not dark enough.  However, I did capture the stars, the moon, and light trails from all the airplanes in the sky over the city.  We were here for over an hour and a half . . . mesmerized.  Only a few cars passed by on the road while we were there.  This shot is my attempt at doing sync flash – something MTM taught us when we shot on the Strip a few nights ago.  Not sure I was 100% successful as it seems the background is out of focus.  The first shot is the original with just a bit of LR4 editing.  

D800e, 70-200mm VRII lens @ 70mm, 2 sec @ f6.3, 800ISO, and SB800 flash mounted on camera set at zero.  

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I ended up not really liking that the background was out of focus, so took it in to LR4 and reworked it . . . adding in the starry moonlit sky from another photo I took just a bit earlier in the evening.  I think I like the reworked version best.

This is my edited/reworked version.

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312-365 reworked

“I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else.  I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.”  Ken Venturi

Today is the last day of our 365 Vegas Meetup.  Most are leaving today, or have left already this morning.    My husband and I have decided to stay for a couple more days, as we would like to go back to a couple of the places we didn’t feel like we got enough time in . . . such as the Valley of Fire.  A group of us decided to get our picture taken and the Las Vegas sign at one end of the Strip.  There was quite a line up of people waiting to take pictures, as well as an Elvis personality and two Vegas Showgirls with whom you could get your photo taken if you wanted to pay them for it.  We ended up standing in the lineup for quite some time waiting for all of our people to show up.  I took this shot of Frank (a fellow 365’er) as we waited.  I was so pleasantly surprised when I opened this up on my computer to see this amazing sunburst and the great reflection in his glasses!  Score!  He kind of reminds me of one of those Secret Agent types in this shot.  Or a movie star!  

I also love the quote I found for today that seems to totally fit the mood of this photo.  Be the absolute best that you can be and you will shine beyond measure.  You can certainly use what others have done to inspire and motivate, but don’t compete with others to be the best of the best . . . compete against yourself.    Your beautiful aura will then leave a positive impact on everyone who passes through your experience of life.  And YOU are the only one who can make it  happen . . . GO FOR IT!

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“Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.” – Leonard Freed

We arose at 3:30 this morning to catch the sunrise in the Valley of Fire – about an hour drive from the house we rented in Vegas.  It was pretty spectacular, as we shot in the dark at first – learning how to do light trails as MTM drove his car down the park road towards our bank of tripods all set with slow shutter speeds.  As the sun started to peek over the horizon, we all scattered in our different directions to capture the beauty.  This shot below was taken well after the sun was up in an area of gorgeous red-rock formations.  

I detest early mornings, but this trip was so well worth the effort of getting up before dawn!  

I would do it again in a heartbeat . . . 

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“To be a photographer, one must photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters…”  Harry Callahan

Viva Las Vegas . . . Day Two.   We drove in a caravan out to Death Valley today.  We spent most of the afternoon exploring Rhyolite, a small ghost town on the edge of Death Valley.  I could have spent the entire day there – it was that interesting.  There were old buildings and rail cars, and a very eclectic Museum with very interesting statues and artifacts.  It’s really a Photographers paradise.  We spread from one end of the site to the other . . . all immersed in our own creative juices attempting to put our own unique spin on what we were documenting here.  We didn’t actually make it in to Death Valley because we ran out of time . . . and it was very cold and overcast by time nightfall came.  Our intention was to photograph the sunset, and then get some star trails . . . but that wasn’t going to happen with an overcast sky.  Oh well . . . we left Rhyolite feeling very pleased with ourselves and wishing we’d had more time there!  

This photo was taken in an old abandoned cabin.  I applied some HDR processing, and tweaked a bit more in Photoshop.

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“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.”  Duane Michals

Viva Las Vegas!  

We are a group of Photographers out and about on the Vegas Strip!  Michael the Maven is with us, instructing us on night photography techniques . . . catching light trails, slow sync lighting, and whatever else we can soak up from him.  We started at the Luxor and worked our way down to the Bellagio.  Being my first time in Vegas, I was struck by the constant motion, and movement of people and lights and noise.  This is when Sin City really comes alive . . . and we are there to digitally record our interpretations of it.  I’m anxious to learn all I can over the next few days here with my fellow 365’ers whom I’ve know for almost a year now but just met in person.  What a fun group of people.  

It’s going to be a great weekend!

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“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the 400-pound woman perched in front of a slot machine, oozing bum-flesh off her stool as she balanced a cocktail and cigarette in one hand and robotically tugged the slot arm with the other . . . that’s still with me.”  Brian Sack, Banterist, June 15, 2006

There’s alot to be said for that statement.  This is my first trip to Sin City, and as glitzy and glamorous as it is, I was quite amazed at the people who sit mesmerized by these machines for hours and hours just plugging in their money and oblivious of anything going on around them.  I was shocked that in the first hotel we stayed at – we had to walk through a smoke-filled casino to get to the elevators that took us up to our room.  My eyes were burning and my throat felt thick and tight until we got to our room.  There at least, the air was fresh.  

We did go down to one of the many restaurants that flank the casino to get a bite to eat for dinner.  I have to say . . . we had some of the best Chinese food I’ve had in a long time.  It was excellent food, excellent service.  I guess that’s part of the draw here, cheap really good food!  Unfortunately, we won’t go back to that hotel because of the “smokey” experience.  

Since our reason for being in Las Vegas has nothing to do with gambling, drinking, partying or, well – whatever else Sin City is known for . . . I’ll fill you in on the rest of our adventures in the next few posts.

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“The real pleasure was having the chance to enjoy being weightless, and the other was to spend some time looking out at this beautiful Earth that we’re all lucky to inhabit.”  Robert Crippen

Today is Baby Girl’s second birthday.  Papa G and I spent the day out and about with her just having fun. We went to the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland Hills.  It’s a great place to take kids . . . fairly new and lots of great activities.  One exhibit was all about weightlessness in space.  In this one, I pressed the button on a touch screen, then stepped on to this mat with Papa and Ella.  A message said for us to JUMP!  When we did – it snapped out picture.  It’s supposed to look like we are weightless in space!  It didn’t turn out that great – but it was a lot of fun.  There was an option to e-mail it to yourself . . . so I did and thus it becomes my 365 for today!  

We head off to Vegas for the 365 Meetup tomorrow . . . I’m going to miss the little one so much.  I’ve been with her every day for the last four weeks!  

Hmm . . . I wonder who is going to go through withdrawal more . . . 

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“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”  Alfred Stieglitz

I’m 305 days in to this 365 Self Portrait Project.  There are approximately 30 of us left out of a couple hundred that started.  Few of us have met in person . . . but we’re doing a meetup in Las Vegas this weekend.  This has been in the works for a few months now . . . with about half of us showing up – some of us with our spouses and one fellow coming from as far away as Sweden!  We range in photographic abilities from amateur to Pro.  We’ve rented a big house that many of us will be staying at.  It’s going to be a blast for sure . . . with “shoots” planned for different scenic areas around Vegas.  Michael Andrew himself is showing up . . . so very exciting.  To top it off . . . I’ve never been to Vegas . . . this is a first for me.  I’m not really a night lifer, drinker, partyer or gambler . . . I am just interested in soaking up all I can about Photography from everyone that will be there.   (oh – Baby Girl was just helping me pack . . . Mommy won’t let her go to Vegas with us! )

And . . . what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas . . . right?? 

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“It’s when ordinary people rise above the expectations and seize the opportunity that milestones truly are reached.”  Mike Huckabee

Wow!  I can’t believe I have reached Day Three Hundred of this 365 Project!  There have been days when I really didn’t think I could come up with something to post . . . another photo much less another blog post!  Because I took on the task of not only doing a self portrait every day, but also doing a blog post about it ever day as well.  I have fallen behind a few times . . . but I have not neglected the actual taking of a photo every day.  It’s pretty incredible what I have learned through this process . . . one of which is Photography is most definitely where my passion lies.  There has been a thread of Photography throughout my entire life . . . I just didn’t pursue it as I am able to now because of where life took me.  I’m here now though, and so fortunate and blessed to be in a position to finally pursue my passion.  In fact – in a few days I will be meeting up with fellow 365’ers in Las Vegas for a weekend of shooting and camaraderie over our shared mutual passion.  Here I am perusing the 365 forums, amazed at the talent and friendships that we have formed even tho few of us have met in person.  Vegas . . . here we come!  

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