There are many things to see in Las Vegas. Some of the more interesting are the street performers. Some of these characters have some interesting talent. While I was in Las Vegas for a conference I was hired to film, I spent a couple of evenings walking around. One night, I photographed a series of long exposure photographs on the strip of Las Vegas. In front of the Belagio Hotel and Casino, there was this street performer who seemed to be sitting in mid air. He had a crowd of people around him trying to figure out how he was doing it. There didn’t seem to be anything that would hold him up or keep him balanced. My thoughts are that his staff went into a hole in the ground. I did not return during the day to see if in fact I was correct, but upon inspection of some of my photos, it was all that made sense to me.
The one thing that stuck out to me was how still he was being. He didn’t move at all. I have never seen someone sit so still before. This led me to wanting to include him in a long exposure photograph. I felt that the image would look cool with the lines the lights of cars would produce behind him. Las Vegas is a bright place. With just about everything being lit somehow, long exposure photography would become hard because when you take a long exposure photo, a lot of light is able to hit the sensor. Because of this, my settings below are quite interesting. I typically do long exposure photographs when there is not a lot of light present. In this photo, I did not use an ND Filter or anything on my lens that would decrease the amount of light coming in. Had I brought an ND Filter with me, I could have used different camera settings that would allow for a shallower depth of field. This is one of the few things I would have liked to change about the photo showcased here.
When I took this photo, I did not have a very good support system. When you take a long exposure photograph you want to make sure your camera is completely still. Nothing should move or cause your camera to shake. Even the simple task of pressing the shutter button on your camera can cause the photo to be blurry. For this reason, I set the camera shutter to a two second delay. This way, after I push the shutter button down, there is a two second delay before the camera actually takes the picture. When I left to take photos, I took a clamp with me as I only envisioned myself clamping my camera to something while taking a long exposure photo. As you can see in the photo below, this is the clamp and swivel head I had with me. In the photo of the street performer, I used the base of the clamp to rest on the ground and the swivel head to point my camera at the angle I would need to capture the street performer. It was not a very stable situation for my camera but it worked.
With all of that said, this trip down to the strip in Las Vegas was all about taking long exposure photos, so I had my camera set up for long exposure photos. It’s a bit time consuming to scroll all the way back to a normal shutter speed, so every photo I took was long exposure. When you decide to take a long exposure photo, you want to make sure you have your settings right and what you want to capture framed up correctly. Thirty seconds is a long time to wait only to find out that you cut something off in frame and will have to shoot it all over again. I found myself starting the capture at the wrong time when few cars were driving by. This resulted in a lackluster photo that did not have the effect I was going for.
As I kneeled down to the ground to capture the photo of the street performer, there were many people around. Depending on what enters your frame and for how long, you could end up with a less than desirable result. Thirty seconds is a long time and a lot can happen, so you want to make sure you set up your shot with a large enough window to prevent error. My first attempt at taking this photo did not turn out so well because there was so many people around that were entering the frame. I captured the above photo when there was a break in the crowd. The street performer probably would have used this moment to stretch his jaw or take a deep breath, but he held on because I was taking his photo. I held my camera as still as possible because the clamp was not a proper way to secure the camera when there was nothing to clamp it to. At this moment, I had wished for a solid tripod head with small legs that would result in a very stable situation. You can definitely see some areas of the photo that could have been more sharp had the camera remained completely still. Given the circumstances, the photo turned out pretty good.
Camera Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 24mm
Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
Flash: No Flash
Post production was done in Lightroom with some small cleanup in Photoshop. On Ditch Auto Tuesdays on the Ditch Auto Podcast, I go through the importing process of the long exposure photos I took in Las Vegas and go through the entire post production process of this image as well. Make sure to subscribe to the Ditch Auto Podcast to get free access to my videos.
Gear Used In This Photo:
- Canon 5D Mark III Body
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
- Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip for 5D Mark III Camera
- Custom SLR – Glide One Strap with Silver C-Loop
- Custom SLR – M-Plate Pro Universal Tripod Plate System (Black)
- Manfrotto 175F-1 Spring Clamp with Flash Shoe – Black
- Manfrotto 492LCD Micro Ball Head with Hot Shoe Mount
- Delkin Devices 64GB CF 1050X UDMA 7 Cinema Memory Card
- Panasonic eneloop pro AA Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries (2550 mAh)