Night photography

WALKING THE STRIP

I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a long weekend of work-related events.  Although I had a detailed shot list for sites I wanted to photograph, reality left me with very little time to actually make images.  After completing my obligations, I headed out down the strip at 11:00 pm on a brisk and windy March night. As I walked around trying to capture the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip, I settled on an area with active traffic and a backdrop of hotels including Treasure Island, The Venetian and The Mirage.

Lighting up the Strip

The extended light trails lead the eye straight down the strip populated with gargantuan hotels filled with casinos, high-end retailers and countless five-star celebrity-owned restaurants.  This level of excess and grandeur can only be seen in aplace known appropriately as Sin City.

Anchors Away

Today's photo comes from a photowalk with a group headed by Alanna St.Laurent in downtown Detroit.  We visited a few locations on a chilly winter evening to get some great night photographs of the Motor City.

The Princess riverboat cruises are generally 2-3 hours long, traveling from Hart Plaza to Belle Isle, and back. The boat hosts dinner cruises, fall color cruises, moonlight cruises and dinner cruises. The boat is available to book for private parties when you want to take it to the next level. This is something to consider during the dog days of summer for some great sunset shots of Detroit or when you are looking to make a serious splash for a special occasion .

CAN YOU SAY TRIDGE?

Located in the heart of Midland, MI lies the Iconic "Tridge" which represents a three-way wooden bridge located at the junction of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers. The bridge consists of a 31 foot central pillar supporting three spokes which are each 180 feet long and 8 feet wide. 

The Tridge is one of the the city's main attractions and signifies the beginning of the Chippewa Trail. It also marks the origin of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, a Michigan Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame Trail. This area is very active in the summer with it's nearby parks, farmers market, and evening concerts. A rather unique structure indeed which is best viewed at night while fully illuminated.

TOWER OF THE AMERICAS

Located in the middle of Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio is the iconic structure known as the Tower of The Americas. This 750-foot tower houses a cocktail lounge, rotating restaurant as well as an observation deck which provides phenomenal panoramic views of the city. The tower, recognized as the tallest building in San Antonio, was designed by architect O'Neil Ford as the main theme structure for the 1968 World's Fair, Hemisfair '68

Construction of the tower commenced on August 9, 1966 and was completed 18 months later, just prior to the opening ceremonies of the fair on April 6, 1968. Interestingly enough, the top portion of the building was constructed at ground level and hoisted on top of the concrete pillar by cables which actually snapped leaving the top resting rather precariously on the concrete shaft. The job was then completed using oil field pipes to secure the tophouse in position.

The ride to the top takes approximately five and a half minutes and can provide some great photographic opportunities if you can avoid the crowds. 





THE TOWER LIFE BUILDING - SAN ANTONIO

For years, the iconic Tower Life Building has been a recognized landmark located in the heart of Downtown San Antonio.

In 1950, the original 100-foot flagpole was removed and replaced with an antenna in order to allow the city's second Television station to broadcast from inside the building. The cost of the conversion was estimated to be around two million dollars.

Unfortunately, in 2006 the building endured a fire while some work was being done to the base of the antenna. As a result, the antenna was removed and replaced with another rooftop  flagpole similar to the original. The lantern at the top of the building along with the stars and stripes are illuminated throughout the night hours and can be seen from miles away.

WILD LIGHTS AT THE DETROIT ZOO

During the past few years the Detroit Zoo has put on an massive exhibition of LED lights throughout the Holiday season to provide a rather unique experience known as Wild Lights. More than five million LED lights are used to illuminate various trees, buildings and animal sculptures.  

While enjoying the light show, there was also a treat waiting in the picture above. An exhibition showcased the best wildlife photographs of the year submitted from photographers all over the world - some of these images were absolutely breathtaking.

The Arctic Circle area was represented by a couple of towering Polar Bears greeting the visitors.

This is a great event for the entire family and especially children. There is a smores station setup to create your own campfire treat along with numerous refreshments an ice carving station (weather permitting). 

All in all this is definitely something worth seeing. The vibrant illumination definitely provides a new perspective to the Zoo.  The only downside for photographers is the fact that the zoo does not open during the event until after complete darkness has arrived thereby eliminating the chance of stunning blue hour photos.



DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to getaway for a night absolving myself from the responsibilities and obligations of everyday life. I jumped in the car and headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan which has quickly become one of the fastest growing cities with it's enticing offering of breweries, restaurants and a vibrant art scene. 

Blue Bridge

Located in the heart of downtown lies the iconic pedestrian bridge simply known as the Blue Bridge. The bridge connects the city center on the East bank to the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University facilities on the West. This pedestrian bridge provides a convenient connection between the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus of Grand Valley State University as well as the Grand Rapids Public Museum and other attractions on the east side of the river.

This location has proven quite popular while providing a backdrop for wedding parties, prom pictures with its unmistakeable "Lake Blue" color.

Back to the city

Off to the left, in the two previous photos, is the JW Marriott Hotel where I spent the evening. Excellent service and attention to detail provide the perfect complement to the eye-catching contemporary architectural design.

Waterfront Downtown Grand Rapids

The downtown area is an ideal venue for taking in the all glorious options a large vibrant city has to offer. There are walking paths along the water which allow you to experience big-city excitement without the usual big city hassles. There are multiple dining, shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing opportunities all within a 10-minute stroll.

Pearl Street Bridge

 

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum happens to be one of the oldest history museums in the United States. The museum contains a cafe, gift shop, as well as a rather unique feature, a 1928 Spilllman Carousel. The museum offers attractions for everyone as well as those interested in Astronomy by way of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. 

Upon completing the museum tour, a simple stroll across the street brings you to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. 

Gerald R Ford Museum

Since September of 1981, the Gerald R.Ford Museum has provided visitors a snapshot into history with exhibits and interactive learning to better understand the highlights of the Ford Administration. The museum offers a gift shop to provide momentos of history while also serving as a host for naturalization ceremonies and the annual fourth of July fireworks,

 

Grand Rapids continue to flourish as one of the fastest growing cities with all its unique offerings and I look forward to returning to visit its newest attractions. 


IT REALLY IS JUST A MATTER OF TASTE

Every small town has a local establishment where residents gather for sustenance and exchange stories with friends and family.  As it turns out, my neighborhood is no exception. Located in the tiny lakeside community of Union Lake, Michigan lies a restaurant which stands heads and shoulders above all in terms of overall quality and attention to detail. The restaurant, suitably named, "It's A Matter of Taste" caters to the foodies in all of us by providing fresh seafood, pasta and steak of the highest quality around. After frequenting this restaurant countless times, the level of consistency is absolutely astounding. The waitstaff is always extremely attentive and pleasant providing just the right amount of supervision to ensure a delightful dining experience. The menu changes periodically with the seasons to ensure the freshest ingredients are utilized. Since the restaurant backs up to a residential lake, the summertime provides a refreshing and memorable outdoor dining experience assuming you have secured a reservations several days in advance. This is absolutely and unequivocally the finest eatery in the area and cannot be missed while visiting the area. 

Best restaurant in town