Updated: Jan 17
The Sin City has a long and controversial history. Funded by the Mob, Gambling, The Strip. And we learned much more on our Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam tour from our guide. Every name on the casino has a story. However, as time passed it has become one of the most attractive tourist destinations for entertainment, food, and family fun.
I've personally been there 3 times and this last trip was my favorite. The last time we visited was in 2007. We admittedly don't remember much from that trip. From that experience we didn't have a yearn to visit but we had a good travel deal that we couldn't pass up.
This time around it was the last vacation of 2022 for us, right after Christmas and getting back home before the New Year. Our feet were definitely at work and the Uber rides were plentiful. We ended 2022 on a good note and read on to learn more and see some photos from our trip.
Why Black & White Photos?
I chose to process the photos in black and white because Las Vegas is such a bright and colorful city I initially didn't see anything unique with them in color. I'm sure there are photos that are much better in color and some that do work in black and white. This is an experiment and I decided to create a post for the color photos also. Link below.
I wanted to bring the modern digital photo and bring a vintage, dark, and moody look. I'm not sure if I achieved that but I enjoy black and white photography and I hope you enjoy it too.
Documenting The Journey
As a professional and enthusiast photographer I naturally have a lot of gear but when I shoot personally I want to make sure that I'm on a fly on the wall while still documenting our trip. I chose to bring a small camera sling, one camera, and one lens. I didn't want the hassle of switching lenses so I could be in the moment.
I brought the Bagsmart Camera Sling to hold my everyday carry items like my camera, lens, Anker battery power bank, phone, cables, keys, etc. This bag is cheap yet underrated. At only $30 its hard to argue the value. I've had it for over 2 years with no issues. The main competitors will be Peak Design, Hex, Nomatic, and others. And while those bags are higher quality they are at least 2-3 times the price of the Bagsmart.
One Camera and One Lens
My camera of choice was the Fujifilm X-E3 and Fujifilm 23mm f/2 lens.
I absolutely loved this camera setup. 23mm on Fuji APS-C is equivalent of 35mm which is my favorite focal length. In terms of fixed focal lengths its the most versatile. Its not too wide yet wide enough to tell the story. In some instances I did miss a telephoto to zoom in on far away objects but I'd much prefer to have a wide angle perspective than just a telephoto one.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing focal lengths is what can you see with your eyes. 28mm-50mm is how we see the world and 35mm is the sweet spot depending on who we are. Our eyes can't zoom so having a telephoto lens is more of an artistic endeavor and not a documentary one. That's just my opinion.
We stayed at the The Grandview in south end of the Las Vegas strip right next to the Southpoint Hotel & Casino. We had a good deal on this spot so decided to stay there. We also have a timeshare with the Flamingo right where the action is but the deal was too good to pass up.
Our first meal upon arrival was at the Zenshin Asian Restaurant. We started off hungry and it was well worth it. The restaurant is located right inside the Southpoint Hotel & Casino.
We ordered appetizers, specialty rolls, and main courses after a long flight from Newark to Las Vegas. We didn't spend much time at Southpoint other than to sleep so we can't comment much on the Grandview or the Southpoint area in general. It's a much quieter area of the strip. So if you want to have peace from raucous action of the main areas of the strip this would be a good way to go.
Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Tour
Word of the wise, dress appropriately for the Grand Canyon especially in December. You might think its in the desert of Nevada but you're in high elevation and the temperature is much colder than you think.
We left the Las Vegas strip at 60 degrees and entered the Grand Canyon at 30 degrees and we didn't bring a coat. We only brought a hat and matching hoodies. We looked good but we were cold.
One thing our tour guide mentioned is that there is a water crisis going on with the Hoover Dam. The water is receding and there is a rights battle between states (Nevada, Arizona, California, and possible others) and the Native Americans. Not sure if I got that right or not but there is definitely something going on.
Fremont Street Experience
Fremont Street is the original strip before Las Vegas Blvd took over as the strip we know of today. We headed out early one day to check it out. The apparent difference is the lack of towering buildings.
You can feel nostalgia while walking. The vibe of the signs are still there from Binions to Circa to The Golden Nugget. These were top casinos of the past.
On the street you find these circles where street performers seem to occupy. There were plenty of colorful characters out there working their specific hustle. The pictures tell the story.
The Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas Blvd)
On this trip we wanted to hit the streets and get and see how things have changed. First thing we noticed is the addition of bridges on most intersections. There are restrictive walls to prevent people from being in the street and from cars to be on the sidekick.
As a native of Jersey City which is nearby Hoboken I kept noticing the Cake Boss' various restaurant ventures.
Photos from the various sections of the strip
I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking here. The strip is massive with lots of hotels, restaurants, shows and more. Vegas has always been an entertainment destination. Many performers come here to the biggest hotels to put on big shows. You also have musicals, comedy, and more.
Adele happened to be performing during our time there but we didn't get tickets. The prices during this time of year were especially high too. We decided on site seeing and restaurant hopping.
Not too far from Fremont Street sits the Mob Museum. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to advance the public understanding of organized crime's history and impact on American society.
One cool thing we found was a poster of a heavyweight boxing championship between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier that took place in July of 1921 in Jersey City, NJ. It seems the Mob was involved in it somehow.
I think most people know that organized crime and Las Vegas has been intertwined but to what extent was surprising to me. Its as Vegas was a no fly zone for the law during its inception. However, this museum is not about just Las Vegas its about how the mob/organized crime has been in every major city and corner of America. Its a very informative and interesting experience to learn.
We really enjoyed our trip and Las Vegas is underrated in our book. There is more to do than ever for the entire family if planned appropriately.
Having a car would have been a bad choice. I think being able to walk and take our time to absorb what's around us was an important factor in why we loved our time there. They have also made it safe for pedestrians by putting up sidewalls. It prevents people from crossing the street and cars from getting on the sidewalk. I don't remember that from our 2007 trip. You can only cross most streets at bridges purpose built for that.
Most hotels require the Uber drivers to have a designated area to pull up to. With the increase in traffic from rideshares they eliminated them from pulling over on the street anywhere.
We will be back to walk The Strip and document it once again.
My name is Jason Logan. I'm a photographer and content creator from Jersey City, NJ. You can learn more about my work at www.jmtphotographymedia.com. You can reach me directly at email@example.com for serious inquiries.
TAGS: fujifilm x-e3, fujifilm xf 23mm f/2, las vegas, grand canyon, hoover dam, fremont street experience