Las Vegas, baby. I was visiting for a work conference so I brought a couple of film cameras along with me. I wanted to shoot gonzo-style – black and white film, high contrast, shooting from the hip, and capturing impromptu scenes within casinos and along the strip. I needed to be able to shoot quickly within the smog filled casinos. For this I chose the Olympus XA from 1979 with Ilford Delta 400 film pushed to 800. The Olympus XA is quick to operate. It fits in your pocket. You set the aperture, manually focus it, and hit the shutter. The camera calculates the shutter speed and takes the frame. The light meter worked well for daylight and indoor shots but tended to overexpose high contrast scenes like below.
I also brought the Fuji GS690, a medium format film camera, with an idea for a project of photographing the neon lights and illuminated strip. This largely failed for lack of inspiration and effort, though it did generate one of my favourite photographs of the trip.
I saw this scene while walking home one night and came back the following night with the tripod and camera. The composition and colours are strong but what really makes it for me is the mood. It has that timeless look to it and the emptiness of the scene matches the decrepit hotel exterior at the top of the frame. Shot on Kodak Porta 400.
After my time in Vegas I got out into the country and took some landscapes on the same setup.
The history of the Tropicana is an interesting read.