Black Friday / Cyber Monday Deals for the Disney Photographer

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  We hope you had a great time with your family for the holiday.  Now on to the deals.

We will be monitoring the Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals and update the post throughout the holiday weekend with deals we find.

Addorma Pix is having a print sale – 20% site wide for the holiday weekend.  Enter code PXBFCM20 for 20% off your order.  Spend $65-$74 and you’ll get a $10 coupon you can use in January.  Spend more than $75 and you’ll get a coupon code for $15 off your order in January.   We recently posted a How-To on printing your photos, so check it out for some helpful tips before you place your order.

Amazon has several deals going on throughout the day on Friday.  The one I like the most right now is this deal on a Canon Speedlite 430 ex ii for $199.  You might not think it, but having a better flash on your camera can really help in the parks (no, not on dark ride photos or for capturing the fireworks silly!).  It can help out when you are doing character meet and greets or as a day light fill flash on a cloudy / overcast day.

If you are looking at the mirrorless camera system, Olympus has discounted their OM-D EM10 camera to $449 (regularly $699) for a $250 savings.


B&H Photo Video

New York camera mega store B&H Photo Video has tons of deals on sale today.  They are tweeting links to their sale items here.  Like $250 off the Nikon D3300 – on sale for $396.95.



Photo training site KelbyOne has a $50 discount on their one year membership and are throwing in a copy of Scott Kelby’s Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It on DVD and a package of Light Room Actions and brushes.



If you see something good, let us know about it in the comments.



It’s a Festival of Fantasy

Walt Disney World rolled out the Festival of Fantasy parade back in 2014 to great fanfare.  By now you can watch countless videos on YouTube or even catch a live broadcast of the parade on Periscope from frequent park guests like Mark Willard (and by the way, if you aren’t following Mark on Twitter or Instagram you really should), but there is nothing quite like experiencing the parade for yourself in person.

While I love the parade, Disney does not do photographers any favors with when they schedule the parade – 3:00pm.  The sun is high and bright in the sky making lighting less than ideal.  Shooting the characters high upon the floats can be very tricky with all of that sunlight to manage.  Make sure you are shooting in RAW mode on your camera so you can adjust things in your favorite photo editing software.


In general I’m happy with the way this shot turned out.  I did have to push things pretty far in Photoshop farther than I’m usually comfortable with, but I like the pose and expression I was able to capture so the shot works for me.

You are more likely to get a better shot of the dancers walking at street level or some of the lower to the ground floats if you are shooting along the Main Street corridor.  The buildings can provide some shade – which again, is less than ideal but you can usually do better at eye level than shooting up.  The performers in the parade….well they are PERFORMERS so if they notice you with your camera, they can mug to the camera and give you a nice look.  You just have to be watching for it and get the image.


I was lucky enough to catch Anna and Elsa looking right into the camera here as the Frozen float unit moved past.  

But even when they don’t notice the cameras, the cast members are having fun.  Make sure you capture that fun in your shots.  It seems like a simple thing to remember, but make sure you get the characters with their eyes open and a good expression on their face.  I know there are a lot better photographers out there and one only needs to look at the volume of parade shots I took where I miss timed it and the cast members eyes are closed.  If this were the film days I would not be a happy camper.

MeridaParadeBlogWe sat through the Festival of Fantasy parade nearly every day of our Spring Break this year, and the cast member playing Merida always seemed to be having the time of her life. 

The other shot to get is the Maleficent dragon breathing fire.  As you are watching the parade, use your ears and not just your eyes.  The dragon will breath fire to the proper cue in the music and it will allow you to time your shot.


Keep in mind that if the wind is too high Disney safety will call off the fire portion of the parade.  The Dragon’s mouth will still open at the proper cue in the music though.  They should probably play The Price as Right sad trombone tune at that point when there isn’t going to be fire that day.

Please leave a comment and provide us with some feedback!  We would love for you to share your tips for shooting the Festival of Fantasy parade. We would also love to hear your thoughts on anything you want us to cover on the site.  Please just click the Read More button below to bring up the page where you can leave a comment.

All of these shots were taken with my Canon 60D.  Some of them I was able to grab with the Canon 70-200 lens which really helps with getting in close to the performers faces.  I don’t own that lens but I rented it (there’s a future post coming on renting gear for a Disney trip).  As always, please consider following this Amazon link as it helps support the site.


Dark Skies at Epcot

One of the really interesting things about Florida is how strange and dramatic the weather can be. In the summertime, it will be bright and sunny one minute, and then a torrential downpour will happen and be finished within 10 minutes. Or during the fall/winter, the highs can bounce around between 50 and 80 multiple times a week. That being said, when I was visiting Epcot this weekend, I got to have a pretty neat weather event that I’d like to share with all of you. When I left my house for the park, it was sunny with signature puffy Florida clouds. But, by the time I got to the park all of 15 minutes later, there was a nasty storm blowing in with some very dark and ominous clouds. What that led to was the sun still poking through just a little bit, lighting most of the things in the park, but with this very dramatic and ominous sky in the background.


Usually when we think of rain and storms, that’s usually the time we put the camera away. But, in this case, I had a few minutes before the rain came where I could keep shooting and come away with some photos that are quite different than the norm.


When editing these photos, I cooled down the White Balance just a bit to add to the ‘dreary’ feeling they had. I also made sure to slide the Blacks slider much farther over in Lightroom than usual, and I added a substantial amount of more contrast than usual as well.


I just think it is very interesting how by the time I made it to Norway, the dark clouds surrounded the entire park, but there was just enough light poking through those clouds to illuminate the viking here. I also added a touch of vignetting to all of these shots to make them a bit darker to go along with the mood set by the weather.

Overall, there are some times where all we want are the nice, big, and blue skies that Florida treats us to. But every once in a while, a change of pace can be nice and it was fun to shoot these couple of photos before the rain got bad enough that the camera had to go back into the bag.

Have you ever shot the parks in or before a storm? If so, we would love for you to share some of your photos with us in the comments below. For those curious, everything in this post was shot with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8, both of which can be purchased at Amazon. Thanks for reading!!


Fireworks Friday – Wishes

I can’t get enough of watching and photographing Wishes.  I know it is heresy among the Disney community to say this, but I’ll take Wishes every night of my trip over Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  Now to be fair, I haven’t seen any of the Holiday variants of Illuminations so that might tip the scale in one direction but I doubt it.  Thanks to tips I’ve gotten from this blog (thanks Cory, Ryan and Adam) and some of the other Disney Photographers like Kevin Davis, Tom Bricker, and Ben Hendel, I’m finally starting to like the shots of Wishes that I’ve gotten.  Now that I have some shots from dead center of the castle printed out, I’m going to have to work on getting some pictures from alternate locations around the park.

In the coming weeks we are going to have an entire series of posts up on the blog for improving your fireworks photography, but for now we will leave you with a couple of tips.

  • You’re going to have to get your camera on a tripod, as mentioned in my gear review here I shoot on the MeFoto RoadTrip.  The shutter is going to be open for a long time and any vibration is going to turn the shot into a blurry mess.
  • You’re going to need a remote shutter release.  Remember how I just said that any vibration is going to turn your photo into a blurry mess?  Well when you depress the shutter, you are probably (I’m sure there are shutter pressing ninjas out there in the world that can depress the shutter without moving the camera, but I’m not one of them) going to get a blurry mess there too.
  • A Variable ND Filter.  You are going to be leaving the shutter open a long time in order to get multiple bursts in one frame like the shot above.  Without an ND filter you are going to wind up blowing out the highlights out.  A Neutral Density Filter works like your sunglasses cutting down the intensity of the bursts and allowing you to get color on the castle and other objects in the image.  As you leave the shutter open longer you need to adjust the amount of filter you are using.


See what I mean about blown out highlights.  The first time I shot fireworks in the parks was at Hong Kong Disneyland and I didn’t have my ND filter set up right.  There are spinners on the front of the castle and you can’t see a thing as they are so bright they overwhelmed the shot.

  • Pray for good weather.  Sometimes when you are shooting Wishes the wind is blowing from the wrong direction and your photographs will turn out to be a mess as the smoke clouds from spent fireworks flood the castle in a haze.


Here’s another shot from that night at Hong Kong Disneyland.  See all the smoke clouds?  When the wind is blowing the right way the castle and your shot will be overwhelmed and ruined.  

  • Memorize the performance.  When you are shooting at a local fireworks display you just have to go with it.  Maybe you can see the streak of the shots going up so you can take a good guestimate of when the bursts are going to pop open.  But with the Disney fireworks shows, there are countless YouTube videos out there that show the fireworks shows.  By memorizing when the bursts are going to come, you can better time when you open and close the shutter.


This shot is from PhotoMagic 2013 about six months after my trip to Hong Kong Disneyland.  I had gotten a bit better then my first attempt, but the shot still isn’t what I wanted.  

Many Disney Photographers have started to capture the whole fireworks show in one shot.  I haven’t tried that yet but the images I see on Flickr are just amazing.  We are going to see a post soon from Ben with a how-to article on this topic in the coming weeks.

On a side note, I would like to thank all the people that have found this blog again after it was dormant for so long.  We’ve gotten a lot of great emails and comments from you and we really do appreciate it.  We are going to stick to a regular post schedule of Monday / Wednesday / Friday for the foreseeable future as we fill the blog with content.  Are there any subjects you would like to see us cover going forward?  Please leave a comment (hit the Read More button below to bring up the comment form) and we’ll try to work on something to help you out.