" November 2015 "

Start to Finish – Matterhorn and Monorail

Happy Monday! For today’s post, I would like to take you all through my editing process for one photo from start to finish. I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland this past September to check out the 60th anniversary, and one thing I never really had a shot I was proud of was the lagoon area in Tomorrowland with the Matterhorn in the background. So, on my first night out in California, I had the tripod with me and used my 14mm lens to capture a wide, nighttime scene. This is what the original RAW file looked like:


When I first saw this in Lightroom, I liked what I saw, but it was definitely clear that it needed some work. There is a buoy two thirds of the way down the right hand side of the frame, as well as a guard rail in the bottom left corner. Interestingly enough, when I applied the Lightroom profile for the 14mm lens that I was shooting with, it took care of both of those, which was nice. Once that was taken care of, my next pain point was the color balance. When you’re in a Disney park, there are lots of lights. Those lights tend to cast a warm temperature on the image and make things look more orange than I like them to. So, I lowered the white balance a bit to cool things off.

From here, I felt like the image was pretty dark. Thankfully, with today’s sensor technology, we have some pretty serious parameters to work within when it comes to exposure. Since this was not an HDR image and comes from only one exposure, I was able to boost the exposure to +.65 in Lightroom to make it bright like I wanted it to be. Since I ended up doing that, I also had to pull the highlights down quite a bit to balance out some of the lights and the smooth silky water. Big assist to the breeze that night for helping make that happen.

Since I had upped the exposure so much, I really didn’t need to pull the shadows up too much, so from here, I basically just lowered the black level to -51 and the contrast up to +22. I like the crunchy textures on the mountain itself, so I added some clarity as well, and then moved the vibrance slider up to 24. I love the vibrance slider because it boosts the color, but not in a completely global fashion like the saturation slider does. It only applies it in places where it thinks it needs to go.

From here, I went in to the HSL tab and selected luminance, just to tone down a few of the colors that I thought were a little too strong, mainly blue, purple, and magenta. Then it was just time to sharpen the image a tiny bit, as it was pretty sharp already from being manually focused in Live View on a tripod, and we have the final image here:


It’s a pretty big change, and an edit that took really no more than about 10 minutes in Lightroom. I love the motion and energy of this area, with a monorail skirting through the image as well as the subs from the Nemo Submarine Voyage. For those curious, this shot was taken with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!

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.



Remember that Timbuk2 review Alan did for us last week?  Timbuk2 has the the XS on sale for $49, the S for $59, and the M size bag for $69!  This is a hot deal!


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!!