" November 2015 "

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

My daughter loves the Little Mermaid ride in New Fantasyland so I found myself spending a lot of time in the queue during our last family trip.  During one of the waits, I stood right where this photo was taken and said to myself, I bet this would make an interesting photo at night.  So after I got the family turned in for the evening I headed back into the parks for some late night and after hours shooting.  It was an Extra Magic Hours night and the park was pretty empty so I thought I would have a good shot at grabbing the brackets I needed for an HDR image. Boy was I wrong!  Every time I started the +2 exposure bracket someone would wind up walking into the queue and I would have to start again.  I know, I know, many HDR images have that ghost effect where you can see people moving through the shot, but I wanted a truly empty picture.  Looking back at the time stamps I spent over 30 minutes standing in the queue to get an empty shot.  There would be a gap of now people, I’d start the shot, and then a group of teenagers would come running through the line.  Which brings me to the next story……

So I’m standing there in the queue, grabbing the shot and there’s an “excuse me” from behind.  People had been passing me from the front of the queue for a while and occasionally someone would stop to chat about the shot.  But this was the first time someone had approached from behind so it startled me.  I turned around to find one of the ride’s Cast Members standing there.  As I turned around she added “Can I ask what you are doing, you’ve been standing here for a long time?”  Uh-oh, I’m in trouble I thought.  I explained to her I was trying to get a photograph and showed her some of the images on the back of the camera.  I won’t lie, I thought she was going to kick me out of the queue right there and I wasn’t going to end up with the shot I wanted.  But after a long pause she said “Ok, we just wanted to make sure everything was ok and find out what you were doing.”

Not trusting that the camera didn’t move while I was showing the Cast Member the photos on the back of the camera, I started the sequence over again.  This time, however, I got all three shots with no waiting in between and nobody came running down the queue.  Checking the time stamp of the photo, the final shot in the bracket was captured at 12:08 am.  I thought about trying to get a few more extra exposures (I had 5), but the interaction with the cast member made me feel like I was pushing my luck so I packed my stuff up and ventured on to Gaston’s Tavern for some more long exposure shots.

To edit the bracketed images into a single HDR, I used both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop which are a part of the Photography Plan for only $9.99 / month.  We will do a longer piece on HDR image editing shortly, but if you are looking for some basic tips, might we suggest starting with this video here provided by Adobe.

I’m not 100% happy with the way this shot turned out, so I think I’m going to try and get this one again next time I go down to the parks.  Either that or I’ll try editing the brackets again.  When it comes to creating HDR images I’m definitely a novice.

This image was shot with my Canon 60D and the kit 18-135 lens at f/8 and I was using my MeFoto RoadTrip tripod (which I reviewed on the site here).  Please consider following the Amazon link as it helps support the site.

So, have any of you had any good interactions with a Cast Member when getting a shot in the parks?  Share your story in the comments section below.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights Photography Tutorial

Hello everyone! It’s great to be back posting on the blog again after our long and unfortunate hiatus. We’re really looking forward to having a lot of great weekly content, featuring tutorials and ways to learn, not just sharing our own photos.

For today’s article, we are taking a look at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now, 2015 is the last year that these lights will be presented, but if you come down to Walt Disney World between now and January, hopefully some of these tips can be of help. If not, hopefully you’ll just enjoy the photos, or maybe put the tips to use somewhere other than Disney!

Tip #1 – Shoot a normal focal length

It may be very tempting to shoot the Osborne Lights with a super wide lens. While that look is super cool and can lead to some really neat stuff, chances are you won’t get that opportunity unless you wait until the very end of the night once all the crowds leave. This event tends to get very busy, so if you shoot at a normal focal length, such as 35mm or 50mm, you can get some great portraits of some of the decorations.

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Tip #2 – Find the characters

This year, Disney has added a lot of the characters to the lights. Finding them can help your photos become identifiably Disney, and also make for some cool portraits. I won’t post all of them, but here are a few of them.

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Tip #3 – Shoot with a fast lens (if possible)

When it comes to shooting the Osborne Lights, it can be very difficult to be in there with a tripod unless you wait until the end of the night. So, much of your shooting will be handheld. Since you’ll be shooting handheld, having the fastest lens you own will help you for several reasons. If you have something that is f/2.8 or f/1.8, you can let more light in to the sensor of your camera, which can keep your shutter speed up and your ISO down. With a faster shutter speed, you’ll get sharper photos, and with lower ISO, you’ll have less noise to deal with.

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If you have a fast lens like what I’ve mentioned above, you can also take advantage of the 5 million lights that are present in this display. After you find a subject, once you change your aperture to f/1.8 or however fast your lens is, you can blur out all the lights in the background that can make for some pretty cool effects!

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Tip #4 – Try something different

Seeing as Disney is a place visited by so many people, you’re going to see many of the same shots from everyone’s camera. Trying different things or techniques can make for something that you can take home that is unique and fun, and differentiates your shot from some other person on Instagram. For the shot below, I decided to instead of focusing on the Mickey wreath of lights, switch my camera into manual focus and blur them out. Perhaps it isn’t the best photo ever, but I think the result is somewhat interesting.

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Tip #5 – Tell a story

Whenever we are taking photos, telling a story is a very important part of the process. There are plenty of snapshots out there, and some of those are awesome. But, when a photo has a unique element and story behind it, people can relate to it, and emotion can be drawn out of it. In the photo below, I decided to get low to be on eye level with the puppy. The puppy is eyeing up the Mickey lights on the planter, something which many people’s dog have done. The lighting is soft and adds to the overall feel of it. It just feels very Holiday Season to me, and was one of my favorite photos from my trip through the lights the other night.

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Hopefully you can use some of these tips when you visit the Osborne Lights yourself. It’s a great exhibit that I’m personally sad to see going, regardless of the fact that what is replacing it should be spectacular.

If you’re curious, every photo in this article was taken with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens, both of which can be purchased at Amazon. If you have any questions, or would like to share any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

We’re back!

First off, we are so sorry that DisneyPhotographyBlog has been down for so long!  Our site got hacked a couple of times over the summer and all of the previous content was lost!  It took a little bit longer than we hoped to get the blog back on its feet but we are finally here.

We are going to set up a regular posting schedule over the next couple of weeks to get articles back onto the site.  We have a LOT to cover.  Ryan made the swtich from Canon to Nikon to tell us all about, Cory recently came back from a trip to Disneyland, and we have tons of photos from the last 6 months to share with you!

How To’s Coming Soon!

With the site coming back online, we are committed to posting new articles on a timely basis.  We will be publishing some how-to articles in the coming weeks.