" December 2015 "

2016 New Year’s Resolutions Part II

I loved Cory’s post from Monday talking about resolutions for 2016.  I make photography related resolutions each year but this is a good opportunity to put the resolutions out on the internet so I can be held accountable.


I’m scheduled to write the Disney Photography Blog posts each Wednesday (so you can know which days to skip, ha ha ha).  I have a ton of article ideas in my head, but I just need to make sure I take the time to write them down.  This post is going live on the 30th, but I actually wrote this about 30 minutes after reading Cory’s article.  I need to make sure I work on these articles early enough so I have a good, quality post each Wednesday morning.


I haven’t read a lot of photography books, but I discovered something the other day.  My local library – which has a branch less than a mile from my house – has an incredible selection of photography books.  I’m going to make use of this great, free service in 2016.  I’m going to try reading a book each month of 2016.  I’ll probably write up a review of the books that I read here on the blog (look at that, I can kill two resolutions in one).


I have only one trip scheduled to WDW in 2016.  Like last year, I’ll be in the parks over Spring Break – which for me this year is the last week of March / first weekend of April.  I’ll be cramming a lot of stuff into that trip.  We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve closed down the Magic Kingdom twice now, but on this trip I’d like to close down EPCOT one night so I can get some late night / empty park shots of the country pavilions.  And since I’ll be at EPCOT before it closes, I’d like to take another shot at shooting Illuminations.  The only time I ever did that was at PhotoMagic 2013 (picture above) and I would like another crack at it.  There are tons of great locations to shoot the fireworks in EPCOT.

There’s no way we aren’t going to see Wishes on that trip, but I would like to try shooting Wishes from a non-traditional location.  I have shots from dead center on Main Street (taken from the hump).  I’d like to try shooting from either the far end of Main Street, or from the back of the castle, or over Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.   There are a lot of great shots out there on Flickr and Instagram for inspiration.  I’ll be doing a lot of research there.

I know Ben is going to be doing a tutorial on Star Trails photography soon, so I’ll probably try doing a Star Trails shot on this trip.  So I have that to look forward to.

Since I’m not a local and I only have one trip planned for 2016, I need to take the camera out and do more shooting at home to practice both before and after the trip.


I printed a lot in 2015, but I want to do even more in 2016.  I wanted to do a calendar of shots for different family members as a Christmas gift but I didn’t get it done in time.  My WDW trip will be over in April, so that means I have 6 months to put the calendar together for 2017.  I’d also like to try printing with Fractureme.com .  I also want to do a large format metal print at AdoramaPix.com.  I’m going to watch for a sale and then jump all over it.


This is really a summation of the previous four resolutions.  It’s going to take discipline to stay on top of the writing.  It’s going to take discipline to stay on top of reading a new photography book each month.  It’s going to take discipline to get the shots done I want over that Spring Break trip.  The discipline to get up at Sunrise for great lighting.  The discipline to set up for a blue hour shot in the parks or staying late to get those empty park shots while closing the park down.  It’s going to take discipline to get the print jobs I want accomplished.  I can’t say I’ve always been good on the discipline part, but I’m going to try very hard to stay on top of all four.

Stretch Goal

There’s a chance my day job will be sending me back to China in 2016.  Getting to see Shanghai Disneyland would be a dream come true if that business trip happens.


We still would love to hear your resolutions in the comments section.  Click the Read More button to leave a comment.

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2016 New Year’s Resolutions

2015 is coming to a close this week, and I know that I have made some goals/resolutions for 2016 when it comes to photography, much like many of you have, I’m sure. I wanted to share them with all of you today, and I encourage you to share yours in the comments below. If you aren’t interested in my resolutions, there are at least some pretty pictures!


Shoot more.

I think I say this every single year, but 2015 was a down year for me when it came to how much I actually got out to take photos. Especially when it comes to shooting during sunset and nighttime hours. I spent a lot of time out with a camera in the morning and early afternoon, but barely any time after that.


Share more.

We have been sharing a lot of Instagram this year, but the site went down for a while, and we weren’t very consistent with our posting schedules, and also posting quality articles. I think that that staying in the groove of posting and writing will help keep me shooting more (1st resolution), and I think will help in general.



All photo play on word jokes aside, I think that one of the reasons this past year wasn’t my best when it came to taking photos was a lack of focus. I write a weekly WDW news column, which keeps me going to the parks every single week. I try to add some artistic photos along with the news items to help keep the column interesting, but I would also find myself having those few hours as the only time I would spend in the parks with a camera. Trying to mix capturing what needs to be captured for a news column and also being purely artistic isn’t the best recipe. Again, if I follow my 1st resolution and shoot more, I should have that time in which to do so. But it’s more than just that. Taking a million and one photos of Cinderella Castle from the bridge in Liberty Square isn’t going to help. I want to focus on new compositions, new angles, new techniques. Those are the things that will actually allow for improvement.




Lastly, I want to read more about photography in 2016. I want to stay in touch with what is happening the world of photography, and also read books and ebooks. I want to read on composition, and lighting, and Photoshop. Whatever I find interesting. I just think that gathering knowledge will help tremendously. You might be reading about portraiture and find a tip or trick that you can find useful in another area of your photography. So, I don’t want to short change myself in that department.

Well, that just about does it for my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Do you have any? We would love to hear what you have to think in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas

Hey there Disney Photography Blog readers!  Merry Christmas!  We hope you all had a great time with friends and family.

Did anyone end up with anything photography related under the Christmas tree?

I gave prints out of this picture to my wife, stepdaughter and stepson.  We did a family Spring break trip back in May so I made a print of the photo below at Adorama Pix.  They turned out great (like always) and were a big hit.  Make sure you check out our earlier post on printing if you need any tips.  I really wanted to do a calendar this year for people but I didn’t get a chance to finish it off in time.  My wife, daughter, and I are going back to the park for Spring Break 2016 and the plan is to definitely get some pictures for a 2017 calendar.  I just need to make sure I get it done in time.  😉




Under the tree for me was an Altura  Camera Cleaning kit – cleaning swabs (both dry and wet), microfiber towels, a lens cleaning brush, a lens cleaning pen, and a blower – all in a nice little case that can go in my bag.  I always keep a cleaning kit in my bag.  You get rain spots, dust, and other dirt on your lenses and you never know when you need a spot cleaning.  I know there are tools available for cleaning the sensor myself, but I definitely don’t trust myself to do that with my camera.

But having a cleaning kit is no exception for getting your lenses cleaned professionally.  I always take my lenses in to the local camera shop (I’m blessed living near Chicago where there are still good camera shops nearby).  A lens usually costs $30 – $40 to clean at the shop I go in to.  Occasionally they run a Groupon or other coupon for 1/2 off.  When they do that I make sure I take everything in.

So, did anyone out there get anything under the tree?  A new camera body?  A new camera lens?  A tripod perhaps?   Leave a comment below and let us know.

Thanks again for coming back to the website after our far too long absence.  We have a lot planned for 2016 and can’t wait to show it all to you.  If you are shopping at Amazon, please consider following this link, it doesn’t cost you anything but it helps us with a very small commission.

Dealing With the Crowds

If you have ever visited the Walt Disney World Resort during the week of Christmas and the New Year, you know what extreme theme park crowds feel like. But, sometimes, that is the only time to go for some, or it is the only time to see certain things, like the Christmas parade during the daytime. While it might seem like a wash to take photos while dealing with said crowds, it is most definitely possible, and I experienced it first hand while touring through Animal Kingdom this weekend. I’d like to share a few tips to not get too stressed in today’s post.

Think Small

In many cases during these busy times, forgetting the wide angle lens can be a good idea. Obviously, there are still some great shots you can get incorporating crowds, but in my experience, most wide shots during super busy times end up in my archives.


Every photo in this article is shot with a 28mm lens, but with a lens like that, you have the ability to get up close to your subjects. Shooting with a small prime lens and just your camera is also a nice way to deal with the crowds, since you would not have to deal with people constantly bumping into your bag. There are lots and lots of details in the parks, and busy times are a great time to capture them.



Look up!

When at Disney, there are things all around you. Up, down, left, right, everywhere. Sad thing about when it’s busy is that many of the things that are down, left, and right are obstructed by hundreds and thousands of people. But, looking up will yield you some success, because all of those people sharing the park with you in most cases cannot block that view. Take these great holiday decorations for example. They are probably close to 8 feet above the ground, and make for a pretty cool shot. I was surrounded by people when taking it, but you wouldn’t be able to know!


Find the Photo Spot

There are many creative ways to get around shooting when crowded, but at the same time, many of the postcard type shots at WDW are ones that crowds cannot get in the way of, like Cinderella Castle with the moat leading up to it, or the monorail running past the Imagination pavilion. The Tree of Life is no different. Walk all the way up to the railing and take your shot! It might not be the most original, but you can still get something you can take home with you and share with friends and family.


Hopefully this information helps the next time you take a trip to the parks and are anticipating the 90 minute waits for E-Tickets but still want to get a few photos in.

For those curious, everything taken in the post was with the Sony a7 and the Sony FE 28mm f/2, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!