" February 2016 "

Low Angles at Epcot

Happy Monday! Let me apologize up front for the lack of good text in this post. With the Super Bowl happening over the weekend, there wasn’t a ton of time. But, I wanted to make sure to put something up here to kick off the week!

Sometimes, when I go to the park, I select a theme for my shooting. Sometimes it will be including sunbursts into the photo, sometimes it will be shooting only wide open, and so on and so forth. Over the weekend, when I was in Epcot, I decided to try to capture a bunch of shots where I took a lower angle. Many times, this included adding elements like flowers into the foreground, or also getting into slightly uncomfortable positions where people would look at me oddly.

Well, here are a few of the shots I came away with:

For this one, I got into the bushes to add the layer of green into the foreground.

For this one, I got into the bushes to add the layer of green into the foreground.

I uncomfortably leaned over the stair rail in Japan to capture this leading line to the Torii Gate.

I uncomfortably leaned over the stair rail in Japan to capture this leading line to the Torii Gate.

This one was less awkward than the first two, but I love the flowers in the American Adventure here.

This one was less awkward than the first two, but I love the flowers in the American Adventure here.

Getting low for this angle didn't incorporate any elements or lines, but it allowed me to get the entire building for Mission: Space into the background.

Getting low for this angle didn’t incorporate any elements or lines, but it allowed me to get the entire building for Mission: Space into the background.

Well, that does it for today’s article. Have you ever done a themed day with your compositions or settings in the parks? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

For those curious, everything in this article was photographed with the Sony a7 and the Sony FE 28mm f/2 lens, both of which are available over at our Amazon link, which if you click and then purchase something helps us maintain the site at no extra cost to you! Thanks for reading!

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Editor’s Note:

Hello Disney Photography Blog fans………a few weeks ago, I asked if any of our readers wanted to contribute an article and I got a couple of responses.  Today’s post is the first article from reader Mark Giglio about photographing Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I want to thank Mark for taking the time to write this article for us and I love the perspective he brings.  We often head back to the Disney Parks to try and get a shot that we’ve been working on over multiple trips and this is a story just like that.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge first opened in April 2001 and from my first visit in 2003 I’ve held the belief that it is one of, if not the most, visually impressive resorts on property.  The thatched roof lodge is decorated in wood and earth tones and has a vast six story lobby with a glass walled centerpiece.

Like many things at Disney the Animal Kingdom Lodge is spectacular, but incredibly difficult to photograph.  A combination of factors lead to this common conundrum: grandness of scale, populated areas, and limited photographic angles.  I got my first DLSR in 2007, just 22 days before going to Disney with my family, and perhaps Disney was that extra motivation to pull the trigger on a DSLR with a college student’s budget.  While I didn’t stay at the lodge in 2007, dinning at Boma provides a great excuse to walk around the grounds and take a few pictures.

The first thing you see when you walk into the lobby is the floor to ceiling glass wall covered in vines, and capturing an image of that has been my goal.  The very first image I captured of this wall was from inside looking out and featured the ostrich lights.  Unfortunately patience and care was not with me (and probably still isn’t).  I didn’t wait for the staircase to be clear, and I wasn’t standing centered.  There is also a giant bright eyesore in the bottom left corner that instantly draws your eye to it.



There are some merits to this photograph, which make me want go back to get a better version.  First the single tall tree in the middle is a nice visual element.  Secondly the multiple reflections of the Ostridge lights intrigue me.  And last is the time of day, the lighting inside and out are nicely balanced.  Next visit I’ll probably use a wider angle lens to provide some gap between the center tree and the lights while simultaneously capturing more the wall.  As always a good tripod and some careful framing would help substantially.

My first outdoor shot focuses on the Christmas tree (but chops the top off) and shows a narrow portion of the wall.  Both of these attempts were with at 50mm f1.4 at 1.6 and 1.4 respectively, shot handheld at ISO 1600.  The narrow depth of field is apparent, and ISO 1600 shows the limit of earlier cameras, both in terms of noise and dynamic range.


My next try at photographing the feature wall of the lodge came in 2014, this time armed with a tripod and wide angle lens I tried to capture the grandness of the whole wall, producing the photograph below.  I must have walked around for 10 minutes trying different angles, trying not to chop the tree, lights and chandeliers too much.  I’m quite pleased with this shot, a notable improvement over the last two.


My latest attempt, again thanks to a Boma reservation, came in 2015.    That’s the photo at the top of the post.  This time I was more conscious about the balance of outdoor light to indoor light, and I wanted to capture even more of the lodge.  The last photo is my personal favorite.  Is it perfect, well no, but I like the wider capture, the fact there is details in the clouds and shadows and the slightly off center framing.

One of the wonderful things about being in a Disney family is that you get to go back to the places you love, often times getting many opportunities to get a photograph just right.  The other side to that is Disney often changes things giving us new opportunities.  Do you have any places you’ve photographed multiple times, or are they any places you wish you had another chance to photograph before Disney upgraded an area?


Editor’s Note:

Thanks again Mark for the great post.  Everyone, please consider leaving a comment below (you have to hit Read More) to bring up the comment link.  Also, if you are going to be ordering from Amazon.com anyway, please consider following this link.  It doesn’t cost you anything but we earn a very small commission and it helps support the site.

Portraits at Animal Kingdom at 50mm

Happy Monday! For today’s post, I’d like to share a few shots that I took over the weekend at Animal Kingdom. The common idea is that in order to take successful photos at Animal Kingdom, you need a 70-200mm lens or a 300mm prime lens. Truth be told, for some shots, you do need that. But not for all of them. The longest lens I own for my camera at the moment is 55mm. That falls very much into the ‘normal’ focal length on a full frame camera. But, I was out at the park, and I snapped a few animal photos with said 55mm lens and I’d like to share them here today.


There were quite a few of this guys buddies in the same area as him, but they didn’t have that awesome pink beak. So, I got down low to the ground and snapped away.


For this shot of the Komodo Dragon, I did crop a very slight bit. But, with today’s camera sensors, that really doesn’t hurt you too much. I also intentionally framed this one with the foliage wrapping around the animal, which wouldn’t have been possible if I was shooting this at 200mm, as all that would be in frame would be Komodo Dragon itself.


The tigers on the Marajahah Jungle Trek are the main attraction there. So, there were a bunch of people taking photos of this guy along with me. At this point, it’s a good idea to ask yourself how you can make your shot different from theirs. The tiger was, a few moments before this shot staring and looking at the area where all the guests were. That was when most people were taking their photo. I decided to wait and see what the tiger did next, which was walk along this little carved out path, which (to me, at least) conveys a sense of motion and direction in the shot. Not the best shot I’ve ever taken, but it at least made things a little different.


These beautiful blue birds were out at the end of the Jungle Trek, and were actually blocking the exit which caused a traffic jam of people. Again, I got down very low to the ground and fired away. This was another opportunity to use the 55mm, because since the birds were kind of close to me, the minimum focusing distance on a lens like a 70-200mm would have hurt me and made it harder to capture the shot that I wanted.

So, there you have it. A little bit of compositional thought, and a little bit of different perspective on shooting inside Animal Kingdom. I’ve owned many 70-200mm and 70-300mm and 135mm lenses before. They take great photos and you do get the extra reach for some of the really far away subjects. But, it can be quite liberating to talk through the park with a light 50mm lens attached to your camera. In many circumstances as well, the 50mm is a fraction of the cost of a 70-200mm lens!

Everything in this article was shot with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens, both of which are available through Amazon. How do you all feel about it? We’d love to see your comments down below. Thanks for reading!