" Animal Kingdom "

Looking up!

Thank you to everyone that responded to the poll last Friday!  We got a lot of great response and the votes will help shape our posts over the next few months.  A lot of people seem to want some Photoshop / Lightroom editing tips.  This isn’t necessarily my strength, but between Cory, Ryan, Ben, and Alan can be a great resources for this.  A few of the books that I have on my Weekend Reading Series cover Photoshop so I’ll make sure to pass along the things I learn.  We will keep the poll open for a while to collect additional feedback. Now, on to today’s post.

I really like taking pictures of animals, so taking pictures at Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World.  A lot of things are right in front of you, but you need to make sure you look up.   These crazy birds (I know I’m awful, I don’t know the species) make their nests upside down.  It was the craziest thing I ever did see and I was able to get a halfway decent shot of the bird.  I love that I got the wings extended and the background blurred out.  I was using a rented Canon 70-200 f/2.8 that day which certainly helped get the bokeh in the photo.

Someday I’ll get a good a shot of the tigers as Jeff Krause did here and someday I’ll get a shot of the gorilla as good as Ben Hendel did here.  It probably has to do with patience.  Just sitting in one spot along Pangani Exploration Trail or the Maharajah Jungle Trek and waiting for the animals to be in the right spot with the right light seems to be the key.  Someday I’ll develop that patience.

Sorry the post is so short today.  I have a lens review I’m working on for the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 in the works but I didn’t finish getting the photos pulled together yet.  Spoiler alert, the lens is awesome and if you like shooting wide then the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 is a great addition to your kit.

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.

Heads up, we should be having a post coming up from the West Coast very soon………



Ben mentioned on twitter that the gorilla picture mentioned above was taken with a 70-200 and a Tamron 2x Teleconverter.  That puts the lens to a 140-400mm lens.  Pretty far reach without dragging in a dedicated 400mm lens!   Has anyone else out there shot with a teleconverter?  I’ve never tried it, but it sounds like an interesting option.


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!

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!

Going for a swim

I had a much longer of post set up for today about using Lightroom’s Merge to Panorama tool, but then I left the photos at home and didn’t have access to them, doh!!!!!   So today’s article is going to be shorter than usual.  I’ll make sure I get the Panorama photos edited tonight and the post will go live on Friday.   Sorry!

The Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom is my favorite ride at Animal Kingdom.  Expedition Everest, Festival of the Lion King, and Finding Nemo are all great attractions but for the most part they are the same every time.  But each time I ride the Kilimanjaro Safari it is a new experience.  The animals are always in different places and doing different things. I remember one time that a rhino had come up so close to our ride vehicle that we had to stop for a long time to let him wander off rather than us drive off and possibly bump him.  The rhinoceros was so close to the vehicle that you could have reached out and touched it – though we were told repeatedly not to reach out of the vehicle.

The shot above was taken in 2010….back when I was shooting with my  first DSLR – a Canon 300D back in 2010.  I actually was able to capture the whole sequence of the elephant making a splash.  I saw him wind up, drop his trunk into the water, make the splash, and then follow through (but only have this image here on my laptop, sorry).

To get the best shots on the Kilimanjaro Safari set your camera up as follows……

  • Shutter Priority, typically 1/500th of a second.  The ride vehicle is very bumpy (except when the ride stops) and the animals are always moving around.
  • ISO 800 (or 400 if it is really bright outside).

Again, sorry for the short post – we’ll have something longer on Friday.

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