" Hollywood Studios "

What Happens When You Change Your F-Stop

Happy Monday everyone! For today’s post, we’re going to take a look at what happened when you adjust your aperture, or F-Stop. Understanding what this means is a crucial part of understanding photography, and knowing what situations to use certain apertures in can make the difference between nailing the shot and missing it.

That said, I have a composition from Hollywood Studios over in the Muppet area. I took the same shot roughly six times, starting at 1.8 and then moving up one full stop every shot, until I hit f/9. Check them out!













So, there are a few things to notice here. When you start at the lower numeric value, like 1.8, the corners are darker. This is called vignetting, and it happens the most at a lens’ most shallow aperture. Some people like that, others don’t. It’s really up to the artist whether to keep the natural vignette, or to correct it in software like Lightroom or Photoshop. The vignetting goes away the higher the f-stop number goes.

You’ll also notice that at f/1.8, the fellas in the boat are nice and sharp, but nothing else is. Using that works really well when doing portraits for a dramatic look, or when you are in low light and want to keep your ISO as low as possible. Once you get up to f/5.6 and higher, you start to see more things in focus and sharp across the entire range of the frame. For most landscape photos, you’ll want to do that to ensure sharpness. But, a higher aperture number will also require a slower shutter speed or bumping up your ISO, so be ready for that.

You may also notice, depending on the quality of the lens, that shooting with a lower f-stop number not only ensures sharpness on only certain parts of the photo, but you may see some softness due to the razor thin depth of field. Because of this, any time you are shooting stage shows or action, like Disney parades, that sacrificing some of that smooth bokeh may be worth it to get a sharp shot.

Hopefully reading about this can help you understand apertures a little bit better and improve your shots the next you are out in the field. The many variations on the Muppets were taken with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8, both of which can be purchased over at our Amazon store. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, thanks for reading!


Every Click Counts

When I first started to get into photography as an adult (I had dabbled a bit in High School, thanks to my friend Bill’s Canon EOS Rebel), I dove right in.  I listened to a lot of podcasts, read a lot of blogs, took lots of bad pictures, and looked at lots of really good ones on Flikr.  One of the posts that always sticks in my mind is this post here by photographer Scott Bourne.  Mr. Bourne was shooting the IZOD Indy Car World Championship in Las Vegas the day driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a fatal car crash.  About an hour before the wreck he had the chance to take a shot of Wheldon during introductions.  Mr. Bourne’s commentary on the photo are a bit too harsh for my liking, it isn’t a bad shot by any means and it does capture a moment of fun and happiness, which was kind of the point.  But Mr. Bourne’s message is 100% right on.  You never know when you are going to get a chance to capture an image again, so you need to seize the moment when it is there.

So why did I remember that post today?  On Wednesday evening – January 6th, 2016 – The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights turned off for the last time.  Unlike the tragic death of driver Dan Wheldon, the Disney community knew this date was coming.  It was rumored for the past couple of seasons and formally announced in September of 2015 that this would in fact be the final year.  The loss of this beloved attraction is a casualty of all the construction that will be going on at Disney Hollywood Studios for the new Star Wars Land (and if rumors are to be believed, license negotiation problems between the Osborne family and Disney).

I only got to personally experience this wonderful attraction once.  November 13th of 2011.  I had just gotten my Canon 60D, I maybe had for a little over a month. I didn’t have my MeFoto tripod yet (by the way, Amazon is running a sale and the tripod can be had for only $150 in selected colors which is 25% off).  So at the end of the day, none of the shots I have of the Osborne Lights are very good.  They’re amateurish.  Hell, I even noticed one in my catalog where the pop up flash accidentally fired (for shame!).  I wish I had Cory’s blog post on shooting the lights back then.  I never even found the cat – heck I didn’t even know there was a cat to be found the one time I was down there to shoot.  But these are the shots I took, so that’s all I have.


Thankfully there is the Disney Photography community.  Cory did a great post (as I mentioned before).  Mark Willard has been documenting the last few weeks with lots of great photos on Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram.  Kevin Davis and Ben Hendel have some great shots too – including dueling takes on Stitch hanging in a tire in the Osborne lights.  Ryan Pastorino posted a great shot from his recent trip to Walt Disney World too.  People were Periscoping the lights the last couple of weeks so I could experience it again – and there are many more great examples online.  So while we can’t go to Osborne Lights in person any more, we will always have the photos because we took them  They are our memories, and when our memories are insufficient we can seek out the images and memories of others to relive the experience of it.

When I was looking through my photo library for the two Osborne shots I posted above I found this one too (another shot that isn’t very good)……


The wreaths aren’t strung across Main Street anymore.  They had to go in order to accommodate the larger floats in the Festival of Fantasy parade.  Sure, losing the wreaths aren’t the same as the passing of Osborne Lights but like Mr. Bourne said – every click counts.  As photographers we capture a moment and it might be our last or only chance to get it – so make it count.

I know there have been a lot of other things that we’ve lost at Walt Disney World and Disneyland over the years.  I don’t have a single shot of Spectromagic and it kills me.  But there are great photos online and there are even videos of that great parade.  Our friends on the West Coast lost Big Thunder Ranch this week too.  Even worse the rains that are battering California right now washed out everyone’s plans to visit the area or eat at the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ one last time.

So what attractions, areas, rides, hotels have gone that you miss?  Hit the Read More button and leave a note in the comments section.

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.

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!

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!