" Rokinon 14mm "

Monorail Monday Sunset

Happy Monday everyone! For today’s post, I’d like to go through the steps I took to capture this photo over the weekend:

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Everyone loves an epic monorail shot. This one was actually the second photo I had taken of this monorail passing by. The first one was on the other side of the walkway facing the Odyssey building and the Test Track building. I completely botched that one, but as soon as I snapped it, I played Disney Frogger and evaded a bunch of people making their way through this part of the park to also capture the monorail coming through past this beautiful Flower and Garden Festival bed and the Imagination pavilion.

So, let’s talk settings. I knew that it was a pretty nice sunset, so I wanted to capture the colors in the sky. The water wasn’t as important, so I actually dialed down my exposure compensation to a -1. This made the edit on the computer a little more complicated, but it got me the oranges and yellows, so I was ok with it. I was in Manual mode, and had set my shutter speed to 1/320, my aperture at f/4, and my ISO to Auto. Since I would be running across the walkway, I really wouldn’t have time to set up everything and figure out the ISO on my own, so I elected to use the Auto ISO. With those settings, my camera decided to give me an ISO of 800.

Once getting home and seeing the shot on the computer, it was pretty underexposed. But, the colors were there, and the last bit of sunlight for the day was kissing the monorail, so I was happy. I warmed up the White Balance a tiny bit, and then did my normal editing process, which includes toning down the highlights a tad, lifting shadows, adding some contrast and saturation, and then sharpening. On a normal daytime image (and even some nighttime ones), that does the trick. But with this one, there were some other complications. The water area was essentially black. So, in Lightroom, I clicked on the little brush in the Develop module, and set my brush to be +1.20 on the Exposure dial, and I proceeded to brush the whole bottom of the photo. I got what you see in the finished result, but from pushing the sensor that way, there was some noise, so I also added some Noise Reduction, but only to the area that had already been brushed.

I also thought the sky could use a little bit more punch, so I created a second brush, boosted the saturation to about +35, and then brushed the entire sky.

At that point, you have the image seen here. Sunset images do tend to take a little more work to get going, but once you arrive at a point you like, they are rather satisfying. Have you ever shot the monorail, or anywhere at WDW at sunset? What tips do you have for everyone? Please let us know in the comments below.

For those curious, this was shot with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens, both of which can be purchased at our Amazon store, along with anything else you may need for your daily life. Anything you purchase after clicking the link helps keep the site alive, at no cost to you! Thanks for reading!

2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Preview

Happy Monday! We are only a little more than a week away from the 2016 Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, and preparation is well underway at the park. Many of the flowers and topiaries are already installed, and I wanted to share a few photos of them with all of you today that I shot over the weekend.

The flower beds are installed, and monorail reflections frame them wonderfully.

The flower beds are installed, and monorail reflections frame them wonderfully.

The classic monorail shot from the other side of Future World.

The classic monorail shot from the other side of Future World.

Anna and Elsa have moved from the center of the park to Norway, which makes sense, as their ride and meet and greet open later this year in that location.

Anna and Elsa have moved from the center of the park to Norway, which makes sense, as their ride and meet and greet open later this year in that location.

They'll be replaced by a Ranger Mickey topiary in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service!

They’ll be replaced by a Ranger Mickey topiary in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service!

The festival is a great chance to get lots of colors in your photos and make some pretty great compositions.

The festival is a great chance to get lots of colors in your photos and make some pretty great compositions.

Captain Hook and Pan are back in the UK again this year.

Captain Hook and Pan are back in the UK again this year.

There is nothing quite like a monorail shot. Add all these flowers and color and it really is the best time of the year at Epcot.

There is nothing quite like a monorail shot. Add all these flowers and color and it really is the best time of the year at Epcot.

We’ll be sharing plenty of photos as the festival officially starts as well as some tutorials on ways to capture it best, so definitely make sure to keep an eye out for that. Are you excited to photograph Epcot in bloom? What’s your favorite lens for Flower and Garden Festival? Let us know in the comments!!

For those curious, these were all shot with the Sony a7 and either the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 or Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lenses, both of which are available at our Amazon store. If you need anything from Amazon, clicking the link helps us keep the site running, at no extra cost to you! Thanks for reading!

Using the Rule of Thirds

Happy Monday everyone! For today’s post, I wanted to share a simple compositional technique that can help your photos very quickly and very easily.

The technique is called the Rule of Thirds. Basically, what it means is you take your photo and draw a tic tac toe board over top of it. That means two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, each one of them either one third across or one third up or down the frame. Once that is done, there are 4 points where the lines intersect. The whole idea is to place your subject right on one of those four points. By doing this, your image can have more kinetic energy and appears more dynamic than simply placing the subject in the center. Take this shot of the Little Mermaid ride at Magic Kingdom for example.

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This photo has a lot going on that you want. There are nice clouds and a blue sky, good lighting touching the building and a nice little amount of warmth. But, when you look at it and Prince Eric’s castle is in the center, it feels stagnant and like it isn’t going anywhere. But, by changing your focus point and adjust your camera ever so slightly, you get this.

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Now, we have a photo that has some motion. By moving the subject out of the center just that little bit, we are also able to incorporate more foliage into the top left hand corner of the shot, which creates some additional framing for the castle itself.

Now, am I saying it is incorrect to place the subject of your photos in the center of the frame? Absolutely not. I could show you thousands of photos that break this ‘rule’ that are stunning and interesting and work perfectly fine. But, thinking with that grid over your photo is an easy way to always be thinking about your compositions and what they mean. Most cameras now a days (iPhones included) even have a grid built into either the LCD or the viewfinder, so you place your subject very easily.

Hopefully this little tip will help a bunch of you while out in the field creating some images. If you’re curious as to the equipment used, these were shot with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens, both of which can be purchased through our Amazon store, along with any of your other needs. Thanks for reading!

Late Afternoon Magic Kingdom Photo Spots

Happy Monday! For today’s post, I wanted to share some great photo spots with you. Now, these spots are all great places to take photos at, but they are particularly nice when the sun is starting to set for the day and the warm light of the late afternoon creates an awesome glow. Let’s go!

Rivers of America

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If any of you know me, you’ll know that Rivers of America is one of my favorite spots for photography period, but, there is a certain type of magic once the light starts to get low for the day. To achieve maximum warm colors, shooting from over near Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will set you up for success, as the sun will be coming from behind where you are standing.

Tangled Tower

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Walt Disney World’s most decorated restroom area looks particularly nice during the late afternoon, plus there are these nice trees in which you can frame your shot. This one was taken at 55mm from over on the walkway near Columbia Harbor House, next to the Memento Mori gift shop.

it’s a small world

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The face for it’s a small world is relatively high off of the ground, which means that it won’t get too heavy of shadows from any of the buildings around it. Plus, when the sun hits all the colors on the building, they really pop off of the screen. Since the top of the building is the more interesting part, you also don’t have to worry about people walking in front of your shot!

Cinderella Castle

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This shot is a must do for the vast majority of WDW visitors. But, it looks even better once that golden light is lightly touching the castle. This is from the Liberty Square side of the castle, as shooting from the Tomorrowland side would mean shooting straight into the sun. That isn’t a bad idea for a shot either, but for the purposes of capturing the golden light, you’ll want to shoot it from this angle. This shot can be a tiny bit difficult, though. With the sun setting, the entire area underneath the castle can be covered in shadow when you expose properly for the castle. So, you’ll have to work some magic in Lightroom to level everything out.

Main Street USA

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Back when I used to vacation at Walt Disney World before moving to Florida, I would almost never be on Main Street USA during the early evening hours. That time would be reserved for dinner, taking photos, or riding attractions. But, Main Street USA is absolutely beautiful as the sun sets. Some of my favorite shots I’ve taken of this area of the park have come from while walking out of the park to head home for dinner and seeing the golden light touching the castle and the Main Street USA buildings. Seeing Main Street drenched in golden light with a castle at the end hits a nostalgic note for many people, as it would remind them of their own vacations, or looking at brochures or photo souvenirs before or after their vacations.

I hope you all enjoy seeing some of my favorite places to shoot in the park. Now, that was just 5 spots, and there are definitely a whole lot more that are awesome when the light starts getting nice. Which are your favorite? We would love for you to share them in the comments below.

For those curious, everything in this article was shot with the Sony a7 and either the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 or the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lenses, all of which can be purchased through our Amazon link, which helps us run the site at no additional cost to you. Thanks for reading!