Home Tutorial Cinderella Castle Reflects on Wishes Process + Before and Afters

Cinderella Castle Reflects on Wishes Process + Before and Afters

by Matthew Cooper

I had a request to show some before and after shots to show just how far I take my photo processing.  This has been one of my most popular recent photos and I got quite a few questions about how I managed to pull it off.  While I’ll save the processing details  for another post let me show some details about how I did this shot and the before and after.
I camped out about 45-50 minutes before Wishes to get this spot.  I shot my  Nikon D800 with 24-70 2.8 using a B+W 1.8x ND Filter.  You can click any of the items to take you to Amazon to purchase.  I first shot the fireworks making very sure the tripod wasn’t moved during or after the pictures.  I did not recompose throughout the show.  The fireworks for this shot was a 73 second exposure which I believe covered most of the Villains portion of the show.  This gave me the following shot straight out of camera:


Once the fireworks were over I then took a 5 shot bracket to capture the scene itself.  The shot below is the straight out of camera of my +-0EV shot.

 Cinderella Castle Reflects on Wishes Before2

I edited my 5 images in Lightroom and then blended them using Photomatix.  I adjusted my sliders to taste which then gave me the following base image to begin working with in Photoshop.

I then blended my base shot and my fireworks shot (which I have at this point edited in Lightroom) which gave me the following:


As you can see it’s starting to take shape but there is still alot of work to be done.  There are issues with blending, reflections, edges that need to be cleaned up to make the blend more believable.  Once I have fixed those and the image looks clean I begin working on color balance, levels, curves, etc.  The details of that is far outside of the scope of this post but everything that gets me from the image above to the final image is done via layer adjustments.  All of these give me my final image.

Cinderella Castle Reflects on Wishes

I’d love to hear what you think of this post.  Please feel free to leave feedback below or on my Facebook Page.

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Santiago May 17, 2013 - 1:40 pm

Loving this mini tutorials! Hope you can post more of this so we can learn some of your technique.Congrats on all of the pics! they are really something and your postprocessing is your signature 🙂


Scott Baxter May 18, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Nice work! This required patience! I’ve found THAT to be the single most important accessory to bring when shooting in the parks. I’ve thought of doing similar shots myself but hadn’t gotten around to trying it; I even thought of including a shot from the castle show (whatever they call the replacement for “The Magic, the Memories, and You”). But I think that would require more masking, as combining layers in Lighten mode wouldn’t work quite as well for the castle itself because then you’d have conflict between the brightness levels in the show versus those of the castle’s “normal” lighting.

Scott Baxter June 16, 2013 - 2:08 pm

Wanted to add that the one thing I might do differently is to allow the foreground grass, trees, and such to go a bit darker, closer to how they’re seen in the “nominal” exposure you showed above. But that’s just me …


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