On the first evening of our Disneyland trip we had reservations at Carthay Circle Restaurant at 5:00 PM. After waiting till nearly 5:30 after checking in we approached the hostesses and without saying very much we were quickly taken up stairs. Much to our surprise the dining room was practically empty, seemingly to me that we had been forgotten! Anyway, the reason I tell this story is because now dinner was running behind schedule and the sky was looking like it would deliver an excellent sunset. I was able to finish my dinner in time to rush down and get some shots at Paradise Pier but it was really down to the wire. As a bonus for the mix-up we did receive reserved viewing in the Carthay Circle Restaurant area for World of Color, which I did really enjoy. I’m not really sure where I’m going with all of this other than to complain about the mix-up at the restaurant and have a story to go along with this sunset photo of Paradise Pier. Enjoy!
So here it is, my very first Disneyland photo. It almost doesn’t feel real to be posting my very own Disneyland shots. I have dreamt of going to Disneyland (literally sometimes) practically my entire life. The problem is that Disneyland is 2200 miles away. To most people this doesn’t seem like much of a problem with modern air travel being what it is. There’s a bit of a caveat for me however. I unfortunately have a lung condition that restricts my ability to fly. This of course meant my only option was making the 3-day drive (6-day round trip!)
Since I started photographing Walt Disney World back in 2010 I knew that one day I would have to find a way to make it to the original park Walt built, Disneyland. Work being what it is though I never had available or could take off the time that would be necessary to make the trip a reality. That is until April of this year when I quit my corporate job I had held for 11 years and started working as a contractor for an amazing company. Because of this change I now work from the comfort of my home every day or wherever my travels decide to take me. And so, the very first thing I did when I quit my old job was start planning to make my ultimate dream of visiting Disneyland a reality.
To be continued…
A bit about this shot though. Disneyland is quite cramped compared to Walt Disney World and not knowing my way around was a weird experience for me. It felt and looked like Disney, but I felt a bit lost. Fortunately, the wonderful Disneyland local photographer Gregg Cooper (no relation) met up with me on my 2nd day of shooting and gave me the VIP guided photo tour. I ended up getting some of my best shots this day so I think it goes without saying Gregg played a big part in me not totally noobing up the place. For this particular shot, I was actually sitting underneath Gregg’s tripod as he took a similar shot. Unlike Disney World, security DOES NOT play around and taking turns isn’t always possible. I’ll stop there as this is a subject I will be talking about in more depth in a future post. Until then, I hope you enjoy my first photo of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
I’m finally back from my lengthy trip to California that included visits to Saguaro National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park and of course Disneyland. This was a very special trip for me, visiting Disneyland being a lifelong dream of mine, but more on that and the trip later. Before I dive into those photos starting tomorrow I am sharing this Milky Way shot taken at Joshua Tree National Park. We were fortunate enough to have some connections to someone who lives by the park and we pulled a trailer out and stay in the park overnight, an absolutely incredible experience. This shot was taken just 5 minutes away from our camp site, near Arch Rock.
First of all, yes, I know she was technically a princess mermaid… my title stands. OK, now that that’s out of the way I want to talk a little about the post processing that went into this photo. For this shot, there was a purple stage light creating an odd cast along the left side of Ariel changing the color of her skin and the color of her hair along the left part as well. To a lesser extent this affected Prince Eric’s face. I did a complete color correction of these affected areas, 15 layer adjustments in all. Additionally, the “sky” in the original was pure blue and Sebastian was looking off to the side. In a photo taken a few seconds prior to this one Sebastian was looking straight on and the sky had a more interesting color gradient but Ariel’s eyes were closed and she was looking away. I used this photo to mask in the better sky and Sebastian to create what I felt was the perfect capture moment for all aspects of the scene. Anyway, that’s a lot to say for a seemingly simple shot but I’ve found with Disney that sometimes the simplest shots are the ones I end up putting the most work into to make them stand out.
Every trip I take 100s of dark ride photos and then proceed to edit 2-3 and that’s all I share. That seems kind of dumb because I have lots of great dark ride photos. I guess I tend to ignore them as many don’t have the wow factor that other shots do. I’m going back now though and editing some of my favorites to share. Here’s one from the very tough to shoot Peter Pan’s Flight.
Not much to say about today’s shot of Cinderella Castle other than I really enjoy the color reflections on the ground you get during this color scheme. All blue is still my absolute favorite but it seems that configuration lasts the shortest.
Honestly, I debated back and forth about even releasing this photo. It’s ultimately a picture of nothing as I’m way to wide to really show anything other than the sky. This was taken 2 days before Hurricane Matthew right after one of its bands had come through with a torrential down pour. I was out shooting this evening some media for the Swan & Dolphin resort when the band of rain hit. It was so hard I had to seek shelter and the closest spot from where I was shooting was under the overhang at JellyRolls. After the rain broke I was presented with this wonderful color and so before proceeding back to the Swan & Dolphin (You can see some more of the awesome sunset in photos I took for them on their Facebook page. You’ll know it when you see it.) Now you may be wondering why I didn’t just switch to another lens so I could zoom a bit more… and that’s a good question. The reason being the humidity was so bad that I simply couldn’t switch lenses. The back of the lens would fog almost immediately after wiping it. This was basically the same for the front of the lens except it was exposed so I could continually wipe it between shots. I still ended up needing to do a bit of haze correction as it was just terrible. Anyway, this is a stitch of two images and I decided to share it only because of how much I love the color contrast between the two sides. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
All this hot weather has me missing fall in the Smokies. Can’t wait for it to be back! This was taken just off the road of the main road running through the park.
Today’s shot is another shot with the Nikon 35 1.4. In addition to the tighter view I get with this lens I love just how natural the scenes look with this lens. Per usual, the main difficulty with any shot that contains neon, is blending the neon correctly from an underexposure. It’s tough to get right, and very easy to do wrong. When you get it right though it helps completely sell the image. Finally, I decided to shoot off the road and use the curve of it to give a path for your eyes to follow through the frame.
On my most recent trip I rented the Nikon 35 1.4 for dark ride shooting but ended up using it quite a bit as my walk around lens too. As a result, I ended up with some tighter shots than trips previous. I do enjoy that the tighter shots allow you to get a somewhat closer look at some of the details. Plus, the prime lens is ridiculously sharp, even more so than the wonderfully sharp Nikon 14-24 2.8 I shoot with so often.