The evening before we left Walt Disney World early to avoid Hurricane Matthew we were already starting to get some occasional bands of strong storms. This one came through with very strong rain and I feared it would not clear in time for sunset. Fortunately, it did and just before sunset really began I took this shot with the Boardwalk nice and soaked from the rain. I really love the look of the planks with the water and even more the contrast of the clear sky on the left and the clouds on the right from the storm that had just pushed through. Even better they were starting to break up and I got a little bit of golden light on the right. It actually turned out to be quite an epic sunset, but more on those photos later.
After a decent sunset from Waterrock Knob (pictures to come), I decided to wait around a bit to see how visible the Milky Way would be. I was really winging it this trip so no real planning. The sky was very clear, it was quite cold and the wind was blowing like crazy. And while it’s nothing like the Milky Way views in the mid-west I was very pleased with what I was able to see and capture.
With new lighting on Cinderella Castle (so I am told) comes new color schemes as well. This one in particular is very cool looking and I really like the way it reflects on the ground as well. I am curious if some of these will stick around all year round or if they are only for the fall season. I mainly ask this because if so we will never get to see these color schemes without the inactive dreamlights wrapped on the Castle. They do a good job of letting them blend into the castle when not turned on but you can really see them in photos. If only they could put them up faster, then they could put them up in the week between the end of MNSHP and MVMCP.
Spruce Flats Falls located in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The trail to the falls is only a mile but still strenuous to reach. As we arrived at the falls it quickly became cloudy and the skies opened up on us for about an hour. This turned out to be in our best interest as the falls really came to life after the heavy rainfall. The current drought has really lowered the water levels and has had an obvious effect on the rivers and falls in the area.
This shot really requires a lot of patience. Shooting directly at the exit and wanting a people free image means you are going to have to wait a while. Still, it is a rarer shot so I think it is worth it. I got the bonus here of the plane trails coming out of Mickey’s hand. Normally I would remove such stuff but the placement was too good to remove. Once again I used the Nikon 35 1.4 to get a tighter more natural view.
I am taking a big detour for today’s shot away from Walt Disney World and into the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I have a deep love for this time of year when all the leaves start changing colors. Somehow, though I have never been able to visit the Smokies during peak fall color, that is, until this year. It really took my love for autumn to an entirely different level with all the beauty on display along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park itself. I will be sharing a few of my favorites from the trip in the coming days and weeks intermixed with continuing Disney content. I took this shot from the Waterrock Knob overlook, which is along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The sun had just set below the horizon and I wanted to take a stab at my first car trails shot. The autumn colors are on full display in the mountains and the orange color the sky took on really complimented the beautiful fall colors.
This is another shot I have done previously but always with my Nikon 14-24 2.8 at F2.8. Since I had the Nikon 35 1.4 for this trip I had to give it another go for two reasons. First of course is that bokeh at 1.4 and second the 35mm field of view that brings Spaceship Earth a little closer and makes it appear larger in the frame. I used my Grizzly Camera Medium Bean-Bag to get the camera slightly off the ground and get just the right angle so that I could get the entirety of Spaceship Earth in frame. I shot a couple frames at F1.4 to get the bokeh and then shot another series at F8 focusing on the background. I blended these two shots together so in the foreground, I have the cool looking bokeh of the fiber optic lights at F1.4 and the background is tack sharp from the shot at F8. I don’t know about you but now I think I want some lemonade.
Usually I shoot a shot at a regular height or I will try to get low for it. This actually seems to be the trend in general for Disney Photography. Something I never see though is someone trying to go much higher with a shot. So I decided I would try it for this shot. I put my tripod on the planter ledge around partners and fully extended the legs and center column. I put the legs close together to get a little extra height. At 6’4 I was just able to press the live view button so I could frame up the shot. I had to set all the settings in advance and then triggered it with my remote. It would have been even more awesome with 2-3 more feet of height but I really like the vantage point I got from going high with this shot.
While everyone was complaining about the rain during the afternoon, I was very excited at the possibility of nighttime puddle photography. Unfortunately, many of the nicer puddles dried up but there were still some for me to dive in to once the park closed. On past trips, I have just put my camera directly on the ground and even directly into puddles when necessary. I decided it might be a good idea instead to get a good beanbag to use to support my camera slightly off the ground. This was a good decision not only to get my camera out of puddles but it gave me a bit more flexibility with composition. For those interested I opted for the Grizzly Camera Medium Bean-Bag. I started out trying this shot with the Nikon 35 1.4 but the framing was too tight and was not working well with the puddle. I quickly switched to the tried and true Nikon 14-24 2.8, which really helped getting a frame to showcase the puddle.
Today’s shot is another one with the Nikon 35 1.4. Again, it gives me a tighter view that I think offers a nice look down Sunset Boulevard. You will notice a few stragglers at the end of the boulevard. Interestingly this was after the park had closed but before Fantasmic had let out. I was able to get some shooting done here soon after park close, which has not been the case in the past for me. I am not sure if this is a regular occurrence now with scheduling or if I just lucked out. I will take it either way.