While not originally on the itinerary when we realized we’d be stopping in Tucson for the night on the drive out to California we decided to check out Saguaro National Park briefly. The size of the cactus here is impressive. It’s an interesting park too because the entire thing is split in two by the city of Tucson. With that in mind we just randomly picked one of the entrances and went driving around in the park for a bit. Though we were only here for about an hour or so we did manage to find some spots for good photo ops. For this shot my friend (IG: @jourdanlaik) helped by light painting the cactus while I took the shot. We experimented with this for a bit and this one I felt came out best with a nice subtle illumination to the cactus vs a non-illuminated shot I did.
When Disney announced the seasonal overlay coming to Cars Land I think I may have been the only one who let out a long Darth Vader “Noooooooooooo!” Cars Land was one of the things I was looking most forward to for my first visit to Disneyland (and it was great) but I would have really liked to photograph it completely unadulterated with any sort of layover.
Regardless it’s hard to be disappointed with the result. The neon is gorgeous in person and looks magnificent photographed as well. I was especially drawn to the colors of Flo’s V8 Café. The land is really fantastic and the scale of Radiator Race Springs is impressive. I’m not even a Cars fan but seeing how this turned out has me excited for what they do with Star Wars land.
Let’s get it out of the way and I’ll go ahead and state categorically the Disneyland Tea Cup’s are far superior to the Walt Disney World Tea Cups. The outside view is just absolutely gorgeous in comparison to the steel tent at WDW. Once again with Gregg Cooper as my tour guide we setup and shot the tea cups from a couple different angles. I did my standard bracket along with a ton of various exposure lengths to try and capture something cool with the teacups. I found just a bit of motion blur worked best and so something in the 2 second range was what I liked most.
From this angle, I’m told you used to be able to shoot with the Matterhorn poking out the top adding yet another fun element to the shot. Unfortunately, tree growth has basically killed this shot but maybe they’ll trim them again in the future for a return to photographic glory. Still, even without the Matterhorn backdrop I love the result I got here.
I used 3 total shots, though I could have gotten away with 2. I have an 8 second base exposure, a 2 second exposure for the teacup motion and another 1 second exposure for highlight cleanup on the lanterns. I was really splitting hairs here though as they looked great even without it. Actual editing was pretty simple, a few separate color balance layers, some levels adjustments and a bit of Nik Pro Contrast. Finished off with some sharpening and now who is ready for some tea?
My first night at Disneyland Resort I opted to close out Disney California Adventure as they closed at 8pm and after the long trip out to California I didn’t want to be up too late. Little did I know security would move everyone out the park so quickly this night I’d really have no trouble catching up on my sleep.
Now typically at Disney World I will shoot 5 shot brackets for almost everything. I usually have the time and I like the flexibility it gives me in post even if I only end using 2 of the shots a lot of the time. Well I immediately learned that wasn’t going to fly at DLR and switched to brackets of 3 with 2 E.V. separation. I obviously haven’t edited all my shots yet but this seems to have worked out for the most part. In a few instances, I do wish I had 15 second exposures for shots where I managed to capture some stars. With my 30 second exposure, there’s some slight stretching but nothing too bad I won’t be able to get around.
So, finally back to this shot. I was being followed by security so closely and being told to move along so often almost all my shots were pick a spot, level off and shoot, which is what happened with this shot. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good (I think) at finding a good spot without looking through my lens so I don’t feel too bad about my results this night. You can see too they only had some of the seasonal decorations up so it’s sort of a unique shot with only some of the purple lighting. When I shot it again later in the week everything was decked out in purple lights.
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.