I have shot many sunsets at Walt Disney World but every occasionally you will get on that is extra special. This was one of those occasions. The 2 days preceding the arrival of Hurricane Matthew were some of the most awesome sunsets I have witnessed at Walt Disney World. Each evening the sky came alive in a way I as a photographer often imagine but rarely see. It did not last very long but just long enough for me to get in place for an iconic Epcot shot. I opted for the Nikon 35 1.4 for a tighter field of view.
Today I have another shot from the new-ish Frozen Ever After ride. Shooting is not terribly difficult with the main challenge in my mind being the highly articulated faces. As I mentioned before you may capture the perfect composition and catch a weird face due to them being animated. Shooting rides like this I usually shoot in high speed and will fire off 3-4 shots for each frame. This is especially useful for capturing the right expression on the newer “animated” animatronics.
This is one of those on the fly photos. I’m walking past Gertie on my way to Star Tours, I notice the sunburst, so I stop and fire off a couple quick shots. I like to go with some sort of tilt with Gertie shots as I feel like it works well with her shape. The sun location was especially nice and I like the way it back-lit all the foliage around her. I did have some slight flaring from the Nikon 14-24 but cleaned up the annoying bits.
I decided to close out the week with another shot from my recent trip to the Smoky Mountains. This was taken along Newfound Gap Road approaching Newfound Gap from the Gatlinburg side at Morton Overlook. We arrived just in time for sunset and though the sun was behind the mountain on the left it create a great glow and color across the sky. The color really complimented the yellows in the trees below.
I have done another shot from this location with the Nikon 14-24 but this time I tried the Nikon 35 1.4. I am really happy with how it turned out. The tighter view gives the image a more intimate feel to me. I also really like the little starbursts on the lamps. And of course shooting a prime lens the sharpness is unmatched. Processing was very basic with some color balancing, a single levels adjustment and some Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast. I upped the vibrance and saturation a bit and did some final sharpening.
The Country Bear Jamboree is not difficult to photograph. In fact, I would say it’s one of the easiest shows to photograph at Disney World. I have shot this show with the Nikon 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 2.8 lenses respectively. Over time dropped the ISO as I have improved my holding technique and my shots have gotten cleaner as a result. This time however I shot with the Nikon 35 1.4 and I wanted to see just how low I could while still keep everything nice and sharp. I opted to shoot at F2 as this gave me a bit more light versus the 2.8 lenses and dropped the ISO to 320. In the past, the lowest I have gone has usually been around 800. While not an issue at all for modern sensors this was really just a test for myself to see if I could get even cleaner shots of the show than I already had. I could not be more pleased with the final result. This thing is practically noise free and definitely, the cleanest shot I have ever gotten from the Country Bear Jamboree. Now that is a lot to say about such a simple shot but it is a good reminder that we should never be satisfied getting the same results repeatedly. I like to push past what I have done in the past even if just for tiny gains.
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.