This shot really came together even better than I had imagined. To start I was just chasing the sun which inevitably lead me over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I noticed the Liberty Belle making its way down the Rivers of America and quickly setup my shot and fired off a few shots to make sure I had it for my shot. I then fired off a bracket for the entire scene and then finally a few individual shots of the passing train. In photoshop I used a single base exposure and one underexposure for the sky to get a nice even exposure. Then I masked in the Liberty Belle and train from their respective shots. I did some levels adjustments to blend it all together nicely then set to work on my standard editing procedures. In the end I think it all really came together nicely and I think the Liberty Belle ended up being just that little bit of extra icing to make this shot perhaps my favorite Thunder Mountain shot I’ve ever taken.
This trip I really tried to shoot a lot of day time shots. It’s something I’ve shied away from before but something I’ve been wanting to embrace and run with. The first half of my day at Epcot was a bust as the sky was grayish and cloudy but fortunately it broke and I did wind up with some great cloud filled blue skies later in the day.
My other photography love besides Disney is landscape photography (evident in my Disney shooting style I think) and I recently was able to visit my first national park. Even before this it’s been my goal to visit as many as I can in the near future and this most recent visit really has me yearning even more to visit more national parks soon. Until then at least I have this shot of National Park Mickey which is a fun crossover of my two photography loves.
I originally had a different shot in mind for this location but thanks to the eternal construction walls of the Magic Kingdom I had to seek out a different shot than what I originally had in mind. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I ended up really loving the shot I wound up with. I did this shot with the Nikon 70-200 2.8 and did 2 different framings from this same spot. I wasn’t 100% happy with either when I took a better look at full size but was able to then combine those 2 shots into one to get a framing I am more than happy with. I also did focus stacking for this shot as the depth of field was very narrow at F3.2 and 75mm. I chose this method as opposed to shooting with a larger depth of field to get the wonderful creamy bokeh that the 70-200 puts out. I find the bokeh from this area generally very interesting too so it’s really great to play around with different angles in this area. Now I just have to wait for the next trip and hope that the seemingly endless construction around Cinderella Castle is finally completed so I can try out the shot I originally had in mind.
The Flower and Garden Festival once again helped send me in a direction of a shot I may have otherwise ignored. The Lady and the Tramp topiaries brought me to this particular spot and I loved being able to utilize some of the Italy pavilion in the background here to expand the shot. A head on shot obviously wouldn’t have been as exciting. I shot this was my ultra wide Nikon 14-24 2.8 which really helped make this shot possible. There was some blue lighting here that was pretty rough looking which I corrected while leaving the good looking blues intact. I used three total shots for this, as the highlights were very strong in places. The two additional shots, which I blended using luminosity masks helped to tone down the strong highlights especially on the topiaries.
The day before my last trip I was browsing through Instagram and I saw a really cool pic of an angle I had not seen before shot on Main Street USA. I didn’t think too much of it at the time but a few nights later when I was walking down Main Street USA looking for a shot, I walked past Casey’s Corner and remembered the shot I had seen on Instagram. I figured I’d see what I could come up with and this was the shot. I used the Nikon 70-200 2.8 and stood a bit away from the pitcher and then zoomed in to create some nice compression and shot at F3.2 to throw the background really out of focus and get some nice bokeh. I’ve started using F3.2 vs 2.8 on my telephoto when I want a low DOF shot for a few reasons. One I find it’s a bit sharper going to 3.2 from 2.8, the bokeh is nearly identical and I have a bit more room for error on the focus. Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the photographer who inspired this shot, Matt Stemerman, which you can check out on his handle @dwimaginography on Instagram. Be sure to check him out.
This shot has seemingly become the classic go to Flower & Garden Festival shot over the years. Still like a shot of Cinderella Castle it’s hard to resist as it’s just a perfect representation of the Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot. I have a couple different shots from this spot throughout the day in fact, but this one is my favorite thanks to the wonderful sky. The sky had kinda sucked for a lot of the day until a bit later in the afternoon the blues really kicked up in intensity and these wonderful clouds rolled in. They really help add a lot of interest to a shot that otherwise might not be as unique. I really loved too that this shot was with the red monorail. The red works really well and pops out in the shot whereas some of the other monorail colors blend in to the scene.
The Peter Pan display at the Flower & Garden Festival is in my opinion one of the best ones. Having Peter Pan on the roof as though he’s about to take off and fly over Hook and the Croc below is really great. I also really love the layout of the Croc to Hook and they did a great job adding some color with the flowers here to really make it a great scene to photograph. I played around a bit with the angle of this shot as I wanted the shot to include all three of the topiaries. Fortunately, the Nikon 14-24 was just wide enough to pull of the shot I had in mind. Without Peter Pan at the top I feel the shot definitely wouldn’t have been as strong.
As I mentioned yesterday every trip I have several photos I consider to be my favorites that I try to space out among my post. This is the first of my favorites from this previous trip. I’ve seen lots of sunset shots of Cinderella Castle from the other side of the castle. I’ve taken a bunch of them myself. I even took some this trip, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset photo (I’m sure there are some) from this side of Cinderella Castle which is why I wanted to try it. I really loved the way the sun setting behind me was hitting the castle lighting up the spires almost on fire. The horizon had a nice orange glow as well which I found quite beautiful. Another thing I wanted to try was an extra-long exposure to get a smooth look the water in the moat. I used a 6 stop ND filter along with a 3 stop grad ND to get a 30 second exposure which I could use for the water. The base exposure was 1/13 sec at F10.
One of the most difficult parts after a new trip is simply deciding which photos to work on. Even worse I tend to blaze through a bunch of edits immediately after a trip and then I have difficulty deciding what order to post them in. I guess ultimately it doesn’t really matter but I try to spread out my absolute favorite shots from the trip as opposed to posting them all up front. That’s not to say the other stuff is bad. I never post the ‘bad’ stuff, but I think we all have those couple shots from a trip we consider home run shots. These are the shots I try to spread out among all my other shots from the trip. This way too as long as I’m posting hopefully you’ve got something to look forward to.
This is a pretty standard Flower & Garden Festival shot of Cogsworth and Lumiere. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney animated film so of course I spent more time in this area than any of the others. I felt a completely level shot wasn’t working here so I added a bit of tilt to compliment Cogsworth’s stance. A side shot works best here too so you can get both Cogsworth and Lumiere. I’ll mention the one editing difference for this shot was once again Disney has this weird obsession with blue lighting that looks OK in person but photographs terribly. It’s easy to combat though with a simple warming photo filter adjustment layer. Everything else was my standard editing procedure.
I get asked quite often if I have shots of various shows and pretty much the answer is always no. I have never really bothered shooting them but I want to expand my horizons a bit. Now a 2 day trip didn’t give me a ton of opportunities to shoot shows but I did manage to get some nice shots (I think) of the Main Street USA Trolley Show. So hey, it’s a start.
I originally started shooting this with the Nikon 70-200 2.8 but I wasn’t really feeling it so I switched up quickly to the Nikon 14-24 2.8. This allowed me to include not just the performers but the trolley and surrounding. This definitely fit my style of shooting better and the results I believe instantly showed. That’s not to say I’ve given up on the tighter telephoto shots, but it’s definitely an area I need to work to improve on. Plus sometimes when something isn’t working you just have to switch it up to something that will. Editing for this shot was quite simple. I made a few slider adjustments in camera raw to the shadows and highlights and bumped the exposure a bit. I then processed the image a second time but specifically for the sky as my previous edits made it appear a bit blown out and I wanted a deep blue sky. I masked these two edits together, added some Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast, made some curves adjustments and bumped the vibrance a bit. Finally I finished off the image with sharpening.