This has really become one of my favorite things to shoot over the past few years. I continue to experiment with different angles and its lead to some results I’m really happy with. I have turned to my Nikon 70-200 more often than not for this shot and this was no exception. I shot at F3.2 but employed focus stacking so that I could get Cinderella’s face and the bird tack sharp while retaining the creamy bokeh of the background. I have shied away from F2.8 in recent trips as for shots like this as the lens, while still sharp, is definitely softer. The bokeh rendering from F2.8 and 3.2 is practically the same but I get a bit more depth of field and sharpness. Even though I’m focus stacking it really comes in handy.
It’s been a long time coming for the new hub of the Magic Kingdom to be fully completed and while some of it I don’t particularly care for I do like the new turrets on the side of Cinderella Castle. Previously the spots where they are located felt a bit empty when shooting a wide shot like this. Now they really help to fill across the frame. Unfortunately, they were still doing a bit of stage work when I took this photo so that is somewhat distracting but far enough in the back I don’t think it takes away too much.
The bridge walking towards Gaston’s Tavern has become another one of my favorite sunset shooting spots in the past few trips. This was right as golden hour was about to begin but there was already beginning some wonderful light on the bridge to Be Our Guest. Since this shot is shooting into the sun, you might not think that a tripod would be handy but I like to make use of one especially when shooting into the sun as I tend to do very large brackets (7 or 9 shots) so that I have a really large range to work with in post. Aligning hand held brackets is especially hit or miss when some of the exposures are almost all black except for the areas around the sun. Shooting on the tripod means the shots are perfectly aligned straight out of camera.
Today’s photo is probably a very common angle shot of the Beast and Belle topiaries displayed in the France Pavilion. I did bend down slight so there would be more flowers in the foreground and the shot would be more looking up at the topiaries. That’s likely how the shot turns out for most people anyways but at 6’4 I have a somewhat different shooting perspective than a lot of people and I find myself dropping lower all the time for a better vantage photographically speaking.
I used 3 shots blended with luminosity masks for this shot. The spotlights they use to light the topiaries look good in person but can create some very hot spots when you do long exposures. After that it was a bit of color balancing, contrasts adjustments and a bump to the saturation and this one is done.
I haven’t done a Splash Mountain photo in a while and it has been especially a long time since I did a night time version. This is your standard straight on view but one I feel never tires. It’s a fantastic spot for a photo. Fortunately, the sky was quite clear over Splash and I was able to capture a fantastic starry sky to go along with it. For me this is almost essential for a great nighttime Splash Mountain photo. It really adds to that out on the frontier feel.
I’ve always really liked the futuristic scenes as you exit Space Mountain but for whatever reason I never really had any good pics of them. I posted a single shot of this scene a very long time ago but it was not great. Fast forward to this trip and when I came off Space Mountain I was excited to see the conveyor belt that you ride past these scenes wasn’t running. This meant I could easily stand in place to take shots of these scenes. This allowed me to frame the shot the way I wanted without having to fight against the conveyor belt. I only wish I had ridden with my tripod, as this would have been perfect to setup quickly and knock these scenes out at low ISO. Ultimately though it doesn’t make too much of a difference as the performance of a modern camera is great even at high ISO. I ended up doing a slight pano of this shot combining two shots I framed slightly differently to get a slightly wider shot than even the Nikon 14-24 allowed. Processing was incredibly straightforward after that with just a slight adjustment to shadows and highlights in camera raw followed by Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast. I used a shadows luminosity mask to apply some light denoising only to the darker areas and sharpened the final result.
It has been a while since I’ve done a fireworks image so I figured the time was due. This shot was taken from the Italy Pavilion and is a series of bursts near the beginning of the show. I used a 6-stop ND filter for the show and this particular exposure was 40 seconds. Just prior to the show starting I decided to take an exposure for Spaceship Earth as I remembered the lights aren’t on it during the show and I think it doesn’t look so great for the photo. I masked in SSE so that I have the fireworks and a nicely colored and illuminated (haha) Spaceship Earth. This exposure also had the foreground lanterns lit whereas they are off during the show so I masked those in as well to add a little bit more interest. To me it’s all about the little things that add up to really make a complete shot and help them to stand out.
This shot I think definitely tracks into the more artsy type of photo than I usually do but I think Spaceship Earth is one of the best subjects in Disney for doing some really interesting compositions. I used my tripod at its lowest point and pointed the camera almost near vertical for this shot. I think the mirrored glass here really helps make an interesting centerpiece with the distorted angles. Editing was very simple with only some contrast adjustments and a boost to the saturation.
Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken at Disney World are from this spot. In fact I posted a shot from this very sunset (but earlier) just a few weeks ago. As long as it’s not overcast I’ve never once been disappointed by this spot. It’s almost a guaranteed winner of a shot and one I think really personifies the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World. Every sunset is different too which helps the shot to take on a different character each time. It may be a shot I’ve taken many times before but its still new and unique. Now this wasn’t the most intense sunset edit I’ve done but it was still 27 layers in Photoshop. Well worth the time to help bring out the magic.
The really wonderful thing about the Flower & Garden Festival, besides the food of course, is all the wonderful flower topiaries through the park. It really opens up a lot of photo options, especially in places where there may not have been a really great photo opportunity before. I’m not one for shooting out across the lake of the World Showcase as to me there’s no real focal point when you do this. You get a bunch of sky and water, which is usually not to interesting. Having these characters here allowed me to shoot from a spot where otherwise there would be nothing and I would walk right by it.