No night of shooting at Epcot is complete without a few final shots at the entrance to Epcot in front of the planter and Spaceship Earth. This is especially true during the Flower & Garden Festival with all the great flowers and topiaries present. Of course I got the classic head on shot but I wanted to try a few off to the side angles as well just to see what would work. This was one in particular that I liked. I shot this kinda low more at the height of the flowers so they could really fill the foreground with all the various color. From this angle it’s almost as though you are peaking over a flower field up at Spaceship Earth. And of course it’s also from the height of a child which I always say is a wonderful level to photograph the parks from. It makes everything look just a bit more grand and spectacular.
This is one of the last photos from my recent trip and it comes with a bit of a story. I’ve been shooting in the parks for several years now and one of the consistent things about shooting an empty Main Street USA is the ever present security guards. As I started shooting this night in the hub itself the guards were present as usual, and I did as I always do, get a few shots and move further down Main Street towards the exit. I was having a good time shooting around Main Street USA and did not realize quite some time had passed with practically no other guests in the park. What’s more, I didn’t even notice any security in my immediate vicinity. Usually by now, they’d be pressing in for me to leave. That was 20 minutes before I took this shot. By the time I took this, shot save for some 1 or 2 cleanup workers there was no one around. No guests, no security, no one. I was literally the only person in the park as far as I could see. I had spent significantly longer shooting on Main Street USA than ever before but no one was pushing me to leave. I did take a moment to take it all in, but as this was my last night and I had a long drive back home the next day I just took a few more quick shots and headed for the exits. There was a security guy on the other side of the Train Station who wished me good night but it was still a surreal experience. It’s the sort of thing I’ve experienced at Epcot before but never the Magic Kingdom.
In honor of the new Beauty and the Beast movie trailer (which looks awesome by the way) I figured I’d post up one of my Beauty and the Beast related shots from the Flower & Garden Festival. For this particular shot I actually had the tripod fully extended on the edge of the fountain. I shot with the Nikon 70-200 2.8. I wanted to get a straight on shot like this but I didn’t really want the fountain in it but I did want all of the great background buildings and Eiffel tower. Even with the tripod on the ledge and fully extended I did get just a bit of the fountain water spraying into the frame. I also had to make a compromise and really push Belle and the Beast to the bottom edge of the frame but I think it ultimately works for this shot because of how the background fills the frame vertically.
I constantly get asked how do I take pictures of the park without people in them. The answer is pretty simple, just wait for the people to not be in the shot. I wanted to illustrate how deceiving an empty park shot photo can be through this otherwise throwaway photo of mine. The photo I posted of Cinderella Castle earlier today has absolutely no one in it. It would appear I am completely by myself in the park. This shot however was taken within minutes of the Cinderella Castle shot directly behind me by literally turn the tripod around from the spot I was in. As you can see there are still tons of people left in the park. The trick then is all about shooting the park in a way you are in position to take photos of sections with no people as the areas are emptying out and before security closes them off and users you out as well. After this shot I proceeded to shoot more around the front of Cinderella Castle getting “empty park shots” while Main Street USA emptied out behind me. This may be one of the only times when you’re truly waiting for everyone to get out of the park if you are wanting a people free shot down Main Street USA. Hopefully this sheds some light on this for a lot of you.
I’ve done a similar shot before but I didn’t include as much of the pathway through the castle and I was little further up. Perhaps most of all this was shot during the Kiss Goodnight which is the only time I know to get such deep color on Cinderella Castle with the twinkly lights. Toss in some stars in the sky and I think it adds up to my best version of this shot yet. To get this shot I was pressed all the way up against the wall to the stage. I used my widest lens the Nikon 14-24 2.8 in a vertical position obviously. Since I last tried this shot I switched to a Really Right Stuff ballhead and L-plate. Using the L-plate really helps with vertical shots like this. On my old setup I used to get slippage so I could only shoot short periods without messing up the shot. The RRS setup has really allowed me to take way more vertical shots without having to worry about this.
The title of this shot is really a happy accident. I processed this shot and was thinking of a name and I really wanted to name this Midnight in Paris after the movie, which I really loved. Imagine my surprise when I look at the clock and it was at exactly midnight. Of course, I HAD to use the title then, so there it is. Here is yet another example of Disney Imagineering’s obsession with blue light at night. Again, it’s not that bad in person but it’s not the greatest to photograph and it washes out pretty easily on longer exposures. I thought about color correcting it but I thought it provided a nice contrast for this shot and worked well enough, especially with the color of the flowers breaking it up a bit.
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.