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.
I think the only thing I love more than shooting night shots is shooting into the sun. In fact it may edge out even night shooting. The problem of course is there is such a limited time for shooting like this. Sunrise in the parks is pretty much out except for very special occasions though you can still get a bit of great light if you get in the parks when they first open. This leaves you with basically sunset and they call it golden hour for a reason. It only lasts about an hour. I try to make the most of it but I’m never fully satisfied with the number of shots I’m able to get, even with me rushing around whatever park I’m in to take full advantage of the golden hour.
For this shot I bumped the ISO a bit, even though I was shooting directly into the setting sun as I needed an extra fast shutter speed to freeze the fast moving train. I’m at ISO 320 and 1/1250 sec for this shot. I bracketed as well so that I could do some masking in the sky to further help with not completely blowing out the sky. This means obviously everything doesn’t line up as the train is moving through the scene but I only need the additional shots for the sky. I use the base exposure for everything else and boost the shadows significantly to get a good exposure on the foreground. Fortunately with the Nikon D810 sensor this is no sweat. Editing involves quite a few levels adjustments, color balancing, saturation adjustments and light painting to get the final result.
I have missed the Flower & Garden Festival several years in a row now and I couldn’t let another year pass by. Our main trip this year is going to be during the fall but I was able to get a few days off to head down for a 2 day trip. Shooting Flower & Garden was the main event but I also had an excellent day shooting in Magic Kingdom with an interesting ending which I’ll share on a future image. Even though this was my shortest trip since I started photographing the parks it was one of the most productive. I have a ton of great images and I can’t wait for you all to see them. Now since the main reason I went down was for the Flower & Garden Festival I figured it would only be appropriate to start off with a shot from the festival.
This was shot with the Nikon D810 and Nikon 14-24 2.8. I shot at F8 to keep both Snow White and the dwarfs behind her sharp. Shooting super wide with the 14-24 really lets you keep a lot in focus even at smaller depth of field apertures but F8 is kinda my go to as it’s the sharpest aperture on the lens. Editing was mostly color balancing, levels adjustments with luminosity masks and selective saturation adjustments.
As I mentioned the other day I’ve decided to go back and start processing some of the many dark ride shots I’ve taken over the years. It seems a waste to just let them sit on my hard drive and almost none of them see the light of day. I went quite a ways back for this one all the way to November 2012. Now technically this isn’t an on-ride shot, it’s in the queue of Pirates of the Caribbean, but I still say it counts. Granted it’s a little easier as you’re not on a moving ride vehicle but there’s still a bit of challenge to it.
This is a pretty easy ride to shoot but then I end up looking at the photos and just think they’re not worth the effort to post. Well I saw an opportunity with this shot to do something maybe a little bit different that maybe hasn’t been done quite this way before.
I was shooting with the Nikon 14-24 2.8 however even with that lens it’s still not wide enough to get an entire view of this room. Consequently I had shot a few overlapping shots though not on purpose or with any real intention to combine them later. Another thing I did was hold up my arms to get a higher up view point, almost as though you’re standing as opposed to a lower sitting down angle. Fortunately I had 2 very good overlapping shots I was then able to combine as a pano to get a really nice wide view of almost the entire room. Additionally the new border warp feature in Photoshop and Lightroom allowed me to stretch the rather oddly shaped combined pano to a perfect rectangle without needing to crop. This feature is really really incredible and I suggest checking it out if you have any interest at all in panos.