Our day at the Flower & Garden Festival this year was a very overcast day. While this gives you flat lighting it often means the backgrounds suck because the sky is an ugly grey. This meant I mostly stuck to my Nikon 70-200 2.8 (a lens I should use more anyway) to create tighter framings and compress the frame on some sort of interesting background. Here’s one of the Buzz Lightyear topiary against Mission Space with the grey sky mostly eliminated. The flat lighting from the overcast sky does look pretty great on Buzz I think. Enjoy.
This trip, the wife and I decided to do something we haven’t done in a very long time, spend an entire day at Animal Kingdom. It’s a park we have historically spent very little time in and as a result I have far fewer photos of it than any of the other parks despite it offering tons of great photo opportunities. While my wife decided to sit down and rest for a while I opted to pop my Rokinon 12mm fisheye on and go wander around the Tree of Life. With the sun beginning to set the leaves on the tree really popped with the golden light. Combined with a bit of golden light
This was on the short list of shots I had in mind for this trip. I always have a handful in mind that I want to get and then I just wing the rest. I knew at dusk the ramps would be roped off and therefore people free. I arrived a bit later than I wanted so the glow from the setting sun and the right had lost most of its color. Still the color of the sky is quite a pleasing tone. Enjoy.
I can’t take credit for this composition. I saw something similar done about a year ago by another photographer. (I couldn’t find the original to credit them, sorry!) I’ve had it in the back of my mind to try since then if I was there during the Flower and Garden festival. I also liked the lack of crowd for shooting from this vantage point. There was practically no one in this area once the fireworks began which makes for a nice personal experience and an even better shot. Enjoy!
After switching from DX to FX back when the Nikon D800 came out I abandoned my crop sensor fisheye lens and never looked back. Fast forward several years and I’ve been getting the itch to shoot fisheye shots again. The Rokinon 12mm was recommended to me by a few buddies so I dove back into the fish game this trip with that lens. I always thought the fisheye was especially fun around Spaceship Earth so here it is, my first full frame fisheye shot. Enjoy.
I rarely share more than 1 photo at a time but after going through an editing all these Winnie the Pooh shots from single ride through, I felt they needed to be shared all together. These were done with my Nikon 28 1.4 which I’ve talked about a little, but I simply can’t overstate how awesome I think this lens is for dark rides. To me, it’s the perfect focal length along with 1.4 and amazing sharpness and bokeh rendering. It is a bit on the pricey side at $2000 but well worth it if you want an absolutely amazing dark ride slaying lens that also works great as a walk around wide angle.
I originally edited this photo not long after returning from Disneyland and then just sat on it. I didn’t like it at all. I’m still not a huge fan of the purple and green mountains (it makes no sense!!!!) but I didn’t want to let this photo get the best of me. Knowing that my main problems with the shot lie with my original edit and feeling motivated by Gregg Cooper sharing his version with me, I set to work on editing the shot again from scratch.
I won’t go deep into the details of the edit, but I do want to mention one trick I utilized when shooting this shot that helped with the editing. The lights at the bottom were causing quite a bit of flaring across the middle and sky of the scene. Since I noticed this when shooting I took an additional long exposure but used my hand to block the lights from the lens. I was then able to mask in the non-flared section quickly and easily. This is a trick I also use when shooting directly into the sun to eliminate unwanted flaring.
The first thing you want to do after you shoot a bunch of Pandora photos is rush home, process and post them all. I decided I wanted to marinate on my Pandora shots for a while and let the newness of the land wear off a bit so that I didn’t rush them out and put out something no different from what everyone else was doing. It’s an interesting land that offers a landscape for tremendous photos but also can present a challenge in editing, especially after dark. Disney once again uses lots of the blue lighting they’ve grown to love over the past few years. I’m certain they found a warehouse full of these things on a fire sale and are now determined to use them as much as possible in all their new projects. The point is while they look OK in person (sorta… I guess…) a photo where everything is bathed in the same blue color isn’t very interesting. I’ve tried to tame that a bit here by doing some color correction at the bottom of the frame to keep the blue mostly relegated to the floating mountain in the back.
This brings about the next challenge to Pandora after dark, the sky. There’s undoubtedly some sodium vapor lamps in the distance and the horizon and sky try to push towards a horrifying orange color. Color correcting it isn’t an issue but typically I color correct my skies to some sort of shade of blue. As mentioned there’s blue all over already so the last thing I want to do is choose a color that provides contrast to the blue lights used while also avoiding going with a completely alien color which is a bit much for my tastes. I ultimately settled on a magenta blue color mix that compliments as well as contrasts both the purple and blues on the floating mountains while still maintaining a realistic touch.
My favorite shot I’ve taken of the Walt Disney World version of this scene I also titled A Pirate’s Lesson in Futility. I processed this very similarly and thus felt reusing the title would be appropriate. It’s interesting to compare the two for similarities and differences though I’m not sure which scene I prefer. However, hands down, the Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean blows the Walt Disney World version out of the water.