I’m continuing today with another Animal Kingdom shot. This is my first shot of Expedition Everest with the new seating area. It’s still a little odd to me to visit Animal Kingdom after dark. It was such a rare treat I only managed to shoot it after dark once in 6 years. Perhaps that’s what I should blame my serious lack of Animal Kingdom shots on. Regardless, now that it’s always open after dark I look forward to padding out my Animal Kingdom shots. This last trip I honestly focused most of my after-hours time in Pandora, so I still don’t have lots of night shots throughout the park. At least though it gives me something to look forward to for next time.
This shot is surprisingly only my SECOND shot I’m sharing from Pandora. I’ve looked over these shots so many times now trying to decide how to proceed it feels like more. This shot is a spot that has already become quite popular with photographers looking into the queue of Flight of Passage. I think it’s easy to see why as there are just tons of cool details everywhere… honestly that can be said of the entire Avatarland, but this is one of these ‘easy’ shots to actually frame and take. With that in mind I wanted to approach the edit seriously and make sure that my version of it stood out and wasn’t just another ‘me too’ shot.
One thing I noticed right away with all of my Pandora shots, and especially one like this, is that they are just BEGGING to be dodged and burned. There are so many little nooks and crannies and highlights and shadows. This final version has about an hour and a half of manual dodge and burn work alone. Quite intensive, but well worth it for what I think, amazing sky potential aside, the best possible version I could possibly do of this shot with my current skill set. The image is composed of 2 exposures, 1 for the sky, and 1 for everything else. The final edit is composed of 31 various adjustment layers and nearly 3 hours of editing. I hope you will enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed creating it!
Going through the photos I’ve posted over the years it’s clear to me that Animal Kingdom needs more love and attention from my photography. I don’t have a ton of shots compared to the other 3 parks and the ones I do have posted are for the most part, years old. In fact, this is my first night shot of the Tree of Life since 2014! My only other shot of it in that time span is a single blue-sky version. In total, I’ve posted 42 Animal Kingdom shots in nearly 7 years shooting at Walt Disney World. Comparatively, I’ve posted 452 of the Magic Kingdom, 242 of Epcot, and 115 of Hollywood Studios. Interestingly too I’ve already posted 24 Disneyland photos and that’s from a single 4-day trip! Perhaps I’ll work through a bunch of my Pandora shots to help pad the numbers until I can rectify this huge oversight.
One final note about this photo. This trip was a huge reminder of the importance of having a backup camera body if possible. My D810 was acting up the entire trip, refusing to work off and on. This night it completely shut down on me and had I not had my D800 with me as well I would have gotten almost 0 photos this night, including this one which was taken with the Nikon D800. Upon my return home it was sent in for service and required nearly $300 in repair costs!
Perhaps you’ve noticed my image posting has been rather sporadic. I’m going to try start regularly editing a couple photos each week again. I have literally 100s of unprocessed photos both from Disneyland and Disney World I want to share with all of you if I can just find the time to get them edited. Anyway, here’s one from my Disneyland trip in September from the backside of Sleeping Beauty Castle. I closed out the parks all 4 nights of my stay… always worthwhile to get photos like this one. Enjoy!
For this shot I decided to try and do something I hadn’t seen done before. The Tomorrowland sign typically appears to glow orange in photos due to the way it is lit but if you look at the sign during the day you’d notice it’s dark blue like the night sky. With that in mind I color corrected the interior, the individual lines as well as the stars. Honestly, it’s a decent amount of work for a small area but worth it to me to give me a unique photo. Enjoy.
Today I have another shot from my meet up with the infamous Gregg Cooper (@coopergregg who you should all be following). Gregg’s policy is if you there’s a rail in your photo there better be a Monorail on it. Words for us all to live by I think. Not wanting to be one to disappoint I waited around and got 3 submarine positions along with Monorail orange on the foreground rail and Monorail Red on the background rail. Finally, I’m not one who takes many day time shots but there’s enough interesting elements and a perfect blue sky to make this one worth sharing. Enjoy.
After waiting so long for my first visit to Disneyland I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d feel or react once I was finally there. I was excited as we approached the gate and even stopped to have my photo taken in front of the Disneyland train station. Walking under the train station and out on to Main Street it all still felt very familiar. When I finally turned the corner, and caught sight of Sleeping Beauty Castle instead of the familiar Cinderella Castle is the moment I got chills. Each of the Main Streets have unique elements but they feel very similar. I think I actually prefer Disneyland’s Main Street but Walt Disney World wins out on the view straight down with the towering Cinderella Castle. Sleeping Beauty Castle almost gets lost here in this photo at 14mm!
With Paradise Pier on its way out and Pixar Pier on its way in I decided I need to strike now while the iron is hot with my Paradise Pier shots. This is in fact one of my favorite Paradise Pier shots from my entire trip. The sky was especially magnificent this evening and combined with the evening lights coming out sets a wonderful scene. Finally, a bit of technical talk. I would normally have taken the time to use my tripod for a shot like this, but we were in a hurry to do something else. I ended up just balancing on the rail and was able to get a sharp shot at 1/10 of a second at my base ISO of 64.
Of all the places I’ve been, Yosemite, thus far, has been the most stunning. The pure scale is something that cannot be captured in photos and thus cannot be fully appreciated until you have visited. For this particular shot the moon was only at 4% and had not yet risen anyway so the stars were just stunning. On the flip side no moon meant there was no point waiting around for it to rise and illuminate the rocks and trees. I ended up doing the best I could with a very high ISO of 12800, taking several shots and doing some median blending to help clean it up a bit. Considering I did not plan my trip to California specifically for shooting Yosemite I’m more than pleased with what I came away with.
I think most of us have heard by now that Paradise Pier is being transformed into Pixar Pier. For myself, having visited only once, I have no strong attachment to Paradise Pier in it’s current form. I did enjoy the current version and can only hope that for you west coasters the new version is awesome as well. I am glad I was able to photograph it once in its original state before the change however… and here it is.