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.
Though I only intended to have one bird in my photo I ended up with a whole bunch and thus the title choice. This is one of the rare day time photos I feel is decent enough to post. It was taken shortly before golden hour, so the light had started to soften. The sky has interest with the clouds and the reflection is relatively still. I did some minor cleanup along with some color balance. light saturation adjustments and a few curves adjustments to finish off the image. Enjoy!
Peter Pan’s Flight is a very challenging dark ride to shoot. It’s even more difficult if you try to shoot a version of it you haven’t ridden before on your first ride through. That’s my experience from riding the Disneyland version. Though the ride has similarities to its Walt Disney World counterpart that I’ve ridden many times it is quite different. I found the lighting of the Disneyland version to be superior to the Walt Disney World version and this translated into better photos. This scene for instance turned out much better than my Walt Disney World version. The characters seem to be lit more evenly and I prefer the look of the character models too.
It feels like I’ve taken at least a dozen sunset shots from this location over the years. It’s one of the most photogenic spots and each sunset offers something different, allowing each new shot to be unique. In addition, this was my first time shooting this location with my Nikon 28 1.4 prime lens. I found this lens to be a great walk around lens and worked perfectly here. It was wide enough to fit Cinderella Castle in the scene but so close to 35mm that the distortion is very limited. In this case you get a nice, straight and tall rendition of the castle.
On my most recent trip I found myself drawn to using the Leave a Legacy monoliths as a reflecting point in my photos. I shot several sunset photos using them and when leaving that night was drawn to using them for some more photos. The tops are nice and wide, so I simply place the camera up there and used a small lip vaseline from my pocket to elevate the front of the lens slightly to get the angle I wanted. The reflection here is alright but I think I’m going to do this one more time as I am sure I can get more of the purples and yellows reflected with a slight angle adjustment.
Editing on this shot was incredibly simple. I did some basic camera raw slider adjustments followed by a targeted levels adjustment using luminosity masks of the shadow areas. I used Color Efex 4 Pro Contrast and made a slight bump to the saturation. I did a quick round (5 minutes) of dodging and burning and finished it off by brightening up the stars a bit.