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April 1, 2009

My Disneyland Birthday Extravaganza: The Next Day

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

After an extraordinarily funtastic birthday at Disneyland, Yoli, Drina, and I slept in a little bit. When we finally began dragging ourselves out of bed, I put a concert DVD into the player. Now, just imagine it was whoever your favroite band or singer is, and the concert is from 23 years ago when you were completely, (and perhaps still are) in love with them/him/her. Now, imagine you and your friends dancing and singing along and having too much fun for words. That was us. (I'm smiling just thinking about it)

Ready to hit the newly poured pavement at Disneyland, Yoli & I decided we had to take Drina to see things that were about to disappear and/or be built. Our first stop was to watch "Disneyland, The First 50 Magical Years." The film is hosted by Steve Martin, who worked at the magic shop on Main Street as a youth. It's rather cleverly done and it's also no longer showing as the venue is being prepared for Abraham Lincoln's return.

With rumblings in our tummies, breakfast was a high priority. However as we made our way into Adventureland, I caught Aladdin out the corner of my eye, stopped, yelled to my friends and waved my arms in the air. They know what that means, picture time! Some people collect animation cells or stuffed animals. I collect characters, especially Aladdins.

Flat Stanley is always dressed to impress. Allllladdin!

My favorite place to find hearty and healthy morning nourishment is River Belle Terrace. Drina had the cinnamon roll, a side of potatoes, and a fruit plate which she kindly shared with me. Yoli had eggs, pancakes, and sausage, along with orange juice, milk, and water. I swear this is the only place where she actually eats an adult-sized meal and cleans her plate! I scoffed down the Mickey pancake. Oh boy! Yoli bought me breakfast. Woo hoo!

Feeling much better we went straight over to Pirates of the Caribbean. I got splashed more from the cannons than I did from either drop. It's always fun to see if the Imagineers have moved things around since my last visit. Those darn pirates never ever learn my name they just keep yelling, "We want the redhead!" Sheesh! If you've never experienced Pirates at Disneyland, you need to. That's an order.

After climbing out of the boat we stumbled across a celebrity waiting to take it over, along with his family. It was none other than Will Turner himself, Orlando Bloom. He posed for photos, too. April Fools!

The girls and I left Disneyland, crossed the promenade and entered California Adventure. This park is truly amazing. It really feels as though you're in California!

Blue Sky Cellar, housed in a small stone house-like building in Golden Vine Winery offers a glimpse into the park's future. An on-going film featuring Imagineers shows you what Cars Land will be comprised of, what the Little Mermaid ride will look like, and how Paradise Pier is being Disney-fied. There are also models of the boardwalk games' makeovers. I'm excited to see it all, especially World of Color, a water and light show that'll give Fantasmic! some competition. That was our first stop and Yoli's only, as she had to get home to la familia.

Drina and I were excited to try out Toy Story Midway Mania for the first time. The wait was 45 minutes long hence we opted for the single rider option. We waited 12-15 minutes max. Totally radical, dude! What a blast. I've played the one at Hollywood Studios but even with some experience I was still beat by a newbie, the guy they sat me with. Drina loved it, too. She bought something in the gift shop, but I forget what.

We strolled along, all the way up to the pier then down the pier and over to some seats near a coffee and pastry stand. I had a blueberry muffin and Drina had some snacks she'd brought along. It was a good place to people watch as the space was narrow due to construction walls.

The water has been drained and all of the elements required for World of Color are being put in.

Seating is being constructed for World of Color. Hopefully, they'll bring back big name acts to perform here as well. Years ago I saw the Beach Boys and the Monkees.

Back on our feet, I dragged us over to Hollywood Pictures Backlot. The wait was 30 minutes for Monsters, Inc. but we got in line annnnd then we got out of line. Honestly, when you visit a park regularly (I lived in CA for 4 years) and you're use to short waits and walk-ons, you're spoiled. Tired, we sat down early but found front row seating for the shoe, Drawn to the Magic. There are lots of odd items from Disney movies strewn about the stage and scaffolding.

It's an enjoyable show with singing, humor, and characters. My hopes were high to see Hercules as he's a semi-regular but as it turned out he was busy elsewhere. Cinderella, Mickey Mouse in his Sorcerer's Apprentice outfit, and Woody all joined in at the end of the show and then met with guests for photos and autographs.

Hilarious! I wonder if he's available for parties.

I found Cinderella to be most amusing as she clearly had eyes in the back of her head and was able to not only handle her own crowd but also keep a lookout on everything else going on. You know she's running the castle! She also had the pleasure of being photographed with Flat Stanley and called him by name.

Once we had taken all the photos we needed we headed back to Monsters, Inc which now had a much shorter line so we stayed. This is another must see attraction. If we didn't have dinner plans, we'd have gotten back in line again. My favorite part is the end where your cab stops in front of Roz and she has some smart-alecky thing to say. I wasn't certain until that day if her response was live or not.

Roz: Oh look, another camera (to me). Get my good side.
Me: I'm not a miracle worker.
Roz: Whatever.

The cab behind us got an even better exchange but I can't recall what it was.

Oh no! Which door is Boo's?

Oh Roz, you so funny.

The time had come to bid adieu to CA Adventure and head towards Paradise Pier Hotel where we had dinner plans with my former co-workers. We actually caught up with my friend Lisa (from the previous blog) and family and Tina (co-worker and roomie) outside the Lego shop. I haven't seen Tina since maybe 2004 or 2005. It's been a long time.

We were seated at a long table at PCH Grill. I sat at the head of the table, hey this whole gathering was my idea. To my left sat Drina, Hector (cutest manager), and Jeff (Lisa's husband). To my right, Katrina (best manager ever), Tina, Lisa and her son, Logan. It was so great to see them all and just like with Tina, it's been years, far too many years. We had lots of fun remembering "the good old days" and catching up with each other. It was over much too soon.

There were some minor disappointments at PCH Grill. Hector's sandwich was sent back because the menu stated it came with certain things and yet it didn't. It took a long time for our food to come out of the kitchen and drinks weren't refilled without prompting. Actually, Katrina's never got refilled. We never said a word to the server but when she brought the bill she had deducted all beverages and took 20% off the total. That was great customer service.

Special thanks to Katrina and Tina for driving 15 hours roundtrip to see me and the gang. I feel so honored. Aren't you glad that I didn't cook?

Left to right: The other Lisa, Katrina, Tina, Moi, and Hectorrrrrr.

A few of them came up to take a quick gander at the suite and the view. After they left, Drina and I collapsed on the sofa. It's very comfy and good for plopping on after a long day of merriment. I thought she wanted to head back to San Diego early but it turned out she was ready to revisit Disneyland. Psych!

First stop was World of Disney which was very busy but also out of the pirate keychain she wanted. I suggested trying Pieces of Eight, the gift shop over by Pirates of the Caribbean. There was plenty of time for shopping so first I lead us to check out the band at Plaza Garden Stage. There's usually a swing and/or jazz band playing on Saturday nights and lots of dancing. People come dresed from that era which just makes it even more fun to watch.

The drummer from Jump, Jive, Boogie Swing Band.

Fantasmic! was playing on the Rivers of America as we made our way over to Pieces of Eight. We saw a few glimpses of it. I love this show a zillion times better than the one at Hollywood Studios but didn't plan on seeing it this trip. You are a lot closer to the action, the story is better, and well...you'll just have to go see for yourself.

The shop was packed, too, but I could see the pirate keychains hanging by the registers and pointed them out to Drina as I made my way to an open area and began chatting with a Cast Member. With purchase in hand, Drina collected me and we went in search of the #1 consumable I must have on every trip, a mint julep. It's so delicious. Now I want one. Phooey, I knew this would happen as soon as I started typing about it. Anyhow, Drina got one for herself, her first one ever and we split an order of New Orleans fritters.

There was another performance of Fantasmic! that night so I found a decent spot behind the soundboard after coming up short closer to the front, on the ground. As luck would have it, the lights go up another 12 feet or higher, giving Drina a much better view. Not only was she sipping her first mint julep, she was seeing Fantasmic! for the first time. WOW! I need to visit CA more often and she needs to hang out with me.

We did some shopping on the way out, shuffled through Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian, across the street and back to Paradise Pier Hotel. We said our goodbyes and I headed up to the suite all by myself. :sigh: Aladdin? Aladdin?

Did you miss my previous installments?

The Big Day and Planning

Next week: Back to Club 33 as the party continues with more friends.

April 3, 2009

Selective Focus

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I'm sure many of you have seen photos where the subject is tack sharp but the background is totally out of focus. This technique is called Selective Focus and is a simple one to master. Here's all you need to do. First, put your camera in Aperture Priority mode. Second, set the aperture to the widest setting which is the smallest f-stop of the lens. Now, you are ready to do what's called shooting wide open.

This photo was taken in Mickey Mouse's living room as I was touring Mickey's Country House in Toontown Fair found in the Magic Kingdom. It looked like Mickey was getting ready to host a big Superbowl party with popcorn, candy, TV remote and a football helmet on the sofa. However, all I wanted to do was focus attention on the not-so-hidden Mickey shape on top of a bannister overlooking the scene. To do that I first put my camera in A mode (Nikon's Aperture Priority setting. Canon uses Av). I had the Nikon 50mm lens on my camera so I moved the aperture setting to f/1.8, the lens' widest aperture. In aperture mode, the camera will select the shutter speed for me. Next, I half-press the shutter release to focus on the Mickey shape. You won't see the background go out of focus in your viewfinder so concentrate on the subject's focus. Keeping the shutter half pressed to lock in the focus, I recomposed the scene you see below.

Mickey's living room inside his Country House in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Mickey getting ready for some football!
Nikon D70/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 1400, EV +0.3

See, wasn't that easy? The selective focus effect gets more pronounced the wider your lens can go. It's a great way to eliminate busy backgrounds like crowds of people behind your family when taking photos in the parks. For more on using selective focus, click on the reference links below.



Creative Uses of Aperture

Watch Your Back(grounds) Again

April 4, 2009

Liberty Bell

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Liberty Bell
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 1/500s shutter, 11

My Pic of the Week for national treasures is the Liberty Bell. This replica was cast from the mold of the actual Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania. I read that it is the only bell ever cast from that mold. You'll find it in the Magic Kingdom near the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square, across from the Hall of Presidents.

April 5, 2009

Where in the World #80

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

This was Challenge #79:
 Where in the World #79

And here's the answer:
 Grandstand Pool at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200VR, 1/320s shutter, f/9

To all you folks who guessed the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, you were in good company! That was the most popular answer this week. Designed to look like the horses' gate at a racetrack, this water play area is part of the Grandstand pool at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa.

Theresa Rucando was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Theresa and all the readers who got the answer right: Karen Nelson, Sharon Pierce, Linda Mac, Tim Rachuba, David And Melissa Lizewski, Garland Cox, Frances Phebus, Jennifer Tremley, Ed Aleszczyk, Dan Owens, Nikki Powell, Howard Schreiber, Rick Shea, Robin Mcconnell, Charlie Scheer, Michelle Thompson, April Pangburn, Trish Babler, Daniel Record, Krystal Thomas, Christi Ison, Stephanie Visco, Dawn Bach, Dylan Weidner, Emma Poprock, Dave Cole, Sarah Biggs, Lorne Harris, Nick Straka, Melesia Love, Anne Hainsworth, Shane Stack, Cathy Skiba, Wendy Snelgrove, Austin O'blenis, Becky Sterusky, Leah Broussard, Mike Malampy, Tina Benco , Michael Nanney, Darlene Harmon, Paula Massarelli, Carolyn Como, Ali S, Paul Cooper, Andrew Michuda, Allison Caputa, Denise Owen, Paul Moody, Dan Mangini, Paula H., Heather Mcfall, Bill Daniel, Heather Coursen, Bonnie Smith, Michelle Mcknight and Cheri Palmisano. Each of you will be entered in the April winners' drawing.


Challenge #80: Where in the world is this?

 Where in the World #80

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, April 9, by clicking on the button below. Please do not post answers using the Comment link at the bottom of this post.

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies and a cool Disney book!

April 7, 2009

Disney Pic of the Week - Interactive Attractions

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Good times are had by all while romping around Disney parks but an even better time is had when we get to interact with the ride. Blasting aliens and battling Zurg alongside Buzz Lightyear or carefully selecting your future in the air or under the sea on Spaceship Earth are just a few examples of how we get to play within a ride. Then there are other interactive attractions such as becoming a lead actor or actress during a performance by World Showcase Players in EPCOT.

This week, Barrie, Scott, and I share our photos of interactive attractions. Please keep your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle at all times and watch your children.

Kids become Padawans at the Jedi Training Academy and learn to fight off the one and only evil Darth Vader. This little fella is serious about defending his people as he went straight for Vader's cranium!

Canon EOS 30D, Canon 75-300mm USM, ISO 200, f8, 1/400

Training is available at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.

April 8, 2009

My Disneyland Birthday Extravaganza: The Party Continues

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

All alone in my one bedroom suite at Paradise Pier Hotel, I contemplated having breakfast delivered by room service. Then I looked at the prices and that was the end of that thought. Once I had everything packed up, I got ready for the day and exchanged phone calls and text messages with Yoli, Jen, and Virginia.

The change in time threw Jen and Yoli's Cousin Jenny off course so both of them were running late. This gave me extra time to run around and take photos of the resort and menus for the website. I even had time to pick up some shots at the Disneyland Hotel and grab a Mickey cookie for breakfast. Yes, while on vacation some of my rules go out the window.

Being the true Disney fanatic that I am, I know when characters rotate at Goofy's Kitchen and where they exit/enter. I caught a few quick photos of Goofy heading inside the restaurant. My time was running out and so back to my room I went. Jen arrived soon after, grabbed a set of toiletries and helped me schlep everything down to bell services. I couldn't believe how much stuff I had for 2 nights. Check this out, a carry-on bag, a duffle bag with food, plates, napkins, etc..., balloons, gift bags with birthday presents, plastic bags with miscellaneous items and my tripod and camera bag, which I kept.

When not cooking up a storm, Goofy takes 5 minute breaks. It must be a restaurant owners' union rule.

We still had time to kill because Cousin Jenny pushed her and Yoli back well over an hour. Jen and I got more menu pics at the Grand Californian before the search for a locker big enough for my tripod ensued. If you ever need to store a lot of stuff like luggage, your collection of Stitch pins or a small army, rent a locker in the picnic area. They are enormous! I could have stored at least 9 tripods in there and still would have had enough room to set up a studio.

Disneyland trumps every other park in locker locations and sizes.

Yoli and Cousin Jenny arrived, picked up our Hopper tickets that came with being Club 33 guests and I found Virginia (former co-worker) over by the bag check. Woo hoo! The only one missing was Lisa and she'd meet up with us just before our lunch reservation.

First we headed into California Adventure so the girls could check out Blue Sky Cellar. While they went in, I grabbed some photos of menus of the Wine Tasting for the site. I know I've already said that I'm looking forward to Cars Land but I'll repeat myself, I'm really looking forward to Cars Land, especially Luigi's attraction of flying tires.

As we headed to the exit, the High School Musical 3 performers were coming towards us so I was able to snap some quick shots. No clue which song they were singing as I wasn't really paying attention, just taking photos. Saw the movie, it was cute but I'll put money down that there's going to be a spin-off on television with those three new characters introduced during the movie and Ashley Tisdale as a recurring guest.

What's black and white and red all over? The above photo. Boy, that joke stunk.

Once inside Disneyland, we thought about going on a ride but we didn't have enough time before our reservation at 2:15pm. Lisa (the other one, not me) met up with us in front of the entrance to Club 33. Yoli went to check us in but our table wasn't ready yet. While we were hanging around, Jen chatted up a CM who would be tossing beads out later on with the band. He told us to stand on the balcony at such and such a time and he'd toss them up to us. New Orleans Square, beads, and a balcony...in Disneyland. Nothing happened other than a few jokes.

Eventually the band played and as they were heading down the streets and backstage, Jen went after her new pal and got us all beads. We were still waiting to be let inside Club 33. maybe 30 or minutes later we were buzzed in by Nadine who we'd met just two days prior. Today the lift was working and could accomodate 3 adults at a time. Virginia, Lisa, and Cousin Jenny went up first followed by Yoli, Jen, and I.

Here we are, a 6-pack of sillyness: Virginia, Lisa, Jen, Me, Yoli, and Cousin Jenny.

This time around the girls and I were seated more towards the center of the room. Oh yeah, we were about to become the center of attention. Our server was Brenda, she was nice. Robert, our server from lunch two days prior was working tables beside us. Before we got too settled in and a chance to take a good look at the menu, Mickey and Pluto made their last round greeting diners. They took to the girls right away. See, we talk to the characters and tell them how good they look, inform them of how badly our friends behave, you know the regular stuff.

Jen's feelin' the love from Pluto and Mickey.

On Sundays, you are offered a choice of apple cider or champagne. We made a toast to friendship and I chugged down my water. Just kidding. I drank like a lady. That Smart Water will sneak up on ya!

Our selected entrees were: Lisa & Virginia - Pasta three by three, Cousin Jenny - Seared Muscovy duck breast, Jen - Maine lobster melt, Yoli & I - Pan seared Chateaubriand. Before those were served we helped ourselvs to the appetizer buffet of shrimp, crab, lobster, salads, pasta salads, deli meats, teeny pickles, cheese and crackers, breads, and vegetables.

Cousin Jenny would later come to regret ordering duck.

We didn't recognize anyone else there as being famous but that was fine because we had such a good time together that it would have been hard to top. For instance, Lisa had her very first mommy-free afternoon (a few hours anyway) since her adorable son was born 16 months ago. She was footloose and fancy-free and I'm so happy she got to hang out with just the girls. It reminded me of the crazy good times we use to have at work. Another example is Jen trying to photograph something small with the Club 33 logo on it and her photos were coming out blurry. I asked if she was using the macro setting and she didn't know what that was so I turned towards Virginia who was sitting beside Jen, and in my "managerial work voice" I asked her if she would please show Jen how to use her camera. Lisa got into it and kept reminding Virginia of all the extras we were taught to add onto sales. Trust me when I say it was downright hilarious.

The couscous I'd had before was substituted by request for pasta. I wish I knew the brand because that was THE best pasta I've ever had. It's the same kind they use for the Pasta Three by Three dish that Lisa & Virginia had. However, poor little Cousin Jenny wasn't so lucky. One of two duck breasts was raw, bleeding raw and she'd already eaten the cooked piece that touched the raw one by the time she realized it She called Brenda over to show her and I made a half-joking remark that we needed to speak with Mickey Mouse. Brenda brought her some mahi mahi but the girl was so grossed out that she didn't want to eat anything else. Cousin Jenny thought Brenda said her meal was coming off the bill but when the check came, it was still there. No one said anything because we didn't want to cause a commotion being guests and not members and all.

The other girls got their hands on all of the desserts. There was so much chocolate on the table that a chocoholic would have been in heaven. As we were still celebrating my birthday, I was given Mickey Mouse mousse and a dish of vanilla ice cream. Mickey made his way around the table and the gals said he was delicious. No chocolate for me for health reasons.

M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-S-E See the plate in the background? That's my dessert of marshmallows and flakey...stuff.

I used my $50 gift card towards the cost of my meal. Remember, it came with buying the Deluxe Annual Pass at Costco in California.

After stuffing ourselves, we took photos everywhere and picked out what souvenirs we wanted from the china cabinet. The one thing I wanted more than anything else was the pin. Guess what?! It was sold-out and so was the keychain and a few other little items. Everyone all together now, awww maaannnn that stinks. Tell me about it, stud.

While waiting for souvenir orders to be taken and delivered, our old buddy Chase appeared. Yoli introduced him to everyone and we took turns taking photos with him. I guess Chase was our celebrity sighting. There's another guy who we met on my birthday at Club 33 whose name, I am completely embarrased to say, I forgot. He was tall, handsome, super sweet, always smiling, and full of hugs. He worked in the kitchen and was the one who got me vanilla ice cream that day. If anyone knows his name, please tell me, I'd love to include him in my letter to the manager.

Yoli is extremely shy and had to be forced into this pose with Chase. :cough:

Hours later after we sat down, we finally left the restaurant and went back to touring the parks. Lisa found her husband and son and went back to being a mommy. Her hubby went home as he didn't feel so good. Regrouped, we headed towards the Hub when I remembered that Sleeping Beauty's Castle had re-opened the Walk-Thru. Yippy skippy! It had been closed for years and some of us had never seen it. Apparently it's a bit different than before but everyone liked it.

It's darker than this looks inside my, uhh, Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Shhh, she's dreaming about ticket prices going down in price.

Throughout the passage ways there are pages from the fairy tale open for you to read. There are also dioramas of various scenes from the movie and some cool light and shadow effects. If you're afraid of the dark or claustophoric, you might want to look for a video of it online first.

The next attraction was Snow White's Scary Adventure. Just getting into the mining cart was scary cuz I didn't realize Lisa was climbing in beside me with Logan while Virginia got into the back and the CM was trying to lower the security bar so we didn't fall out and become victims of the Old Hag and her poisonous apples. After hunderds of rides, I noticed for the very first time that the gates in the queue have apple shapes in them. You'll have to go see for yourself. It's wicked neat-o!

Nice little old lady, my tuchas!

Pirates of the Caribbean was calling our names. They had two lines going and we tried to figure out which one was actually the shorter one and we guessed right. The line moves pretty quickly anyhow. It was funny and cute to watch little Logan turn around left and right in his carrier to see everything. He didn't get fussy or frightened one bit. I think he even barked at the dog.

From pirates to ghosts, Haunted Mansion was the follow-up attraction. Ya know those people in the Stretching Room who know all the words and recite them out loud? That was the entire room. Strangely enough, I was the only who let out the evil maniacal laugh after, "Of course, there's always my way." Yoli and I shared a doom buggy, the one beside us held the trouble-making Jennifers who screamed repeatedly. Kids!

What could possibly brighten things up after such a gloomy scene? Why, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, of course! Six, uhh, seven to a honey pot and we fit just right. Did you know that a few friends from Country Bear Jamboree are still hanging around? Write this down, as you come out of the psychadelic Heffalumps and Woozles room, look up and back quickly.

Some shopping took place and snacks were bought in Pooh Corner. Virginia got a block of ice cream squares that Logan loved. For the life of me I can't recall what anyone else bought. I didn't get anything. My body was too tired and my small tootsies hurt, so carrying anything else was pretty much not going to happen.

My posse make a group decision to head back over to CA Adventure and check out the wait at Toy Story Midway Mania. Again, we opted for the single rider line. Lisa was told to use the baby swap deal so she waited off to the side for the rest of us to ride and come back. I rode with another guy who hadn't played before which allowed me my first victory. Yeehaw!

When I got back, Lisa was waiting for me. I thought she had to have someone watch Logan but they said she could take him on but he had to sit on her or next to her. She couldn't wear him in the carrier. He looked all around as we spun and faced the screens to shoot at. It dawned on me that what Logan saw was just blurs because he wasn't wearing any 3D glasses so I put mine on him. It quickly became apparent that he noticed a huge difference in things. He even kept them on most of the time only moving them to double-check what he saw with and without them. We (both Lisas) couldn't help but laugh.

As the evening events were drawing near, we split up. Jen went home to her teenage son Corey as he'd been home with a pile of homework all day. Lisa and Virginia slowly made their way out and to the parking structure. Yoli and Cousin Jenny got a few more attractions under their belts and I went and retrieved my jacket and tripod from the gargantuan locker. I was moving painstakingly slow (yes, even slower than my regular turtle pace) and got into the park pretty late for the greatest nighttime show ever, Remember...Dreams Come True. Somehow I found enough space for myself towards the front of the crowd but too far to the right for a clean shot. Also, I couldn't set up my tripod as there wasn't enough space so my fireworks photos are terrible. At least I got to half-watch the show.

I don't know if it's the music, the pretty colors, or the lasers that distract me from the kabooms but I never completely acknowledge the noise from the fireworks. I bring this up because at every other park I wear earplugs because I dislike loud explosions so much. Maybe the Disneyland fireworks are quieter? I have no idea.

When the show ended and people began to may their way down Main St., I found a bench to melt into. Knowing Yoli knowing me (you can thank me later for getting Abba's song stuck in your head), she knew I was sitting down, waiting for the crowd to disperse, giving her and Cousin Jenny more time to play. When I met up with them in the Grand Californian lobby, she confirmed what I knew I knew. Then once again, I found a place to sit and poured into the chair. We were so tired but I was the tiredest after 3 consecutive fun-filled, laugh riot, memorable days in the parks.

As we walked into the lobby at Paradise Pier Hotel we saw Brian, the CM who had given us the double upgrade and my balloons and birthday pin. He introduced us to his co-worker and asked where we were headed. I told him we were going back to Yoli's and quietly thinking to myself, give us the room for another night- for free. Yes, I'm silly. It took so long to find someone to get all of my bags from bell sevices that Yoli and Cousin Jenny had gone out to the parking garage, got the car, and drove it around to the loading area. Yoli was so full of energy that she was prancing and hopping about. She was Tigger and I was Eeyore, less the "woe is me" attitude. Anyhow, we loaded up the car, drove her cousin Jenny home and then back to Yoli's.

The plan was to visit Los Angeles and Hollywood the next day, San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park on Tuesday, and revisit Disneyland on Wednesday before my red-eye flight home. Well, I decided that I had to get good photos of the fireworks and make certain I knocked off a bunch of stuff on my To Do List for the Disneyland section of AllEars.Net so the plans were changed and we were going back to Disneyland tomorow.

Tune in next week to find out how I made my Birthday Fun Card go further, why you should check your camera gear before you leave home, and if I got the fireworks photos I wanted.

Oh and one last thing before you close this page. THANK YOU for reading my trip report blog.

April 9, 2009

The Evil Emperor Zurg

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Buzz Lighyear's Space Ranger Spin
Copyright © 2008 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 1/60s shutter, 4, ISO 3200

My favorite interactive attraction (our theme for Pic of the Week this week) is Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom, but not for the reason you might think. For the past couple years, instead of trying for the highest score, I've been trying to score a perfect shot. Between the darkness and the fast movement, getting a good picture on this ride is a real challenge. This is the best I've been able to get so far.

April 10, 2009

Metering Modes Revisited

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last year I went in-depth and explained the three different metering modes found on our digital SLR and advanced point and shoot cameras. These are Matrix, Center-weighted and Spot. At the time, I used some un-Disney like photos to show the difference between each mode. I thought a side by side comparison would be helpful as a review.

The three photos below were taken from Sea Breeze Point near Disney's Boardwalk Resort shows the three different metering modes in action.

Metering mode collage from Sea Breeze Point near Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Metering mode collage from Sea Breeze Point near Disney's Boardwalk Resort.

As I have mention in previous posts, Matrix metering in today's digital cameras is very good except in the most challenging of lighting situations like stage lights, backlighting and very low light conditions (dark rides). When faced with one of the challenging conditions, I will use Spot metering over the other two like in the photo from the Festival of the Lion King.

Festival of the Lion King performer in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Festival of the Lion King performer in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D70/70-200VR, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 800, EV 0, 200mm Focal length

April 11, 2009

3-D Mania!

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Toy Story Mania rider gets ready for a series of 3-D midway computer games in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Toy Story Mania rider gets ready for a series of 3-D midway computer games.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/5s, f/3.5, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 18mm Focal Length

The newest interactive ride at Walt Disney World is Pixar's Toy Story Midway Mania which is part ride and part computerized midway gaming machine. The ride vehicle whisks you from one game panel to the next with Toy Story characters helping and cheering you along the way. Each panel uses 3-D visuals so you will be wearing those styling 3-D glasses. Oh and make sure you limber up your wrists while waiting in the queue. You'll thank me later. Hope you enjoyed my Disney Pic of the Week for Interactive Rides.

April 12, 2009

Where in the World #81

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

This was Challenge #80:
 Where in the World #80

And here's the answer:
Canada Pavilion in Epcot
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200VR, 1/800s shutter, f/8

O Canada! Hello to all our Canadian readers! The answer to this week's challenge is the Canada Pavilion in Epcot. Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in World Showcase. How perfect is the theming of this country? I mean, just look at this photo - you can't tell me that looks anything like central Florida!

Cara Richards was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Cara and all the readers who got the answer right: Karen Nelson, Christine Bishop, Ed Aleszczyk, Paul Cooper, Darlene Harmon, Diane C., Charlie Scheer, Sarah Smee, Evelyn Wilson, Elizabeth A. Kormesser, Kris Nixon, Sharon Pierce, Melissa Karolak, Chris Murphy, Kathy Berry, James Berry, Boris Beckert, Michele Delorenzo, David And Melissa Lizewski, Mike Chambers, Caryn Schill, Jackson Hart, Jay Agreste, Will Bennett, Sherry Klinefelter, Jamie Kelly, Blake Schmidt, Lin Fales, Steve Benson, Scott Cullen, Belicia Dawson, Brian Yesutis, Danielle Murgia, Scott Khachadourian, Joanne Duddy, Barbie Lawless, John Dupre, Kimberly Kusser, Jackie Purcell, Susan Thompson, Dave Cole, Caroline Dupre, Brian Gallant, Holley Blyler, Elizabeth Akerley, Jeffrey Dunne, Erica Sipich, Tim Wingfield, Michelle Mcknight, Kelley H, Jen Cerce, Pasquale Crea, Scott Otis, Jill Fogg, Andrea Mayo, Chrsitina Rotella, Sherry Steele, Carrie Chavez, Judy K, Dawn Bach, Jaime Thomson, Robin Fitts, Megan Evans, Linda Abbate, Melea Broekers, Tom Koval, April Ramey, Karen Hotchkiss, Marshal Knight, Julia Wickware, Tim Johansen, Jillian Secord, Jen Cox, Maryjean Kancel, Teddy, Tricia Noble, Debra Kuklinski, Luis Rodriguez, Carinne Kight, Diane Arsenault, Richard Caprio, Dylan Weidner, Kari R., Andrew &Debby Webber, Bonnie Smith, Tim Rachuba, Carolyn Como, Jonathan Thomas, Linda Kasych, Christina Marie, Vincent Maltese, Hollie Hinton, April Pangburn, James Hickey, Michael Haven, Cameron Lange, Jessica Thompson, Becky Terjung, Melissa Dye, Dallas Hamilton, Karen Schlumpf, Jared Orth, Danusia Rogacki, Stephanie Servaites, Glenn Meyer, Linda Mac, Sarah Connors, Scott Button, Jeffrey Beauchamp, Tracy Discher, Lori Rienhardt, Bruce Arnold, Laura Barnes, Greg, Deanna Simmons, Nicole Lauzon, Gaylin Chev, Bill Mckim, Jen Schultz, Karen Dresser-smith, Kellie Carter, Samantha French, Jillian Domings, Elizabeth Macgregor, Dina Grassi, Kelly Taylor, Caitlin Barringer, Amy Miller, Jamie Poynton, Kelly Zanauskas, Cheryl Costello, Wendy Palmquist, Casey Sullivan, Ronnie, Katy M. Robinson, Nicole Amidon, Christina Sharkey, Dawn, Nancy Cullison, Bob Hendrix, Paul Newman, Sharon Dale, Tina Benco , Mike Malampy, Mike Thomson, Daniel Meagher, Catherine Chiarello, Katie From Jupiter, Matt Taylor, Jessica Marcotte, Kirsten Stark, Krista Penno, Robin Mcconnell, Gemma K, Nick Straka, Robyn Couture, Kathy Sandford, Chris Auckland, Vickie Scioneaux, Dana Hall, Nikki Powell, Deb Nichols-silhan, Laney Wood, Jennifer Collingwood, Christine Benoit, Sandy Miller, Liz Moreau, Sharon Stieg, Heather Mcfall, Roye Ann Morris, Richard Nussbaum, Kenya Shirley, Heather Coursen, Gary Allen, Trish Babler, Anastasia Branco, Kristin Dormuth, Betsey Pickard, Carol Donoghue, Melissa Demonbreun, Wendy Ip, Heidi Summers, Bob H., Jessica Reed, Candace Dadswell, Bob Sertic, Jacque Schmidt, Heidi Goodhue, Kirk Hardy, John R Arena Jr, Lorna Goodnoh, Kathryn Hughes, Gary E Genteman, Cheri Palmisano, Jennifer Tremley, Eric Bouchet, Anjanette Tournillon, Peggy Saeger, Phil Vickers and Katarina Whitmarsh. Each of you will be entered in the April winners' drawing.

This next week's challenge comes to you from our very own Jack Spence. I told him you all are good, but he's still looking to stump you. If you haven't already, be sure to check out Jack's fabulous AllEars blog, The World According to Jack.

Challenge #81: Where in the world is this?

 Where in the World #81

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, April 16, by clicking on the button below. Please do not post answers using the Comment link at the bottom of this post.

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies and a cool Disney book!

April 14, 2009

Disney Pics of the Week - Reptiles and Amphibians

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

A reptile is a cold-blooded vertebrate (an animal with a backbone) that lays eggs and has scales or plates on its skin. An amphibian is an animal that can live in both air and water. Amphibians can breathe air with their lungs and can absorb oxygen through their skin. It's been a long time since I took biology. I actually had to google these to remind myself what the difference was! Guess what our Pic of the Week topic is this week - reptiles and amphibians!

Komodo Dragon at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200VR lens, 1/320s shutter, f5.6, ISO 800

This Komodo Dragon can be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Komodo Dragons are the largest living species of lizard and can live as long as fifty years. They can be as much as 9 feet long and weigh 150 pounds. Their tail is as long as their body and they have about 60 serrated teeth that can measure up to an inch in length. I wouldn't want to happen upon this guy outside of Disney World, especially if he was hungry!

April 15, 2009

My Disneyland Birthday Extravaganza: The Wrap Up

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

My vacation only had three days left, including this one. With our camera equipment, snacks, and lists packed up and ready to go, Yoli and I headed back to Disneyland one last time for the week. Our mission was to run around like lunatics (that's our norm), hit the attractions and get work done for AllEars.Net.

Since we'd been staying at Paradise Pier Hotel the past few nights, this was the first time we had to park in the Mickey & Friends Parking structure vs the hotel parking garage. We were directed to Minnie's level, the roof. Uh-oh this could mean the parks were swamped. Down the escalators and left to wait for the tram it became apparent that it could, in fact, be very crowded. Phooey! I hadn't been able to do my "there's no one here" spin in front of Pirates of the Caribbean yet.

It was better to get the CA Adventure list done first so that we could easily end the night at Disneyland and not have to criss-cross parks. First we headed into Hollywood Pictures Backlot so I could gather what I wanted from the Animation building. There was an a capella group performing out front but I was watching the clock so we headed on inside.

The art deco design is cool and there will be more of it after California Adventure's facelift.

Here you'll find Turtle Talk with Crush, Animation Academy, the Sorcerer's Workshop, and Art of Animation Gallery. Both Crush and the Academy were showing at the same time and I was going to send Yoli to one while I hit the other, however, after taking a photo or two of the zoetrope in the Gallery, her battery croaked. Learn from my friend's situation and check your batteries the day/night before you go out shooting. The poor thing was completely saddened by her oversight and punished herself by carrying my tripod around all day. OK, it wasn't a punishment, she's just an awesome friend & is always helpful.

It looks even cooler when it's spinning!

I decided to skip both shows and head into the Sorcerer's Workshop where Lumiere and Cogsworth help you to find out which Disney character you are most like. In the Workshop you can also lend your voice to a Disney cartoon before that 8-tentacled, devious Ursula swipes it from you. In another room you may bestow your eyes upon Magic Mirror on the wall.

The next thing scribbled in my notes says "characters." I uh, suppose that this, uh, means we uh, saw characters. Ooh! We did, we saw Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse in Sunshine Plaza. I have a visual now.

Well, let's move onto Flik's Fun Fair, a section of the park created specifically for little grubs by Flik and his insect pals. The funniest thing that happened here was when I casually and kiddingly tried to convince a Cast Member to run through the sprinklers in Princess Dot Puddle Park so I could take an action shot. Hopefully, he didn't give himself whiplash by shaking his head "no" back and forth so rapidly.

Put your hands up in the air cuz we're going through a watermelon and it has seeds!

Time for a lunch break. I grabbed an order of fish and chips at Farmer's Market & Yoli ate whatever it is that she brought from home. Me thinks it was peanut butter and jelly but I might be thinking ahead to Tuesday. From here we crawled over to Pacific Wharf to grab menu pics. Yoli and I were kinda pooped out from running around with our friends and she had put in double time at work for over a week before my arrival. But we perservered in the name of magic, dreams, wishes, and all of the other words that Disney repeats.

Content with what we were able to do, we marched over to Disneyland, albeit, after stopping at the kennel to get some photos and info. That's when it dawned on me that I could hand my point and shoot over to Yoli and we could get back to the original plan of divide and conquer. Hooray! My brain was functioning again!

How many fairies does it take to create and install a sign larger than their homes?

Pixie Hollow was of the highest priority but the wait said it would take an hour. I was trying to make a Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show and gather what I needed from Toontown as well. Divide and conquer! Yoli waited in line to meet Tinker Bell and Iridessa while I tried to see what was going on by looking through the blades of grass. That didn't work so I sped off to Toontown and grabbed most of the photos I needed. Meeting Mickey Mouse while he was filming a movie was going to take too long so I bailed.

Tinker Bell caught me and a few others peering through the grass. We split before she got upset. She's got quite the temper, you know.

When I returned to the line I excused myself all the way to the front where I asked the CM where Yoli was. She'd just finished meeting the fairies. Now, you're thinking that it took me about an hour to do what I had to do but the truth is the wait for Tinker Bell was only 40 minutes at best. The CM let me go through the meet and greet and I did so very quickly. When I exited Yoli and I were calling each other to see where the other one was. I suggested to the CM at the entrance that the wait time be changed and was astounded by his response of, we post it longer than it really is so that only the people who really want to meet Tinker Bell get to. Excuse me?

No visit to my park is complete without a riveting performance by Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. She found a perfect table at the far right end of the 2nd row. For the first time, I videotaped their show and I wished I had multiple cameras set up around the Golden Horseshoe for various angles. Now I can watch them any time I want. Yeehaw! To top it off, Billy Elvis did a medley of hits.

Having spent 3 consecutive days in the parks you'd think I would have done most of the attractions or at least my favorites but alas, that didn't happen until today or the day I'm writing about. Making a u-turn into Adventureland the first item was the Enchanted Tiki Room. We sat below Jose, in the front row. It's always a great show and one that both my mom and I favor. Have you ever heard of Maynard, a cast member? Sometimes he works in this attraction as Tiki Boy. He cracks me up. I'm laughing right now.

Note: The original Jose is retired but is perched in the room. As you walk in, go straight, staying to the left, and he's kind of in the corner.

Raise your hand if you LOVE Jungle Cruise. Good, now raise your hand if you know all or at least most of the jokes. You are my people. Take a bow.

Tim does the best sound effects out of any other skipper on our boat.

We embarked on a river tour led by Tim. He fought off hippos, steared us away from piranhas, and had to deal with me mouthing punchlines. I can't help it. Just give me the outfit and put me in a boat.

Yoli and I wisely chose to use the Single Rider offer at Indiana Jones Adventure. We got to our jeep in less than 10 minutes. If you've never ridden this, you've got to, it's one of the best attractions in any Disney park even if you might get squashed by a gigantic boulder or pierced by poisonous arrows.

Determined to photograph Remember...Dreams Come True, we went to stake out a spot in front of the castle. People had already grabbed seats on the benches and on the curb but there was still plenty of room to set up a tripod. I kid you not when I say I offered $5.00 to a family to hold a spot for me. Too bad they thought I was joking.

Since we had time and I felt confident that I could still get the location I wanted, we went to Rancho Zocalo for dinner. I can't eat anything spicy but it was close by and Yoli was happy with it, plus I was buying. I don't recall what she had but I got a bag of cinnamon chips. I'm trying to remember if I ate anything else later but I'm drawing a blank.

When we got back to the Hub I grabbed a space next to a bench and had plenty of room to set up. I wanted to make sure I got both Sleeping Beauty's Castle and Matterhorn in the frame. Why the Matterhorn? Because it fires back, baby! Remember...Dreams Come True is truly like no other. I won't give it all away but fireworks are only a part of this spectacular show of choreographed sights and sounds.

See, I told you it was awesome!

Leaving Disneyland until my next vacation is a real downer. That's why Main St stays open an additional hour, right, to elongate the happiness I'm feeling just a bit more. Fine, it's so that I'll spend money and guess what? It worked!

There was a $69 Birthday Fun Card burning a hole in my pocket. Yoli and I checked out a few shops before I settled on getting everything at the Emporium. I picked up a pin to represent the trip, a hooded zippered sweatshirt, a small tray, postcards (which I have yet to mail), and a set of coasters with pop art from the 50th anniversary series. Combined that added up to almost $69.00 but my friend Lisa had given me a coupon. Annual Passholders received 20% off their total purchase at certain locations. Neither the coupon nor the Birthday Fun Card stated they couldn't be used together so I saved about $13.00 and that moolah is still sitting on my card which doesn't expire. Tadaaaaaa!

Little Yoli was so wiped out that I drove us back to her house. It felt great to drive the roads I navigated for several years.

In the morning we packed ourselves up again and met up with Lisa and Logan at San Diego's Wild Animal Park. There's lots of walking and plenty of animals to see as well as gorgeous views of the mountains.

We parked in Lion, row 11.

Wednesday we were going to meet up with our friend Jenn (another Jennifer, we know several. Yo, Figgy!). Well, Yoli did something bad to her back and could barely move. After her hubby and I taunted her, stretched her out, and he tried to fix her, we decided to see if Jenn would come to us. Luckily, she did and she drove me to the airport later. Thanks Jenn!

This my faithful readers, is the end of my trip report. As you can see I had a wicked awesome time with my totally radical friends.

Are you going to Disneyland? Be sure to read up on it and CA Adventure here at AllEars.Net If you've never been, go. Go now! You'll love it. My friends and I do.

Would you go to Disneyland if AllEars.Net hosted a meet or two?

April 16, 2009

Baby Gator

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A baby American Alligator is warmed by light in the Conservation Station of Rafiki's Planet Watch in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

A baby American Alligator is warmed by light in the Conservation Station of Rafiki's Planet Watch.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/25s, f/5.6, ISO 200, 150mm Focal Length

For my Disney Pic of the Week for Reptiles and Amphibians I choose this baby American Alligator, a reptile, which was enjoying a warm greenish light in the Conservation Station of Rafiki's Planet Watch in Disney's Animal Kingdom. There's a little Picture This! history with this photo. When Barrie, Lisa and I were talking about how to post more photos of Disney themeparks as the survey Deb did for us indicated, I used this photo as an example of what was to become our Disney Pic of the Week feature.

April 17, 2009

More on Portraits

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This is a follow up to Lisa's excellent Quick Tips for Quick Portraits article where she showed how to create a portrait of AllEars.net founder, Deb Wills. The only thing I wish to add is many times we are taking these photos in bright Florida sun or in the shade where our favorite Disney characters like to hang out. When faced with those kind of conditions, I like to add fill light using either a flash unit or on-board camera flash (if the camera has it).

Unlike Lisa, I could not move the statuette of Dumbo and Timothy in the Hub area in front of Cinderella Castle where I had my subject pose for her portrait. This meant I needed to add light to "fill" in the shadows caused by the bright afternoon sun. Like Lisa suggests, I found a good background and, by kneeling down, I found an angle which kept out fellow vacationers, too.

A Disney Portrait in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A Disney Portrait in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 27mm focal length

You can see the flash in my subject's sunglasses. If she had not been wearing them, she probably would have been badly squinting so I didn't ask her to remove them. I could remove the hot spot via software if I wanted to.

Fill Flash is one of the secrets of the Disney Photopass photographers. If you watch them, you'll notice they always use fill flash during the day. Check your camera and/or flash manual to see how to set it/them for fill flash. It's sometimes called balanced fill flash.

April 18, 2009

It's a Hard Knock Life

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

I spent 6 months helping my cousins in Miami take care of their two tortoises. By taking care, I mean I tossed lettuce into their pens and on occasion let them out separately to walk around the yard. This meant keeping the puppy away from the tortoises, and the dog, and the parrot, the snakes, the cat, the iguana, annnnd that's it. Just thought I'd share that bit of trivia with you.

Here we have a Galapagos tortoise as found in Animal Kingdom's (you were thinking Hollywood Studios, weren't you?) Tree of Life Discovery Island Trails. I don't know if this reptile is a boy or a girl so I've held back from naming him/her. If you'd like to learn more about Galapagos tortoises, take a look at this page from The San Diego Zoo.

I'd like to give a shout out to my friends in the 305!

April 19, 2009

Where in the World #82

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

This was Challenge #81:
 Where in the World #81

And here's the answer:
Planet Hollywood Shop at Downtown Disney
Copyright © 2009 Jack Spence, Nikon D80, 1/250s shutter, f/8, ISO 400

Jack was right, this one was hard. Most people, understandably, thought it was taken in front of the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios. This picture actually comes from the Planet Hollywood merchandise shop, outside of the Planet Hollywood Restaurant at Downtown Disney Westside. The outside of the shop is covered with handprints. If you look at the picture closely, you can see "white" areas on the building. This is where the handprints are. Thanks Jack - that was a fun one. Oh, by the way, I didn't know the answer either!

Scott Otis was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Scott and all the readers who got the answer right: Nathan Cripe, Tina Cooper, Jeffrey Dunne, James Berry, Kathy Berry, Jaime Thomson, Melissa Dye, Michele Delorenzo, Brian Yesutis, Cheri Palmisano, Carinne Kight, Danielle Murgia, Anne Hainsworth, Alicia Henderson, Wendy Ip, Jen Cerce, Noreen Rachuba and Katarina Whitmarsh. Each of you will be entered in the April winners' drawing.

Challenge #82: Where in the world is this?

 Where in the World #82

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, April 23, by clicking on the box below. Please do not post answers using the Comment link at the bottom of this post.

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies and a cool Disney book!

April 20, 2009

June Disney World Calendar

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

This month's calendar is from Canada in Epcot's World Showcase. I know for some of us, it seems like a long time away before we see blooming roses. Hang in there though - it's not as far off as you might think. June is only six weeks away!

You will need to have Adobe Reader on your computer to download the calendar(s). Just click on the photo to download the calendar you want.

This one prints out at 8.5" x 11". It's handy if you need a calendar that you can write on.

June 2009 8.5x11 Calendar

This one prints out at 4.75" x 4.75", the perfect size for a CD Jewel Case frame.

June 2009 Jewel Case Calendar

April 21, 2009

Disney Pic of the Week: Adventureland!

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Adventureland, the subject of our Disney Pic of the Week is home to enchanted Tiki Birds, Aladdin's Magic Carpets, singing Caribbean Pirates and the ingenious Swiss Family Treehouse. Let's not forget the most grueling attraction of all, the Jungle Cruise! Where else in Walt Disney World are you held captive in a small boat by a Skipper whose main purpose is to outdo the other skippers to see who can tell the most gut-retching puns?

I knew on my last ride on the world's four most famous and dangerous rivers (all done in about 9 minutes, too!), the Skipper was going to get me home safely. How did I know? Look at the watch she's was wearing.

A Jungle Cruise Skipper addressing the crew in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

A Jungle Cruise Skipper addressing the crew in Adventureland.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/18, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 105mm Focal Length

Come back on Thursday and Saturday to see which adventures Barrie and Lisa take you on in Adventureland.

April 22, 2009

Batteries 101 & 102 Revisited

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

In honor of Earth Day, I'm recycling my first two AllEars.Net blog entries. Wait, it gets better. I'm recycling battery blogs. Thank you, thank you.

We bloggers have had an incredible increase in the number of readers and so a good percentage of you may have never read what I am re-posting. For those of you who have read this before, I've added updates.

There are a variety of things to consider when shopping for a digital point and shoot camera. In my experience I have found that people make the choices that are best for them and that's the right thing to do. If you do your research, without making yourself crazy, and ask a few friends what they like/dislike about their cameras you will be a better educated consumer. Let's get you started on the road of knowledge.

Batteries: Positive and Negative (get it? a ha ha hmm) **This joke still makes me laugh**

A digital point and shoot will either run on AA batteries or a lithium-ion battery. Some cameras will allow you to substitute a CRV3 lithium or lithium-ion for 2 AA batteries. AA's are what we're most familiar with. We use them in toys, walkmans **flashlights**, discmans, and those water bottle/fans that Disney sells. Well, I'm assuming they take AA maybe they use AAA batteries. I'm **still** too cheap to buy one. Moving on, lithium-ions are what is in your cell phone. It's that square or rectangular flat battery that keeps your phone powered so you can talk till the cows come home from a rollicking game of bingo.

I've compiled a list of pluses and minuses to both types of power.


+ Easy to find in gift shops, drug stores, and even gas stations should you forget to pack them or they wear out. **You can buy them in bulk at wholesale warehouses.**
+ Most cameras take 2 and most chargers will power 4 at a time. This gives you a spare set ready for action
+ Rechargeables will allow an average of 250-300 shots per charge. **As cameras now have bigger LCDs and longer zoom lenses, rechargeable AAs will get you 150-200 photographs per charge.**

+ Alkalines can last as little as 20 minutes. **Make that 10 minutes. I've seen it happen.**
+ Spend more money on alkaline and lithium.

Plus and Minus: Chargers can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 8 hours, depending on the charger and strength of batteries.


+ Available in camera stores and electronic stores
+ Average battery will take 400 shots per charge **Make that 300 photos for the same reasons stated previously.**
+ Chargers are compact


+ Average manufacturer's price is $30-60 for a spare. Off-brand lists for about $20-40. **Manufacturer's battieries can go for $70 these days and the off-brands, up to $50.00.**
+ Like your cell phone battery, some last longer than others


Lithium-ions (left and center) come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are also designed to work with specific cameras. AA's are always the same size but are either alkaline, lithium, oxyhydroxide, NiCad or NiMH.


Alkaline - Bar none these are the ones we've all used. They're easy to find in your local supermarket and wholesale warehouses among many other locals. While they may be the most common they don't last very long. Alkaline batteries actually lose power sitting around waiting for you to buy them and while sitting idle in electronic devices. My recommendation is to only use them in a pinch. A 4-pack averages $5.00.

Oxy nickel hydroxide - What? I know, I know...most people haven't heard of this species. It's a new cross-breed of throw away batteries. They're not as easy to find as they should be. In comparison to alkalines, oxy nickel hyroxide batteries last twice as long. A 4-pack goes for around $6.00 and are avaliable in electronics stores as well as discount department store chains. **I've seen 12-packs by Panasonic for about $3.00 at Ritz Camera.**

Lithium - Energizer is producing these and advertising them everywhere. These powerful little guys last 5-7 times as long as alkalines. In fact they can outlast rechargeables however once they're kaput, they're kaput. Look for them in camera shops, hardware stores, and online. A 4-pack costs $15.00. **They've come down to roughly $12.00 for 4 batteries.**


Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) - An alternative to the previously listed batteries are rechargeables. Since they can be used over and over again, you'll save money in the longrun. NiCd's are a great option in this regard. There are a variety of companies making them. Ideally they are for those who use their cameras often because these batteries can develop problems if they are not properly discharged before recharging. A 4-pack of AA's with a charger sells at $20 -30.00.

Nickel-metal hyrdride (NiMH) - As more and more consumers are purchasing their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th digital camera they've learned that NiMH batteries are the way to go. Unlike NiCd's, they can withstand random charging . Available for purchase nearly everywhere you find alkalines, a set of 4 can be bought for $10.00 or with a charger for $15-40.00. Also, there's another breed elbowing it's way into town. These are ready-to-use AA's made by Sanyo and Rayovac among others. Typically they cost $12 for a 4-pack. ** Sanyo's Eneloops are very popular nowadays and come in a variety of packages.**

Important things to remember:

Never mix battery types in a camera.

Store batteries in a cool dry place. They are perishable; extreme heat or cold can ruin them.

Don't attempt to charge alkaline, lithium or oxy nickel hyroxide batteries. **They will leak and/or explode. You can ruin the charger as well.**

New NiCd's and NiMH's need to be fully charged before their first use.

Don't leave your charger plugged in for an excessive amount of time.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Check out our Camera Section of the AllEars Amazon.com Store!
Camera and Lens
Photo Books and Magazines

April 23, 2009

They're Watching You

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

When I think of Adventureland, my mind conjures up the sound of beating drums, the greenery of the jungle and the scent of gasoline and it places them all in Disneyland. What can I tell ya, I'm a Disneyland girl at heart.

My entry this week is what's above you as you exit Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. There's so much colorful and beautiful detail in the outside of this building that if you don't stop to look at it, then you'll miss it. Extra kudos to the team that rethatched the roof and worked on the Tiki Room's exterior makeover.


Here's a closer look. I'm curious as to if there's any story or reasoning behind this artwork.


April 24, 2009

Using a Tripod at WDW

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Hollywood Studios Entrance, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Hollywood Studios Entrance.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 30s, f/16, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, 170mm Focal length, Tripod

I have never carried a tripod into a Walt Disney World park until my last trip. I thought it would be too much trouble and a bother. However, if you plan ahead, it can be done without too much disruption to your family's enjoyment. First, you have to consider how to carry the tripod the times you decide to bring one. For me it started with the choice of tripod. I didn't want one too heavy or big and easy to carry. I settled on a Manfrotto 725B Digi Tripod with Integrated Ball Head and Carrying Bag which is all those things and cost about $135. This tripod has since been replaced by the Manfrotto 7302YB M-Y Tripod and still comes with a ball head and carrying bag at around the same price. The carrying bag allowed me to carry the tripod over my shoulder comfortably. Now, don't get me wrong, I would not carry the tripod all day long. The main reason for using a tripod at Walt Disney World is for long exposure photography in the early mornings, evenings and fireworks.

MK locker
On the days I planned to use a tripod, I would rent a locker at the parks. The tripod fit easily in a LARGE locker (see photo) so make sure you ask for one of this size. It was also handy to store sweatshirts or sweaters if you are visiting when the nights cool down. This let me go on rides and attractions without having to deal with the bulkiness of a tripod. The lockers are located near the front entrances to the parks so be aware of how long it will take to retrieve the tripod. I tried to plan to be near the front of the park about an hour before sunset. That gave me more than enough time to get to the locations I had in mind.

So, what are the advantages of a tripod besides being able to shoot at long exposures. It lets you use low ISO setting which means less noise and better clarity to your photos. All of my tripod photos were taken at my camera's lowest ISO setting of 200. Tripods, used correctly, give your camera a rock steady platform with no shake. To insure as little or no camera movement as possible use a remote shutter release or your camera's self-timer. Some people even go so far as locking up the mirror (see your camera's manual on how to do this).

Temple of Heaven in the China pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase at dusk, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Temple of Heaven in the China pavilion at dusk.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 8s, f/8, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, 18mm Focal length, Tripod

I keep mentioning how I planned to use a tripod and to be at a certain place. Think of it as an extension of your normal planning process and make sure your family is involved so they know what you want to do and expect. For fireworks, your family will probably want to be with you. Other times, they may want to explore while you are waiting through 10, 20, 30 second or longer exposures. It pays to research locations. In previous visits, I would try and take a night photo which just wouldn't work hand-held so I would make a mental note. flickr is a great place to find locations as there are many photographers who specialize in Disney themepark photography.

Sometimes you might just come upon them as you walk around. On a previous trip, I walked the trail between Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Epcot resort area late at night. I looked over the canal to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror all lit up in very moody colors fitting the theme of the ride and knew I would need to come back with a tripod which I finally did.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at night from the walking trail to the Epcot resort area.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 30s, f/11, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, 130mm Focal length, Tripod

This was taken late at night which is another way to capture unique night time photos at Walt Disney World when the parks are close to being empty of visitors and there's a chance the water around and in the parks is calm. I had such a night during my last visit and was able to get mirrored images around the Epcot resort area like in this photo of the Swan Resort.

The Swan Resort mirrored in the canal the Friendship boats use during the day, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
The Swan Resort mirrored in the canal the Friendship boats use during the day.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 30s, f/11, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, 18mm Focal length, Tripod

Using a tripod at Walt Disney World does take some effort and advanced planning but the rewards of capturing photos you could never get without one is worth it. Will I always take a tripod to a Disney park now? That will depend on what I have planned and who will be accompanying me but I will never think of it as a burden. Tripods open up far more opportunities when the Sun goes down.

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April 25, 2009

Thar She Blows!

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Pirates of the Caribbean sign in Adventureland
Copyright © 2008 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200VR lens, 2.5s shutter, f11

I'm sure most everyone recognizes this boney fellow. Perched high atop the sign for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Adventureland, this long-gone swashbuckler keeps an eye out for possible riches to be had. In fact, he has two eyes out!

April 26, 2009

Where in the World #83

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

This was Challenge #82:
 Where in the World #82

And here's the answer:
Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor Bulletin Board
Copyright © 2008 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 18-200VR, 1/100s shutter, f/5, ISO 2500

This bulletin board gives you some amusing reading material while waiting in the queue for Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club in the Magic Kingdom.

Bonnie Smith was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Bonnie and all the readers who got the answer right: Linda Mac, Craig Canady, Marc Lorenzo, Ken Fischler, Paul Cooper, David Coates, Evelyn Cowdell, Charlie Scheer, Chloe Williams , Rick Shea, Irene Kleintop, Angie Young, Jennifer Chartier, Brandy White, Ann Fowler, Brian Miller, Karen Nelson, Sharon Pierce, Marie Wolfe, Jodi Cook, Jennifer Snapp, Matthew Cofone, Jennifer, Daria Hagemeyer, Chris Masse, Sarah Biggs, Pollyanna Buff, Kris Nixon, Nathan Cripe, James Greene, Paula Massarelli, Zach Jones, Ronnie Lane, Dylan Weidner, Ashley Mayer, Jane Bradley, Christine Benoit, Jennifer Harmon, Robert Green, Jen Cerce, Tricia Gordon, Paul Moody, Leslie Dameron, Shannon Milair, Sharon Lee, Lisa Berton, Diane C., Emily Currier, Sherry Klinefelter, Christopher Bourassa, Nancy Munger, Rochelle, Elizabeth K. Collins, Kye Layton, Chris Murphy, Brian Gallant, Gayle Myrick, Brianne F, Karen Adamakis, Krista Penno, Michelle In Maryland, Paula Munson, Mike M., John Dupre, Caroline Dupre, Samuel Shotick, Danusia Rogacki, Theresa Rucando, Chris Moore, Allie, Valerie Gugala, Teri Jo Fuson, Tina, Sarah B, Cindy Dore', Louise Barton, Joy Johnston, Carol Lyons, Dave Cole, Ali S., Becky Terjung, Belicia Dawson, Scott Cullen, Robert Anderson, Tim Rachuba, Susan Thompson, Amanda Penhale, Michelle Thompson, Emily Wilburn, Travis Grim, Tim Johansen, John Agnew, Anna Mansfield, Dave Wang, Michelle Roth-smoot, Matthew Waga, Jeffrey Dunne, Robin Fitts, Jennifer Tremley, Emily Robinson, Anne Hainsworth, Callie Conrad, Megan Evans, Lori Posey, Tom Carty, Nick Straka, Lisa Hoffman, Eric Hoffman, Kirsty Butler, Elizabeth Macgregor, Brian Yesutis, Samantha French, Danielle Murgia, Debra Kuklinski, Kendall, Colin Christenson, Bob Hendrix, Hillary Waldroop, Jenny Schell, Susan Pitts, Danielle Aston, Mark Swayze, Melanie Knoll, Brian Haas, Penny Urell, Rusty Podbelski, Mary Gagnon, Diane Furtado, Marshal K., Z Cheven, Marissa, Tara Burke, Dan Owens, Stacey Van Dyke, Jessica Gruhlke, Alicia Roth, Jonathan Walker, Scott Otis, Baines Family, Claressa Nisley, Stephanie Chambers, Allison Bacon, Cameron Liner, Krystal Pound, Ashley Pizzino, Tracy Discher, Sue Good, Daniel Bogue, Bill Daniel, Vanessa Gordon, Amanda Campbell, Hailey S, Deanna Kyre, Jennifer Wolcott, Michael Gainey, Jerry Weldon, Linda Abbate, Chris Connors, Kameo Crea, Ian Falk, Jamie Kelly, Steve Benson, Dallas Hamilton, Kelly Montgomery, Tricia Noble, James Steele, Amber Keen, Kate Gillespie, Dana Schirnhofer, Tom Hermes, Krista Tuttle, Michele Delorenzo, Sarah Connors, Mikki Moore, Michelle, Jen Cox, Cameron Lange, Ashley Deitchler, Jason Cannons, Nancy, Douglas Beasock, Kurt Knappman, Karen Robertson, Gregg Mcglasson, Jaclyn Kelch, Lori Rienhardt, Deanna Simmons, Kelly Zanauskas, Melissa Dye, Debbie Hicks, Jillian Smith, Jody Erdfarb, Noreen Rachuba, Rebecca Kelley, Casey Sullivan, Katarina Whitmarsh, Bill Mckim, Kathy Slomka, Carri Marotto, Stephanie Johnston, Krystal Thomas, Jessica Marcotte, Double Family, Denise Owen, James Berry, Kathy Berry, Jamie Poynton, Paul Ignudo, Jr., Jerry Marceau, Margaret Vattes, Ronni Davis, Shiraz, Mark Franklin, Kelly Kobiela, Sarah Smee, Holley Blyler, Danielle Berkovitz, Dave Carriere, Sandra Shaw , Joey Bag Of Doughnuts, Monique Fisher, Brendan Burke, Chloe, Bill Androckitis Jr., Kelly Jean Clarkson, Kelley H, Chuck, Alicia Henderson, Allison Caputa, Anastasia Branco, Anjanette Tournillon, April Ramey, Ashley G, Barclay Bakkum, Betsey Pickard, Brandon Emerson, Brittany Bailey, Carinne Kight, Catherine Chiarello, Cheri, Cheri Palmisano, Chris Hall, Chuck Sands, Clarissa K, Crissy Stout, Dana Castillo, Dana Hall, Darren Bongiovanni, Debbie Hayden, Derek Carty, Devin Wisman, Diane Ramos, Eddie Henson, Erin And Christine Claeys, Erin Savoie, Gary E Genteman, Gretchen Freudenheim, Heather Mcfall, Heather Stevens, Jackson Hart, Jennifer Bogdan, Jennifer Schwing, Josh Rohrbach, Josh Stern, Julie Kimball, Juliet Frances Ohare, Kara, Karen Dresser-smith, Katherine G, Kirsten Stark, Krissy, Kristin , Laura Pranaitis, Lesley Strawderman, Liz Moreau, Liz Walsh, Luanna Wilton, Lynn Barber, Lynn Quintieri, Lynne Cermak, Marie Phillips, Marjorie Green, Mary Williams, Melesia Love, Melissa Hofer, Melissa Temple, Morgan Stalker, Nicole Lopresti, Rob Stewart, Robin Mcconnell, Ryan Simms, Shannon Wolf, Sherri Pell, Shirley Garcowski, Steve Knapp, Suzanne Brown, The Dadswell Family, Tobias Beck, Tom Higbee, Tom Koval, Walter N Clark and Willie Tople. Each of you were entered in the April winners' drawing.

And speaking of that monthly drawing" this month's big winner is Danielle Berkovitz! Congratulations Danielle, you are the lucky recipient of a fabulous Disney book and some really cool AllEars schwag!


Challenge #83: Where in the world is this?

 Where in the World #83

This week I'm looking for a specific answer. I want to hear exactly where you think this is, not just the name of a park or resort where it's located. Show me how observant you are!

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, April 30, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Comment link at the bottom of this post.

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies and a cool Disney book!

April 28, 2009

Disney Pic of the Week - Humor

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Welcome one and all to this week's laugh riot theme, humor. There are always those mischievious moments that ocur when friends and families get together. A smart cookie has them captured for blackmail purposes or just posterity, the choice is yours.

Far beyond the gags of Toontown are numerous other locations and events that turn into funny situations. Join us as we explore our funny bones.


Ya know that specific soda over at EPCOT's Club Cool? Laura drank it. Well, it's funny to me. Heh heh heh.

*Only Laura's tastebuds were harmed in the making of this image.

April 29, 2009

Shooting Through Glass at Night

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Say you're walking down Main St. in Disneyland and a simple yet intriguing window display catches your eye. It's late morning and the sun is already strong. You notice that people, gas lamps, signs, and even the wooden Indian statue you've dubbed Tecumseh because you've seen "Cheers" a zillion times, are reflecting in the glass. The only camera you are armed with is a point and shoot so there's no circular polarizing filter for it to cut out the glare. You tell yourself that you'll return later when it's dark outside and then skip off to Adventureland reciting one-liners from Jungle Cruise and laughing like a hyena.

As you and your friends make your way out of the park you pass by the window again and stop to take a photo of the entire display. What you see is this...

Using a Canon Powershot SX 100 IS, I put the camera on a night setting. This disables the flash and slows down the shutterspeed. Normally we recommend using a tripod but I didn't have one and I'm fairly good at hand-holding. The camera set the following: ISO 400, f2.8 at 1/50

Again, without a circular-polarizer you have to deal with reflections but at least there aren't as many, so you pick and choose which merchandise you want photos of the most. You like the logo on the sweatshirt so you begin with that. Using the zoom lens will offer more detail in the design. Be sure to get the lens as close to the glass as possible as this can also cut down on glare.


The other merchandise you want to photograph are the frosted glasses. You set up the shot, take the photo and upon playback, realize that the lights from the theatre across the street are ruining the picture. Phooey!


By changing your stance, you are moving the reflections, so to speak. Sure you might look odd walking back and forth in front of your subject as you check out the lighting but that's all part of being a better photographer. Look at the difference it makes just by changing your positioning.


Sure, the lights are still in the shot however they add a dramatic effect and you can tell which bulbs have burnt out and need to be replaced.

No flash was used in the making of these photos.

April 30, 2009

A Serious Understatement

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Wet Floor sign on Crescent Lake
Copyright © 2008 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 18-200VR lens, 1/250s shutter, f8

On our photowalk in December, several people found the humor in this safety cone floating in Crescent Lake, including Lisa and Scott. However, knowing that humor was the topic for an upcoming Pic of the Week (and being the brat that I am), I quickly called dibs on using it!

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About April 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Picture This! in April 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.