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Photographing Happily Ever After in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The new Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom is wonderful, beautiful, uplifting, emotional and a visual and musical delight.

But, for a still photographer, like myself, it is extremely challenging. I like my firework photographs to have colorful long streams and bursts. For the previous fireworks show, Wishes, the castle changed colors but not too often. It was easy to open up a camera's shutter for 10, 20, 30 seconds and even longer without worrying too much about how Cinderella Castle would be lighted during those long exposures.

That has all changed with Happily Ever After. The projections which, are often animated, change colors and patterns on Cinderella Castle almost constantly throughout the length of the show. Long exposures would make the projections blend in together leaving ghosts and muted shades of mixed colors.

Not all is hopeless. By studying the show via youTube Videos many times, I found a few places I could get "long" exposures. I put long in quotes as most of the images you will see had shutter speeds of 20 seconds or shorter with most being under 10 seconds by manually opening and closing the camera's shutter.

The show's beginning does hold projections longer than most of the show. Think of it as a preamble period.

I apologize for my location and guest interference. I was not as concerned with location as I was in learning how to photograph the new show. Ignore the trees and other distractions, please.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 18s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

The projection with the symbol from the movie, Moana, I wanted to capture. I knew from the videos I had about 10 seconds. Turns out 13 seconds worked though I swear I counted to 10.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 13s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

This next image shows what happens when I left the shutter open too long. The bottom of Cinderella Castle is a mix of colors as the show was transitioning to its next projection.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 11s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Shorter shutters can result in deeper colors with less processing.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 6.3s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

There are a couple of times there are fireworks being streamed from Cinderella Castle like this.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 15s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

In between the photos I have here there are a lot of animated scenes with characters and other effects being shown. I did not try to photograph those and just enjoyed them. Like the beginning, the ending leading up to the finale has more static projections as the fireworks became more the main subject.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 12s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

The finale has always been a time when you have to use shorter shutter speeds. Disney Imagineers do know how to bring it home.

Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Happily Ever After Fireworks and Castle Projection Show.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 5.4s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Overall, I was happy with the few that came out. Next time I want to first get a better location and work on photographing with high ISO and faster shutters which go less than a second. Then switch to longer shutters and low ISO towards the show's ending.





The previous post in this blog was Disney Pic of the Week: Pop Century Resort.

The next post in this blog is Where in the World #511.

Comments (1)

cathy m.:

Scott,
I think your photos look great!

Scott replies: Thank you, Cathy!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 17, 2017 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Disney Pic of the Week: Pop Century Resort.

The next post in this blog is Where in the World #511.

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