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Photographic Innoventions - Scott's Blog Archives

August 17, 2018

Vacationing in the Olympic Mountains

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Olympic Mountains
Vacationing in the Olympic Mountains

Scott is on vacation this week enjoying the beauty of the Olympic Mountains. If you are interested, you can follow Scott's adventure on this personal Twitter account @sthomasphotos.





August 10, 2018

Epcot's Future World through an UWA Lens

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As I prepare for my vacation to the Northwestern United States, I know I will be using my ultra wide angle (UWA) lens a lot throughout the trip. The Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens is a favorite of mine since I borrowed a friend's for a Walt Disney World trip back in 2015. On my full-frame sensor Nikon D750 camera it is lite, has wonderful clarity, is fast at f/4, has very little distortion, is very wide at 16mm and versatile at 35mm for a portrait lens.

Here are some examples of the lens at work at Epcot's Future World where I first encountered the fabulous JAMMitors performing their fun musical comedy using trash cans other metal objects.

Jammiators perform at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
JAMMitors perform at Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Skylum Intensify CK.

The trick with using an UWA lens is to make sure you find a good subject for the viewers eye's to start with. I put a JAMMitor up front and composed using the Rule of Thirds. Thus your eye's start there before wandering through the rest of a typical Epcot scene.

While waiting for family members inside The Land pavilion and overlooking the Sunshine Seasons Counter Service Restaurant, I took a series of bracketed photos from -2EV to +2EV to take in the large dynamic range of light of the scene. I then merged the photos using Skylum's Aurora HDR software and finished the image off in Adobe Lightroom. The software did an excellent job of getting rid of the ghosts of all the people moving between photographs.

Sunshine Seasons counter service restaurant inside The Land pavilion at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sunshine Seasons counter service restaurant inside The Land pavilion at Epcot's Future World in HDR.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/11, ISO 2000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Skylum Aurora HDR.

With the movie, Finding Dory, having come out just three months before this trip, I found lots of merchandise from the movie. Here is one display inside the Mouse Gears store in Epcot's Future World. Here I wanted everything in focus from the front of the display into the background. I stopped the lens down to f/16 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second at 6400 ISO. The Nikon 16-35VR lens is easy to hand hold at such speeds as the image stablization or vibration reduction in Nikonspeak is almost magical in its capabilities.

Finding Dory merchandise inside Mouse Gears in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Finding Dory merchandise inside Mouse Gears in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/30s, f/16, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

While people rushed by me as I kneeled down to get a low angle of them heading towards Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World after rope drop, I took several photos and found this one to have pleasing guest placement and even some motion blur. To get the blur I had to step the lens down to f/22 and use a circular polarizer filter to get the slow 1/30th of a second shutter speed.

Guests walking towards Spaceship Earth after rope drop in Epcot's Future World , Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests walking towards Spaceship Earth after rope drop in Epcot's Future World .
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/30s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Polarizer, Skylum Intensify CK.

If you have a dSLR or mirrorless camera system, I highly recommend looking at getting an Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) lens for Disney and Landscape photography.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I will be traveling the next two weeks in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. You can follow the adventure via my personal Twitter account @sthomasphotos.





August 3, 2018

Portraits at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Bringing a heavy telephoto zoom lens is something I have only done at Disney's Animal Kingdom a couple of times. In fact, the last time was back in 2013. Looking through these, I will be bringing it again.

The lens I am talking about is the Nikon 80-400mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AF VR Zoom lens. It is a large and heavy lens which is hand-holdable even on a bumpy Kilimanjaro Safari truck as long as you use a fast shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second.

Grant's Zebra

Grant's Zebra photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Grant's Zebra portrait taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.3, ISO 2500, EV +0.3, 250mm Focal Length.

Bongo

Bongo Antelope photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Bongo Antelope portrait taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0.3, 400mm Focal Length.

Once the safari was over, I walked the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and photographed a very accommodating male Silverback Gorilla. At 400mm, the lens really pulled in the animal's character.

Male Silverback Gorilla photographed on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Male Silverback Gorilla portrait taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0, 400mm Focal Length.

After hanging out with the animals in Africa, I walked over to Asia to photograph one of my favorite subjects on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the Komodo Dragon.

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Komodo Dragon portrait taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 2200, EV -0.6, 400mm Focal Length.

In the old Flights of Wonder show (replaced by UP! A Great Bird Adventure show since), this beautiful Great Horned Owl posed for me (and the other guests watching the show at the time).

Great Horned Owl on stage during the Flights of Wonder show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Great Horned Owl portrait taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 5000, EV 0, 400mm Focal Length.

Remember, when you carry heavy photography equipment at Walt Disney World, you may want to rent a locker where you can keep such things such as a large lens or tripod until needed.





July 27, 2018

Disney Summer Doldrums

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am in the middle of a long time between visits to Walt Disney World. While I love photographing at WDW, most of the time I unable to be there. What does a Disney photographer do while counting down to the next Disney trip? In my case, I like to explore other aspects of photography via a personal photo blog I have been doing since 2008. There I share, at least, one photo every week. This does a few things, it keeps me on the lookout for subjects and/or events I would like to photograph, I learn new photography techniques to capture photographs, I learn new ways to process digital images and it keeps photography fresh for me. It all helps to improve my Disney photography in the process.

Mickey Mouse fireworks during the Fantasmic! stage show at the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey Mouse fireworks during the Fantasmic! Stage Show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/10, ISO 1600, EV -1.3, 300mm Focal Length.

There are also other ways to keep stretching your photography skills. One photography website I recommend is the Digital Photography School or DPS. It is full of great and to the point articles on all aspects of digital photography from equipment to software, how-tos, exercises and sharing of great photography from other photographers. Articles cover the basics to the most advanced subjects. If you are interested in digital photography, I encourage you to sign up for the DPS Weekly Newsletter.

Here is a sample of articles taken from recent DPS Newsletters which would help us in taking better photographs at Disney parks or at home:

Five Simple Exercises to Improve your Photography

Are You Using Your Camera Wrong? 7 Errors You Need to Avoid

Tips for Photographing Real Estate Interiors

Now, do not laugh at the last article title. Ever wonder how Disney photos of resort rooms look so good and ours looks so bad? I will be trying out the ideas from the article on my next trip.

Meeting talking Mickey Mouse in the Town Center Theater on Main Street USA, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey Mouse and Me at the Town Center Theater on Main Street USA.
Copyright Walt Disney Company. Used with permission.

So, until my next Disney World trip (coming up in 122 days from today), I will continue to read, learn and practice to make the photos from that trip better than ever.

If you have a photography website you enjoy, please, share it in the Comments below.





July 20, 2018

No Tripod Night Photography at Disney Springs

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney Springs at Walt Disney World is one place I very rarely bring a tripod to at night. Mainly because there is often a restaurant reservation with family or friends involved and I like to give them a break. That does not mean my camera is left behind.

With today's digital SLR or mirrorless cameras, there is no longer any worry about using high ISO photography. Some are so good as to go up to over 10,000 ISO without much noise to clean up. My Nikon D750 is getting to be a bit "old" compared to the latest models. Yet, it still handles noise up to ISO 6400 very well and it is easily cleaned up in post-production using a good photo editor like Adobe Lightroom.

You still need use at low shutter speeds and have good camera holding technique. I highly recommend reviewing this post I wrote back in 2008, which is still relevant today called Advanced Camera Holding and features the Da Grip video from Joe McNally. As you review the Exif data in the photos I share below, using Da Grip allowed me to step down my apertures two full stops from each lens' widest aperture.

Speaking of lenses, the first two photos were taken with the trusty Nifty-Fifty. This is one lens I tell all new owners of an interchangeable camera system to get. It is one lens which comes in handy at Walt Disney World from morning to night.

The Rainforest Café's volcano puts on a show several times each day but is most impressive at night.

Rainforest Café volcano show at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rainforest Café volcano show at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/20s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0.

I have eaten at Splitsville but have yet to throw a ball down one of its lanes. Probably because my bowling balls are to heavy to travel with. Perhaps, someday I will rent some shoes and give it a try. The place sure looks great at night with all the neon lighting.

Splitsville Luxury Lanes restaurant and bowling alley at night in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Splitsville Luxury Lanes restaurant and bowling alley at night.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0.

On the top deck of the Paddlefish Restaurant there is an outside bar and lounge with a nice view of the Marketplace. Yes, using Da Grip and a Vibration Reduction or VR lens, it is not hard to hand-hold at 1/4 of a second. I always take several exposures to make sure I get a few sharp ones.

View of Disney Springs Marketplace from the top deck of the Paddlefish restaurant at night, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Disney Springs Marketplace from the top deck of the Paddlefish restaurant at night.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/4s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped.

The Coca Cola Store at night is very red but another impressive sight at night.

Coca-Cola Store at night in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Coca-Cola Store at night in Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/20s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 17mm Focal Length.

I encourage you to read over my past blog posts and go out and practice shooting at night without a tripod.

Now, if you want to get those long multi-second night photos, you have to use a tripod. Check out this blog post on Using a Tripod at Walt Disney World. It is not as hard as you might think it is.





July 13, 2018

Meet the Real Doc Hudson from the Disney Movie, Cars

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Every once in awhile, the Disney fan in me meets up with a real life Disney star. During the summer, I go to a few car events in my area. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a beautiful 1951 Hudson Hornet. Yes, like many cars in the Disney animated movie Cars, "Doc" Hudson had a real life version. Just check out the photos I got of the stock car version starting with the truck showing the Hornet emblem.

Trunk of a 1951 Hudson Hornet photographed near Syracuse, New York
Trunk of a 1951 Hudson Hornet car.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 44mm Focal Length.

The rocket ship shaped Hornet emblem also appears on each quarter panel of the Hudson.

Quarter panel emblem of a 1951 Hudson Hornet photographed near Syracuse, New York
Quarter panel emblem of a 1951 Hudson Hornet car.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 2800, EV 0, 85mm Focal Length.

What made the Hudson Hornet so fabulous in real life was it's Twin H-Power of the dual carburetors.

Twin H-Power dual carburetors of a 1951 Hudson Hornet photographed near Syracuse, New York
Twin H-Power dual carburetors of a 1951 Hudson Hornet car.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/80s, f/8, ISO 4000, EV 0, 55mm Focal Length.

Being a stock car, this Hudson Hornet had a dashboard of the early 1950's. Stark but functional.

Dashboard of a 1951 Hudson Hornet photographed near Syracuse, New York
Dashboard of a 1951 Hudson Hornet car.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/50s, f/8, ISO 4000, EV 0, 44mm Focal Length.

Here are the front and rear views of the 1951 Hudson Hornet which was in great shape for a car that is 67 years old.

Front and rear views of a 1951 Hudson Hornet photographed near Syracuse, New York
Front and rear views of a 1951 Hudson Hornet car.

Now, compare the real thing with the race trimmed "Doc" Hudson from the movie. The Pixar animators did a great job.

Doc Hudson from the movie Cars
Doc Hudson from the movie Cars.

So, as you wander about your life, be on the lookout for Disney references. You just never know when you will run into a Disney Movie Star like I did when I visited Carsland at Disney's California Adventure a few years ago.





July 6, 2018

Fireworks and Monorails at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A monorail passes Journey into Imagination's Reverse Waterfall as Illuminations fireworks explode overhead in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A monorail passes Journey into Imagination's Reverse Waterfall as Illuminations fireworks explode overhead.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 15.7s, f/9, ISO 400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Scott is taking this week off to enjoy Fourth of July festivities which will include fireworks. It reminded him of this photo of a monorail passing Journey into Imagination's Reverse Waterfall as Illuminations fireworks exploded overhead in Epcot's Future World from 2011.

Scott will be back next week sharing more photographic tips from Disney properties.





June 29, 2018

Fantasyland Rides in One Second

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last week I showed you a few on ride photos. This week I want to expand on the motion aspect but from the outside of a moving ride.

Returning at night to the Mad Tea Party (aka the Tea Cups) in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, I setup my camera with a Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens on a tripod as close to the rail as I could. I found an one second shutter speed produced a good exposure at 100 ISO with an f/5 aperture.

Mad Tea Party at night in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mad Tea Party at rest in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0.

I then waited for the ride to start up and get to full speed and took another photo.

Mad Tea Party in motion at night in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mad Tea Party in motion in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0.

I bet you did not think just one second would make such a difference.

After seeing the results at the Tea Cups, I moved over to Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland's Storybook Circus. I repeated the same exposure on a stopped Dumbo ride.

Dumbo, the Flying Elephant at night in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dumbo, the Flying Elephant at rest in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0.

Then again after the ride got up to speed.

Dumbo, the Flying Elephant in motion at night in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dumbo, the Flying Elephant in motion in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0.

Wow! What a difference!

While I was using a tripod and would recommend it. One second exposures are not very long. If you propped your camera onto the railings surrounding the rides and used a wide angle lens, you could get similar results at one second or shorter exposure times.





June 22, 2018

More Walt Disney World Ride Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

It has been awhile since I addressed the topic of photographing on a ride at Walt Disney World. First and foremost, you must...MUST...safely secure your camera so neither you or anyone else on the ride will be harmed. I would say this is one kind of photography, you will not be able to use a smart phone camera with unless it is a very calm ride.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland is not a calm ride. I made sure to wrap my camera strap around my body and wrist to get a good tight grip.

Guest riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/3.2, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

When doing ride photography, I put my camera in Shutter Priority shooting mode so I can control how fast or slow the camera's shutter operates. For Big Thunder, I went with a fast shutter of 1/250th of a second to get sharp photos with little to no blurring from movement.

In contrast, Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland's Storybook Circus at the Magic Kingdom is what I would call a "calm" ride. It is the perfect ride to introduce a very young Disney fan to the fun of motion.

Young family riding Dumbo the Elephant in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young family riding Dumbo the Elephant in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/2-120VR, 1/50s, f/20, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Notice I went with a slower shutter speed of 1/50th of a second as I wanted to show blurry movement behind the Dumbo ride vehicle. While it is not a fast ride, it sure looked like it here. Since I was moving as fast as the trailing vehicle, it was in sharp focus.

Young family riding Dumbo the Elephant in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young family riding Dumbo the Elephant in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/2-120VR, 1/50s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 66mm Focal Length.

By zooming in a bit, the motion is even more pronounced. Seemingly, the little one is not impressed. Well, maybe next time he will be!

For more information on how to photograph while on a moving ride, click here --> Photographing While Riding at Walt Disney World





June 15, 2018

Re-visiting the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For those of you planning your next trip to Walt Disney World and are looking for a new adventure during your visit. May I suggest the Wild Africa Trek tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom. If you enjoy photography, check out the links below this photo of a Reticulated Giraffe I was able to photograph from a non-moving platform in the middle of the savanna while on the tour.

Reticulated Giraffe photographed eating during the Wild Africa Trek tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Reticulated Giraffe photographed eating during the Wild Africa Trek Tour.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 560, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.


Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II

As you will read, I found the price of the Wild Africa Trek on a par with the experience.





June 8, 2018

Walt Disney World Wallpapers for Your Desktop

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Wallpaper image of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wallpaper image of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Nikon D70/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/400s, f/10, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 11mm (16mm DX) Focal Length.

A few years ago I supplied a few images to All Ears to help create a set of Disney Wallpaper images for your computers. You can find them in the Disney Desktop Section. Check them out and let us know if you would like more and at what resolutions. Computer screens and monitors have gotten better since this project was last updated.





June 1, 2018

Farewell to the Maleficent Dragon at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

By now you have probably read about and/or seen the video of what happened to the Sleeping Beauty float in a Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom back on May 11, 2018. Here are a few photos I took of what most people called the Maleficent Dragon.

Maleficent in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Maleficent in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/4, ISO 100, EV 0, 70mm Focal Length.

Guests loved seeing the dragon coming down Main Street USA waiting for it to do its thing.

Maleficent Dragon breathing fire on Main Street USA in the Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Maleficent Dragon breathing fire on Main Street USA in the Festival of Fantasy parade.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/16, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 24mm focal length.

The "steam punk" themed dragon was famous for doing one thing: breathing fire! Here's a close up taken from the Main Street USA Train Station platform.

Maleficent Dragon breathing fire in the Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Maleficent Dragon breathing fire in the Festival of Fantasy parade.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 82mm focal length.

I do hope Disney will come out with a better, safer and still breathing fire version in the future for I do believe the Maleficent Dragon was the highlight of the parade.

Notice the three different ways I photographed this float. From below, wide angle and up close at "eye level".





May 25, 2018

Composing Photographs at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week I am going to show you three photos taken at Walt Disney World and discuss them. I will share the equipment used, how I did it and why.

The "why" here in the first photo is easy to explain. I was waiting for my family to check-in at the Port Orleans-Riverside Resort. I already had my camera out and photographed around the lobby a bit. Remember to always look up when at Walt Disney World even at the resorts. While most people may not think photographing a light fixture is interesting, by using the Rule of Thirds, I created an interesting composition between the Chandelier and white ribbon design on the ceiling. I used a small zoom lens to frame the shot in Program or P mode.

Chandelier hanging in the lobby of Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chandelier hanging in the lobby of Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
Nikon D700/24-85mm, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 720, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

I wanted to show what it can be like shopping and, specifically, when checking out at Walt Disney World. This sign I found at the World of Disney store in what was then Downtown Disney (now known as Disney Springs). I thought the sign fit the theme I was looking for. Using my trusty Nikon 50mm lens (aka the Nifty-Fifty), I opened up the aperture all the way to f/1.8. As the sign is flat and perpendicular to my camera's sensor plane, this caused the entire background behind the sign to go out of focus. Not too much so you can still make out what is in the background...a bunch of shoppers waiting to check out.

Waiting in line while shopping in the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waiting in line while shopping in the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO 1250, EV 0.

For most the long walk out the exit of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios is one of coming off an adrenaline rush. Though I know some people may feel otherwise. I think this photo kind of gives the feeling of the latter kind of person. This exit looks extremely long to someone who just wants to get out of the place. I used a Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens to give the hallway an even larger feel. I stood in the center to make sure the subjects in the center were not distorted. The fisheye did its magic to the walls as they look spread out and converging at the same time.

People walking out of the Rock'n'Roller Coaster exit at the Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People walking out of the Rock'n'Roller Coaster exit.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

You may ask how much thought I gave to each photo. On the first one, not much as I was scanning the lobby for interesting subjects when I looked up right above me. The second one, I thought of the theme or subject first and then went in search of it. I took others but feel the one I showed you was the best for my purposes. The last one I had planned even before I got on the plane to Orlando. I usually make a shot list and this idea came to me as I was looking through past trip photos. Creativity can hit us in an instant, pop into our heads or in planned thought.





May 18, 2018

Travel Photography in Morocco at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

What makes a good travel photograph? In our case, what makes a good Walt Disney World travel photograph?

The photo below of the Fez House at the Morocco pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase is a very interesting photo to me and, hopefully, to you. Is it a photo Disney would use in a brochure or on its website? Possibly. I decided to take this photograph for a few reasons. It was late in the day and the light was allowing the lighting from the lamps to color the interior of the Fez House in warm yellow colors. The natural light coming in from overhead was blue from the Sun being low in the sky. I liked the contrast between the artificial and natural lighting. I stopped down the aperture to f/8 to keep most of the frame in focus. The door way acted as a frame to the home.

Fez House at the Morocco pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Looking into the Fez House at the Morocco pavilion.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/50s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 48mm Focal Length.

Later that night, I asked the people with me to stand in front of the same doorway and had them look into the Fez House. I think this photo is more interesting as it shows curiosity which is one of the traits which motivate us to travel. With the sunset, all the light is now coming from the artificial light casting everything into a warm yellow color.

I think this photo would be more apt to be used by Disney in its advertising of World Showcase and/or the Morocco pavilion.

People looking into the Fez House at the Morocco pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People looking into the Fez House at the Morocco pavilion.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/80s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

While I may like the first photo better, the second one has more value and is more interesting to people.





May 11, 2018

Disney Vacation Planning for 2018

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As I take a deep breath now that Spring has arrived in the Northeast region of the United States, I am beginning to plan for my upcoming vacations. Two of them will be Disney related.

In September, I will be going out to sea again on the Disney Cruise Line's beautiful Disney Dream. This time I will be accompanied by my grandson who will be 19 months old or 1 year, 7 months. It will be fun sharing a Disney cruise with him. He is a very fun and busy little boy and I will make sure to bring my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens (aka the Nifty-Fifty) with me to be able to use fast shutter speeds in low light to keep up with him. The other lens will be the Nikon 28-300VR Superzoom lens. Both lenses will be used on my Nikon D750 Full Frame dSLR camera. Only other piece of equipment will be the Nikon SB-700 Speedlight (Flash Unit) for indoor and outdoor family portraits.

View of the Disney Dream from the Heads Up Bar at Castaway Cay
View of the Disney Dream from the Heads Up Bar at Castaway Cay.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/13, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 85mm Focal Length.

The other Disney trip will be at Walt Disney World in late November. All the parks and resorts will be decorated for the Christmas holiday. I will bring everthing I did for the cruise plus the Nikon 16-35VR Wide Angle Zoom lens and a tripod for night and fireworks photography.

Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street USA during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street USA during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, EV 0.

The third vacation will happen before the Disney ones and will be a very special trip. Back in 1981 when I was fresh out of college, I interned at Olympic National Park in the State of Washington. Back then I used an old Minolta SLR film camera which was packed with Kodak and Fuji 36 exposure slide films. Like any 22 year old, I figured I would back soon after my internship was over with better equipment. Thirty-seven years later, I treasure those old slides and need to fully digitize them.

Below are examples of some of the locations I will be re-visiting which were taken back in 1981.

Collage of photos from Olympic National Park in the State of Washington
Collage of photos from Olympic National Park in the State of Washington.

For this trip I will be bringing everything I have listed so far plus a Nikon 70-200VR and Nikon 80-400VR lenses. These will be used for wildlife and landscape photography to compliment the wide angle lens.

As always I will have a Circular Polarizing Filter with me to cut down on glare and pull out the colors of the beautiful Olympic Mountains, Pacific Ocean and Hoh Rainforest.

If you have any questions or have a subject you would like me to cover, leave me a note in the Comments below.





May 4, 2018

Re-Living an Old Trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in 2013, I brought the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED AF VR Zoom lens to Disney's Animal Kingdom. This is the original version of the lens. It is a big, heavy lens which I use mostly for field sports and wildlife photography with an occassional visit to local zoos. Carrying it at a Disney themepark is tiring. However, with an assist from a Disney locker rental, I used the lens for the Kilimanjaro Safari and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail on a day visit.

While the lens is slow at f/5.6 when fully zoomed at 400mm, if the conditions are right with bright sunshine (and when is Florida lacking in that?), it works spectacularly. It was one of the sharpest lenses I owned and had great image quality. I have since upgraded to the lastest version of this lens which has AF-S focusing which is much faster than AF.

The long focal length did give me photos I normally would not have been able to get. This head shot of an Ostrich is only cropped to an 8x10 ratio. He was about 6 feet from the safari jeep. When shooting from a moving vehicle, keep the shutter speed as fast as possible for the available light. I used 1/500th of a second for the entire ride.

Ostrich on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Ostrich (Struthio camelus) on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 320, EV +0.3, 400mm Focal Length.

I took a series of photos of this African Crowned Crane flying during the Flights of Wonder show at Disney's Animal Kingdom with this one being the best. I liked the wing position and the bird's head is the sharpest of the set. Be careful of people sitting near you when using a long lens in a crowded location like a small theater with bench sitting.

Note, this show has been replaced by the UP! A Great Bird Adventure in the same location.

African Crowned Crane flying during the Flights of Wonder show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Crowned Crane flying during the Flights of Wonder show.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.3, ISO 4500, EV +0.3, 210mm Focal Length.

After working up a sweat, I went back to the locker and switched the large 80-400VR lens with a Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR Zoom lens which is much lighter and compact. I walked over to the bird pool which is the first thing people see after going through Disney's Animal Kingdom turnstiles before taking either path through the Oasis and into the park.

I focused in on this Pink Flamingo who was preening himself and made sure the bird's eye was in sharp focus before pressing the shutter button. I have cropped this in a square ratio.

Pink Flamingo preening itself on the Oasis at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pink Flamingo preening itself in the Oasis.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 2200, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

As you walk through the Oasis, you will notice a path which cuts between the two main trails. If you walk this path, you will find a very pleasant water pool with a waterfall. Various ducks and black swans live there. I photograhed one of the swans sleeping on a nest. Notice the ISO hit 6400. Not only was it not as bright here, the black color of the swan added to the lower light level.

Black Swan sleeping in the Oasis at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) sleeping in the Oasis.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0, 180mm Focal Length.

You might be thinking why I am sharing photos from 2013? That was a time when I took three trips to Disney properties. One to Disneyland and the other two to Walt Disney World. Due to my work as a sports photographer, the photos from those trips were not fully edited and processed at the time. I have since switched from using Apple's Aperture photo editing and management program to Adobe's Lightroom. I am currently bringing in those trips into Lightroom and you may see more in future blogs.





April 27, 2018

Exploring Travel Photography at Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Trash can with the World Showcase emblem in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Trash can with the World Showcase emblem in Epcot.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15m Fisheye, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0.

Epcot's World Showcase is the closet to one of the original Epcot concepts of being a world exposition which features countries from all over the world. Each country pavilion features its architecture, people, food and music. As a travel photographer, one is hard pressed to find such a place in the world which brings it all together.

Archtecture of each country was throughly researched by Disney Imagineers. You can find details everywhere in either a famous landmark or in the types of materials, colors and structures presented. Since I love color, China is one of my favorites to photograph.

Colorful architecture at the China pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Colorful architecture at the China pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/640s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length.

Most of the Cast Members you encounter around World Showcase are from the countries they are working in. From entertainers to counter service cast members, I enjoy watching and talking with them to learn more about the country they are from. Or, as in this case, I just watch and savor the smells of the Karamell-Küche shop inside the Germany pavilion. Carmel corn anyone?

Cast member working in the Karamell-Küche shop inside the Germany pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cast member cutting a caramel apple in the Karamell-Küche shop inside the Germany pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/100s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV +0.3, 21mm Focal Length.

Many of the World Showcase pavilions feature muscial entertainment. In Mexico, the Mariachi Cobre play and sing traditional Mexican folk songs and tunes. Feel free to dance or sing along.

Mariachi Cobre performing in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mariachi Cobre performing in the Mexico pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 25mm Focal Length.

Epcot's World Showcase is a good place to practice classic travel photography. Document each country's culture by photographing places and people to tell each one's story.





April 20, 2018

On the Edge of Mission: Space

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

How many times have you gotten home or back to your resort room and, when going through your photos, you find distractions around the edges? I used to have a lot until I trained myself to see the around the edges before pressing the shutter button down.

Here's an example of what I mean. I took this photo of the Mission: Space entrance. You can see at the top of the frame a part of the building and takes away from the rest of the image. You want to eliminate such edge distractions so you do not have to do extra work later like cropping or having to remove the object via software.

Mission Space in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mission Space in Epcot's Future World with an Edge Distraction.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 180, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

In this case, I checked the camera's LCD screen and noticed the edge distraction. I recomposed the scene by lowering my angle a bit which got the distracton out of the frame.

Mission Space in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mission Space in Epcot's Future World without the Edge Distraction.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 220, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Get in the habit of checking your edges through the camera's viewfinder. It will save you time later on.





April 13, 2018

Varying the Point of View at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I use the Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse a lot on this blog to show various techniques. Today is no exception.

My party had an early morning breakfast in the Magic Kingdom and as I walked up Main Street USA I could see the nice lighting on Cinderella Castle and the Partners statue. With few other guests around, I had time to do something I often tell others to do: Take a wide shoot, a medium shot and a close up.

For the first two photos, I had my camera in Aperture Priority mode with it set to f/16.

Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle: Wide View .
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

Shooting in the verticle or portrait in f/16, I had everything in focus from the front of the statue to Cinderella Castle in the background. I made sure to balance the fixed objects around the statue in the composition.

Standing in the same position, I zoomed in to tightly frame the statue to include the bass with the quote and use Cinderella Castle as the background.

Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle: Medium View .
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 85mm Focal Length.

These next two photos, I moved in closer to the statue and took another medium photo but this time leaving out the base. I also went to Program mode letting the camera select the shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle: Medium View Recomposed.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 46mm Focal Length.

Being closer allowed me to completely use Cinderella Castle as the backdrop. Being close, the camera opened up the f-stop to 6.3 giving the background a soft focus.

On this last one, I zoomed in tight on the Walt Disney side of the statue. The aperture got even wider at f/4.5 and gave the background the nice bokeh effect.

Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle: Wide View .
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/4.5, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 105mm Focal Length.

You can do this anywhere there is a stationary object or have a very patient model to work with. Family members can be helpful...sometimes.





April 6, 2018

Photo Ratios on Walt Disney World Images

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Photographic ratios come in many sizes. Most digital SLR cameras follow the 35mm film ratio of 2x3 which many people know as 4x6 or Standard size. The photo of Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom is shown in the 2x3 ratio. For years it was hard to find frames for this ratio but over the last few years I have seen them in arts and crafts stores as digital cameras have gotten more popular.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom in 2x3 Ratio.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Another popular ratio is 4x5 which prints the popular 8x10 size. Many homes have this size in frames on tables and walls. I feel it is a good ratio for photos of people and Disney characters.

Young woman meeting Piglet at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young woman meeting Piglet at the Crystal Palace in 4x5 Ratio.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/5.6, ISO 560, EV 0, 52mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash, Cropped.

A fun and more exotic ratio is the 1x1 or Square. You have to have a good subject to make the square ratio work. I cropped this photo of the front of a t-shirt I found in the World of Disney store at Disney Springs into a square.

Disney character t-shirt for sale inside the World of Disney store at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney character t-shirt for sale inside the World of Disney store at Disney Springs in Square Ratio.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1100, EV 0, 46mm Focal Length, Cropped.

A very popular ratio is the 16x9 Panoramic which gives a sweeping view of a scene like this view of Disney's Animal Kingdom from Expedition: EVEREST which I cropped from a 2x3 original image.

View of Disney's Animal Kingdom while riding Expedition: EVEREST, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Disney's Animal Kingdom while riding Expedition: EVEREST in Panoramic Ratio.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Cropped.

Next time you are working on your photos, try some different ratios.





March 30, 2018

Four Parks of Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Let's take a trip around the world as in Walt Disney World with a twist. I created this collage using none of the usual park icons.

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Four Parks of Walt Disney World.

From top left: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Imagination Pavilion in Epcot, Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

I created this collage using an online photo editor called iPiccy in just a few minutes.





March 23, 2018

Super Bokeh at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For me, the most fun you can have photographing in a Disney property is taking only one lens for a time period like a day. When I do, I almost always choose to use a Nifty-Fifty which is a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. Using Aperture Priority mode, a Nifty-Fifty can handle any depth of field I may want.

Most photographers love bokeh. Bokeh is defined as the out of focus area behind a sharply focused subject. It is a great way to put your subject front and center with a busy background which often happens at Walt Disney World or any popular location. With a Nifty-Fifty aperture set close to or completely wide open, you can get what I call super bokeh. To get such extreme bokeh you need to get very close to the subject. In the Magic Kingdom's Central Plaza there are statuettes of several classic Disney characters. Jiminy Cricket advising Pinocchio is challenging when using the Nifty-Fifty close to being wide open. The focus point is key and, like with a real boy, I made sure my focus was on Pinocchio's eye. You will notice his shoes and even his ears are in soft focus while the background is completely out of focus yet, you notice the shapes of both Cinderella Castle and the water fountain behind him.

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket statuette in the Central Plaza at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket statuette in the Central Plaza at Magic Kingdo.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Over at the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, the sword of the Sword in the Stone is relatively flat compared to the statuette of Pinocchio which allowed me to open up the 50mm lens to f/1.8 and create even more bokeh behind it.

Sword in the Stone in front of the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sword in the Stone in front of the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/640s, f/1.8, ISO 100, EV 0.

To find out how close you need to be with your camera and lens, set up some objects on a table with objects in the background at home and practice. Then take a walk in a nearby park with things like statues, flowers, benches, people, etc. are and try to duplicate your results. This will take out the guess work when you are visiting Walt Disney World.






http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/2009/01/wide_world_of_disney.html

March 16, 2018

Don't Stand when Photographing at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Hey, listen up! Don't stand when photographing if you want to take unique and different photographs at Walt Disney World or anywhere else. I will say most of the photos we take we are standing and it shows. They are not as interesting as there are so many of the same everywhere you look online, in magazines and even billboards. I often tell people when taking photographs of children or small animals to get level with their eyes. In that way, you are not looking down on them.

For this blog, I show how not standing can create unique and memorable photographs. Starting with the beautiful Beauty and the Beast topiaries I photographed in the France pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase during the Flower and Garden Festival a couple of years ago. I kneeled down and rested my elbows on the concrete edge surrounding them. This allowed me to use the flowers in front of them as foreground interest with the pavilion's buildings in the background. With the Sun behind them, I used fill flash to balance out the light.

Beauty and the Beast topiaries in the France pavilion during the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Beauty and the Beast topiaries in the France pavilion during the Flower and Garden Festival back in 2016.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

I used a wide angle lens which distorted the buildings a bit. I decided I liked how they framed the topiaries and left the distortion in.

After riding Test Track in Epcot's Future World, people walk through Chevrolet's showroom. In 2015, this white Corvette got me to kneel down using a fisheye lens. The extreme wide view of the fisheye and the low angle allowed me to include not only the car but the ceiling, too. An area most people do not bother to see.

Chevrolet Corvette on display inside Test Track at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chevrolet Corvette on display inside Test Track.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/25s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Returning to another Flower and Garden Festival, this time in 2014, I was sitting down on the edge of the walkway near the Norway pavilion when I looked over my shoulder and saw this troll. I quickly took in the composition with my camera and snapped another low angle view.

Troll topiary among the flowers at Epcot's Norway pavilion in World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Troll topiary among the flowers at Epcot's Norway pavilion.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 2200, EV -0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

When I got the idea to tell you don't stand to photograph at Walt Disney World, I thought I would have lots of examples as I often kneel to take pictures while in the parks. What I found was many of those photos do not look like I was kneeling because of the subject being at the same height as my camera. This tells me I need to get even lower on my next trip. My knees might complain but I will be much happier with the results. Give it a try!






http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/2009/01/wide_world_of_disney.html

March 9, 2018

Photographing Flowers and Gardens

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Dragon topiary in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in the China pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dragon topiary in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in the China pavilion at Epcot.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 25mm Focal Length.

This year's Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is currently going on. I am not much of a flower photographer by my own admission. In fact, a few years ago I invited a very accomplished photographer to write a guest article on my personal photography blog about flower and garden photography. I share it with you below:

Garden Photography: Capturing the Beauty of Your Garden by Cindy Dyer

Cindy gives great advice from equipment to how best to bring out the beauty of flowers, gardens and the creatures who live among them.





March 2, 2018

Photographing Animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Nile Hippopotamus in the water on the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nile Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in the water on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 1800, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

In researching for this week's blog, I discovered I had written a lot about photographing animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Instead of repeating myself again here are some links you can review.

Trekking through Disney's Animal Kingdom

An African Day in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Super Zoom on Safari






February 23, 2018

Photographing Birds at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Photographing birds whether at Walt Disney World or out in the wild is a challenge. While many birds at Disney's Animal Kingdom are content to stand and be still for photographs. Others are not. If you have ever watched the Eastern Golden Weavers inside the Aviary of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, you know what I mean. These little yellow birds fly in and out from their nests all day long. They rarely stop and pose for the camera.

To best capture a photo of moving birds, set your camera to Shutter Priority mode (or Sport Mode) and use a fast shutter speed. For the photo below, I used 1/500th of a second and let the camera choose the aperture and ISO. Continuous mode where you press the shutter and the camera fires off multiple exposures is a big help, too. I observed where the birds would often land on the fern. Birds often have favorite perches. They would only stay there for a second or two so I needed to be quick. I have a few lovely shots of the fern by itself when I was too slow. Persistence and patience paid off here.

Eastern Golden Weaver inside the Aviary of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Eastern Golden Weaver inside the Aviary of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

When attending a bird show like the former Flights of Wonder (soon to be replaced by a new show featuring Dug and Russell, from Pixar's UP!) you are often told where the birds will start from, fly to and land. This allowed me to capture this Harris Hawk landing on a handler's glove. Notice I used 1/1000th of a second here to freeze the action. Again, continuous mode allowed me to get a sequence of photos as the hawk landed. This was my favorite one of the bunch.

Harris Hawk landing on a handler's glove in the Flights of Wonder show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Harris Hawk landing on a handler's glove in the Flights of Wonder show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 1800, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length.

While I do like to see a sharp photo of a flying bird, sometimes I want to convey the energy and movement of them. This is what I did for the launch of several Macaws during the Winged Encounters - The Kingdom Takes Flight presentation on Discovery Island. The slow (for bird movement) shutter of 1/125th of a second allowed the wings of the colorful birds to become blurred as they flew off.

Macaws fly in Winged Encounters - The Kingdom Takes Flight on Discovery Island in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Macaws fly in Winged Encounters - The Kingdom Takes Flight on Discovery Island.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 35mm Focal Length, Skylum Intensify CK.

Birds are easy to find around the world, not just in Walt Disney World, and are a fun subject to photograph.






http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/2009/01/wide_world_of_disney.html

February 16, 2018

Get Close to the Magic Kingdom Train Station

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you have followed me over the years here, you know I have recurring advice for photographers whether they are just starting out or have doing it for years. One theme is to get in close to your subject(s). Now, you may counter it is not always a good thing if you are trying to include a large scene or subject. I surely cannot argue with that. Let us consider this popular photo location in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World: The Train Station.

Everyone wants a photo in front of the train station and the huge floral Mickey Mouse symbol. My wife and daughter sure did.

A mother and daughter in front of the Main Street USA Train Station at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A mother and daughter in front of the Main Street USA Train Station at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 2500, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

I see this photo online a lot and, on this day, I saw many people posing here. Not many seemed to take my advice and GET CLOSER! Sorry to shout. It only takes a few seconds to either walk or use a zoom lens to get closer.

A mother and daughter in front of the Main Street USA Train Station at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up version of a mother and daughter in front of the Main Street USA Train Station.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 4000, EV +0.3, 52mm Focal Length.

While the first photo does the job of showing these people were indeed at the Magic Kingdom, the second one shows how happy they were to be there.





February 9, 2018

Using a Wide Angle Zoom at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A fun lens to use at Walt Disney World is an Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) Zoom Lens. For a Full frame camera, it means a lens starting at around 16mm. For a cropped sensor camera, 10mm or 11mm is a good starting focal length. Currently, I use a Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens on my full-frame Nikon D750 camera. In the past, I used a Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 Lens on Nikon cropped sensored cameras. Canon, SONY, Sigma and Tamron have similar lenses in the UWA focal range for Full and Cropped Sensored cameras.

Using an UWA, it pays to get in close as I did below when photographing the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. This allowed the flowers surrounding the attraction to act as a bottom frame and the top of the carousel as the top frame to the colorful ride. With the sky being overcast, this eliminated a lot of blown out sky in the photo.

Guests riding the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide Angle photo of the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 220, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

In the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland, I wanted to show the expansive library where Belle and Lumiere meet guests with the show's lighting nicely framing Belle in her yellow dress. The lens set at 16mm did the job beautifully.

Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide Angle photo of the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 4000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

An UWA Zoom lens is very versatile. Here, I zoomed in to again cut down on the amount of overcast sky in the frame as I wanted to include Cinderella Castle in the background as guests rode on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland. I used a fast shutter speed to freeze the ride vehicles and the people in them.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide Angle photo of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Skylum Intensify CK.

This is a good lens to rent for a trip to Walt Disney World if you do not own one. It will give you a different perspective of the resort.






http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/2009/01/wide_world_of_disney.html

February 2, 2018

In Search of Nepal at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I know I will never travel to Nepal like Indiana Jones did. Luckily, I can photograph Walt Disney World's version of Nepal at Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition: EVEREST. I am always searching for new angles and compositions like Indy searched for rare artifacts. Walking over the metal bridge with Everest behind me I spotted one of the access trails to the seating area for the Rivers of Light nighttime show. That got me down to the water's edge where I took the photo you see here.

AExpedition: Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition: Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 34mm Focal Length.

If I ignored all the sounds of the park around me, I could almost feel the call of the great mountain or maybe the sound I heard was of the guests screaming down the big drop of the ride. Anyway, the Sun was at a bad angle with lots of shadows in the wrong places. I used Skylum's Intensify CK to pull out the colorful details.

If you have not gotten into the habit, I urge you to always flip your camera into a vertical orientation to see if there is a good composition to be found. I zoomed in to simplify the composition as well. I liked how this photo flowed from green below to blue above with a nice gradient of natural colors in-between. The bridge is the only hint of civilization about.

TExpedition: Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition: Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 250, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length.

I had fun in my search for Nepal. Think I will try another exotic location on my next trip to Walt Disney World.





January 26, 2018

Disney Architectural Photography - Part 3

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In Part 1 of Architectural Photography at Walt Disney World we discussed the kind of equipment and techniques for architectural photography. In Part 2, we talked about how composition plays an important part in using the equipment.

For Part 3, as in all photography, it comes down to the Light. Granted you can take photos of structures any time of day if you are documenting them. We, as Disney and travel photographers, like to go one better and find/create/wait for more creative ways to document the beautiful and unique buildings, attractions and structures found on Disney properties. The most interesting light in nature occurs when the Sun is near or just under the horizon.

Mornings are a bit difficult for most of us while on vacation unless you have an early breakfast or tour reservation. The photo of Space Mountain I photographed while I rode the monorail from the Magic Kingdom one bright December morning. Even at 9AM, when this photos was taken, the Sun was still low enough in the sky to create shadows giving the structure a 3-D look among the trees.

Space Mountain from the monorail leaving the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Morning view of Space Mountain from the monorail leaving the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0, 82mm Focal Length.

Another great time to photograph is during the Golden Hours of each day which are one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. The Sun is so low in the sky the atmosphere can create color casts from deep reds to golden yellows. The photo of the Rainforest Café in Disney Springs was taken about a half hour before sunset. The low Sun angle allowed the golden light to reach right into the Lava Lounge.

Rainforest Cafe restaurant at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Golden Hour Light on the Rainforest Café restaurant at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 640, EV 0, 20mm Focal Length.

My favorite time to photograph buildings or natural landscapes is after the Sun sets. The sky can take on a rainbow of colors and go into a deep blue called Blue Hour. The long exposure photo of Cinderella Castle had not reached that deep blue but the lighting on the castle complemented the sky and clouds.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 20s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 50mm Focal Length.

When walking with your camera in the morning or evening, look for the light on the places near you. Even ordinary places and things can become magical with the right light.





January 19, 2018

Disney Architectural Photography - Part 2

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last week, we discussed the type of equipment needed for Architectural Photography at Walt Disney World. For Part 2, we are going to explore how composition plays an important part in using that equipment. For the most part, I stick with the Rule of Thirds which I have found very viable in creating pleasing photos of Disney buildings, rides and attractions over the years. It works just as good with structures as it does with people.

When using wide angle lenses, you have to take into account distortion of the lens being used. If you angle up and down with a wide angle lens, straight lines tend to lean or bend. This is not always a bad thing and can help to lead a viewer's attention to the main subject. In the photo below of The BOATHOUSE restaurant in Disney Springs, you can see the distortion of the lens at a 16mm focal length get more pronounced towards the left and right edges of the frame. While the main subject, the Amphicar is not distorted at all. Here I am using the distortion to wrap around the Amphicar.

Amphicar ready for a cruise at The Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide Angle view of an Amphicar in front of The Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 5000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

In many photo editing programs, you can fix the lens distortion but you have to have enough space around the edges to do so. In the case of my photo of the Amphicar, I did not and the top of the tower would have been trimmed off.

I did have the room in another photo of The BOATHOUSE and the lines of the buildings have been straightened up.

The Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Lens distortion fixed photo of The Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 4500, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Wide angle lens can create very creative and excellent travel architectural photos. Be aware of their strenghts and weaknesses as you compose your photos and how those weaknesses, like lens distortion, can be used or fixed later in photo editing software.





January 12, 2018

Disney Architectural Photography - Part 1

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney themeparks worldwide are home to beautiful and unique architectural structures. For the next three weeks, I am going to explore how best to photograph some of them.

To photograph architecture specific types of gear and techniques are needed. Whether you are using a digital SLR, compact or even a phone camera, a wide angle lens or setting will help you gather in large structures and landscapes. Using a Nikon D750 full-frame camera and a Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens, I photographed Sprinkles in Disney Springs. The wide angle allowed me to take in the springs flowing past Sprinkles, the building and outside seating area and the clouds in the sky.

Sprinkles Cupcake Bakery at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide Angle view of Sprinkles Cupcake Bakery at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR,1/500s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 23mm Focal Length, Circular Polarizing Filter.

Another useful piece of equipment to have is a Circular Polarizing Filter which removes reflections and deepens colors in the scene.

Even if you do not have a wide angle lens, you can simulate one by creating panoramic images using software to stitch together multiple images to make one. This is what I did during Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.

Colorful flowers on land and water at the annual Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Panoramic image of Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Panorama.

Today you can create panoramic images using Adobe's Lightroom or Photoshop as well as many other editors and stand alone programs. Smartphone photos apps often have a Panoramic setting.

Zoom and telephoto lens are used to pull in architectural details. A zoomed in photo of the giant Stitch above one of the World of Disney store entrances in Disney Springs is an example.

Stitch above one of the entrances to the World of Disney store at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Stitch above one of the entrances to the World of Disney store.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0, 160mm Focal Length.

Disney themeparks are an architectural photography paradise full of unique and interesting buildings, attractions and iconic places.





January 5, 2018

My Favorite Walt Disney World Photos from 2017

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I traveled to Walt Disney World twice in 2017. Here are my favorites from those trips.

The first visit included Disney Springs which was still called Downtown Disney the last time I visited in 2016. I finally got to take another ride on the Characters In Flight Balloon (looks like it is now called Aerohile according to the Disney Springs website).

Aerial View of The Marketplace at Disney Springs from the Characters In Flight Balloon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Aerial View of The Marketplace at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 19mm Focal Length.

On that trip, I saw the new Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time. While I wrote about my not-so-great experience in watching it, Rivers of Light is a stunningly beautiful show which I need to see again.

Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 2800, EV +1.0, 135mm Focal Length.

On the second visit, I photographed and enjoyed Pandora - The World of Avatar and wrote a series of posts starting with the Waterfalls of Pandora.

Flowers below the Floating Mountains of Pandora in the Valley of Mo'ara in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flowers below the Floating Mountains of Pandora in the Valley of Mo'ara.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 1250, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Then I returned to Disney Springs to enjoy another meal at Homecomin' Restaurant featuring Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entrée. The moonshine cocktails and desserts are pretty good, too.

Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entrée served in the Homecomin' Restaurant at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entrée served in the Homecomin' Restaurant at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 31mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

After an early morning breakfast, I photographed reflections in the very still Rivers of America in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland on a still morning at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland on a still morning.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 250, EV +0.3, 85mm Focal Length.

I certainly can not end this look back to 2017 without a nod to the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, with this scene from Disney's Hollywood Studios of the March of the First Order up Hollywood Blvd. being commanded by Captain Phasma, herself.

Captain Phasma leads the March of the First Order up Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Captain Phasma leads the March of the First Order up Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 210mm Focal Length.

Here is a little bonus and preview to 2018. With construction walls around Disney's Hollywood Studios, it was nice to see the Tinker Toy-like construction of Toy Story Land which should open in the Summer of 2018.

People walking past the poster on a construction wall of the future Toy Story Land on Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People walking past the poster on a construction wall of the future Toy Story Land on Pixar Place.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I am still in the initial planning for my trips in 2018. I know there will be a Disney Cruise in the fall. Again, Happy New Year!

If you have anything you would like me to write about or have any questions, leave me a Comment below.





December 29, 2017

Happy Gnu Year from the Jingle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Banner at the end of the Jingle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Banner at the end of the Jingle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1000, EV 0, 46mm Focal Length.

Scott is still on his Christmas break. He did want to share this greeting from his friends on the Jingle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom. Get it?

Scott will be back next week to begin another year of sharing Disney photography, tips, tricks, gear and fun!





December 22, 2017

Christmas Wish 2017

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Christmas tree at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Christmas tree at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/50s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 17mm Focal Length.
Wishing all your dreams come true
...in each and every way!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All of You!






December 15, 2017

Walt Disney World Resort Christmas Trees

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

There is so much going on during the Holiday Season at Walt Disney World. Each park is decorated for the season and special events, shows and entertainment abound. It can get a bit crazy trying to take it all in. I often suggest to friends who seem a bit overwhelemed by it all, to get out of the parks and visit the resorts. They, too, are decorated and offer a relaxing way to enjoy the holiday ambiance in a quieter setting.

For instance, take a trip on the monorail around the Seven Seas Lagoon and stop at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. The lobby has one of the biggest Christmas trees on property. Often there is a band or piano player sharing favorite holiday tunes. The wonderful smell you will encounter is from the oversized gingerbread house.

Christmas tree inside the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Christmas tree inside the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Resuming your monorail trip, you stay on past the Magic Kingdom and get off at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Here you will find many beautiful decorations around the concourse. Outside is were you will find the futurist, nearly perfect and extremely large Christmas tree. The ornaments are about a foot in diameter to give you an idea of the scale. Notice how I slowed down the shutter speed for this capture to build up the color of the sky and lights on the tree.

Christmas tree outside Disney's Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Christmas tree outside Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/25s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

If you are staying or visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Christmas tree in the lobby is another beautiful and large one with unique ornaments themed to the resort. Like at the Grand Floridian and Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort, Disney PhotoPass Photographers are usually stationed nearby and can create individual and family holiday portraits. I slowed my shutter way down for this photo and got lucky when the photographer's flash went off during the exposure.

Photopass photographer photographing guests in front of the Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Photopass photographer photographing guests with the Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/2s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV -0.6, 16mm Focal Length.

If the parks get real busy or you are in need of a break, take a monorail, boat or bus to a Walt Disney World resort hotel and enjoy the spirit of the season in a more relaxing setting.





December 8, 2017

Christmas Traditions in Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In this festive time of year, Epcot's World Showcase countries get into the international spirit of the holidays. As guests walk from pavilion to pavilion they will come across the Epcot Storytellers who share their country's Christmas and holiday traditions in very entertaining ways.

One can find other traditions while shopping, too. In Germany's Die Weihnachts Ecke, or The Christmas Corner, shop, I found two traditions about Christmas tree ornaments which I think you will find interesting.

The first is the Tradition of the Mushroom Ornament.

Mushrooms are considered to be a good luck symbol. Associated with nature and the beauty of the forest, finding a mushroom is considered to be very lucky and to mean good fortune is at hand. Mushroom ornaments are displayed on Christmas trees in Germany in honor of the people's reverence for nature and in hope of good luck in the New Year.

Mushroom ornaments in Epcot's Germany pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
German Tradition of the Mushroom Ornaments.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Next is the Tradition of the Pickle Ornament which is lucky, too.

According to German tradition, the pickle brings good luck and was the last ornament placed on the tree. On Christmas morning the first child to find the gherkin (pickle) was rewarded with an extra little gift by St. Nicholas. This tradition encouraged children to appreciate all the ornaments on the tree, rather than hurrying to see what St. Nicholas had left for them.

Pickle ornaments in Epcot's Germany pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
German Tradition of the Pickle Ornaments.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 5600, EV 0.

For my family, there is one holiday tradition we enjoy each time we visit Walt Disney World in November or December. The Candlelight Processional is a wonderful retelling of the Christmas story with a celebrity narrator backed by an orchestra, Disney volunteer choir (the tree people), Voices of Liberty and high school choirs for each performance.

Candlelight Processional being performed at the America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Candlelight Processional being performed at the America Gardens Theatre.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/4.8, ISO 2500, EV 0, 68mm Focal Length.

Holiday traditions are wonderful to share at Walt Disney World or at home. Those that get started with new families and others which, are passed down from generation to generation, are all very special.

Do you have a Disney holiday tradition? Share in the comments below.





December 1, 2017

Walt Disney World in Black and White

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I always associate Disney with color. Which is interesting because I first watched Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color television show on my family's black and white tv back in the mid-1960's. With that in mind, this week I decided to visit each of Walt Disney World's themeparks in Black and White.

All of these photos were originally captured in color. In my image editor I choose to use the Black and White Filter Tool. This gives much more control than just desaturating which can be done by taking the Saturation Tool/Slider and setting it to zero. With a B&W filter, you can choose the color filter. I know that sounds a bit backward. As most of these photos were dominated by blue colors in the sky and/or water, I choose to set the B&W filter into the bluish part of the spectrum. This brings out the sky and clouds better. There was one exception which I will cover when I get to it. I like to add a good amount of contrast and clarity to my black and white conversions. Brings out a lot of the details you may not notice in a color photograph.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Here I stood in front of the entrance to Cinderella Castle and pointed my camera upwards. The wide angle of the lens and portrait orientation gives a sense the castle is looming over you.

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot. To emphasize the clouds and sky above Spaceship Earth, I again used a portrait orientation. I took this from the bridge in front of the Italy pavilion.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth in Epcot.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0, 150mm Focal Length.

Twlight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Remember the exception I mentioned earlier? This is it. For the Tower of Terror, I moved the B&W filter more into the yellowish spectrum. I think it adds a bit of spookiness to the image.

Twlight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Twlight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 48mm Focal Length.

Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom. When photographing an object which is far away, I like to add foreground interest as I did with the elephant sculpture below.

Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 320, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

While the world is not in black and white, seeing it in black and white gives your eyes something else to concentrate on and allowing them to discover Disney's wonderful worlds.





November 24, 2017

Reviewing the Photography of Holiday Lights at Walt Disney World and Beyond

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

To all my fellow US of A citizens, hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. Did you put up your Christmas lights yet? Each year I like to share my past articles on how best to photograph holiday light displays at home and in a Disney themepark or resort.

First, I would like to share this photo I took last year of the Ice Lights on Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom and one of the water fountains found in the Central Plaza.

Water fountain in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Water fountain in front of Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/30s, f/5.6, ISO 1400, EV 0.

Each of these articles contain links to other articles within the Picture This! blog and around the Internet.

Photographing Holiday Lights at Home and at Disney

Photographing Christmas Lights at Disney

Christmas Light Photography

If you have any questons, post them in the comments below and I will answer them as best I can.





November 17, 2017

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.





November 10, 2017

Frontierland Reflections in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After an early breakfast at the Crystal Palace, the Magic Kingdom had not officially opened and was very quiet. The Rivers of America was still enough to become a reflective surface.

Like any photographer, I took full advantage. First up was Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island being reflected in the water.

Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland on a still morning at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland on a still morning.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0, 75mm Focal Length.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland was next.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland on a still morning at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland on a still morning.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 44mm Focal Length.

Once the rafts and riverboat start operating, the water will become to turbulent for such good reflections. The other time to get good reflections is at night after activity on Rivers of America cease. It also helps if the the air is still as it was on this day which was two days after Hurricane Irma had closed Walt Disney World.






November 3, 2017

Photographing Pandora at Night in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Photographing Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom at night poses many challenges. The first one I was lucky to avoid having visited just after Hurricane Irma had passed and attendance was way down. People will be everywhere with long lines for the two attractions which will test any photographer's patience. Having said that, try and be courteous of the people there with you. If you use a tripod like I did. Be mindful where you setup so as not to trip people walking by.

Another challenge is the color pallet used in the lighting of Pandora at night. I call it fluorescent RGB for Red-Green-Blue. They are color copier hues like magenta and cyan. Such colors play havoc with digital camera sensors and you have to be careful not to over saturate them or you get a blob of colors with little to no detail. Especially the blue lighting which Disney tends to use a lot in all their parks.

My approach was to find lighting or other colors to mix with the predominate blue lighting. Below, I photographed the Floating Mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara after sunset. The sky was still brighter than the mountains. The long exposure of thirty seconds allowed the many colors found in the valley to come out. I further enhanced the vibrancy of the colors in my post processing using Adobe Lightroom CC while controlling the blue channel. I also photographed in RAW (something I rarely do) so I could adjust the white balance, if needed, in post.

Floating Mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Floating Mountains of Pandora after sunset.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 30s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Here are three examples of the other ways to mix the colors.

Variety of images from the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Variety of images from the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora.

Left: I really loved this composition using the framed sky as a reference. The yellow flowers give the eye a starting point to then wander the scene. Exif: 30s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 48mm focal length, tripod.

Center: People walk and rest under the Floating Mountains mixing the incandescent (human) lighting with Pandora's "natural" blue lighting. Exif: 13s, f/8, ISO 400, EV 0, 16mm focal length, tripod.

Right: I made a large yellow "pod" (anyone know what they are called?) the main subject with mysterious blue cone-like flowers as a complementary color and shape. Exif: 5s, f/8, ISO 800, EV 0, 24mm focal length, tripod.

Noticed I used different ISO settings to change the shutter speed. My camera was in Aperture Priority mode. It got a little breezy as the time went on so I kept wanting to increase the shutter speed to keep motion to a minimum.

Ah, the waterfalls I showed you earlier in the post about Pandora's waterfalls. I knew I would be coming back at night to the same location and here it is. This time I did have a tripod. The reds, blues and greens came out very well.

Valley of Mo'ara waterfalls at night in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Valley of Mo'ara waterfalls at night in Pandora.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 30s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Below is the type of color I was afraid of getting all night. Totally blued out. This started happening the later and darker it got. In comparing this photos with others, a shorter shutter speed and higher ISO would have let the other colors not get overwhelmed by the blue.

Floating Mountains at night inside Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Floating Mountains at night in Pandora.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 30s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

While I am very happy with these results, I still want to experiment the next time I visit Pandora - The World of Avatar.





October 27, 2017

Photographing Pandora Details in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Touring Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom you certainly feel like you are in a different place. Sounds and sights are similar but different. There is a mix of real and imagined flora and fauna found throughout the "moon". Details are fun to find the first few times one gets to visit.

The photo below at first does not seem like a particular detail. The Grinch Tree stands out in the foreground with the Floating Mountain looming in the background from the Valley of Mo'ara overlook platform. (Note: this is a popular PhotoPass location) It is what you do not see which to me is an amazing detail. What is missing? I will let you wait for a bit before I unveil it. This photo was taken using the Hyperfocus Technique putting everything in focus from the front to the back of the frame.

Grinch tree and Floating Mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Grinch tree and Floating Mountains in the Valley of Mo'ara.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 450, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

While the World of Avatar has a lot of natural beauty, the human element can be found in details like the piping seen above the Avatar Flight of Passage queue and on a clever sign on a service door found at the Satu'li Canteen.

Human details found in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Human details found in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Walking along the streams and pools of water in Pandora you can see these squirting water creatures which push out streams of water randomly. I am still researching information about these interesting fish or are they something else?

Squirting water creatures found in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Squirting water creatures found in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 4000, EV 0, 86mm Focal Length, Cropped.

There are some fascinating looking flowers and other flora found in Pandora. Below are two examples. For both photos I opened up the aperture as wide as the lens would go (f/4 in this case). This selected out the subjects from their busy backgrounds. Doing so created the soft out-of-focus or bokeh effect behind them.

Flowers in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flowers in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

These are just a few examples of the details you can find when you visit Pandora yourself. Oh, speaking of details, the missing one in the first photo are people. As busy as the park was when I took the photo, from the overlook, you can not see them. I tip my cap to the Disney Imagineers.





October 20, 2017

Waterfalls of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The first thing I noticed when walking into Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom were the Floating Mountains. The size and the way Disney Imagineers designed them is quite amazing. The second thing I noticed were the waterfalls flowing from them. Disney uses water beautifully in all their Walt Disney World properties and Pandora was no different.

Unlike the many photos I had seen of the Floating Mountains, I wanted to feature one of the waterfalls in a photo. To do that I stood on a bridge closest to one of the waterfalls and pointed my camera upwards. This shows a more dynamic view and gives a sense of scale with one of the light fixtures in the frame. I used a fast shutter speed to freeze the water.

Waterfall from a Floating Mountain in the Valley of Mo'ara at Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waterfall from a Floating Mountain in the Valley of Mo'ara.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Pandora only has two attractions, a store, a beverage service stand and a restaurant. What else is there to do you might be asking yourself. I am here to tell you as a photographer, there is plenty. The area you walk through is honeycombed with meandering trails. Each turn has something new to discover. Falling water is used among the trails to add natural sounds to the landscapes full of exotic plants.

Waterfalls found along the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waterfalls found along the Valley of Mo'ara trails in Pandora.

This pond below being feed by numerous little waterfalls was a favorite location for me. I really liked how you could frame the scene with flowers and water. Being a photographer who likes to see his waterfalls "flowing". I stepped down the camera's aperture to f/22 to slow the shutter down to 1/15th of a second. I did not have a tripod with me so I used the top of a wooden fence post to steady the camera. As it was late in the day, the ISO did go to 4000 but the sensor handled it very well. The slow shutter caused the moving water to get the nice silky look about it.

Waterfalls and flowers along the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waterfalls and flowers along the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/15s, f/22, ISO 4000, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

You will find waterfalls everywhere in Pandora. I photographed these two as I walked along the FastPass queue to ride Avatar Flight of Passage. I used the strange blue cone-like flowers as foreground interest. As a side note, Avatar Flight of Passage IS as good as everyone says it is.

Waterfalls along the Flights of Passage queue in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waterfalls along the Flights of Passage queue in Pandora.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Why Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom does have two excellent attractions and a place you can get your own banshee, do not overlook all the other interesting things like waterfalls to see.





October 13, 2017

Drums of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing photography from the new Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Disney Imagineers did an amazing job in a small space (for Walt Disney World that is) and I hope you enjoy seeing and reading about it as much as I did during my visits.

Swotu Wayä Na'vi Drum Ceremony in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Location of the Swotu Wayä Na'vi or Sacred Place of Song in Pandora.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Swotu Wayä translates as the Sacred Place of Song and is located at the heart of the Mo’ara Valley inside Pandora. Guests, especially children, can enjoy playing the drums anytime during the day and makes for a nice rest area to sit and soak in the sights and sounds of Walt Disney World's newest land. Periodically during the day (hourly the day I was there), a group of drummers lead by a Musicologist who has studied Na’vi musical culture come out to share what he or she has learned. The show is a very fun and energetic which gets the audience involved in clapping, chanting and even getting some to play the drums.

Swotu Wayä Na'vi Drum Ceremony in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Drummers performing in the Swotu Wayä Na'vi Na'vi Drum Ceremony in Pandora.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

The show I photographed was just as the Sun set with low light. The area does have stage lights but, like everything in Pandora, are colorful and dim. To keep my shutter speed at a fairly quick 1/125th of a second, the ISO climbed to 6400. Even so, you can see blurring of the arms and drumsticks. Not too much to be distracting and I feel it ads to the photos. In post production, I had to raise the exposure some and use a healthy dose of noise reduction in Lightroom CC.

Swotu Wayä Na'vi Drum Ceremony in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests enjoying the Swotu Wayä Na'vi Drum Ceremony in Pandora.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

This show was a pleasant surprise as I had not heard of it until I visited Pandora for the first time. Photographing it was fun and I will do so again when the light is better.





October 6, 2017

Reflections of Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Epcot turned 35 this week. I first visited EPCOT Center on October 3, 1983. It was more open then. Nothing in front of Spaceship Earth except a water fountain. No advanced dining reservations back then. You had to either go to the restaurant's podium early in the morning or use a video kiosk where a Cast Member would take your reservations "face to face". I rode Horizons that day only two days after its official opening.

Years later Disney renamed the park just Epcot. I finally got a digital SLR camera in 2006 just over 10 years ago. Let us return to that time now.

EPCOT in 2006, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
EPCOT in 2006.

From Left and Clockwise: Spaceship Earth had Mickey Mouse's wand with the word Epcot, Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps performed in front of the American Adventure, Off Kilter was on the Canada pavilion's stage and the Lights of Winter tunnel lead you from Future World to World Showcase during the holidays.

Except for Spaceship Earth, the other three can no longer be enjoyed at Epcot. Though Mickey's wand is gone, thankfully.

Fast forward to today...

EPCOT in 2017, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
EPCOT in 2017.

From Left and Clockwise: Disney is celebrating Epcot35 in the Odyssey Restaurant, Monorail moves over Flower and Garden Festival decorations, Spaceship Earth still is the icon of Epcot and Mission: Space has replaced Horizons.

I have watched Epcot change over the last 34 years. Have I always agreed with the changes? No, but change Epcot and Walt Disney World will always do, must and will.





September 29, 2017

Child View of Enchanted Tales with Belle Queue

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As adults, we often forget how a child sees Walt Disney World.

While I was waiting in the Stand By queue for the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom and took the photo you see below. I remembered a long ago request from a blog reader to show a child's view of the parks.

Guest in the Stand By Queue for Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Adult Guest View of the Stand By Queue for Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/40s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

There were a few children in the room and I got down as low as they were. The next photo of the same scene shows how they would see the book on Maurice's desk. A few off the children were French-Canadian and could read the French text. I was told the book was opened to the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Book on Maurice's Desk in the Queue for the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Book on Maurice's Desk in the Queue for Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/25s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 21mm Focal Length.

The next photo is a real eye opener for me. Looking up from behind the bin holding plans of Maurice's inventions, the painting of a young Belle with her mother was nicely framed between them.

Child view in the Queue for the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Child view in the Queue for the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/20s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

The older I get, the harder it is getting low angle photos. Still, it is worth a few cracking knees for unique results like these.





September 22, 2017

Cinderella Castle Study in Long Exposures

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Here is a simple study on the effects of shutter speed when doing long exposures. As I waited for the projection and firework shows, I photographed Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom using longer and longer shutter speeds.

Each photo was taken with a Nikon D750 full-frame digital SLR camera using a Nikon 24-120mm lens locked down on a tripod. I used these camera and lens settings for each exposure: Focal length at 50mm, Aperture at f/16 and ISO at 100.

Shutter speed: 5 seconds.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk with a 5 second exposure.

Shutter speed: 13 seconds.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk with a 13 second exposure.

Shutter speed: 20 seconds.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk with a 20 second exposure.

Shutter speed: 30 seconds.

Cinderella Castle at dusk in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at dusk with a 30 second exposure.

The only other variable was time. As you can see Blue Hour had not started with the first photo but it was very evident by the third one. Blue Hour had disappeared by the last one. What else can you see changing as the exposures got longer?






September 15, 2017

Meeting Eeyore in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Meeting Eeyore at the Crystal Palace Restaurant Character meal in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meeting Eeyore at the Crystal Palace Restaurant Character meal.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV 0, 65mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

One of the joys of Walt Disney World is sharing the fun with family. Here you see my grandson being introduced to Eeyore by his mother (my daughter) at the Crystal Palace Character meal in the Magic Kingdom this week.

Last week's blog was in error. Because of Hurricane Irma, my travel plans changed and I had not gotten to Walt Disney World by then nor was I at Pandora. I rectified it last night and will report on my findings soon. UPDATE: I got stormed out last night and tonight is not looking much better. Will work on an alternate plan.






September 8, 2017

Scouting Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney rendering of Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
© Walt Disney Company.

Scott is out exploring Pandora - The World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom this morning for the first time. He will return with tips and tricks on how to photograph this challenging new land.





September 1, 2017

Returning to Future World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Spaceship Earth illumination at dusk in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth being illuminated at dusk in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 5000, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

I will be flying down to Walt Disney World next week to take in all the wonders of new lands, attractions, shows and rides since my last visit. If you have anything you would like me to photograph, let me know. I will return with my results and give details on how I captured the photos. Use the Comments link below. I will not post them this time. Looking to help out my fellow Disney photographers.





August 25, 2017

Photographing the Festival of the Lion King Singers on Stage

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Festival of the Lion King Live Stage Show in the Harambe Theatre at Disney's Animal Kingdom does allow flash photography.

I tried a different approach on my last viewing of the show. I put my camera in Manual mode and set the shutter speed to 1/125th of a second, the aperture on the Nikon 28-300VR lens I set to wide open at any focal length and changed to Spot Metering. Spot metering allows the camera to get exposure information from a small part of the frame. My camera is set to 11%. I let the camera calculate the needed ISO for a good exposure.

Even at 1/125s, fast movements by the performers will still cause blurring. I wait until there is little to no movement. It helps to be familiar with the show as I have seen Festival of the Lion King many times. One can use youTube to watch videos of shows you may not be familiar with. That was how I was able to get this photo of one of the performers singing. He had just completed a movement and I knew he would be close to stationary for a few seconds.

Singer performing during the Festival of the Lion King live show in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Singer performing during the Festival of the Lion King live stage show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 5000, 0 EV, 300mm Focal Length, Cropped.

Notice the very high ISO number of 5000. In processing this photo, I used Noise Reduction software to eliminate the digital noise which was apparent in the original image. I point this out as the next photo was taken at ISO 2200 which almost does not need any noise reduction for an image shared on the Internet. If I was to print it, I would definitely apply some.

Singer performing during the Festival of the Lion King live show in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Singer performing during the Festival of the Lion King live stage show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 2200, 0 EV, 300mm Focal Length.

With today's digital cameras, high ISO photography is not the burden it was just 5 years ago. I might try even faster shutter speeds in the future to see how much I can push my equipment. Have you tried this at Disney or at any other kind of performances?





August 18, 2017

Disney Photographer Habits Part 2

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a few bad habits you want to stay away from when photographing at a Disney property. This week I want to go over a couple of good habits. I am often asked how I get such good photographs of Walt Disney World. I do a couple of things most people do not take the time or effort to do.

The first is stopping when I see a shot. Now, before you say but I cannot as I am with my family or a another group or some other excuse. It does not take long to take a photograph. When my children were young I got very good at the grab shot. The photos in the collage below were all taken when I took the time to stop when I saw a good photo opportunity.

The Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Photos from Walt Disney World.

From top left: DJ Anaan dancers in Asia entertaining guests in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Père Noël in Epcot's France pavilion, Trolley Show dancers in the Magic Kingdom and a Glass Blower in Arribas Brothers at Disney Springs.

I have written about how to get great photos at Walt Disney World after the Sun sets many times. The common denominator for all those posts is to secure your camera for long exposures. The best way to do that is with a tripod. I know tripods are big and a pain to carry around the parks and resorts. Remember, you can rent lockers at all the parks to store tripods in until needed.

Cinderella Castle after sunset at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle after sunset at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 6s, f/16, ISO 100, 0 EV, 22mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Do you have any habits or tips for getting great photos at Disney? Pass them along in the comments below.





August 11, 2017

Farewell to the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As Disney's Hollywood Studios continues to transform into something else. Disney's Movieland, perhaps? The stream of goodbyes to original attractions from when the Disney/MGM Studios opened in 1989 continues.

The latest attraction will close in a couple of days and was a surprise to me. When Turner Classic Movies (TCM) came on as a sponsor for the Great Movie Ride a couple of years ago I thought it meant a new lease on life for the iconic attraction. Alas, though it did get spruced up some and TCM host Robert Osborne introduced the movie montage, Disney recently announced the Great Movie Ride would be replaced with a Mickey Mouse based ride.

Below is my tribute to one of my favorite attractions.

The Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

I will miss the Great Movie Ride. I am a fan of all the movie genres found inside from gangsters to westerns and from musicals to science fiction. Mickey Mouse and Disney has some big shoes to fill.





August 4, 2017

Disney Photographer Habits

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I came across an article the other day about photographer bad habits. I thought I would pass on a few of them to you.

Batteries, Don't Leave Home Without Them:

Okay, raise your hand if you have done this while at Walt Disney World: Forgot to recharge your camera batteries from the day before or leave your room without bringing any extra camera batteries. Mine is sure raised as I have done both.

I have gotten into a routine when I travel to do the following two things. The first is to never leave the room without enough batteries to last an entire day of shooting. Usually my cameras can last a full day without depleting one battery unless I am going to do long night exposures using a tripod. Then I will need a second battery. The second is no matter how tired I am, I start charging batteries as soon as I get back to the room. Another tip is to bring a multi-outlet power strip as there so you have enough outlets for all your electronics which need charging.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin ride in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin ride in Tomorrowland.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV -0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

Memory Cards, Bring as Many as You Need:

Memory cards are not very expensive these days and I bring as many as I will need plus five more for my trips to Walt Disney World. That way even after putting the day's photos on my computer and travel sized memory drive (hard drive or solid state), the cards are my third back up. I have a memory card case and when I put the used cards back in, I turn them so the back is facing up telling me I have used it and I lock it so it can not be used until I unlock it. It will make me think before I format the card.

Speaking of formating, you should do that to all the cards before the trip. Easier to start with clean cards each day.

Shopping in the World of Disney store at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shopping in the World of Disney store at Disney Springs.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO 1100, EV +0.3.

Cleaning Routine, Do It!:

This is a habit I need to do more often. Before each trip I make sure I do a full cleaning of my cameras and lenses. I first use Nikon Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes to clean the outside of my cameras and lenses including the glass, lcd screens, buttons and levers. Do this with the cameras turned off so you do not change any settings. Next, I clean the camera sensors using a Eyelead Camera Sensor Cleaning Kit. I have found this kit to be the easiest and best way to clean my sensors. I then pack a bunch of the wipes and the sensor cleaning kit to bring with me. I never know if I may end up in a dusty or dirty place with my equipment and may have to do another cleaning. An example would be on a Disney cruise with a stop at Castaway Cay. Sand and salt spray can easily get into everything.

Monorail Yellow moves over the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Yellow moves over the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Zeroing Out Camera, A Good Habit to Learn:

Below is an example of what happened when I was using a tripod for a bit and forgot to Zero Out my camera when I took it off the tripod for this photo. The link goes into detail. It is a process I go through to set my camera to a good starting position for all purpose phototgraphy. I do it before I leave my house/resort room/car or whatever. That way even if it is off a little bit, I will not get such a bad photo as the one I have shown here.

Paddlefish restaurant at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Bad photos of the Paddlefish restaurant at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/15s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.


These are good habits to have when traveling to any destination.





July 28, 2017

Sharing Details from Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the last two weeks I have urged you to look around and enjoy the details found at Walt Disney World. Today I want to just share of few of my favorites from my last visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

As you walk into MuppetVision 3-D, you will see a series of fictitious movie posters starring the Muppet characters. In this one, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem will be starring in a remake of Disney's High School Musical.

Poster for High School Mayhem in the queue for MuppetVision 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Poster for High School Mayhem in the queue for MuppetVision 3-D.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 66mm Focal Length.

After taking in the Muppets, I popped over to enjoy a pizza in PizzeRizzo. If you go there, make sure to walk upstairs and check out the Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall. When I was there they were getting ready for a wedding reception.

Schedule for Rizzo's Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall upstairs at Pizzerizzo at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Schedule for Rizzo's Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall upstairs at Pizzerizzo restaurant.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 30mm Focal Length.

Lastly, as I was strolling down Hollywood Blvd., I spotted a fellow guest wearing a very interesting and amusing t-shirt. Nice to know our princesses are safe.

Father of daughters walking in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Father of daughter(s) walking around Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/4, ISO 100, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length.

I do love to find fun details at Walt Disney World. I find new ones on every trip.






July 21, 2017

Look Up with a Twist at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last week I talked about Looking Down at Walt Disney World. This week we are Looking Up....from Our Phones. Believe me, I appreciate the modern day Smart Phone as much as the next person. Especially in a long queue line for a popular ride or attraction at a Disney park. However, you could end up missing the great details Disney Imagineers design into the parks. This little detail gave me a big smile as I waited for the doors to open on the Festival of the Lion King in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I might have missed it if I did not put my phone in my pocket and take the time to look around. I pointed it out to my family who enjoyed it to upon looking up from their phones.

Sign in the queue for the Festival of the Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sign in the queue for the Festival of the Lion King show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 320, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Disney restaurants are a treasure trove of details from counter service to sit-down restaurants. One the newest restaurants is found in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland and is full of wonderful details from Disney lore. The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen has details and surprises in every room and in every direction. As I waited for my meal, I walked around the room instead of thumbing through my phone and found this interesting wall decoration. Anyone know what S.E.A. is and what it represents?

Crest of S.E.A hanging inside the Skipper Canteen restaurant in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Crest of S.E.A hanging inside the Skipper Canteen restaurant.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0, 70mm Focal Length.


Let us not forget the resorts. Themeing details are found through all of them. On my last stay at Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter Resort, I found this beautiful glass etching after eating some beignets (not to be missed if your are staying there).

Glass etching of a musician with a trumpet at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Glass etching of a musician with a trumpet at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV 0, 30mm Focal Length.

Do remember to look up from your phones while you are visiting the Walt Disney World resort. You never know what you may see and not know what you may have missed.






July 14, 2017

Looking Down at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you are a Walt Disney World veteran, you know when walking around the resort to look up and down and all around as Imagineers have placed details in all directions. This week I want to point out a couple of details you would miss if you did not look down.

In Norway, you no doubt have seen the Stave Church in Epcot's Norway pavilion. Did you notice the information sign nearby entitled From Ships to Staves? You would see if you looked down if you were walking towards the public rest rooms in the pavilion or headed towards Mexico.

Sign near the Stave Church in Epcot's Norway pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sign near the Stave Church in Epcot's Norway pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 100, EV -0.3, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped.

If you have or will be staying in the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, keep an eye out as you walk around at the street signs. Yes, you can see them on poles but also on the sidewalks. Rue means Street in French.

Sidewalk street sign for Rue D'Baga at Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sidewalk street sign for Rue D'Baga at Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Do remember to look down at Walt Disney World. You never know what you may see.





July 7, 2017

Focusing on Barrie

Scott and Lisa listening to Barrie at the first AllEars.net Photowalk, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Scott and Lisa listening to Barrie at the first AllEars.net Photowalk during Mousefest 2008.
Photo courtesy of Marc Lorenzo.

Our Picture This! Blogmate, Barrie Brewer, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer last week. I asked fellow photobloggers both past and present to share their thoughts about Barrie.

Deb Wills:

I met Barrie years ago, at a Disney Community meet, perhaps Tagrel. I had seen her before but that was the first time we ever spoke more than just a couple words. She was enjoying watching her friends sing and sipping on her Bombay Sapphire Martini. She smiled and laughed. I think that is what first drew me to her.

Over the years she contributed to AllEars; one of our original bloggers, a photographer for the site, the designer and creator of the AllEars Trading cards. She was the event photographer at many AllEars (and other) fan gatherings.

One of my fondest memories was back in 2010. She was an original member of Team AllEars, the running team that began participating in the Disney January Marathon weekend. It was a cold nasty day with sleet and rain. We really had to gut that one out.. and it was our first half marathon. I remember finding Barrie in the runners' finishing area wearing her medal. Standing there in the rain, we spotted each other, screamed with excitement, hugged each other and cried. Two friends, determined to do something they’d never done before.

Walt Disney World was one of her happy places… where she loved to be. She shared that love with all of us through her photography.

This past May I was walking my 18th Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I always carry with me an honor roll of those I walk for. The top of the list always has the names of those Fighting Today and I had Barrie’s name at the top. I sent her a photo of that and told her I would be holding her close, that she would be my inspiration and motivation for walking each step. She texted me back a little while later and I’ll be saving that text for a long while.

As I have been thinking about what I want to say about Barrie I was reminded by something I read a long time ago. “Many times, we wait until a friend has died to tell the world what a wonderful person they were and then we realize we never really told them.” I’m just as guilty because I don’t think I ever told Barrie what an amazing, talented, kind, person she was and how glad I was we were friends. And now that I think about it, I wonder if I ever told her I love her. I hope I did but I don’t know.

May this be one of the gifts she leaves us with… the reminder to be positive, kind and let the people around us know how much they mean to us.

barrie-photo.jpg

Lisa Berton:

While I'm trying to take in the heavy-hearted news of Barrie's passing, I've been looking at old photographs and reading blogs referencing our fun times together. Scott asked me to share a story about Barrie. Allow me do so and to give you a little insight into who Barrie was.

In September 2008, Barrie let me stay with her at Saratoga Springs. While we spent a fair amount of time running around Walt Disney World on our own and meeting up with other friends, we made time to get out and shoot together. One night we headed to Downtown Disney. I remember Barrie was set up with her tripod and shooting the broomstick statue from Fantasia. Click, click, click in rapid sequence. I remember laughing and asking her what she was doing because the statue wasn't moving. It was one of those moments when I tried to turn our photography skills into a shooting contest and she said it wasn't. This was typical banter. We tried to teach each other and improve each other's skills. If one of us nailed a shot, the other might say "You suck!" with admiration.

She called me out if I wasn't friendly enough or if my jokes went too far. Barrie made me a better person. I will always be grateful for her friendship and encouragement.

Please take a moment to read my trip report from 2008 about the day Barrie and I went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure called You Knee Verse Sull. We had a blast.

Barrie Brewer
The "look" Lisa got when she snuck up on Barrie.

Erin Blackwell

I can tell you the exact moment Barrie Brewer and I became friends. We were already AllEars.net teammates, but we sat with each other during an IllumiNations dinner and talked and laughed.

She was there for so many people, just through Disney alone. Beyond that, she was my friend. When we got together, we'd go off on our photo walks like Discovery Island trails and resort Christmas decorations. She took one of her favorite, iconic photos with me, a spider web in the morning sun, and when we shared it with DAK cast members who were making sure we weren't disturbing things, they took us off the path to show us one of their favorite things. We'd take hours for our walks and end up sitting in a lounge somewhere and talking for more hours (and a competition to see who could tie a knot in a cherry stem with their tongue the fastest. She won).

I can hear her saying to me, "Go jump up and down on that bridge. I want to play with this new lens and action shots." And, "Go do something with that rabbit carving (in the Tree of Life)." She once thought I sounded down in an email and designed a card using one of our photos and snail mailed it to me. She said it was still nice to get surprises in the mail. Barrie once said, "I love how good friends can just pick up where they left off as if no time has passed at all." That's how I felt about us and I'm sure I'm not the only one. With all the photos we took, including of each other, we never took one of just the two of us. I wish we had. We were part of a wonderful photo at the DAK Lodge (see below). She honestly was one of the best human beings I ever met and I miss her so much.

The World has lost some of its pixie dust.

Barrie Brewer and crew at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Barrie Brewer and crew at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Scott Thomas

Barrie and I rarely crossed paths in real life except for the AllEars.net photowalks we co-hosted together along with Lisa. We did talk frequently on various projects she was always working on. I always found Barrie to be a very humble and talented person with a wry sense of humor. Her facial expressions told you what she was feeling or thinking. Her eyes were very expressive, bright and mischievous. Very elf-like.

A little history for those who may have discovered the Picture This! blog after Barrie stopped contributing, Barrie was the original photoblogger here. You can still read over her posts via this link: Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer. The early posts are missing photos but her words are there. Through them, you will get to know Barrie.

Rest well, Barrie, you are/will be missed by the many people you touched directly in life and through your gift of photography you freely gave to everyone else.

Barrie Brewer with Spaceman Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Copyright © 2010 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR, 1/80s shutter, f4.2, ISO 800.





June 30, 2017

Still Using HDR at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Even with today's software tools like MacPhun's Intensify, I still find taking a set of photographs to create High Dynamic Range or HDR images worth my time in the field and in the digital dark room.

With my cameras from Nikon, it is easy to create a bracketed set of image from -2 to +2 exposures. I stick with five photos one EV apart. Other manufacturers even do HDR in the camera which is quite impressive.

Today, I use MacPhun's Aurora 2017 HDR software as a plug-in to Adobe's Lightroom CC photo editing and management program. After selecting an HDR set of photos I export them to Aurora where they get imported. Once the five photos are merged. I have many pre-sets to choose from. They range from very realistic to very unrealistic. In the case of the Yeti Shrine at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I liked the pre-set which gave the image a painterly feel to it.

Yeti Shrine in HDR at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Yeti Shrine in HDR at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 70mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

Later, after the Sun had set and dusk was coming on, I set up at tripod and took a set of bracketed images of the Tree of Life. I did this before the lighting, just becoming visible, was noticed by other guests. I framed it so one of the new carvings (American Bison or Buffalo) would be the foreground interest.

Tree of Life in HDR at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tree of Life in HDR at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

As good as today's camera sensors are, using techniques like HDR still are needed at times when lighting and shadows in a scene become challenging.





June 23, 2017

Editing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week I am going to take you through a challenging photo edit using Adobe Lightroom CC.

Here is the before image I took while riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom.

Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom [UNEDITED].
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

There are several issues with the original photo. The main object of the rock columns are at an angle as is Cinderella Castle in the background. The exposure of the rock formations is under exposed and the clouds in the sky are a little over exposed. As many photography websites will tell, you should not photograph into the light. Well, during a ride like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, you tend to get all kinds of angles as you whirl around the track.

After opening the image in Lightroom CC, the first thing I do is start with the Crop tool which can not only crop but straighten using the Angle slider.

Straighten and crop Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Straighten and crop the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Image.

Then I use the Basic sliders to make the initial adjustments to fix the exposure issues. I start by adding a little Contrast to bring out the rock's textures. I open up the Shadows of the rock formation by moving the slider as far as it is needed to the right. You can see the Highlight (Red areas) and Shadow (Blue areas) Clipping warnings on the screen to guide when you have removed the shadows (when the Blue disappears). Same goes for the Highlights when the Red disappears.

To pop the image, I add a little (not a lot) of Clarity. I bring in the blue of the sky and reds of the rocks, I add a good dose of Vibrance. I like color in my travel images especially at Walt Disney World.

The last thing I do is add a Sharpen pre-set called Scenic designed to add enough sharpening for a landscape type of image.

Processing the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Processing the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Image.

In a still image, you can often notice things you might not see as you are riding a ride. I zoomed in when I saw something not natural looking among the rocks. I found what looks like lights which come on at night.

Lights on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Lights on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Image.

Well, I really don't want to see those on my final image so I used the Spot Removal tool in Clone mode to highlight over the lights and let Lightroom do its magic to find and copy a nearby section and blend it in. Unless you know where to look, you will not notice the fix.

Cloning Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cloned out the Lights on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Image.

Here is the final image after editing. How do you like it?

Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom [EDITED].
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

The trick to processing is to slowly work with the tools until you get the results you like. Play with them when you first start. Go from one extreme to the other and see how it effects the photo you are working on. Over time, you will develop a style. I like very realistic "looking" images for the most part though the image may not start out that way.

There are many photo editors out there. I prefer Lightroom for its photo management tools and the large amount of support you can find online, books and videos.






June 16, 2017

Muppet Mobile Lab in Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Sticking with the Muppets theme this week, I was able to photograph Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and his assistant, Beaker, entertaining guests on their Muppet Mobile Lab under the large shades near Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World. I decided to put my camera in a portrait orientation as the Mobile Muppet Lab is taller than it is long.

Muppet Mobile Lab in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Muppet Mobile Lab in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 100, EV -0.3, 48mm Focal Length.

As I often do, I like to get in close which I was able to do using the Nikon 28-300VR Super Zoom lens without having to move from my location.

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and his assistant, Beaker, entertaining guests on their Muppet Mobile Lab in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and his assistant, Beaker, entertaining guests on their Muppet Mobile Lab in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 100, EV -0.3, 116mm Focal Length.

Do not forget you can change your camera's orientation which is very handy for a subject like the Muppet Mobile Lab, Disney characters and people.

June 9, 2017

Launching at Rock'n'Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Rock'n'Roller Coaster launch in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rock'n'Roller Coaster launch in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/5s, f/3.5, ISO 1600, EV 0, 18mm Focal Length, cropped.

Seems life goes from 0 to 60MPH in 2.3 seconds these days for Scott so he is taking a break this week. He will be back next week to share more photography tips for and from Disney.

June 2, 2017

Test Track Zoom Zoom at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Riding Test Track in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding Test Track in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1.3s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Life for Scott lately has been zooming by so he is taking a break the next two weeks. He will be back soon to share more photography tips for and from Disney.

May 26, 2017

Visiting Morocco in Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Kingdom of Morocco plaque at the Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Kingdom of Morocco plaque at the Morocco pavilion.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV 0, 40mm focal length.

Morocco in Epcot's World Showcase does not have a ride or a CircleVision movie. What it does have is beautiful architecture to explore, interesting shops to browse, enticing foods to try and a feeling of peacefulness. The pavilion is easy to spot from anywhere as you walk around World Showcase as the Koutoubia Minaret or Prayer Tower stands tall.

Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 640, EV +0.3, 82mm focal length.

The pavilion hosts three eateries, Tangierine Cafe, Restaurant Marrakesh and, the newest addition, Spice Road Table featuring views of the World Showcase Lagoon. I have enjoyed dining at Restaurant Marrakesh on a few occasions and I highly recommend it.

Restaurant Marrakesh dining area inside Morocco in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Restaurant Marrakesh dining area inside the Morocco pavilion.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/20s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm focal length, bounce flash.

With the addition of the Spice Road Table, the stage was moved to a new location. Here you can hear Moroccan music and dance performed. Including belly dancing where members of the audience are asked to try it out at times.

Koutoubia Minaret or Prayer Tower at the Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
New stage location in the Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 44mm focal length.

The wonders of Epcot's World Showcase is more in exploring each country's pavilions. Trying out each one's customs and foods and in talking with the visiting Cast Member ambassadors.

May 19, 2017

Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I enjoyed Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It is not a show with a lot of "Wow" factor like a fireworks show. The music, floats and use of projections on water is very soothing. I will say my experience in watching it was not enjoyable.

I saw Rivers of Light in its third week of production. Yet, the Cast Members seating people were not prepared for what happened to my wife and I. We had used a Dining Package at Tusker House so we would not have to fight the crowd to get a good seat. Our server told us to show up about 30 minutes before the show. Turns out that was not a good idea. Even though we had tickets showing we should be seated in the reserved area, the area was already full. Confused, I asked how this could be? Again, the Cast Members did not have an answer. I had to be very firm with them to get into the handicap area so we could watch the show while standing.

The photos are not from a very good viewing location because of this. You can see poles and lights and I did the best I could.

The boats are a challenge as they move slowly but they still move. I decided to use spot metering and a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second for the show and let the ISO climb as needed up to 6400.

Boat float in the Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Boat float in the Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV +1, 116mm focal length.

The lighted animal floats are much easier to photograph as they are lighted.

Lighted animal floats in the Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Lighted animal floats in the Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV +1, 116mm focal length.

Towards the end of the show, every float used in the show are in the lagoon. It is a beautiful sight.

Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1, 28mm focal length.

While my experience was not what I am used to at Walt Disney World, I will go see this show again. Hopefully with a Fast Pass and will show up a lot earlier. I wonder if Disney should look into a full reservation system for shows presented in an auditorium or amphitheater setting.

I did complain to Disney and have talked with a Customer Service Cast Member. I hope my feedback will improve other's experience at Rivers of Light in the future.

May 12, 2017

Observing the Extraordinary at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.Photographer Elliott Erwitt

While we can all agree Walt Disney World is not an "ordinary place", it is a great place to find something interesting if you are observant. It is hard not to be distracted while visiting the resort. There are so many things to see and do and so many people doing them. You are traveling with other people and there are reservations and Fast Pass times to adhere to.

But...if a few times during your stay you can take a step back and look around. Allow yourself to observe where you are and let the creative part of you out. You will be surprised what you may capture in front of you.

The Discovery Island Carnivale in Disney's Animal Kingdom perform a very energentic act which gets guests involved and dancing. I so enjoy others enjoying themselves and capturing their exuberance in the moment.

Discovery Island Carnivale performing and getting guests to dance with them in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Discovery Island Carnivale performing and getting guests to dance with them..
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 140, EV +0.3, 72mm focal length.

It can be something so simple and ordinary as a daughter helping her mother with menu choices at Homecoming: Florida Kitchen restaurant in Disney Springs.

Daughter helping her mother with menu choices at Homecoming restaurant in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Daughter helping her mother with menu choices at Homecoming restaurant.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 2000, EV +0.3, 27mm focal length.

Let your knowledge of your camera, lens, exposure, composition guide your creative side to look and see. Walt Disney said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” In our case, put the books down, get away from the computer and go out and shoot. Learn from mistakes and never stop observing the life around us.

Walt Disney statue in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Walt Disney statue in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

A good exercise in observing is finding a place to sit down or lean against an object. Do as Obi Wan Kenobi would do and let yourself go and stretch out with your mind to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. You can do this anywhere even in a busy Disney themepark.

May 5, 2017

Watch Your Edges at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Many new photographers make a common mistake of concentrating on their subject and not looking around the subject. Especially the edges of the frame. It is very easy to overlook objects and people creeping in from the sides, top and bottom of a camera's viewfinder edges.

Below is a photo of Spaceship Earth on a beautiful Flordia day. I turned around and focused on the big geodesic sphere and got the photo you see below.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth with Edge Distractions.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 125, EV 0, 16mm focal length.

Well, I looked at my camera's LCD to review the photo and saw all the edge distractions of palm tree fronds, tree branches and people walking past. Not what I remember shooting. To get the photo I really wanted, I moved out from underneath the trees and raised my camera's angle upward.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth without Edge Distractions.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

This was the photo I wanted to capture at the time.

Let us review, I noticed all the edge distractions in the camera's LCD. I moved and changed the angle to Spaceship Earth and before pressing the shutter button, I checked all around the viewfinder to make sure I had elminated any distractions. This is good practise to do whenever you are photographing.

April 28, 2017

Geometrics at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

An image having a strong organization of shapes and forms, which is essentially the geometric elements of the photo, will create a strong composition. When I think Disney and geometric elements, I think Epcot's Future World.

The architecture of the pavilions use many geometric shpapes starting with the triangles on Spaceship Earth. In fact there are 11,324 individual triangles which make up the exterior of Spaceship Earth. Each one is an isosceles triangle meaning two of the three sides must be of equal length.

Triangle surfaces make up the exterior of Spaceship Earth at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Triangle surfaces make up the exterior of Spaceship Earth.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 1600, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length.

Looking at the glass structure of the Imagination pavillion, notice the steel framework. They are all parallelograms which repeat over and over.

Parallelograms framework on Imagination pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Parallelograms framework on the Imagination pavilion.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, tripod, HDR Image.

Getting away from straight lines and angles, Epcot's Mission Space pavilion is more rounded with curves and spheres.

Curves and spheres of Mission Space in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Curves and spheres of Mission Space.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

You can find geometrics everywhere around us not just in Man-made structures but in Nature, too. Look for them the next time you are out photographing at Walt Disney World or in your backyard.

April 21, 2017

Eliminating Distracting Backgrounds at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Here are a few ideas on how to separate your subject from its background which are often busy at Walt Disney World. I have previously gone into detail on how to use Aperture mode on a dSLR camera to blur out the background while keeping the subject sharp and clear. For compact cameras and on some smart phones you can look for Portrait mode to get the same effect.

The background behind this Meerkat sentinel on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom was extremely busy. I used Aperture priority mode and set the aperture to the widest available for the 300mm focal length I used. Doing so threw the background out of focus while keeping the meerkat in sharp focus.

Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) sentinel on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meerkat sentinel on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

Using Fill Flash is another great way to pull your subject out from a busy background. While Miss Betty Shambles was pining for a Valentine on Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, I used fill flash to highlight her over the background.

Citizens of Hollywood Miss Betty Shambles looking for her Valentine on Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Citizens of Hollywood Miss Betty Shambles looking for her Valentine on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/4, ISO 100, EV 0, 66mm Focal Length.

Lighting or Color is another way to highlight your subjects. Below I happened to use both. The light on the ancient idol along one of the world's rivers on the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise naturally outlined it. The green vegetation also framed the idol. Both the light and colors pop the idol out of its background.

An ancient idol on the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise as the boat enters the Mekong River in Cambodia, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
An ancient idol on the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise as the boat enters the Mekong River in Cambodia.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 900, EV 0, 150mm Focal Length.

Remember these tips when you are confronted by busy backgrounds which can distract from your photo's main subject or subjects.

April 14, 2017

Photographic Patience at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I covered this week's theme on Patience before in a blog post entitled, "Play the Waiting Game at Walt Disney World" back in 2013. In it, I talked about waiting until I got a people free photo opportunity.

This week I talk about another kind of patience. The kind we all face being a photographer with a group of people or traveling with family at Walt Disney World.

The first is time waiting for someone to shop in the many stores, shops and kiosks found in and around the resort. I fill up the time by wandering around and looking for interesting merchandise to photograph. In the photo below I found these colorful hats on display in the Disney Outfitters Shop at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Hats on display inside Disney Outfitters shop in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Hats on display inside Disney Outfitters shop in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/18-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.8, ISO 5600, EV +0.3, 34mm Focal Length.

A ride queue, especially for the most popular rides, can be very time consuming. Thankfully, Disney Imagineers put in as much work into the queues as they do the rides. As older rides have been refurbished and new rides open, the queues have become more interactive and photographically pleasing. For example, Frozen Ever After's queue is a pleasing wait in a Norwegian village ending in Oaken Token's with a fun sauna inside.

Frozen Ever After queue in the Norway pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waiting in the Frozen Ever After queue in Epcot's Norway pavilion.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/50s, f/2.8, ISO 12800, EV +1.0.

I like to photograph firework shows with a tripod. This means staking out a location long before show time. I use the time to experiment with different exposures like this very long exposure looking down Main Street USA.

Waiting Main Street USA for Holiday Wishes to start in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waiting Main Street USA for Holiday Wishes to start in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 30s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Tripod.

This is the hardest subject to be patient with to photograph. Your food order when it gets set before you and you are hungry. I am not talking about your everyday hunger, I mean Walt Disney World hunger. You know what I mean. Below is a photo of Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entree at the Homecoming Restaurant in Disney Springs. I had heard all kinds of postive things about his dish, I almost started eating before I took a couple of photos. I mean, look at it. Hungry, yet? Yes, it is as good as people say.

Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entree at Homecoming restaurant in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Art's Fabulous Fried Chicken entree at Homecoming restaurant in Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/40s, f/10, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 48mm Focal Length.

When you are waiting for family or friends, look around for a photo op. At Walt Disney World, they are everywhere.

April 7, 2017

Disney Springs Intensified

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

During my last visit to Disney Springs, two locations were finally finished and open for business which I wanted to photograph. The first was the Planet Hollywood Observatory which recently re-opened after an extensive renovation to fit in with the Disney Springs theme.

The first photo was taken Straight Out Of the Camera or SOOC to most photographers. It is a fairly flat photo with dark and light regions.

Planet Hollywood Observatory Restaurant at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Planet Hollywood Observatory Restaurant at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 560, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Below is what the Planet Hollywood Observatory looks like after using Macphun's Intensify CK photo editor which I use as a plug-in for Adobe's Lightroom CC. Intensify CK has starting filters of all kinds for many situations. I use a few favorites. The one I used here was the Soft HDR filter which makes a series of adjustments over one image in one click of the mouse. It is a real time saver for me when photos come SOOC with many photo editing challenges. I could have done it all myself but it would have taken 15 to 30 minutes to get it close to this.

Planet Hollywood Observatory Restaurant at Disney Springs edited in Macphun Intensify CK, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Planet Hollywood Observatory Restaurant at Disney Springs edited in Macphun Intensify CK.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 560, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar located in The Landing area of Disney Springs is just a great idea, period. Disney could have put this anywhere on property and it would have been a hit. For me, the entrance to the building and the use of textured surfaces make it a perfect subject to use Intensify CK with. First, the Before Photo which is heavily backlighted late on a Florida afternoon.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar in Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125, f/8, ISO 2000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Here I applied the Enhance Shadows filter at 85% to dramatically open up all the shadows in the original photo. Now you can see all the metal, glass and wood textures used by Disney in the construction of the bar and lounge.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar in Disney Springs edited in Macphun Intensify CK, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar in Disney Springs edited in Macphun Intensify CK.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125, f/8, ISO 2000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

In each case, after I was done in Intensify CK, I returned to Lightroom to finish up the image. Adding sharpness and clarity. Most times, Intenisfy CK will add digital noise which Lightroom has little trouble dealing with. In the end, I get a great looking image in far less time.

Do you need to be a Photoshop wizard? Not with such tools as Macphun produces for Apple Mac users. Check them out to see all their photo editing products.

March 31, 2017

Going Rogue on Main Street USA

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

You might have heard about a movie being released on Blu Ray next week. A prequel from a time long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. (cue the music!)

Yes, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is coming out on April 4, 2017. Not to be out done, these t-shirts were on sale in the Emporium on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom even before the movie was released to theaters back in November of 2016.

Rogue One t-shirts for sale in the Emporium on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rogue One t-shirts for sale in the Emporium on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 4500, EV 0.

Do you see one you like?

March 24, 2017

More Epcot Yesterland: Rainbow Tunnel

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Looking through old prints for this week's Epcot Yesterland topic, I came across this photo of my daughters from 1998 in the Rainbow Tunnel or Corridor. This area was called ImageWorks and had all kinds of interactive activities for guests to enjoy.

Young guests in the Rainbow Tunnel in Epcot's Journey Into Imagination pavilion from 1998, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young guests in the ImageWork's Rainbow Tunnel in Epcot's Journey Into Imagination pavilion from 1998.

Did you take a photo like this? I did not have a tripod with me back then so the colors are very muted here. Guessing I was using my trusty Nikon 8008s film SLR here with a 50mm lens.

March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

In celebration, here are photos from the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant located in The Landing of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. Now, you would expect a rousing time there on St. Patrick's Day but Raglan Road has expanded it to host the Mighty St. Patrick's Festival. Leave it to the Irish to make a good thing even better.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant hosts the Mighty St. Patrick's Festival at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant hosts the Mighty St. Patrick's Festival at Disney Springs.

What's that you say? You traveled to Walt Disney World and forgot to bring suitable St. Patrick's Day attire? Never you fear, the Shop for Ireland Store inside the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant has everything you would need to bring out your Irish spirit.

Shop for Ireland store inside the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shop for Ireland store inside the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

The Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant promises a cacophony (big word that) of music so Irish that's it’s more Irish than any other found including Irish dancing, music and other astounding entertainments.

Irish Dancing inside the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Irish Dancing inside the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant in Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Walt Disney World this week or live close by, stop by Raglan Road and check out the Mighty St. Patrick's Festival.

March 10, 2017

Aerial Tour of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in January, I posted a Disney Pic of the Week of an aerial photograph I took of what was then called Downtown Disney from the Characters in Flight Balloon ride. At the time, I said I had been trying to go on the ride to get new photos of Disney Springs. Third time was the charm as last week the winds calmed down enough for me to ride the tethered balloon.

The latest version of the balloon no longer has characters on it. The colors and patterns were changed to better fit in with the Disney Springs theme. I would guess the name of the ride may be changed down the road as well.

Characters In Flight Balloon ride at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Characters In Flight Balloon ride at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 500, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Launching and landing is extremely smooth as the balloon's winch spools the cable out and in during the ten minute ride.

Characters In Flight Balloon tethered cable, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The tethered cable of the Characters In Flight Balloon ride.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 2800, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

The angle below shows the Disney Springs Marketplace. This is the same area I shared back in January (see link above). The place has really changed in the last five years. There is now a bridge from the Rainforest Cafe to Paddlefish (which was Fulton's Crab House), The Boathouse and Jock Lindsey's Hanger Bar has been added. I even caught the volcano erupting.

Marketplace at Disney Springs from the Characters In Flight Balloon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Marketplace at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 19mm Focal Length.

You can walk around the balloon's "basket" to get a full 360 viewing. I next photographed the new Disney Springs Town Center. Here you can see the new shops and restaurants as well as the spring meandering through the complex. Towards the bottom is a section of The Landing. Towards the top is the Lime Parking Garage.

Town Center at Disney Springs from the Characters In Flight Balloon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Town Center at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 1100, EV 0, 29mm Focal Length.

Disney Springs West Side has not changed a lot but will be. The large, blue Disney Quest you see in the photo below is scheduled to close in July of 2017 and will be replaced by an NBA Experience attraction. It was recently announced La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil will be closing at the end of 2017 which is performed in the white Circus tent looking building. You can also see the Orange Parking Garage which has an exit right off of the highway.

West Side at Disney Springs from the Characters In Flight Balloon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
West Side at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 1100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

As you go up and down in the Characters In Flight Balloon ride, you can get different angles of Disney Springs. I took this photos of the newly re-opened Planet Hollywood Observatory restaurant and the Coca-Cola Store on my ride's descent.

Planet Hollywood Observatory restaurant and the Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs from the Characters In Flight Balloon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Planet Hollywood Observatory restaurant and the Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/8, ISO 1600, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Hope you enjoyed this aerial tour of the Disney Springs dining, shopping and entertainment complex.

March 3, 2017

Mr. Stork Made a Delivery

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Mr Stork

Scott is visiting central Florida this week and getting aquainted with his new grandson. He will be back next week with more photography tips and pics from Walt Disney World.

February 24, 2017

Shopping Around Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Shopping in Epcot's World Showcase pavilions can be a lot of fun and very expensive. I prefer to "shop by camera" and to record items I find during my visits as the merchandise changes over time.

For instance, upon leaving the Frozen Ever After ride and entering Puffin's Roost shop in Epcot's World Showcase Norway pavilion, you come upon a wall display of framed prints and gifts for sale from the animated movie, Frozen. Something you would have not seen before the movie was released back in 2013.

Framed prints and gifts for sale in The Puffin's Roost inside the Norway pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Framed prints and gifts for sale in The Puffin's Roost.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 1100, EV +0.3.

Then, there are the timeless items for sale which have been in the shops since Epcot opened. Coo Coo Clocks inside the Der Bucherwurm store in the Germany pavilion have been ticking and coo coo-ing every time I have visited since 1983.

Coo Coo Clock for sale inside Der Bucherwurm store in the Germany pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Coo Coo Clock for sale inside the Der Bucherwurm store.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/40s, f/3.8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 32mm Focal Length.

What I enjoy seeing is how pop culture comes and goes throughout World Showcase. No where does it show more than the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan pavilion where last year the Pokemon Go phenomenon was in full swing.

Pokemon plush toys for sale inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pokemon plush toys for sale inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 1250, EV 0, 32mm Focal Length.

France is the home to many Disney classics including Beauty and the Beast. In the Galerie Des Halles shop you find all manner of souvenirs from Eiffel Tower replicas to shirts from the movie.

Shirt for sale found in Galerie Des Halles shop in the France pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shirt for sale found in the Galerie Des Halles shop.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

And I did not spend a dime. Well, not exactly, I bought the shirt as a gift for my daughter. Happy shopping!

February 17, 2017

A Visit to Club Cool in Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In 2005, Coca Cola re-imagined their popular Ice Station Cool in Epcot into Club Cool.

Last year I brought in my camera with a Fisheye lens attached to photograph the coolest club in Epcot. The entrance to the Coca Cola beverages has moved and its space has gotten a bit bigger. Still with same theme of serving International soda/pop/soda pop flavors and free to try, too.

Entrance to Club Cool in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Entrance to Club Cool in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0.

Inside, there are soda fountain stations and cups to use for all to try out all those wonderful International flavors. As you can see, you have eight different flavors to try.

Inside Club Cool at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Inside Club Cool at Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2500, EV 0.

I did a 5-shot HDR set of photos and got some interesting effects. The software did a really good job for the most part with the moving people including the family trying out the sodas.

Inside Club Cool in HDR at Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Inside Club Cool in HDR at Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, f/2.8, ISO 2500, EV 0, HDR Image.

For anyone who may have never stopped in at Club Cool but, have heard about it, this is what it looks like. It is up to you to find out what it tastes like.

RELATED LINKS:
** Try the Beverly

** Disney Pic of the Week: Club Cool

** Beverly Strikes Again at Club Cool

February 10, 2017

Photographing a Disney Icon: Spaceship Earth

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I missed a Disney Pic of the Week a couple of week's ago. You know how it goes sometimes. I got busy, was traveling...yada, yada, yada...I ended up missing the post.

I want to make it up to you today. The one I missed was for Spaceship Earth. I figure it is my second most photographed object at Walt Disney World. Cinderella Castle being by far and away the first one. I went through my photos and found three different ways I photographed the big ball which I thought you would enjoy.

I talked about how to use objects for framing other objects awhile back. I even used a similar photo as this one. This was a wide angle photo I cropped in post-processing to bring everything in a little closer.

Spaceship Earth seen through the Red Torii Gate at the Japan pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth seen through the Red Torii Gate from the Japan pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped.

When I looked over my shoulder while walking to World Showcase from Future World I saw this composition. I noticed how the trees along the walkway leads you right to Spaceship Earth behind the people, monorail rail and water fountain.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 122mm Focal Length.

In this last one, I liked the composition and the contrast between the living palm tree and the metal triangles of Spaceship Earth behind it.

Palm tree in front of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Palm tree in front of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 62mm Focal Length.

Hope you will forgive my transgression and this gives you some ideas on how to photograph other familiar subjects you know of.

February 3, 2017

Photographing Disney Statues in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Hub in front of Cinderella Castle was expanded a couple of years ago into the Central Plaza. When that happened the Disney character statuettes which were near the Partners statue moved to the new Main Street Plaza Gardens in front of Casey's Corner and Plaza Restaurant. If you happen to have some free time with your camera on your next visit, you might want to explore the new statuette locations. I did find myself with time on a recent trip and decided to do a little composition practice.

As the time of the day was nearing high noon with harsh shadows being cast down on the character statuettes, I used fill flash to fill in those shadows. I wanted to show a couple of things: how distance effects a set aperture and moving positions for better backgrounds or composition.

I set my camera to Aperture Priority mode and used an aperture of f/11. The camera would then calculate the shutter speed and ISO settings.

First up are those adorable chipmunks, Chip and Dale. My first attempt shows how getting in close focus range effected the background focus. This created a soft focus or bokeh behind the sharply focused chipmunks.

Chip and Dale Chipmunk statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chip and Dale Chipmunk statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 140, EV +0.3, 100mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

While the background is out of focus it still looks very busy and distracting. To simplify, I moved around the statuette and found the water fountain to be more suitable for a background.

Chip and Dale Chipmunk statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chip and Dale Chipmunk statuette in front of a water fountain on the Main Street Plaza Gardens.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 125, EV +0.3, 105mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

Is that not better?

I found my favorite flying pachyderm, Dumbo with his buddy, Timothy Q. Mouse, and was happy to see I could still put Cinderella Castle behind them.

Dumbo with Timothy Q. Mouse statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dumbo with Timothy Q. Mouse statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 52mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

I pulled back the zoom so the background would not be as out of focus. I wanted you to know where I took this photo.

I, also, wanted to get a good photo of Timothy Q. Mouse and moved in very close using a zoom lens. What do you think will happen? See below for the answer.

Timothy Q. Mouse on the Dumbo statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Timothy Q. Mouse on the Dumbo statuette on the Main Street Plaza Gardens.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

If you thought the background would go super-bokeh, you were right. It would take a real Disney park fan to figure out where this was taken.

You can do this type of photographic exercise anywhere. At home using decorative figurines or kids toys or at a local park or plaza with statues. You can even use real people if you like. The more you practice, the more you will find a use for this technique when you are out photographing.

January 27, 2017

More Walt Disney World Aerial Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you have been following the Disney Pic of the Week blog posts recently, you have seen Deb and mine's attempt at aerial photography at Walt Disney World. When the subject of aerial photos first came up, Deb and I found we only shared three locations. I wanted to share a couple more with you today.

The trick is to find a high vantage point in the parks. Mostly those are found on attractions. Expedition: EVEREST certainly meets the height requirement. It also has a long, slow ascent early on which has a great view of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

View from Expedition: EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Disney's Animal Kingdom from Expedition: EVEREST.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 450, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

We all know the Tree of Life is big. This photo shows how much bigger it is compared to the surrounding buildings and trees. This was taken back in 2010. Once Pandora, the World of AVATAR opens, I will re-take this photo. I did not want the huge construction cranes in a photo which were there on my last few trips.

Another attraction to get aerial photos from at Walt Disney World is the one I took during a ride on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios. This is from 2009 when the Earful Tower was still there.

Riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Disney's Hollywood Studios from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 18mm (27mm DX) Focal Length.

This is one of those rides you have to secure your camera and be ready to take the picture as soon as the doors open at the top of the shaft.

While these are not true aerial photos, you can get high enough at Walt Disney World to get unique photos from up high.

January 20, 2017

Ruling the Animal Kingdom in Thirds

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Rule of Thirds is a compositional rule in photography and other visual arts. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points which I refer to as power points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph. This aligning of a photograph's subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the photo than simply centering the subject would.

Below are three photos taken at Disney's Animal Kingdom which show the use the Rule of Thirds. First, I will show you the photo as taken and then followed with a grid overlaid showing the lines of the Rule of Thirds.

Here is an Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari with the Rule of Thirds Grid.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

This shows you do not have to have the power points exactly covered. The antelope's head, eye and horns are close enough for a good composition. This type of photo is nice to use as a title in a slideshow, on a website or blog.

An African Elephant drinking water on the Kilimanjaro Safari is the next subject.

African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 135mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari with the Rule of Thirds Grid.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 135mm Focal Length.

In a portrait of an animal or person, it is good to have one of the horizontal lines near the eyes like this one.

Landscape photos are also vastly improved when using the Rule of Thirds like this one of Disney's Animal Kingdom's Expedition: EVEREST.

Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 360, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 360, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length.

Notice how the lines and power points line up with the mountain and the canoe in a pleasing composition.

Studying how others use composition and putting it to practice will help you to improve your photography.

January 13, 2017

Getting in Close at Casey's Corner

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of the tips I mentioned last week in the Disney Camera Tips to Start Out 2017 article was to get in close and fill the frame. I thought I would demonstrate the tip today.

Using a camera with a 50mm prime lens which, is a lens with a fixed focal length, I spotted this interesting baseball player outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom from the street.

Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA (Full Length Portrait).
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 360, EV +0.3.

This is called a Full Length Portrait as it shows the baseball player's full height from head to toe. I still wanted to get to know this character better. As I was using a Prime lens, the only way to do that was to get closer. Being he was a statue I did not have to worry about him walking away. With real people or Disney characters, one must keep it mind.

Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA (3/4 Length Portrait).
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 360, EV +0.3.

A photo of a person or, in this case, statue from the waist up is called a Three Quarter (3/4) Length Portrait. A stale-mark of corporate photographers, the 3/4 length portrait can be seen in many boardrooms around the world. Being closer, I started to notice the statue's facial features and wanted to explore them more. Best way to do it is to get even closer.

Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Baseball player statue outside of Casey's Corner on Main Street USA (Head & Shoulder Portrait).
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 800, EV +0.3.

Ah, the Head & Shoulder Portrait. If you graduated from high school, this was the type of photo found in most senior yearbooks. It is also the best kind of portrait to see and study a person's eyes, nose, mouth and other facial features. This guy, has a noble stare of an athlete ready to take on the challenge of a game of baseball.

If I had been using a zoom lens, I could have done all three of these photos from one location. However, moving around and exploring as I photograph a subject is, to me, a lot more fun.

January 6, 2017

Disney Camera Tips to Start Out 2017

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Did you get a new camera for Christmas? Make a New Year's resolution to learn how to use the fancy camera you got last year or the year before or a few years ago? Let me get you started. This post is for those using a digital SLR, mirrorless or advanced point & shoot cameras. You can tell they are advanced if they are able to dial or select the modes P, A, S and M.

In fact, I wrote about each of these modes in the following posts:

S is for Speed Control

A is for Aperture Control

P for Program Assist

M is for Manual Control

When I am asked by someone or out leading a photo group, I go over my three biggest tips to improve one's photos. They are to get in close and fill the frame, use the rule of thirds for composition and read the camera's manual. I go over each of these tips in depth here: Scott's Photography Tips.

Something else I get asked a lot is how I and others get such beautiful night time photos at Walt Disney World. The answer is simple: use a tripod. I know that seems like a real bother while on vacation. Here are some tips on how to make using a tripod at a Disney park easier: Using a Tripod at WDW.

If find you do not want or happen to not have a tripod handy. Use the old Joe McNally Da Grip!.

Here is one more bonus tip for you which comes in handy in Floridia: Sunny 16 Rule.

If you are new to photography, I highly suggest heading over to the Digital Photography School for this list of reference articles called Some of the Best Beginner Photography Tips of 2016.

Hope these links to tips help to get you started or refreshes your knowledge as we head into 2017. Happy Picture Taking!

If you have any questions or need help with something, use the Comments link below and I will get back to you.

December 30, 2016

Bringing in the New Year with a BAM at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM holiday show in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Christmas tree projection lingers on the Great Movie Ride as guests turn to leave after a showing of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM holiday show in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/20s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Happy New Year! May 2017 be all we hope it to be.

Scott will be returning next week for another year of Walt Disney World photography fun, tips and knowledge. In the meantime, if you have any questions, leave them in the Comments and Scott will do his best to answer them in an upcoming blog post.

December 23, 2016

Christmas Wish 2016

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Cinderella Castle decorated for the holidays in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle transformed by Queen Elsa into an Ice Castle.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV -1.0, 16mm Focal Length.

Just because I cannot see it, doesn't mean I can't believe it!

-- Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas.

Scott will be taking next week off to spend with friends and family for the holidays and will be returning again for another year of Walt Disney World photography fun, tips and knowledge.

December 16, 2016

Holiday Wishes from Main Street USA

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Before the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, I photographed Holiday Wishes from the same location. I used the Bulb Technique described in this post: Photographing Fireworks.

This is a test shot to line up Cinderella Castle down Main Street USA.

Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street USA in Ice Lights.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 30s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Tripod.

By the time, Holiday Wishes commenced, Main Street USA filled in with party goers.

Holiday Wishes over Cinderella Castle during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Holiday Wishes over Cinderella Castle during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 16s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

One of my favorite moments of Holiday Wishes is when they make a Christmas tree over Cinderella Castle and O Christmas Tree is played.

Holiday Wishes over Cinderella Castle during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
O Christmas Tree sequence of Holiday Wishes during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 14s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

This location for Holiday Wishes was not my favorite. Though I did enjoy not being elbow to elbow with my fellow Disney fans for the long exposures needed for fireworks.

Holiday Wishes over Cinderella Castle during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Holiday Wishes "snow" artifacts during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 28s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Oh, one last little issue to look out for...."snow" falling on Main Street USA may cause artifacts in your photos.

December 9, 2016

Photographing the Christmas Parade in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As I mentioned a few days ago in the Disney Pic of the Week on Holiday Parade Floats, I would be telling you about my experience photographing Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade for the first time.

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.

Seeing it might be a long time before I could see the parade again, I asked Orlando-based photographer and Disney fan, Don Sullivan, for his tips on photographing a parade he has done many times. I will go over them with photos from the parade.

  1. LENSES: I (Don) typically use fast lenses in the range between f/1.4 and f/2.8. Anything darker will likely either push your shutter speed too slow, or force the ISO too high. Don has used a 35mm f/1.4, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses for this parade using a full-frame camera.
  2. EXPOSURE: I (Don) typically use the camera's Shutter Priority mode, 1/125th of a second minimum, f/1.4 - f/2.8, ISO Auto with max set to 6400, Matrix metering (be prepared to adjust this based on the performance of the lens being used). Lighting in this parade is more even and brighter than other night parades so spot metering is not typically needed.


Here is one example of how Don's suggestions helped me get a photo of Mickey Mouse on the lead float of the parade. The "snow" on Main Street USA really stands out.

Mickey waving to guests during the Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey waving to guests during the Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 5600, EV 0.

When it comes to lenses, the ones Don has used are very expensive. If you do not already own a similar lens, I suggest either renting one for your trip or getting an inexpensive Nifty-Fifty which is a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. Most camera and third party lens manufacturers produce it. I put on my Nifty-Fifty and set my camera manually to 1/125th of a second at an aperture of f/2.8. Per Don's suggestion, I set my Nikon D750 full-frame camera to Auto ISO but to go no higher than 6400. This combination worked particularly well for the face characters.

Queen Elsa from Frozen in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Queen Elsa from Frozen in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 2800, EV 0.

The exposure is just about right. I had to work a little longer in Lightroom for each image to pull out the shadows a little, do some selective dodging and clean up the high ISO noise. Really only added a few seconds to each image. A fast lens really is needed to get the best results. Like this one of the Big Guy...Santa Claus.

Santa Claus greeting everyone in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Santa Claus greeting everyone in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

There was one photo Don had taken of the Toy Soldiers marching down Main Street USA I wanted to try an duplicate. However, I found out not all Christmas parades are the same. In the parade I was photographing, the Toy Soldier Marching Band proceeding the Marching Toy Soldiers did not leave any room between them and I had no opportunity to photograph them. Don was nice enough to allow me to share his photo. Nice work, Don!

Toy Soldiers marching in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Toy Soldiers marching in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Copyright, 2016, Don Sullivan.
Nikon D500/24-70mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm (36mm DX) Focal Length.

I would like to thank Don for passing along his tips. He travels to Disney parks all over the world and I urge you to check out Don Sullivan's flickr photostream (click here).

December 2, 2016

Photographing Holiday Lights at Home and at Disney

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

It is that time of year when cities, towns, villages and, yes, even us put up our holiday light displays to celebrate the season. Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else, photographing these displays can be a challenge.

For outdoor lighting, it is best NOT to wait until it is totally dark out. Go out early just after sunset and wait for the sky light and outdoor lights to balance. This gives a nice overall exposure to the scene instead of bright light points which often are blown out. There is no formula as to when the light will balance. The photo below was taken about 15 minutes after sunset using a tripod which I recommend for the long exposures needed at a low ISO.

Balanced light for a home's holiday light display in Orlando, Florida
Balanced light for a home's holiday light display.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 4s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 22mm Focal Length.

Another type of photo people like to get is what PhotoPass photographers do at night in all the parks. Using a method called dragging the shutter, a tripod and instructing people to stand still, they are able to get a brightly lighted background like Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Tree of Life or Hollywood Blvd. while correctly exposing, with the flash, the people they are photographing.

In a pinch, you can do it without a tripod as I did below.

Couple portrait in the Magic Kingdom with Cinderella Castle lighted in the background, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Couple portrait with Cinderella Castle lighted in the background.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/5s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Rear-Sync Flash, Cropped.

Here are a couple more links with information on Photographing Christmas Lights at Disney and on Dragging the Shutter.

Have any great photos of holiday displays whether they be yours, Disney's or another public display, send them my way. I might share them in a future blog post.

November 25, 2016

Harper's Mill in HDR

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
HDR Image of Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, f/18, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 52mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

How was your Thanksgiving? Eat alot? Out shopping today?

Scott is doing both as he is visiting relatives in central Florida before moving over to Walt Disney World all of next week. Follow Scott's Twitter account @Scottwdw as he covers all the holiday happenings around the parks and resorts. Not to mention all the meals on this visit. You might find Scott taking a nap on Tom Sawyer Island near Harper's Mill after one of those meals.

November 18, 2016

Fisheye Awakening at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Lately, when I want to use a prime lens these days at Walt Disney World, I put the Sigma 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens on my full-frame digital SLR. A Nikon D750 in my case. This is the third time I have featured this lens on the blog. Let's get started.

Spaceship Earth is my Cinderella Castle for Epcot. It is my second most photographed object next to the Magic Kingdom landmark. In this photo, I put it at the top third of the composition as I featured the flower bed as you walk into Future World from World Showcase. It's almost like Spaceship Earth is rising from behind the flowers.

Spaceship Earth rising behind a flower bed in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth rising behind a flower bed in Epcot.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0.

Next, I took a trip back in time. I mean way, way back with Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy in the Universe of Energy. The ride vehicles do not go very fast so I used 1/60th of a second shutter speed with the aperture set to wide open at f/2.8. The D750 can go as high as ISO 12,800. Lightroom did a good job of cleaning up the noise.

Dinosaurs inside the Universe of Energy in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dinosaurs inside the Universe of Energy.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 12800, EV +1.0.

Next, it was my first ride on Soarin' since they updated to a new flight plan. Disney does allow photography without a flash. I requested to sit in the middle of the three rows of seating on the "plane". With the fisheye, this allowed me to frame the photos using people's legs and feet.

Flying towards the Taj Mahal in Soarin' inside The Land pavillion at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flying towards the Taj Mahal in Soarin' inside The Land.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

The Fisheye Lens is not for everything or everybody. I like to use it to get my creative photographic juices going as it does take forethought to use it correctly.

For reference, here are the other two blog posts on the Fisheye:

Fisheyed Disney

Return of the Fisheye Lens to Epcot

November 11, 2016

Harps of Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I enjoyed performances of musicians playing harps in Disney's Animal Kingdom recently. The first one was a very unique instrument called a mandinka harp (kora) which is a 21-string lute-bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa made from a large calabash or bottle gourd. It makes a very pleasing sound.

Muscian playing a mandinka harp in the African village of Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Muscian playing a mandinka harp in the African village of Harambe.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/4.8, ISO 100, EV 0, 62mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

I follow and have read many an article and blog post from National Geographic photographer Joe McNally. He pays a lot of attention to a person's hands in his photographic essays about people in all walks of life. I channeled my inner McNally by taking a close up of the musician's hands while he played the mandinka harp.

Close up of a muscian's hands playing a mandinka harp in the African village of Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up of a muscian's hands playing a mandinka harp in the African village of Harambe.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

Later that day, I happened upon a musician playing the Paraguayan harp, the national instrument of Paraguay, on Discovery Island. I again wanted to emphasize the musician's hands. This time I slowed down my shutter to show motion as his hands moved over the strings. I kept the camera steady by using another Joe McNally technique called Da Grip. Comes in very handy (sorry about the pun) when you do not have a tripod on hand (I just can not help myself!).

Musician playing the Paraguayan harp on Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Musician playing the Paraguayan harp on Discovery Island.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 560, EV +0.3, 170mm Focal Length.

Entertainment at Walt Disney World resorts and themeparks are wonderful to experience and photograph as you often can get very close to the performer(s).

As I was writing this post, I listened to mandinka harp music via youTube. I highly recommend doing the same when you wish to relax.

November 4, 2016

Bibbity Bobbity Boo...Crane Be Gone!

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A while back I was complaining about a maintenance crane being used on my recent trip to the Magic Kingdom. I mentioned I could remove the crane using software. This does take added time so I do not like to do it often. Later in the day, I caught the end of the new Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire on the castle stage when fireworks are used.

Cinderella Castle with a maintenance crane behind it at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle with a maintenance crane behind it.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 360, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

I am a fan of the photo editing software by Macphun which run on Apple Mac computers. One of their products called Snapheal has recently been updated so it can be used as a plug-in for Apple Aperture and Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop programs. You can find many Windows programs which can do the same thing. I had to carefully select the crane using the software's brush tool. I zoomed in to 100% to make sure I did not overlap the roof line too much. Snapheal has three different methods of erasing selected objects. For this job, the Dynamic method proved to be the best to get the crane away from where it first sticks out from behind Cinderella Castle.

Cinderella Castle with the maintenance crane removed at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle with the maintenance crane removed via software.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 360, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

As you can see, I now have a keeper.

Adobe Lightroom has something which can replace small objects or ones not intersecting with other objects like dust bunnies. For larger objects, Snapheal does a much better job.

Adobe Photoshop can do an even better job. However, since I do almost all my processing in Lightroom, Being able to use Snapheal within LIghtroom or Aperture is much easier and faster for me.

October 28, 2016

Mickey Mouse Pumpkin Heads in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

My last visit to Walt Disney World was the day after Labor Day here in the United States. Even so, the Magic Kingdom was all decked out for Halloween and the start of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties later that week. Main Street USA had these bright and lighted lamp post decorations featuring Mickey Mouse pumpkin heads. Photos of them have been all over flickr, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Being a big fan of Mickey Mouse, I could not resist taking a few photos either. Here are three of them with show different aspects of photographic composition.

The first Mickey Mouse pumpkin head lamp post decoration I use as an anchor and story telling piece in front of Main Street USA's City Hall. It is easy to assume City Hall is ready for Halloween or maybe it's celebrating Autumn. By using the decoration in the frame, it is easy to see the decorations are for Halloween. What other holiday uses a jack o' lantern? See? Placing the deocration in front of City Hall and in the lower third of the frame, anchors the photo and gives a viewer's eye a place to start exploring the image.

City Hall celebrating Halloween on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
City Hall celebrating Halloween on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/1, ISO 110, EV +0.3, 40mm Focal Length.

In the second photo, I leave no doubt as to the subject by getting in closer to the Mickey Mouse pumpkin head lamp post decoration. I still leave part of the image open and fill it with Cinderella Castle. This gives the viewer a sense of place and time.

Mickey Mouse Pumpkin decoration in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey Mouse Pumpkin decoration in front of Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 105mm Focal Length.

In the last image, I got in close and filled the frame with the smiling Mickey Mouse pumpkin head lamp post decoration. Letting a viewer enjoy the fun of a Mickey Mouse Halloween.

Close up of a Mickey Mouse Pumpkin decoration on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up of a Mickey Mouse Pumpkin decoration on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/11, ISO 100, EV -0.3, 98mm Focal Length.

In these photos I showed you three different ways to tell a story using the same subject. This is how you work a subject. The subject could be a person or persons, a landscape, a building, a pet or a smiling Mickey Mouse pumpkin head decoration.

October 14, 2016

Lens Correcting inside the American Adventure

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I enjoy photographing with a Fisheye lens even when entering the American Adventure to listen to the Voices of Liberty.

Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure using a Fisheye Lens.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 4000, EV 0.

Many photo editors can "correct" distortions in many lenses including fisheye ones. To test this in my editor of choice, Adobe Lightroom CC, I opened up the Lens Correction brick. After enabling profile corrections, the software found and used the profile for the Sigma 15mm lens I photographed with. Using the profile, Lightroom cropped and rotated the image to straighten the curves created by the fisheye lens. The results you see below.

Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure with Lens Correction.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 4000, EV 0.

This is an extreme example but you get the idea. Check your software and see if it has Lens Corrections for any lenses you own.

October 7, 2016

Partners and the Crane at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I got on the ferry to travel from the Ticket and Transportation Center on my last visit to the Magic Kingdom. I walked up the ferry's stairs and made my way to the front railings. I looked over the Seven Seas Lagoon to see the beautiful sights as the ferry sailed closer. I first notice the Main Street USA Train Station and, off to the side, the brilliantly white Space Mountain thrill ride. Then I look back for a glimpse of Cinderella Castle and frown. I picked a day Disney was doing work on the exterior of the castle using a big -- no, huge -- construction crane.

Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/13, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

I could use software to remove the crane. Still, it would never look as good if the crane was not there. It was time to think, as I wanted a good, recent photo of the Partners statue featuring Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse for my photo library. I started to walk around the statue while avoiding everyone else who was photographing the statue and/or guests in front of the statue. I found a composition I liked and got a little lower in my stance for a good angle.

Partners statue in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Partners statue in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/13, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

The next time you go to photograph in a location and things are not what you thought they would be -- think, move and let your creativity find a solution.

September 30, 2016

Photographing Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I had a plan in mind when I thought about photographing the new night show at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is a fabulous show mixing projections on the Great Movie Ride and fireworks. The problem lies in the word "mix". The projections seldom are still long enough to mix them with long exposures needed for fireworks. I watched the show numerous times on youTube where I identified a few opportunities I may be successful.

During the first few seconds, the Star Wars logo is displayed towards the top of the replica of Mann's Chinese Theater and is stationary. In the photo on the left below, I opened and closed the shutter manually and captured the logo. On the right photo, you see the problem with projections if you leave the shutter open longer to get the multiple fireworks on one image. The Star Wars logo started to move and became blurry.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shutter Speed comparison of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Here is a set of photos I feel came out the way I envisioned them.

A scene showing Imperial Walkers on the ice planet of Hoth did not come out too bad. It looks good at this size. At full resolution, there is blurring.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Imperial Walker projection during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 5.4s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 23mm Focal Length, Tripod.

The double Suns on Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine did come out very well. The projections are static for a few seconds.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tatooine sunset during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 8.9s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 23mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

Towards the end of the show, the projections display each movie poster from the Star Wars saga. This one of the first Star Wars movie (renamed A New Hope once the prequel movies were released) showing a very stylized Luke with his lightsaber and Princess Leia at his side with the image of Darth Vader above them. This ones was the best even with moving X-Wing fighters on each side.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Movie Poster during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 7.3s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 20mm Focal Length, Tripod.

This was the one image I wanted to get. Just before the finale of fireworks are released, an image of hands holding a lightsaber is projected with a beam of light coming out of the top of the Great Movie Ride. My location was a little off center and the Moon was near the beam but I still like how it came out.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Great Lightsaber during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 5.8s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 23mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

If I get another chance to photograph the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, I will concentrate on the projections using higher ISOs and faster shutter speeds. The fireworks for the most part are off to the right of the Great Movie Ride. I had a wide angle lens and, with all the people around me, it was not very useful as people to my right kept getting in the frame. The cropped photos shared in the article are the result.

To read more on the technique I used to photograph the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, click here: Photographing Fireworks - Part 1

September 23, 2016

Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari Firsts

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On my last Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom I photographed some firsts. That is pretty amazing considering I have gone on safari close to 100 times since the park opened back in 1998. The first "first" was seeing the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) facing the safari jeep and close to the road. In all my previous safaris, the Black Rhino was either not visible or at the back of his enclosure either lying down or facing away. This may be the only good photo I ever get of this magnificent and very endangered African animal.

Black rhinoceros on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Black rhinoceros on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 900, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

African Wild or Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus) were introduced to the Kilimanjaro Safari last December and this was my first opportunity to photograph them. Unlike the Black Rhino, they were very accommodating and I managed to get off a few shots before the jeep drove on. Below was the best of the set and captured a behavior called dominance between two individuals.

African Wild Dogs on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Wild Dogs on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO1000, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

I have a lot of photos of Ostriches (Struthio camelus) from previous safaris but none which showed this strutting behavior. This ostrich was doing this behind another ostrich. I am guessing this was a mating behavior.

Ostrich on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Ostrich on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.3, ISO 2000, EV 0, 98mm Focal Length.

The drivers on the Kilimanjaro Safari always tell us before we depart at the end of the ride to come back as every safari is different. I am here to tell you, they tell the truth.

September 16, 2016

Anatomy of a Magic Kingdom Sunset

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On my trip last week, I was on my own Friday at the Magic Kingdom. Using an app on my phone, I had determined a location to photograph the sunset. It was from the bridge on the Wishing Well side of Cinderella Castle. With the sunset at 7:38PM and Wishes starting at 9PM, I set up my camera on a tripod at 7PM. If you are wondering why I mentioned Wishes, people started to line up on the bridge soon after I got there to wait for the fireworks show.

As you can see by the picture below, the weather was not being cooperative when I took my first test image about 40 minutes before sunset. From my experience photographing many sunsets in upstate New York, I have learned never to judge a sunset until about 30 minutes afterward. Instead of packing up, I waited.

Cinderella Castle on a cloudy day at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle on a cloudy day before sunset.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm focal length, tripod.

Sunset came and went with no good color in the sky. That was until 10 minutes after sunset when the clouds which, had been slowly clearing, was lit up by the Sun over the horizon. Processing the image in Adobe Lightroom CC, I opened up the shadows in front of the castle and added vibrance to the overall scene. Disney added lighting on the castle which kept it from becoming a silhouette against the bright sky.

Cinderella Castle after sunset at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle ten minutes after sunset.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/3s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm focal length, tripod.

The color came and went quickly. 10 minutes later or 20 minutes after sunset, the sky color was gone. The darkened sky was a nice backdrop for the lighted castle using a long 6 second exposure.

Cinderella Castle during dusk at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle twenty minutes after sunset.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 6s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 22mm focal length, tripod.

Sunsets are different every time and one must be prepared to wait with patience and be ready to capture the fleeting colors when they occur. Even with Disney's wonderful lighting, at sunset, it compliments Nature's own light show.

September 9, 2016

Hyperpaced in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Star Wars clip seen in the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Star Wars clip seen in the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Scott has hyperspace jumped to Walt Disney World this week. He will be back next week to tell you all about it unless he gets lost in space on the way back.

September 2, 2016

Goodbye to the Main Street Electrical Parade at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have seen the Main Street Electrical Parade or MSEP for short numerous times. The brightly colored floats and the extremely catchy tune stays with one for a long, long time. Lisa and I photographed the parade back in 2010. She was hand holding her camera whie I was trying out slow sync flash on a tripod.

Magic Kingdom's Main Street Electrical Parade, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey and Minnie Mouse lead off the Main Street Electrical Parade.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/3.5, ISO 1600, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length, Flash, Tripod.

This current run of the MSEP at Walt Disney World comes to a close on October 9, 2016. I will miss it and am planning on seeing it one more time next week.

Magic Kingdom's Main Street Electrical Parade, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Main Street Electrical Parade in the Magic Kingdom

From upper left: Elliot from Pete's Dragon, Big Ben clock tower from Peter Pan, fast snails and the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

Will something be replacing the Main Street Electrical Parade in the future? I do hope Disney does as night parades down Main Street are extra special.

August 26, 2016

My Walt Disney World Photography Kit

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in 2008, I showed and explained what photography equipment I bring and why to Walt Disney World. While the principles remain the same, my equipment has changed and for the better. Unlike most visitors, I take my photography in the resort very seriously. It is fun and challenging and brings an extra dimension to my trips.

Photographer in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Fully prepared photographer in Epcot.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

I still follow one rule: keep it light. My daily park kit consists of a Nikon D750 dSLR camera and Nikon 28-300VR super zoom lens using an Optech Sling Strap for comfort. I use a not-so-cool "fanny" pack to carry an extra camera battery, lens cleaning cloths, speedlight flash unit. a small prime lens (either a Nifty-Fifty or Fisheye). Sometimes I might switch out the prime for the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR wide angle zoom lens and a CPF or Circular Polarizing Filter. On days I plan to shoot a fireworks show or long exposure shots, I will bring my tripod and rent a locker to put it in until needed. Keeping the kit small helps to speed things up through Disney Security checks, too.

Other photographers I have been with have a slightly different view. They may bring a photographer's backpack with more lenses and and extra camera body. This allows them to pull out a big zoom lens for the safari and animal trails in Disney's Animal Kingdom or for use on stage shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

There are some photographers who are switching to the smaller camera kits like the 4/3 bodies and lenses which are even smaller and lighter then dSLR equipment and just as good.

Many are taking iPhones and other smartphone photography to new heights as the cameras get better and better each year and more powerful photography apps become available.

Just remember to have fun and enjoy your trip and let the photography enhance it.

August 19, 2016

September Trip and a Meet & Greet

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Got a couple of announcements to make...

I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

I may be closing in on 60 but I still get excited when I get to visit Walt Disney World. It's only been a few months and a lot has changed: Frozen Ever After opened in Epcot's Norway pavilion, new Star Wars fireworks show in Disney's Hollywood Studios, new restaurant and night time events at Disney's Animal Kingdom and a new castle show at the Magic Kingdom. Lots to cover and photograph. I will work on a Shot List (as mentioned in last week's post) over the next couple of weeks.

I am also taking suggestions. If you have something you would like me to photograph. I will feature it in a future blog post and explain how I did it. Tell me your suggestion in a Comment below.

Continue on after a short photographic break for the second announcement.

Hot air balloons above the Sunshine Seasons food court in The Land pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Hot air balloons above the Sunshine Seasons food court.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/4.5, ISO 5600, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length.

EPCOT ALL EARS MEET & GREET

I will be at the All Ears Meet and Greet on Friday, September 9, at the Sunshine Seasons in the Land. The meet starts at 10am and Deb will be there with lots of swagger..er, I mean All Ears Swag (aka freebies) and the ever popular Trading Cards to pass out to those attending. Also joining the fun are AllEars Team Members Jack Marshall, Kristin Ford and Linda Eckwerth! Click the link for the FaceBook event page for full details.

Looking forward to seeing some of you!

August 12, 2016

Trying to Photography Too Much at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Way back in the early Nineteen-Eighties, I researched for months before my first trip to Walt Disney World. Back then there was only the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. All the time was well worth it as my honeymoon turned out fantastic.

Today, it is easy to tell when talking with people after they returned from Walt Disney World after their first trip if they enjoyed it or not. Those are ones who planned ahead and did not try to do too much. It is a theme I see played out over and over again.

Photographers looking overwhelmed on Route 66 in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Photographers looking overwhelemed on Route 66 in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/80s, f/14, ISO 200, EV 0, 16mm focal length.

Photography at Walt Disney World is the same. People will look at photos for months and want to try and do the same thing or do something else or try to improve on them. Without a plan, it is easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated trying to do everything. When I first went to Walt Disney World with a dSLR camera, I wanted to shoot it all. I had thousands of ideas and photos I have seen by others in my head. While I did come back with a few good ones, I was disappointed with most of my attempts.

This is when research, planning and keeping expectations real come in play. Today, I will make a Shot List of what I want to get. I keep it down to a couple a day. For example, on my next trip, I want to photograph the new Star Wars Fireworks show. I will watch videos on youTube, look at other photographer's photos on flickr, Twitter, FaceBook and forums. Ask questions and have prepare a plan. This will maximize the chances of getting good photos of the show.

In this way, I do not try to do too much. I will enjoy myself more and be proud of the photos I will bring back from Walt Disney World.

August 5, 2016

Finding the Best Light at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A common mistake made by vacation travelers is missing the best light of the day. With the best light being early morning just after sunrise and one hour before sunset, it often interferes with things like sleep, breakfast and dinner. With a little planning, you can arrange to clear those times to capture Walt Disney World or any location during the Magic or Golden Hours of the day.

Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom at Magic Hour, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom at Magic Hour.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 50mm Focal Length.

While early morning is tough at Walt Disney World, the resorts do offer many beautiful early morning opportunities. Parks open early some days and early morning character breakfasts can get you in even earlier. I do understand and agree, it is much easier to capture the evening Magic Hour. Using any number for Smartphone or Internet apps, you can determine the time of sunsets or sunrises during your stay and before can you make your dining plans. I like to eat an early dinner during the 4 o'clock hour. Eating early has a nice perk in allowing me a snack later in the evening.

Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain at Magic Hour, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain at Magic Hour.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 210mm Focal Length.

So, if you like or would want to start capturing Magic Hour photographs in the most magical place on Earth, plan to free up those couple of hours during your trips.

July 29, 2016

Be Prepared for Disney Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The old motto of Be Prepared is especially appropriate for us Disney park vacationers. You never know when you will walk around a corner and see a great photo opportunity. For walking around the parks, I try to keep my camera at the ready with a good starting setup. I call it Zeroing Out My Camera.

Another aspect of being prepared is bringing equipment with you for the day or night appporpiate for what you may be planning to photograph. For instance, if I am headed out to the Magic Kingdom for the day only. I like to go with a simple setup of just a camera with a super zoom lens. For cropped sensor cameras, I would use an 18-200mm range or for full frame cameras a 28-300mm works great. These type of lenses give me the flexibility to capture everything up close to far away.

It is always good to have the following with you as well: extra battery or batteries, flash unit, lens cloth, extra memory cards and, if you have room, a small extra lens like a 50mm or Fisheye.

Another part of being prepared is to research your destination. Even if you have been to Walt Disney World dozens of times, the parks are always changing. New rides, new shows, new characters, new parades, new shops, new restaurants...you get the drift. When it comes to rides, parades and shows, you can find full versions of them on youTube. That is what I did when I planned on being at the Magic Kingdom's opening ceremony. This show is preformed daily. I watched a video of it a few times so I knew when things would happen. Like the blast of fireworks towards the end.

Fireworks go off at the end of the Magic Kingdom's daily opening ceremony show on the Main Street USA Train Station platform, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Fireworks go off at the end of the Magic Kingdom's daily opening ceremony show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/9, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

With just a little forethought, research and planning (we are Disney people after all, we love to plan!), you can be prepared to take amazing photographs of your next trip to Walt Disney World or anywhere else.

July 22, 2016

Waiting for Tigers in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I watch people all the time when I am at Walt Disney World. I particularly pay attention to those taking photographs whether they are using smart phones or full size digital SLR cameras. I can almost tell you which ones will come home with photos they will like and be proud to show to their family and friends. Those are the the people who take a little extra time and patience.

Those who walk up to something, pull out a camera or phone and point and shoot will rarely get a great photo. I used to be one of them. Prided myself in the grab shot as I toured the parks with my family. It wasn't until I started to take the time which, usually meant an extra minute or two, did I start to see better results in my photography.

At the Asian Tiger exhibit on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I see many people come up to the overlook, see a tiger below walking or lying down, take a photo and move on. Now, they might have gotten the perfect tiger photo they wanted. Chances are, they probably got something like this.

Asian tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1250, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

That was my first shot upon looking down. The first shot is rarely a keeper. I knew if I waited, I would get a better one. I was rewarded only thirty seconds later. The tiger moved his head around and looked in my direction.

Asian tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger looking around on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1400, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

I realize if you are traveling with a group and especially, with young children, it is hard to be able to spend a lot of time observing or waiting for a better photo opportunity. When you can, you will be rewarded.

Seven minutes later, this tiger jumped up to the water pool and started to drink. I was able to capture a behavior I had not seen before. This has became one my favorite photos of a tiger.

Asian tiger drinking water on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger getting a drink of water on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

Remember this the next time you are in Walt Disney World or even when photographing your family. The first shot is often not the best shot. Take a few more and see which ones you like later. I am willing to bet the one or ones you like will come later in the shoot.

July 15, 2016

Adding People to Your Walt Disney World Photographs

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I try to avoid touristy shots when I am photographing at Walt Disney World. Static photos of an empty park while nice is not something I like to do. The parks only come alive when their are people involved. Whether they are cast members or guests, seeing people interact with another person or thing is what brings smiles to my face.

Below is a good example, when riding the riverboat around Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kindom, I always giggled at the people on the barrel bridge. Sure looked like fun and surely something Huck Finn would have approved of. The angle from the riverboat was too high and too flat for me. Once I got on the island, I found a good place to sit, watch and photograph the adventure.

A family walks over the barrel bridge on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A family walks over the barrel bridge on Tom Sawyer Island.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/100s, f/5.3, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 82mm (123mm DX) Focal Length.

When I did the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom awhile back, one of our guides took photographs of us Trekkers. I found it only fitting I return the favor as she took pictures on another precarious looking foot bridge.

A Cast Member photographing during the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A Cast Member photographing during a Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

For the last example, I take you back to the Magic Kingdom. This is a view taken at the end of Main Street USA. People doing various things like buying a balloon, getting their photo taken with Cinderella Castle in the background, doing a quick planning meeting with family and even more. This photo reminded me of the Family Circus Sunday comic when the cartoonist would put various bubbles around the scene describing all that was going on. On flickr, I used this photo with notes you can see as you move your mouse around the photo in similar fashion.

A typical scene in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A typical scene in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/125s, f/14, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 15mm Focal Length.

As you can see by these examples, including people in your photography at Walt Disney World gives the photos more interest.

To visit the flickr image (which is much bigger) with all the notes, CLICK HERE.

July 8, 2016

A Dapper Dan Close Up on Main Street USA

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The famous photographer, Robert Capa, once said that, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”. Keep this in mind when photographing at Walt Disney World. Using either a zoom lens or zooming with your feet, you will find getting closer and filling the frame will immediately improve your photos.

As an example, the photo below of the Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom is typical and one everyone takes. It is a good "I was there and saw this" type of photo.

Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

To get closer, I moved as close as I could to the performers without getting in anyone's way and zoomed in with my lens to fill the frame with one of the Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes. I find this photo a lot more interesting than the one of the entire group.

Close up of a Dapper Dan playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up of a Dapper Dan playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 125, EV 0, 160mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

Remember...closer means better.

July 1, 2016

Liberty Bell in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This weekend marks the 240th year of the birth of the United States of America. Below is a photo of the famous Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom with the Hall of Presidents behind it. Happy Birthday to America and to my fellow countrymen.

Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/18, ISO 320, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Technical information about this photo. I used a small aperture and focused on the Liberty Bell which is about a third into the frame. This put everything in focus from the bell back to the Hall of Presidents. Not totally happy with this photo. As an exercise for the reader, can you tell me why you think I am not happy with it?

June 24, 2016

Purple Wishes over Cinderella Castle

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Wishes over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Purples hues during Wishes over Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 5.4s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, tripod, remote shutter release.

Scott is still on his Stay-cation this week but will be back next week with more on Disney Photography. He hopes you enjoy this purple hued photo of Wishes over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. After all, it is Fireworks Friday.

June 17, 2016

Riding Down Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Guests riding Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests riding Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

While Scott wishes he was riding Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom today, he is doing a Stay-cation this week and next. He did want to point out this is another motion photo using a slow shutter speed and a steady hand. Scott used Macphun's Intenify CK's Soft HDR filter to pull out the details in the scene.

June 10, 2016

Nikon Picture Spots at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Looking for a great place for a picture perfect photo at Walt Disney World? Using all the techniques I have outlined the last few weeks, Disney and Nikon have teamed up to take the guess work out of a good photo location.

Look for Nikon Picture Spots throughout the parks. They were chosen to provide good places to take a photo of the scene and, especially, for taking photos of you, your family, friends and maybe a random fellow guest and their family (I get asked a lot to do this at the parks). For us old-timers, they were known for years as Kodak Picture Spots but Nikon took over sponsorship a few years ago.

Nikon Picture Spot for Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nikon Picture Spot for Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/18, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

What is interesting at this Nikon Picture Spot in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingodom is the changes that have taken place since the original photo was taken. It has changed even more since I took this photo back in 2014 with the new Hub design.

I will be taking an early summer break the next two weeks. Look for a couple of fun photos as I recharge my photographic batteries.

June 3, 2016

Motion Photography in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As I conclude my series on how to improve your photography at Walt Disney World, I want to talk about my favorite kind...Motion Photography. When done right, motion photography gets the most attention when sharing it. It has good "Wow" factor.

First kind of motion photography is keeping the camera still with a slow shutter speed. Something below 1/60th of a second though it can be faster depending on how fast the subject is moving. In the case below, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland gave a good motion blur at 1/30th of a second. If I used a tripod, I could have gone even slower.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train flying by in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train flying by in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/30s, f/22, ISO 250, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

The second kind of motion photography and the hardest to master is Panning. This is where you move the camera using a slow shutter speed while keeping the subject in the same relative location in the view finder. It takes practice which can be done anywhere you find moving subjects. Parks, race tracks, sporting events and getting your family to ride bikes up and down the street all make good subjects for panning practice. Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom is an excellent place to use panning. The cars stay on the same course and never stop going by. You do have to slow the shutter down to make them look fast.

Guests fly by on Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests "fly" by on Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/29, ISO 200, EV 0, 85mm Focal Length.

You can read a more in depth article on panning here: Panning for Gold.

As I pointed out, motion photography is not easy and takes practice. I find the time well worth it when I see and hear people comment on them.

May 27, 2016

Freezing the Action at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I do a lot of sports photography which is the home of fast shutter speeds. The faster the better to freeze the action and allow people to see the sports action in a whole new way. The same can be done at Walt Disney World. One of my favorite's to use a fast shutter is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular as Disney's Hollywood Studios. The action in this show is fast and furious.

To best capture the action, set your camera to Shutter Priority or Sports mode. You want the shutter speed to be at minimum of 1/500th of a second or faster. The lighting in the photo below only allowed me 1/500s with an ISO of 6400 as it was late in the day.

Stunt actors in Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Freezing action during the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +0.3, 210mm Focal Length.

Even at 1/500th of a second there is still some motion blur. Not enough to take away from the freezing of the action. As you can see, you can study the action in the photo. Something you can not do while watching the show.

May 20, 2016

Narrow Your Focus at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Another way to improve your photos at Walt Disney World and elsewhere is to use Selective Focus (click this link for details on how to create it). Most people try to put the foreground subject in sharp focus with this method. One can also put the foreground in soft focus and let the subject in the "back" of the frame be in sharp focus. People viewing such an image will gravitate to the area of sharp focus. Another way a photographer can control how an image is viewed.

The three ovens in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The three ovens in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 400, EV +0.7.

Notice how the unfocused area leads the eyes to the three ovens in the Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion. Here is some trivia for you. The ovens are named after volcanos in Italy. They are from left to right: Stromboli, Vesuvio and Etna.

Using my favorite lens, the Nifty-Fifty, I can even create an out of focus vignette if you have enough foreground and background elements like the photo of a Mickey Mouse golf ball found in a basket of golf balls at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Disney Springs.

Mickey Mouse golf ball at the World of Disney store in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey Mouse golf ball selectively focused on at the World of Disney Store.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO 220, EV +0.3.

Selectively focusing on subjects is a fun way to give your photography a boost.

May 13, 2016

Leading Lines at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When the talk leans towards leading at Disney's Hollywood Studies, it is usually about leading men or women. Today, however, it is about leading lines. Photographers use leading lines to give a photo depth and/or to "lead" a viewer's eyes to something of interest.

My first example is the hallway you leave from after riding on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and going through the Rock Around the Shop store. I really liked how the lines converged and the texture of the bricks along the walls. The posters overhead giving a nice added splash of color and shapes.

Leaving the Rock Around the Shop after riding the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Leading lines in the hallway leaving the Rock Around the Shop.
Nikon D700/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/50s, f/2.8, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length.

The second example is not so straight forward (see what I did there?). Here, the "cars" create the leading lines to the big drive-in movie screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant.

Rows of cars leading to the Big Screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rows of cars leading to the Big Screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/4s, f/8, ISO 10000, EV +1.0, 16mm focal length.

In both of these examples, I used straight lines. Curved lines can also lead. Anyone have any examples of curved leading lines? Shoot me a link in a Comment below and I will share them in a future blog post.

May 6, 2016

Improving Your Walt Disney World Photos

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

At the end of last week's article on the Foo Dog in front of the Great Movie Ride, I posed a question on how the photo might be improved. I got a couple of answers and a correction to what the statue was. My mistake there.

The answer I was looking for was different. Let me show it to you.

First, here is a photo of the enterance to ESPN Club restaurant near Disney's Boardwalk Resort. It was taken when the restaurant was not open on a quiet Boardwalk morning.

Front entrance to the ESPN Club restaurant near Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Front entrance to the ESPN Club restaurant without people.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 36mm focal length.

It is a good reference photo. The kind you see on blogs and brochures describing the restaurant. However, if you go to the Walt Disney World website or look through brochures on dining at the resort, you will notice a difference in the photos. Most, if not all, will have people in them enjoying the location or interacting with cast members. They want you to feel the location is a good place to go, enjoy and have fun at.

That is how I like to improve on my Disney and/or Travel photography by adding the human element. Not just any human or humans but ones which add to the photo and help tell the story of the place. Like this one below.

Front entrance to the ESPN Club restaurant near Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Front entrance to the ESPN Club restaurant with people.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 140, EV 0, 36mm focal length.

What do you think? Better? Sure looks like a place sport fans would like to go to.

Yes, I do know there are "people" in the first photo but I think you know what I mean. They did not add to the subject like the second one does.

A fun fact about these two photos. They were taken three years apart from close to the same location and I used the same focal length each time.


April 29, 2016

Chinese Dragon at the Great Movie Ride

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios has gotten a nice face-lift with the new sponsorship from Turner Classic Movies. The Chinese Dragon Foo Dog statues out front make for a nice detail photo of the type of architectural elements found at Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

My first attempt was technically correct. Good focus and depth of field. What do you thing of it? Background a bit distracting perhaps?

Chinese dragon statue in front of the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wide view of the Chinese dragon foo dog statue in front of the Great Movie Ride.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-35mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 140, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

By adjusting my position to get closer and zooming in a bit, I made the statue the main subject and used the Rules of Thirds for a more pleasing composition.

Chinese dragon statue in front of the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tighter view of the Chinese dragon foo dog statue in front of the Great Movie Ride.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-35mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Any ideas how you would improve this photo or do it differently?

NOTE: It was pointed out that the statue is of a foo dog and not a dragon. I have made appropriate changes. -- Scott


April 22, 2016

Fireworks Primer for Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As the calendar heads towards summer, can Fireworks Season be far behind?

Wishes fireworks show over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wishes fireworks show over Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 15s, f/11, ISO 280, EV 0, 35mm focal length, tripod.

At Walt Disney World, every day is in Fireworks Season with shows in three parks almost nightly:

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, debuting in 2016, at Disney's Hollywood Studios
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth in Epcot
Wishes in the Magic Kingdom

Below are links to blogs I refer people to when I am asked how to photograph fireworks specifically at Walt Disney World. They pertain to any fireworks show you want to photograph:

Photographing Fireworks - Part 1

Photographing Fireworks - Part 2

Of course, this blog might just be an excuse for me to share a photo of Wishes. Still my favorite fireworks show.

April 15, 2016

More Topiaries from Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week's Disney Pic of the Week theme was Topiaries. A topiary is a shrubs or trees clipped into ornamental shapes. Disney landscape artists have been using topiaries since the early 1960's at Disneyland. The annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot gives these artists a larger venue to show, astound and thrill Walt Disney World guests with topiaries both big and small.

Earlier this week, I shared with you one of the biggest topiaries: Dragon in China. Today, I am going to show you others I found as I walked around World Showcase during the 2016 edition of the Flower and Garden Festival.

As you approach Canada from Future World, topiaries of Bambi (deer), Thumper (rabbit) and Flower (skunk) from the animated feature, Bambi, greet you. It is a delightful scene of youth and merriment as Bambi watches his friends in a field of flowers. To include the Canada pavilion's Hotel du Canada in the background to tell the viewer where the photo was taken, I used a small aperture of f/16 and focused on the closest topiaries of Thumper and Flower about a third into the frame. This creates a hyperfocal photo where everything is in focus from the front (bottom) to the back (top) of the scene (click the link for more information on Hyperfocus).

Character topiaries from the movie, Bambi, near the Canada pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Bambi, Thumper and Flower topiaries near the Canada pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0, 18mm focal length.

The topiaries in the United Kingdom featuring Peter Pan overlooking Captain Hook from the top of a building got me to thinking how to best capture the scene. If I moved way back, I would get both of the characters in and probably a lot of my fellow guests as well. As much as I adore all of you, I decided to get in close with a wide angle lens, get on my knees in front of Captain Hook and angle my camera upwards. The result you see below. Again, using the hyperfocal technique, the composition has a nice anchor with Captain Hook standing in a bed of flowers and Peter Pan high above on the roof with a beautiful blue sky behind him.

Character topiaries from the movie, Peter Pan, in the United Kingdom pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Topiaries of Peter Pan and Captain Hook in the United Kingdom pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 220, EV 0, 22mm focal length.

As a "rule", photographers are told NOT to photograph into the Sun (or any bright light source). Like all good rules, however, this one was made to be broken. While I photographed both the Cogsworth and Lumiere topiaries in the France pavilion various ways, it was the photo you see below which I found the most interesting. The large Sun with the star effect shining down did put the topiaries into dark shadows.

I used photo enhancing software from Macphun called Intensify CK for Mac computers to pull out the details and colors of the topiaries and balance out the bright sunlight. I got in low in front of good old Cogsworth to get most of the people enjoying the area out of the frame. There are several kinds of photo enhancement software products on the market for both Macs and PCs which can do similar effects.

Character topiaries from the movie, Beauty and the Beast, in the France pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cogsworth and Lumiere topiaries in the France pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 220, EV 0, 16mm focal length, Intensify CK.

Earlier this week, Deb showed you the Snow White and the Dwarfs topiary in a different location from 12 years ago. This year, Snow White and her band of merry Dwarfs are found in between Germany and France near the World Showcase Lagoon. Comparing the two photos, you can see how Disney landscape artist have given the faces on the topiaries a far more animated look including eyes, noses, mouths, lips and hair in the case of Snow White in today's versions.

Character topiaries from the movie, Snow White, near the Germany pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Snow White and the Dwarfs topiaries near the Germany pavilion.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 23mm focal length.

If you want to learn more about the history of Disney topiaries, click here for an article by Disney historian Jim Korkis.

April 8, 2016

More Food Compositions at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am back with another edition about Disney Food Photography. It has been a year since a wrote that last article about phtographing the foods at Walt Disney World and beyond. This time I want to talk about how I include little extras which add interest or help to tell a story.

First, it is always a good thing to get close to your main subject. At Teppan Edo in Epcot's Japan pavilion, the food is prepared right in front of guests. Using a short zoom lens, I was able to get in close to one of the wonders of any meal there, the Onion Volcano as it was erupting. The softly focused guests in the background add a fun element.

Onion volcano erupting at Teppan Edo restaurant in Epcot's Japan pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Onion volcano erupting at Teppan Edo restaurant in Epcot's Japan pavilion.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 52mm Focal Length.

Restaurants at Disney can have cluttered backgrounds with guests dining and tables waiting to be bussed. Using bounce flash, you can pull your subject out of the background. When I dine at Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Village Resort, I get Tonga Toast. My Son-In-Law prefers the Big Kahuna Breakfast. Using a person traveling with you adds interest and delights your family and friends.

Big Kahuna breakfast entree at the Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Big Kahuna breakfast entree at the Kona Cafe.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length, Bounced Flash.

Not every time do I take a photo of food inside the location I purchased it from. Especially if it is a beautiful morning in Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland. There, I got one of Gaston's Tavern's warm cinnomon rolls and a cold milk to wash it down with. I placed the food on an outside table and used a wide focal length to include the entrance to the quick service restaurant in the background.

Warm cinnamon roll and cold milk from Gaston's Tavern in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Warm cinnamon roll and cold milk from Gaston's Tavern.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 180, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

I have a lot of fun photographing the food and restaurants at all Disney venues. For one thing, people do not mind you doing it in Disney restaurants as most people are doing the same thing with their cameras and smart phones. Secondly, I enjoy people telling me how my photos help them consider eating at a particular restaurant on their trips to Disney parks and resorts. I hope you do to.


April 1, 2016

Anchoring Your Photography at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In landscape photography, the idea of anchoring a photo with an interesting element in the foreground is almost a rule. An anchor creates drama, shows scope, scale and tells a story.

I use anchors a lot at Walt Disney World especially when I have a wide angle lens on my camera. Wide angle lenses allow you to get close to a subject and include a sweeping background. In the photo below of a geyser erupting next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, I was able to encompass not only the geyser but the Liberty Belle Riverboat on the Rivers of America and the clouds in the sky overhead. The geyser anchors the photo and gives a viewer a starting location before moving on to the rest of the image.

Geyser near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad erupts as the Liberty Belle cruises by on the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Geyser near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad erupts as the Liberty Belle cruises by on the Rivers of America.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/400s, f/10, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Being more of a travel and vacation photographer when at Walt Disney World, I like to add people as the anchor. Specifically, the people I am traveling with. While, it may not be of interest to everyone, it is for my family with me and for those back at home I share the photos with. There are so many places you can do this in all the parks. This one was taken at a favorite location for Disney Photopass photographers. For good reason with the beautiful Cinderella Castle in the background.

Guests pose in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests pose in front of Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/80s, f/18, ISO 200, EV 0, 34mm Focal Length.

The next time you are out with your camera, look for anchors to use to create beautiful story telling photographs.


March 18, 2016

Flower and Garden Festival Monorails

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Colorful flowers on land and water at the annual Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Colorful flowers on land and water at the annual Flower and Garden Festival.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Panorama.

I spent a day recently at Epcot's annual Flower and Garden Festival. I wanted to capture the beauty and color of the festival. Above, I used four photographs stitched together to create a panoramic. As much as I like this photo and it does show how colorful Epcot gets, it is missing an important element which would make you think "That's Epcot" immediately. In the photos below, I waited and captured it.

Monorail Yellow moves over the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Yellow moves over the Flower and Garden Festival.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 180, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Monorail Yellow was a bit shaded and I dodged (lightened) it a little to pull out its color. After taking this photo, I walked over to the path between the Imagination pavilion and World Showcase to get a front lighted photo of the next monorail. Notice the difference in the exposures.

Monorail Green moves over the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Green moves over the Flower and Garden Festival.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Monorails come through the Epcot loop more or less on a regular basis. A lot depends on how busy the parks are as to how often you see a monorail moving overhead as you walk around Future World. On this day, these two monorails ran ten minutes apart.


March 11, 2016

Disney Magic Cruising

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Upon walking on to the Disney Magic, the first ship of the Disney Cruise Line, I immediately compared it to the Disney Dream which I had been on several times. That comparison makes the Disney Magic feel small and is not fair. I found the Disney Magic different and smaller but just as enjoyable to cruise on.

Lobby of the Disney Magic cruise ship, Port Canaveral, Florida
Lobby of the Disney Magic cruise ship.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 2500, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Each Disney Cruise Line ship has a character statue. For the Disney Magic, Helmsman Mickey Mouse is based on the eight foot tall Man at the Wheel statue at the Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Helmsman Mickey statute in the lobby of the Disney Magic cruise ship, Port Canaveral, Florida
Helmsman Mickey statute in the lobby of the Disney Magic cruise ship.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 4500, EV 0, 20mm Focal Length.

Earlier in the day of my cruise, the Disney Cruise Line announced two new ships coming to the fleet. During the Adventure Away party and show, they repeated the announcement with characters, streamers and graphics on the Funnelvision.

Adventure Away party and show on the Disney Magic cruise ship, Port Canaveral, Florida
Adventure Away party and show on the Disney Magic cruise ship.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/160s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Our three night cruise only had one Port of Call which was Disney Cruise Lines' private island of Castaway Cay. The weather for our stop was warm and partly sunny in the morning. Later more clouds rolled in with a cool breeze. The photo of the moored Disney Magic pretty much shows it. Did not stop me from enjoying doing the morning 5K, Serenity Bay adult beach and Cookies II BBQ.

Disney Magic cruise ship moored at Castaway Cay, Bahamas
Disney Magic cruise ship moored at Castaway Cay.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 500, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Like the Disney themeparks, Cast Members are one of the big reasons why my family and others give high marks for entertainment and service on Disney cruise ships. Below are a few which made my cruise memorable.

Disney Magic Cast Members
Disney Magic Cast Members.

Going clockwise from top left: Bartenders work to fill guest drink orders behind the Singles bar, server puts on a napkin hat on a guest in Carioca's restaurant, cast member poses with a guest at Serenity Bay BBQ on Castaway Cay and Deputy Leader cast member for the emergency evacuation drill before leaving port.

Other notable activities I enjoyed was Tangled, the Musical stage show, nightly entertainment in Fathoms with host Matt from England, seeing the 3-D version of Zootopia in the Walt Disney Theatre and relaxing on deck with a book and a drink.

March 4, 2016

Port of Call: Castaway Cay

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney Dream cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay, Bahamas
Disney Dream cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/29, ISO 720, EV -0.3, 45mm focal length.

Scott is on vacation this week cruising on the Disney Cruise Line with a stop at Castaway Cay. We are sure there will be many Konk Koolers consumed in his travels. Scott will be back next week and sharing his adventures from the Caribbean.

February 26, 2016

Festival of the Lion King Finale in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Harambe Theatre is the new home of the Festival of the Lion King. It looks like the old theater. Maybe they dismantled it and re-constructed it? It could be a little bigger seating wise. No doubt all the cool upgrades went into the production end of things. This is a simple click as I let the camera do all the work using Shutter Priority Mode at 1/320th of a second.

Festival of the Lion King finale in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Festival of the Lion King finale on stage in the Harambe Theatre.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 1600, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

Sometimes, I just marvel at what today's cameras can do. I only had to open up the shadows and add a little sharpening to finish it off in post-production.

February 19, 2016

Great Movie Ride HDR at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Today is my birthday and I am going to indudge myself with photographic candy.

Late afternon at Disney's Hollywood Studios means the Sun is behind The Great Movie Ride or GMR, for short. Especially, in early December when I was there last. I sure was not going to let the cloud filled sky go to waste. No sir! Instead, I took a series of five photos in a bracketed set covering the -2EV to +2EV range of exposures. My camera (Nikon D750) can be set up to bracket from 3 to 9 images at a time in any interval I want. Saves me a lot of time as I do not have to adjust my camera after each shot. I do have to remember to take it out of bracketing mode once I am done.

I then brought the five photos into Photomatix Pro. Photomatix Pro merges the photos into one image before creating a set of images to choose from processed in various ways. I selected the one you see below as I liked how it emphasized the clouds in the sky and popped the colors of the GMR building.

HDR image of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of The Great Movie Ride.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 1100, 28mm focal length.

I cropped the image into a 16x9 HD crop, sat back and enjoyed the candy.

February 12, 2016

Illuminations at 28mm

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On my last trip to Walt Disney World, I went light by only bringing the Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. At 28mm this lens is not as wide as I would like to photograph Illuminations, I found this pleasing composition back when photographing at last December's All Ears event.

Illuminations Holiday Tag in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Illuminations Holiday Tag at 28mm.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 6s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

As you can see there are a few fireworks at the top giving a nice framing effect.

Just before the grand finale, I took this "fast" photo. Being in Bulb mode, this was a very quick open and close of the shutter.

Illuminations Holiday Tag in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Illuminations Holiday Tag at 28mm.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 3/5s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

The next frame was totally blown out as the air was filled with white fireworks.

Even though I did not have the best lens with me, I made the best of it by finding a composition I liked. Hope you did, too. Click here to see a wider view of Illuminations.

February 5, 2016

Return of the Fisheye Lens to Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in 2013, I wrote about my ideas for using a Fisheye lens. What I did not say was how easy it was to leave the Fisheye lens on the camera. Case in point was this day in Epcot. My family started the day with a FastPass+ at Test Track. I had an idea for the Fisheye lens for ride shots. Why I was not thrilled with the ride photos I got, I did really like using the Fisheye on the cars in the show room area of the attraction.

Chevrolet Corvette on display inside Test Track in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chevrolet Corvette on display inside Test Track through a Fisheye lens.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/25s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0.

After Test Track, we walked across the plaza on our way for our lunch dining reservation and I could not resist this photo. It is not often I have gotten such nice clouds in the middle of a Florida day on my visits.

People walk past Pin Central in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People walk past Pin Central through a Fisheye lens.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/640s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Call me lazy or creative but I left the Fisheye lens on my camera for our lunch at the Garden Grill in The Land pavilion. I especially liked how the distortion of the lens worked with Pluto's nose.

A couple gets a hug from Pluto in the Garden Grill restaurant in Epcot's The Land pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A couple gets a hug from Pluto in the Garden Grill through a Fisheye lens.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 5600, EV 0.

What's a day at Epcot without a monorail photo? Right, not a good one so here it is. Yep, never did take the Fisheye off as we headed out of the park.

Monorail Green heading into Epcot over the entrance to the park, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Green heading into Epcot through a Fisheye lens.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0.

One of the best exercises a photographer can do is take a prime (non-zoom) lens and use it all day. If the prime lens happens to be a Fisheye lens, then enjoy the day!

January 29, 2016

New Animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Things are always changing at Walt Disney World. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, I photographed new residents on my last trip in December of 2015.

The entrance to Discovery Island Trails before the bridge over to Africa is the home of the Cotton-top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Cotton-top Tamarins are new world monkeys from Central and South America.

Cotton-top Tamarin at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cotton-top Tamarin at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 4500, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

On the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, I spotted the Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) walking through tall grass. Turns out Sarus Cranes are the tallest cranes in the world reaching a height of nearly six feet (1.8m). They are found in India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Sarus Crane on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sarus Crane on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 180, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Staying on the Maharajah Jungle Trek and in the same exhibit area were Asian Antelopes. A whole heard had come up and over a hill to start grazing on the hillside. This lovely male was nice enough to pose for me.

Asian Antelope on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Antelope on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 450, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

While Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are not new to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, these two baby boys are. They were entertaining a large audience of guests with their antics.

Baby Western Lowland Gorillas playing on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Baby Western Lowland Gorillas playing on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 4500, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

I always make it a point to walk all the trails in Disney's Animal Kingdom as new animals go on display or replace other species all the time.

January 22, 2016

Photographing While Riding at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of the hot topics I get asked about a lot is photographing while on a ride at Disney themeparks. There is an easy way and a harder way which I will be talking about and giving examples.

First, let me stress the importance of securing your camera while on rides. Whether you are taking pictures or not. You do not want your camera to bang up against anything during the ride or, worse, dropping it. I always use my camera strap around my person and then around the wrist which holds the camera.

Once secured, the next thing I worry about is how I want the photo to come out. If I am taking photos of people on the ride, I will use a fast shutter speed to get a nice and sharp image of them. That is what I did with the photo of my daughter on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom. I put my camera in Shutter Priority and set it to 1/800th of a second. This happened to open up the aperture to f/4.5 which gave the background a pleasing out of focus area or bokeh.

The type of lens is important, too. Wide angle lenses are best or a zoom set to its widest focal length. Believe me when I say it is not easy aiming the camera as a ride is in motion. A wide angle lens gives the best chance for a successful photo.

Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad using a fast shutter speed.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/800s, f/4.5, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

The harder way is slowing your shutter speed down to keep the ride vehicle(s) in sharp focus but the background becomes a blur. That is what I did when I rode Tomorrowland's Astro Orbitor in the Magic Kingdom. I again used Shutter Priority and set my camera to 1/10th of a second. I took several photos during the ride and this photo was the only one which came out the way I wanted it to.

Long exposure photo of the Astro Orbiter from the Pilot Seat in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Long exposure photo of the Astro Orbiter from the Pilot Seat.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/10s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

Another ride for cool slow shutter speed photos is the Mad Tea Party or Tea Cups in Fantasyland. Here you need to get the cup spinning fast. Start out with a shutter speed of 1/125 and decrease to 1/60, 1/30 and even as low as 1/15th of a second. I would love to show you a photo I took but I can not stomach the Tea Cups. My friend, Joe Penniston, an accomplished Disney photographer, can and captured this wonderful photo.

Slow shutter on the Mad Tea Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Slow shutter on the Mad Tea Party or Tea Cups.
Nikon D3S/14-24mm, 1/15s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 20mm focal length.

Do not forget one very important ride photo...the end of the line photo showing everyone survived!

Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
End of the ride photo on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 320, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length.

Remember, secure your camera first. Then enjoy photographing the ride.

January 15, 2016

Framing the Gates of Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Unlike framing a picture to hang on a wall, using a "frame" in your photographs is very different. By doing so you give the image added depth, leads the viewer to the main subject and gives the photo context and sense of place. This is especially true with architectural subjects like arches or gates. Epcot's World Showcase has two excellent ways of using a frame in a photo to do all of the above.

In the waters of World Showcase Lagoon at the Japan pavilion, Spaceship Earth can be seen and framed through a red Torii Gate. To keep everything in focus I used an aperture of f/16 and set my distance so the Torii Gate was about one third into the frame. I underexposed it slightly by setting my exposure compensation or EV to -0.3. This brought out the colors in the scene.

Does anyone know what type of focus this is called? First person to answer correctly in the comments will win an 8x10 print of the Red Torii Gate photo below. Hint: I have wrote about it A LOT! [We have a winner of the Torii Gate print! No more comments will be accepted. Thank you all for participating!]

Spaceship Earth framed by the Red torii gate in the Japan pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth framed by the Red torii gate in the Japan pavilion.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 360, EV -0.3, 28mm focal length.

In the China pavilion, the very ornate Paifang Gate in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is another place you can use framing in a photo. Here I waited until night and long after Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was over. This gave me a scene without other guests around. Using a tripod, I set up in front of the gate and waited for a few guests to move before using a long shutter speed of 30 seconds to pull in all the light and detail of the scene.

To continue the fun, the first person to post a comment telling me why the number "12" is of significance in the China pavilion wins an 8x10 print of the Paifang Gate below. [We have a winner of the Paifang Gate print! No more comments will be accepted. Thank you all for participating!]

Paifang Gate in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest at night in the China pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Paifang Gate in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest at night in the China pavilion.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 30s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm focal length, tripod.

Both of these locations are Nikon Picture Spots and for all the reasons I have talked about here. Next time you are out photographing, look for opportunities to use a "frame" in your composition.

January 8, 2016

How to Find Posts in the Picture This! Blog

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As of this writing, the AllEars.Net Picture This! blog contains over 2,200 posts. That is a lot of information about photography in Disney themeparks as well as the popular Disney Pic of the Week photos. The posts are authored by Barrie, Lisa, Deb and myself since July of 2007. Many times a year, I will link back to previous posts on topics which are relevant to the topic I am writing about. No sense in repeating something I covered in the past.

Of course, some of the posts do get outdated as time passes. Attractions change or get replaced. Equipment once thought of as State of the Art, gets pushed out be even better equipment. An example were the popular Point and Shoot cameras of the 1990's and early 2000's. Smartphones with cameras and apps have almost completely replaced them.

How do I and you find posts about subjects you are interested in learning about on the Picture This! blog? (Note: these tips work on ALL the blogs found on AllEars.Net). When you visit the Picture This! blog, you see the top 10 posts on the left and list of links on the right. Those right side links are where we are going to start.

Below the list of Recent Posts are a long list of Categories. At the top of the Category list are the Blog Features which are the sub-blogs found inside of the Picture This! blog.

Featured sub-blogs in the AllEars.net Picture This! blog
Featured sub-blogs in the AllEars.net Picture This! blog.

By clicking on a link to one of the Blog Features, you will get ALL the posts of that Blog Feature. This will take time to load into your browser. Once all the posts are loaded, you can use your browser's Find feature to search for terms. This is the number one way I look for a subject in my Photographic Innoventions Blog Feature to find out when was the last time I wrote about it. If I find the post still relevant to the new post, I will add the link for reference for readers to delve more into the subject.

There is a long list of categories below the Blog Features which can narrow down a search. The example I use below is the Photography category where you can find posts which talk about or have an example of each of the sub-categories listed. As an example, the Depth of Field link will bring up a list of posts about how to use your camera's settings to alter the Depth of Field in your photos for creative use. You can do the same for links on each park or part area or attraction.

Photography category snippet from the AllEars.net Picture This! blog
Photography category snippet from the AllEars.net Picture This! blog.

There is one more way you can get a specific list of posts based on a list of Tags found at the bottom of most individual posts. Once you do that and see a list of tagged posts, you will see another list called Other Tags which lists every tag used in Picture This!.

Other Tags snippet from the AllEars.net Picture This! blog
Other Tags snippet from the AllEars.net Picture This! blog.

It is a very long list. Again, use your browser's Search feature to find the tag you are looking for.

Hope this will help you naviagte the Picture This! Blog and alll the blogs found here at AllEars.Net.

December 25, 2015

Disney Christmas Wish 2015

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Merry Christmas from the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/80s, f/4.5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December 18, 2015

Goodbye to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After a 20 year run, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios will go dark for the last time after the 2015 holiday season. Jennings Osborne, a Little Rock, Arkansas, businessman, began putting up lights at his residence in 1986, at the request of his young daughter. Each year, Jennings would add more lights and displays. By 1993, the display had grown so large and popular, Osborne's neighbors filed suit to shut it down because the traffic congestion was a concern if emergency vehicles were ever needed in the neighborhood.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights takes its final bow at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2015.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV 0, 135mm focal length.

The legal issues came to the attention of Walt Disney World officials who offered to move the lights to its Residential Street in what was then called Disney-MGM Studios. Jennings was a fan of the park and agreed. In 1995, the Osborne Lights came to Walt Disney World.

Over the years, Disney slowly shutdown the Residential Street and moved the lights to the Streets of America. Imagineers swapped out the lights with LED technology and relays so the lights could "dance" to favorite Christmas songs and music.

The Spectacle of Lights includes (more or less): 5 million lights, 32 miles of extension cables, 66 snow machines using 100 gallons of snow fluid a night and 43 Hidden Mickeys.

Knowing this was going to be my last time seeing the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights earlier this month, I wanted to photograph not only the wide views of the display but the many details found along the streets and alleys of the Streets of America.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights details on the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Details.

Starting from the top left and going clockwise, Fire Hydrant leaking water, Phone Booth or a Tardis for Dr. Who fans with a snowman wearing a bluetooth, Stitch on a tire swing and the table outside Tony's restaurant setup for Lady and the Tramp's date.

The view down San Francisco Street is just as impressive as the view down New York Street. The overhead canopy of lights flashes and changes colors to the music during one of the many "shows".

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on San Francisco Street in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on San Francisco Street.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/100s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

I was not the only one photographing or videoing the lights, smartphone and tablets (which did not exist 20 years ago) were held high anytime a musical show would start. In between, people were taking photos of everything or getting in a PhotoPass line to get themselves, families and large groups one last photo of the largest Christmas light display started by an individual.

A guest uses a tablet to record the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A guest uses a tablet to record the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/100s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

As excited as I am for all the new things coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, I will miss the Osborne Lights. Who knows, maybe they will reappear someday.

Here is an early photographic gift for you. This link will take you to a post with more links to more posts with even more links on how to photograph Christmas lights outside and inside to bring even more joy to your holiday photography this season. Enjoy!

Christmas Light Photography

December 11, 2015

Celebrating 20 Years of All Ears

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

All Ears founder Deb Wills celebrated her 20th year since launching her website featuring information about Walt Disney World last weekend. I attended two of the anniversary events starting with the Anniversary Adventure held in Epcot on Saturday.

All Ears guests checked in for the event and received their name tags and lanyards to give them access to the American Adventure pavilion later that evening.

All Ears staff members check in guests in front of the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
All Ears staff members Glo (third from left) and Cathy (far right) check in guests in front of the American Adventure pavilion before the Anniversary Adventure on Saturday, December 5, 2015.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.8, ISO 180, EV +0.3, 35mm Focal Length.

First, the group was escorted over to the America Gardens Theatre for a performance of the Candlelight Processional with Whoopi Goldberg as the narrator.

Whoopi Goldberg narrates the Candlelight Processional in the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot's World Showcase on Saturday, December 5, 2015, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Whoopi Goldberg narrates the Candlelight Processional in the America Gardens Theatre on Saturday, December 5, 2015.

After the Candlelight Processional, people attending the event were welcomed by All Ears founder, Deb Wills, and Mouse Fan Travel President, Beci Mahnken, as they entered the American Adventure to enjoy a buffet dinner under the rotunda of the pavilion.

Deb Wills and Beci Mahnken welcome guests to the rotunda of the American Adventure and the start of the Anniversary Adventure on Saturday, December 5, 2015, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
All Ears founder, Deb Wills (on left), and Mouse Fan Travel President, Beci Mahnken, welcome guests to the rotunda of the American Adventure and the start of the Anniversary Adventure celebrating 20 years of AllEars.net and 10 years of Mouse Fan Travel on Saturday, December 5, 2015.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

Deb kept promising special surprises for the night and one of them came out and took the stage. The a cappella group, Voices of Liberty, entertained us with a set of classic and international Christmas and holiday songs.

Voices of Liberty perform during the All Ears 20th Anniversary event in the American Adventure at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voices of Liberty perform during the All Ears 20th Anniversary event in the American Adventure.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV 0, 32mm Focal Length.

Another surprise was the arrival of Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck's Uncle, who posed for photos with the guests.

Scrooge McDuck made a special appearance during the All Ears 20th Anniversary event in the American Adventure at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
All Ears founder Deb Wills and All Ears Editor Deb Koma pose for a photo with Donald Duck's Uncle, Scrooge McDuck.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV 0, 55mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

With dinner over, we were all escorted behind the Disney Traders shop for an Illuminations Dessert Party. I enjoyed a comfortable seat as I photographed on the rail using a tripod and remote shutter release. This time of year, Disney adds what is called the Holiday tag. If you have never seen it, look for it on youTube. Here is a part of it.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Holiday tag fireworks in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Holiday tag fireworks.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1.6s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Tripod.

After Illuminations, the group then went on Soarin' while I took advantage of the time to photograph around World Showcase for future blog posts.

The next day, the All Ears crew convened for a Meet and Greet on the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom. These are always fun and people can talk with All Ears authors like Hidden Mickey guy, Steve Barrett, founder Deb Wills, editor Deb Koma and others.

Steve Barrett poses for a photo with Deb Wills during a Meet and Greet event on the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, December 6, 2015, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Steve Barrett, poses for a photo with All Ears founder, Deb Wills, during a Meet and Greet event on the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, December 6, 2015.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 360, EV 0, 100mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

The highlight of many a Meet and Greet: the group shot.

Fans of All Ears gather during a Meet and Greet event on the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, December 6, 2015, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Fans of All Ears gather during a Meet and Greet event on the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, December 6, 2015.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 50mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

I now know how to make a group of Disney nuts excited. You just have to promise them a free Disney cruise. Not that they got one. ;-)

Another milestone was reached for All Ears. On to the next one in five years.

December 4, 2015

Christmas Vacation with All Ears

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney Princesses on the Ginger Bread House inside the Grand Flordian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney Princesses on the Ginger Bread House inside the Grand Floridian Resort.

Scott is vacationing this week at Walt Disney World for the All Ears 20th/30th Event Weekend. Follow him on his Twitter feed @Scottwdw as he photographs all the fun Deb has cooked up and Christmas photos from all the parks.

November 20, 2015

Camera Buying Tips

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Cameras of all types were used on an All Ears Photo Walk around Cresent Lake, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cameras of all types were used on an All Ears Photo Walk around Cresent Lake.

Are you looking for a camera to give this Christmas? Maybe even to yourself? Here are a few websites I use when researching a photographic purchase of any kind.

The first has been around for as long as I can remember: Digital Photography Review or DPReview for short. Not only do they review the lastest and greatest cameras, lenses and other equipment, they have a database that goes back years with thousands of models from all the camera manufacturers available with full specs, first looks, full reviews and photo samples to go with them. This is the place where I go to help other people who ask me about a particular cameras or lenses first. It is owned by Amazon.com now but I do not see a biased in their reporting. Links to Amazon do come up first.

Speaking of Amazon, you can find solid photography books and equipment at the All Ears Photography Listings.

Besides Amazon, the online (and if you are lucky enough to live near or can visit New York City) and brick and mortar superstore for photographers is B&H Photo. I have heard stories of people getting lost inside their store for days. The online store is excellent for both browsing and quick searches. Much safer, too.

Remember I talked about getting information about older cameras, lenses and equipment. I highly recommend people looking to get into photography beyond pointing and clicking to find a good used camera and some lenses to start with. You can find such well maintained and bargain priced photography equipment at KEH.com. KEH specializes in buying and selling quality products and back it up with a 6 month warranty.

Online photography rental websites always have an inventory of used equipment for sale.

For the more adventurous, eBay is an excellent source of used equipment. You must be cautious and research, not only what you are buying, but who you are buying it from. Same goes for any For Sale forums found on the thousands of online photography message boards. I have gotten some good deals this way.

Do not forget your local photography store if you are lucky enough to have one in your area. They also deal in used equipment as well as new and can give you personal service. Something a website can not do.

If you have a favorite photography website or store, let us know about it in the Comments below.

November 13, 2015

Photographing the American Adventure in Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Photographing the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase is just like photographing one with live performers. Disney lights their shows the same regardless of the kind of performers. Very moody with bright areas used to focus the audience's attention where the show's producers want them to.

I set my camera up to use Spot Metering and put the spot right on the brightest part of a scene. That is usually one of the performers. In the case of the American Adventure, they are audio-animatronic performers. The rest of the stage may go very dark. This is fine though are cameras are not as good as our eyes. I opened up the background in the photo below of Thomas Jefferson reading the opening sentences of the Declaration of Independence to Benjamin Franklin to show the words behind them better.

Thomas Jefferson reads to Benjamin Franklin during the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Thomas Jefferson reads the opening sentences to the Declaration to Benjamin Franklin during the American Adventure audio-animatronics show.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/80s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

Check your camera's LCD early, you may have to adjust your shutter speed if there are too many "hot spots" or "blinkys" occuring. If changing the shutter speed results in ISOs which are too high, adjust the Exposure Compensation (EV) button to dial in the correct exposure.

In the scene inside the Great Hall in Philadelphia at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 with Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell, there is better lighting on Mr. Bell than Mr. Twain but spot metering worked perfectly to capture them.

Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell in the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell in the Great Hall in Philadelphia at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 during the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase.

With President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt in full spotlight, the area behind and in front of him goes to black. This is very inpactful and told the audience this was a very important part of the show. Meanwhile, the 1939 gas station was lighted evenly with yellow-ish light simulating the electric lighting of the day and setting a mood of depression. Both fitting for the story about the Great Depression.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives a speech while people listen to him on a radio at a gas station in 1939 during the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives a speech while people listen to him on a radio at a gas station in 1939 during the American Adventure audio-animatronics show.

In the closing scene of the American Adventure show, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain shake hands on the Statue of Liberty's torch overlooking New York Harbor. This was a scene I wanted to get as this was the first time Disney Imagineers had their audio-animatronics directly interact with each other. Though, as you can see, it is all in the angle. Zooming in to fill the frame, the camera had no trouble getting a good exposure.

Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain shake hands in the closing scene of the American Adventure audio-animatronics show in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain shake hands in the closing scene of the American Adventure audio-animatronics show.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 3600, EV 0, 120mm focal length.

Stage lighting is very tricky. Watch your exposures, wait for the performers to stop and keep the shutter speeds up and you will get great photos of any stage show. Just remember, do not use flash! There is enough light on the performers in most scenes so it is not needed anyway.

November 6, 2015

Reflective Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If there is one thing most photographers can not pass up, it is a good reflection photo. Add Disney architecture in the reflection and I can not pass it up. Like the time I walked across the bridge from Discovery Island to Africa on a still morning to see the Harambe Theatre reflected in the water at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 72mm focal length, Polarizer filter.

The reflection does not have to be perfect to make an interesting photo. On another morning while I was snacking on a pastry from the Boardwalk Bakery, the light on Disney's Yacht Club Resort was beautiful and the wavy reflection added to the photo.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort in morning light at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney's Yacht Club Resort in morning light.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 40mm focal length.

Keep your eyes open for reflection possibilites as you photograph either at home or on holiday.

October 30, 2015

Halloween at Disney

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney loves holidays and Halloween is one of its favorites. At Disneyland, every year the Haunted Mansion gets transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday where Jack Skellington and the rest of the Halloweentown gang take over in a very popular ride transformation.

Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland in Anaheim, California
Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 15mm Focal Length.

Even on the high seas, Disney Cruise Line celebrates with the Pumpkin Tree legend. A nice treat for guests with no tricks.

Elaborately carved pumpkins accompany the Pumpkin Tree on the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line
Elaborately carved pumpkins accompany the Pumpkin Tree on the Disney Dream.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 4000, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Back on dry land, Walt Disney World has Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party allowing people of all ages to enjoy the fun of the holiday.

Sign outside the Magic Kingdom entrance advertising Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sign outside the Magic Kingdom entrance advertising Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

October 23, 2015

Vacation Photography at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

While I take the time to do all types of photography when I visit Walt Disney World. My family is around often being patient as I set up a shot or look for a different angle. I want to thank them this week.

So, for those who remember them, I want you to imagine settling in on a friend's couch as she/he gets out the slide projector to show you their Walt Disney World Vacation photos. Ready? Here we go...

As a family when visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios, we are always on the lookout for members of the Citizens of Hollywood. The day after the Labor Day holiday, it seems the Streetmosphere characters were on hiatus. Walking through Pixar Place, we happened upon a group of improv entertainers who were looking for actors to star in their production of Aladdin. My daughter "volunteered" to play Jasmine and was given a stuffed tiger named (you guessed it), Rajah.

A young woman poses with an improv group after helping them with a skit at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A young woman poses with an improv group after helping them with a skit at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

After the skit was done, I quickly asked the group if they would pose for a photo with my daughter. If you or a member of your touring party are ever in a show, try and ask if you can take a photo with the cast member or members after the show. Sometimes it is not possible but, as you can see, these guys were more than happy to comply with my request.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one ride I feel comfortable taking photos on. I make sure to secure my camera. For the photo below, I asked the Cast Member loading the train if my family could ride in a car behind me and I would need an empty row in that car. My request has honored because it was a slow day with little wait times. A wide angle lens is a good choice on a ride as you do not have to be as careful aiming it. I put my camera in Shutter Priority mode and set it to 1/250th of a second to cut down on camera shake on the wildest ride in the wilderness.

A family riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A family riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 140, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

Having said all that the photo I liked best was during the slow climb up one of hills showing my family with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad spreading out all around them.

After visiting two parks in one day, we decided to check out the new Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort to relax with a couple of adult beverages and be entertained by the lively Cast Members who know how to serve a drink.

Mother and daughter share a laugh in Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mother and daughter sharing a laugh in Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/10s, f/2.8, ISO 10000, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

I captured one of those moments Disney loves to use in their advertising as my wife and daughter share a laugh with a cool drink after a hot day in the parks.

After shopping at Downtown...excuse me, Disney Springs, we returned to the Magic Kingdom the next day. While waiting for our dining reservation time, we found the Sword in the Stone in front of the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland all by itself. For adults, this was an opportunity we could not pass up and took turns trying to pull the sword.

A young couple tries to pull the sword from the stone in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A young couple tries to pull the sword from the stone in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 18mm Focal Length, Cropped.

Sadly, we found out none of us were of royal blood but came away with fun photos before allowing another family a chance at the sword.

As the time of our dining time approached, we were escorted inside the Beast's Castle and the Be Our Guest restaurant. The wide angle lens gave me compositional choices as I photographed my family ahead of me.

A family enters the Beast's Castle for dinner at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A family enters the Beast's Castle for dinner at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/50s, f/2.8, ISO 10000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped.

We enjoyed a very good meal in the West Wing.

Two days later, we went back to Disney's Polynesian Village Resort for breakfast at Kona Café. While I ordered my usual Tonga Toast, my Son-In-Law went with the Big Kahuna platter.

A young man shows off his Big Kahuna breakfast entree at the Kona Café in Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A young man shows off his Big Kahuna breakfast entree at the Kona Café in Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length, Flash.

After filling up at breakfast, my eldest daughter and I went over to Disney's Animal Kingdom while the rest of the family went back to our resort's pool. They missed out as walking down one of the Discovery Island trails near the Tree of Life, we meet up with Tarzan.

A young woman poses with Tarzan, the Ape Man, on one of the Discovery Island trails near the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A young woman poses with Tarzan, the Ape Man, on one of the Discovery Island trails near the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 400, EV 0, 42mm Focal Length.

What was interesting with Tarzan was you could not see him unless you walked down the trail. I checked later and he was listed on the park's times schedule. Look for him on your next visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

It was a rainy, dreary morning the next day as we made our way to the Boardwalk resort area to catch NFL Sunday at the ESPN Club. While we waited for the restaurant to open we spent some time at the Beach and Yacht Club resorts. My wife had told me she wanted a photo of her with our daughters. With two of them being travel agents and another who travels a lot for her job, the large antique globe in Disney's Yacht Club Resort's lobby was a fitting place for the photo.

Mother and her daughters in Disney's Yacht Club Resort lobby, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mother and her daughters in Disney's Yacht Club Resort lobby.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1000, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

Looking at this photo now, I wish I had featured the globe more by either having my wife sit in a chair so she was lower or have the three of them surround the globe. The concept was sound, the execution was a bit off. Will have to re-visit this one in the future.

After spending a few hours watching football (yeah, the Green Bay Packers won!) and eating through ESPN Club's menu, I took this photo for my daughter and Son-In-Law on the much improved afternoon outside the restaurant with their favorite team's jerseys on.

A young sports-minded couple outside the ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A young sports-minded couple outside the ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk Resort.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/11, ISO 140, EV 0, 36mm Focal Length.

Now, this photo I like a lot as it tied the sports theme together nicely as they are both big fans.

I hope I did not bore you. Wanted to show you while I do enjoy going the extra mile to get good travel photos at Walt Disney World, I love my family, too. Until next week...Aloha!

October 9, 2015

Spaceship Earth at Night in Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Before a trip to Walt Disney World, I will browse through photos on flickr and Google in search of ideas. I found this composition and put it on my shot list for the trip. Though the photo which was the inspiration for the photo of Spaceship Earth below was taken during the day, the rest of the image was similar.

Spaceship Earth at night in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth at night.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

Besides being photographed at night, I noticed it was hard to control the light on the top of Spaceship Earth and still get detail in the fountain and underneath the structure. That is when I decided to produce a High Dynamic Range image. I took three photos one stop apart at these shutter speeds: 15 seconds, 30 seconds and 60 seconds. Merging the photos using Photomatix Pro, created the image. This opened up the lower part of the frame while still retaining the detail of the sphere. The bonus was all the colors over the time it took to take the three photos. The long exposures created the fantasy look of the flowing water of the fountain.

Next time you are looking for photography ideas at Walt Disney World or any other travel destination, search and browse to see what others have done in the past.

October 2, 2015

FP+ Fireworks Locations at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I photographed Illuminations and Wishes fireworks shows from FastPass+ (FP+) locations in Epcot and the Magic Kingdom on my last trip. The FP+ locations had their advantages and disadvantages which I will discuss below.

Magic Kingdom

Wishes photographed from the FP+ location in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Wishes photographed from the FP+ location in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 10.5s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

The FP+ locations in the Magic Kingdom are found around the Central Plaza or Hub in the new Main Street Plaza Gardens locations in front of Casey's Corner and Plaza restaurants. I was in the one in front of the Plaza Restaurant for the Wishes photo. The big advantage to FP+ fireworks viewing locations are you are not shoulder to shoulder with other guests and there is plenty of room to setup a tripod. The people with me thought it was the best place to watch Wishes. As a photographer, there are lots of obstacles between the FP+ location and Cinderella Castle. You can see light posts and a water fountain in my photo.

Overall, for photography, I would prefer to set up on Main Street USA, near the Partners statue or from the Main Street Train Station for Wishes.

Epcot

Illuminations fireworks show in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Finale of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 11.3s, f/16, ISO 100, EV -1.0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

The FP+ location for Illuminations is between the two gift shops as you walk from Future World to World Showcase. It is a slopped plaza area and is an excellent spot to both watch and photograph the show from. Being slopped, people do not mind a tripod setup as much as on Main Street USA. The slope makes it easier to photograph over people in front of a tripod, too. I set up about twenty feet from the fence you can see people lined up against.

Like at the Magic Kingdom, there are things like columns, torches and even some tall palm trees between the camera and the World Showcase Lagoon. They are not as distracting as in the Wishes photo and people are lower in frame.

For me, the Illuminations FP+ location is about as good as it gets. The only issue is you can not get on the rail along the water for safety reasons. You can set up closer in other areas along the lagoon but the angle may not be as good.

The FP+ locations for the fireworks shows are definitely something to try on your next trip whether you are photographing or just watching. Note you will have to try and get them as soon as they become available as they go quickly depending on the time of year one is visiting.

September 25, 2015

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Motion

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I am out photographing, I like to include motion shots. Sometimes I will use panning to show motion but that can be hit or miss. Another way to show motion is to slow down the shutter and keep the camera still as a moving object goes past the lens. This is how I got this speed shot of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride speeds by in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/40s, f/7.1, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

To keep the camera steady, I used the wooden fencing overlooking the ride to anchor my elbows and leaned on it. I took a series of photos as the ride vehicle passed by. After watching people having fun riding, I got in line to ride it myself.

This was my first time going through the standby line and I enjoyed the interactive activities to help pass the time. When I came upon the barrels full of brightly colored gems, I took a few photos before I saw other guests spinning them.

Barrel full of gems on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Barrel full of gems on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/20s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I had members of my party spin the barrels as fast as they could while I photographed them with a slow shutter. I kept the camera steady using Da Grip holding technique.

Spinning barrel full of gems on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spinning Barrel full of gems on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/20s, f/2.8, ISO 4000, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I really liked how some of the shots came out.

When it was time to get on the ride, I changed the shutter speed to 1/30th of a second and did my best to keep the camera steady during the ride. Of the fifty or so photos I took during the ride, six came out.

Riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/30s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

The photo above was the best of the lot. As luck would have it, it was near the same location as the photo I took from outside the ride.

Next time you are near a moving subject, give this technique a try.

September 18, 2015

Blue Storm at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Tower of Terror as a storm closes in on Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tower of Terror as a storm closes in on Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 4.5s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

I bet you can guess by this photo I took last Saturday from the location of the Photo Meet outside of Disney's Hollywood Studios, the weather was not too good. In fact, five minutes after I took it, the rain came down hard, lightning flashed and thunder clapped. I rushed for shelter at one of the bus stops. The meet was a storm-out, which was disappointing. Will try again!

To the three people who did show up and were smart enough to leave before the rain, thank you.

There was a silver lining. Once the storm passed, I entered the park right as Blue Hour was starting and got this photo of Hollywood Blvd. Not exactly the photo I was going for as I talked about last week. Still, the sky and clear view to The Great Movie Ride made it a very nice consolation.

Blue hour on Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Blue hour on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 30s, f/16, ISO 64, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

I was using a rented Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX lens for my Nikon D750 camera on this trip and liked the wide angle look it gave me. The rain left behind lots of reflective surfaces.

The Great Movie Ride at blue hour in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Great Movie Ride at blue hour in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 30s, f/16, ISO 64, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Walking closer and zooming in to 28mm, I was able to frame the Great Movie Ride right at the height of Blue Hour light. There was still a barrier left over from the stage that was there earlier in the week. It is my hope it will be gone by my next trip.

September 11, 2015

Do-over at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The photo this week was taken by me in February of 2009 from the location of tomorrow's All Ears Photo Meet. Earlier this year, the Sorcerer Mickey Hat was removed from in front of the Great Movie Ride. The view down Hollywood Blvd. is now clear right up to the reproduction of the Mann's Chinese Theater entrance.

View of Hollywood Blvd. from outside of Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Hollywood Blvd. from outside of Disney's Hollywood Studios taken in 2009.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 30s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 170mm (255mm in DX) Focal Length, Tripod.

I am looking forward to re-photographing this scene. If you live in Central Florida or are currently visiting Walt Disney World, come on out to meet me. Click the link for the Meet's location. I will be there starting at 6:30PM. For updates and information, visit the Photo Meet's FaceBook Event page and/or follow me on Twitter at @Scottwdw.

September 4, 2015

Encounter with Darth Vader at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Darth Vader menacing young padawans at the Jedi Training Academy in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Darth Vader menacing young padawans and Scott at the Jedi Training Academy.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 450, EV 0, 135mm Focal Length.

Scott is off to Walt Disney World this weekend and is looking forward to another encounter with Darth Vader at the Jedi Training Academy in Disney's Hollywood Studios. With all the recent announcements, Scott is hoping to get some information out of the Sith Lord. Wish him luck.

If you are going to be in Walt Disney World or live in central Florida, come by and see Scott at the next All Ears Photo Meet on Saturday, September 12, 2015 starting at 6:30PM. Click that link for details and click here to sign up on the FaceBook Event page.

Click here to follow Scott's adventures at Disney on Twitter.

August 28, 2015

Tinker Bell on Parade in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Tinker Bell in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tinker Bell in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade on Main Street USA.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 120mm Focal Length.

I have not gotten any really good photos of Tinker Bell until last year when I photographed her in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. I used a fast shutter speed as Tink is always moving her arms, legs and head during the parade and set the aperture to f/9 using Program Mode on my camera. I got a few good poses including the one I choose to share with you today. The fast shutter created a very sharp photo with no motion blur.

If you are going to be in Walt Disney World or live in central Florida, come by and see me at the next All Ears Photo Meet on Saturday, September 12, 2015 starting at 6:30PM. Click that link for details and click this one to sign up on the FaceBook Event page. Hope to see you there!

August 21, 2015

Tripods at Walt Disney World Review

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A very useful photographer tool for low light and night photography at Walt Disney World is a Tripod. While it is not essential to have a tripod for the upcoming All Ears Picture This! Photo Meet on Saturday, Setpember 12, 2015, having one would allow you to photograph past sunset and into the Blue Hour.

I realize tripods are bulky to travel with and tough to carry around WDW especially with families. However, bringing a tripod in the parks is not hard to do if you rent a locker and track your time before needing it. Lockers are also handy for storing sweaters and sweatshirts during warm days which cool off rapidly at night.

Photographer using a tripod outside the entrance to Les Chefs de France at night in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Photographer using a tripod outside of Les Chefs de France restaurant at night.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 6s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Here are past blog posts where I have used tripods at Walt Disney World:

Extreme Long Exposure of the Main Street Electrical Parade

How to Photograph Fireworks at WDW (Part 1 and Part 2)

Motion Photography

Star Tours Queue

Liberty Bell at Night

Night HDR at the Tower of Terror

Tiki Gods in the Magic Kingdom

Using a tripod at Disney parks is part patience, part common sense and only limited by your imagination. Patience comes from waiting for the light and for guests to move out of your frame. Common sense to set up a tripod where people will not trip over it. Imagination is such a wonderful thing. Use it wisely and you will be rewarded.

August 14, 2015

All Ears Photo Meet near Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

All Ears Photo Meet outside of Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Announcing Photos of the Night, an All Ears Picture This! Photo Meet at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
ANNOUNCING!

The next All Ears Picture This! Photo Meet will be different than past ones. Instead of walking around, this time it will be in one location. The location is along the Epcot Resort Path just off the Disney's Hollywood Studios parking lot (see map below for approximate location at the star). I will be there starting at 6:30pm on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

The first order of the meet will be to prepare to photograph the sunset taking place at 7:34PM. I will give advice on how to photograph a sunset and be available to answer any questions on photography at Walt Disney World and beyond throughout the evening.

DHS Sunset

After the sunset, I will be photographing through the afterglow and into Blue Hour. A tripod would be very useful as well as a small LED flashlight as night falls.

If you are interested in joining me taking photos into the night, leave a Comment using the link below or you can go to the FaceBook Event Page by clicking this link: All Ears Photo Meet.

August 7, 2015

Donald Duck Bread

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A sign for Donald Duck bread at the New York State Fair, Syracuse, New York
Antique sign for Donald Duck bread at the New York State Fair.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 1800, EV +0.3.

Scott is still on summer break but he will be back next week with an exciting announcment! Meanwhile, he wanted to share this photo taken at the New York State Fair a couple of summer's ago. It is always fun to find Disney items either used in today's products or ones from long ago like this Donald Duck Bread sign.

July 31, 2015

Cooling Off in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Brer Rabbit points guests to the entrance to Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Need a place to cool off this summer? Brer Rabbit points the way.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 250, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, Polarizer filter.

Scott is taking a summer break this week. With the hot summer weather finally getting to where Scott lives, he was looking for a place to cool off. Brer Rabbit pointed him to a nice swimming hole. He only needed to take a log raft down Splash Mountain to find it.

July 24, 2015

Documenting Details Around Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have had the pleasure of accompanying Disney Historian Jim Korkis and fellow photographers on tours around Walt Disney World. On each tour, Jim repeated how important it was to photograph and document "everything" in the parks and resorts. Over time, things change, get replaced or plain disappear from guest areas.

With rumors swirling around Disney's Hollywood Studios as attractions are closed without word of what may be coming to replace them, I sought out various details around the park during my last two visits.

Signs in the Streets of America New York area in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Signs in the Streets of America New York area.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 200, EV 0, 65mm Focal Length.

Streets of America is filled with details movie sets need in a backlot. Authentic locations and details to make people believe they are in New York when it was filmed in Orlando.

Flowers around the mermaid water fountain from the 1984 movie, Splash, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flowers around the mermaid water fountain from the 1984 movie, Splash.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/11, ISO 1100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

This prop always makes me smile remembering this was from Tom Hanks breakout movie, Splash, back in 1984. And, it's right down the street from Pixar Place and Toy Story Midway Mania, something else Tom Hanks had a hand..er, voice, in.

Ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz imprinted in a cement block outside the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz imprinted in a cement block outside the Great Movie Ride.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 31mm (47mm DX) Focal Length.

I was thrilled to learn Disney and Turner Classic Movies were getting together to give the Great Movie Ride some much needed face lifts. The removal of the Sorcerer's Hat brings back the original appearance of Disney's Hollywood Studios and this should help bring back the luster to the attraction, too.

The sign outside of the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost shop in the Echo Lake area of Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The sign outside of the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost shop.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 95mm (143mm DX) Focal Length.

You have heard the rumors and I have heard them, the area known as Echo Lake may look a lot different in a few years. Attractions, restaurants and shops could be removed, changed or replaced. For anyone looking to get the iconic Indiana Jones hat, the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost is where you want to go before it gets replaced with something else in the galaxy.

The window to Eddie Valiant's Private Investigations above the Hollywood & Vine restaurant in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The window to Eddie Valiant's Private Investigations above the Hollywood & Vine restaurant.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 120mm (180mm DX) Focal Length.

Back in 1989, when Disney's Hollywood Studios opened (then called Disney-MGM Studios), Who Framed Roger Rabbit references where found throughout the park as the movie had been a huge hit the year before. Over the years, many of the references have been moved or disappeared. As of today, you can still spot the office window of Eddie Valiant's Private Investigations above the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant.

Have you photographed something in Disney's Hollywood Studios in the past which is no longer there or moved to a different location in the park or the resort? Share them with us in the Comments below.

July 17, 2015

Monorail Resorts at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Time to take a spin on the Resort Monorail this week. The monorail stops at the Contemporary, Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian resorts.

Contemporary Resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Contemporary Resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/14, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 58mm Focal Length, Polarizer filter.

Okay, so this photo was taken from a Motor Cruiser on the Seven Seas Lagoon, it is still a photo of the Contemporary. Here I used a Circular Polarizing Filter (CPF) to cut through the haze and enhance the clouds and colors of the scene. A CPF is something a good travel photographer should have in his/her bag of tricks.

Lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort.
Nikon D7100/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 2800, EV +0.3, 11mm Focal Length.

Our next stop is the newly named and refurbished Polynesian Village Resort lobby. The lobby seems more functional and inviting now. Still has lots of color and Polynesian tales. This is an example of looking down and finding a new perspective.

Chandelier in the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chandelier in the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/8, ISO 720, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

The last stop is the beautiful and elegant Grand Floridian Resort. The grand lobby atrium is gorgeous as you enter from the Monorail station. From the floor below, be sure to look up at the chandeliers and patterns of the floors which surround them.

Hope you have enjoyed the ride and remember: Please stand clear of the doors...Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas.

July 10, 2015

Photographing Where the People Are at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

These days it is hard to find any of the Walt Disney World parks and resorts not crowded. As photographers we have to deal with those other tourists the best we can. Outside of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, I realized I would not get this composition people-free until closing time.

People walking past the entrance to Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People walking past the entrance to Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 78mm Focal Length

Instead, I changed my position to line up Ariel in the foreground and the Beast's Castle in the background while shooting above the crowd. I used a small aperture of f/16 to keep everything in focus. I further cropped the final image you see below in post.

Ariel outside the Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Ariel outside the Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0, 82mm Focal Length, cropped

As you can see, it changes the whole outlook of the photo. This was what I had in mind when I took the first photo until I reviewed it on my camera's LCD screen. Another advantage digital technology has brought to photography.

For more tips on how to photograph at Walt Disney World when it gets crowded, read my articles on How to Photograph at a Busy Disney Park.

July 3, 2015

Lobby Flag at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

United States of America flag hanging over the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
United States of America flag hanging over the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/13s, f/4.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 55mm Focal Length, edited.

Tomorrow is the day America celebrates its birthday. It has been 239 years since July 4th, 1776.

One of the greatest foresight's America has had was to create its National Parks to preserve and protect unique natural places within the territories of the United States for the enjoyment of its peoples. Disney pays homage to those national parks and the great lodges found within their borders at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort.

June 26, 2015

macPhun with Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Today, photo editing software comes in three flavors: Expensive, Cloud based subscriptions and bits and pieces (aka apps). The exception would be Adobe Elements. An excellent choice as it has most of the photo editing capabilities of Photoshop. I am still considering my next move in photo management software. Apple's Aperture 3.x software is no longer being supported by Apple and it will be interesting to see for how long Aperture will continue to run as OS X continues to evolve. Currently, the new Photo App does not meet my needs (though it may yours).

Thankfully, there are companies who thrive on creating add-ons to programs like Aperture, Lightroom and Photoshop. Macphun is one such company which I highly recommend if you are a Mac user. Over the last few years they have put together a very impressive list of photo applications. If they ever come out with the missing photo management piece, that could be my solution going forward. For right now, I use Macphun's applications as external tools to Aperture.

Today I want to show you how I used two of them, Intensify Pro and Noiseless Pro, to edit a photo. I use the Pro versions as they support running directly out of Aperture (or Lightroom or Photoshop). The do create a different version of the image so as not to destroy the original and then put it nicely back into your editor's library. In the case of Aperture, it creates a Stack or Set with the original photo.

As I was walking towards Spaceship Earth in Epcot after sunset one evening, I noticed this composition. I did not have a tripod with me so I did the best I could hand held. The original photos lacks punch and is very dull.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Original (unedited) version of Spaceship Earth.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 2800, EV -0.6, 28mm Focal Length

Of of the main reasons I use Macphun's products is they save me a lot of time. When I open an image for editing in Intensify Pro, I get a series of Pre-Sets or Filters which I can select and see how each affects the image. Once I find one I like, I can change the pre-set's effects between 0 (no affect) to 100 (full effect). I found myself using some pre-sets more than others so I can select them as Favorites and quickly get to them in a separate selection tab. Favorites is something found in each of Macphun's products. For the Spacehip Earth photo I went with one of my Favorites, HDR Soft. I backed it up to 80.

After saving it back into Aperture, I found the noise or grain got enhanced by Intensify Pro. Never fear as Macphun recently came out with a superb noise reduction product called Noiseless. I really like how you can easily select between the different noise reduction settings. The before and after split screen view quickly shows you the effects of the selected setting on the image. For this image, I used the Medium setting at 90.

Back in Aperture, I finalized the image by opening up the shadows and reducing any hot spots (blown out highlights) before adding a final sharpening.

Here is the result.

Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Edited version of Spaceship Earth.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 2800, EV -0.6, 28mm Focal Length

Macphun currently only has applications for Macs and iOS products. They are easy to use, save a lot of time and are not expensive.

June 19, 2015

Get Close with Princess Minnie "Leia" Mouse at Star Wars Weekend

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I often get asked how a person can immediately improve their photography. My answer is always the same, Get Closer and Fill the Frame. Doing so will immediately give your photos more interest and more impact. Case in point, last year during Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios, my wife wanted her picture taken with one of the Disney characters in Star Wars costume.

After waiting an hour on a very hot Orlando day, I did not want to screw it up. Using a zoom lens, I made sure to capture a few photos using different focal lengths starting from wide angle to full zoom.

First photo was the full length portrait look showing the environment around my subjects. In this case, it looks like part of the original Death Star.

Disney fan meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/18, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 56mm Focal Length, Fill Flash

The next photo, I zoomed in closer and you can see both Minnie and my wife better.

Disney fan meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/14, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 82mm Focal Length, Fill Flash

Notice in the first two photos, I turned my camera to photograph them in a portrait orientation. Since people are taller than they are wide, for groups up to three, going with portrait is good. But, if you get in real close, like I did in the next photo, photographing them in Landscape worked really well.

Disney fan meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meeting Princess Leia Minnie Mouse during Star Wars Weekend.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/13, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 250mm Focal Length, Fill Flash

When it comes to showing these photos to friends and family, the last photo is the one that gets the most interest. You can see my wife's expression better and even Minnie holds more interest as you can see the details in her costume.

June 5, 2015

Cheetah on the Kilimanjaro Safari

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you enjoy photographing the animals in Disney's Animal Kingdom, you owe it to yourself to plan on riding Kilimanjaro Safari more than once and at different times of the day during your Walt Disney World visit. One can never predict when the perfect photo opportunity will arise.

It was late morning when I last took a ride through the Harambe Reserve. The driver/photography guide had a hard time finding good subjects for everyone's cameras. This sometimes happens and you might only get one good opportunity. This is what happened as we approached the area where the cheetahs were. One of them was walking up to a rock cropping and into the light. Then it posed for us. The driver stopped so we could all get good photos.

Cheetah photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cheetah photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 120mm (240mm DX Crop) Focal Length.

I have been on safari many times since Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. This was only the third time I have seen the cheetahs in a photograph-able location. The other two times was when I used a Super Zoom Lens and did the Wild Africa Trek. I know other photographers have had better luck than me or visit more often. Still, because of the limited times I have been able to photograph them, the cheetahs remain one of my favorites in Africa.

May 22, 2015

Foreground Objects at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

More on Aperture this week with a pinch of composition.

I am going to guess most of the time the subject you are photographing is in front of something. Have you ever tried putting something in front of the subject?

During last year's Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, a temporary entertainment location was put in next to the Morocco pavilion. When I looked over at Morocco's Katoubia Minaret Prayer Tower from the location, I saw it through the flags which were strung overhead. I liked the composition of a repeating element (the flags) in front of the tower.

Katoubia Minaret prayer tower behind flags in Morocco's World Showcase pavilion in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Katoubia Minaret Prayer Tower behind flags in Morocco.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 250, EV 0, 40mm Focal Length

To keep the close flags and the far away tower in focus, I used a large Aperture number (f/16) to give me a large focus area or depth of field.

I was a little late setting up to photograph Illuminations at Epcot and had to settle for an obstructed view. I decided to take advantage and used a fellow photographer's camera in the foreground.

A photographer's camera sits on a tripod during Illuminations fireworks at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A photographer's camera sits on a tripod during Illuminations fireworks.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 17s, f/9, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

In this case, because I was so close to the foreground object and using a smaller Aperture number (f/9) thus a smaller focus area, the camera on the tripod is not in focus as the subject is the fireworks. I still feel this works because you can tell it is a camera and the fireworks over the long exposure time of 17 seconds gives it interest.

May 15, 2015

What's My Aperture - Solved!

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last week I showed you the two photos below and asked for your educated guesses as to what Aperture was used for each.

All of the responses were very close and along the lines which Steve answered:

First one would be 2.8 (zoom) or 1.8 (nifty fifty) as the depth of field is small leaving only the sign in focus.

The second picture is probably an 11 (zoom) or 22 (nifty fifty) as both the rocks in the foreground and the castle are in focus.

Like Steve, most went to the extreme ends of the Aperture scale. I added the shooting data this week (and approved all the Comments so you may read them by clicking the post link above) so you can see the results.

Nikon Picture Spot near the Sword in the Stone located in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nikon Picture Spot near the Sword in the Stone.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/1600s, f/4.5, ISO 200, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length

As you can see, the lens I was using could only open up to f/4 and still created lots of out of focus background or Bokeh as us photographers refer to it.

Spires of Cinderella Castle behind rock outcroppings in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom., Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spires of Cinderella Castle behind rock outcroppings in Tomorrowland.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 116mm Focal Length

I normally find an aperture of f/16 sufficient for my Hyperfocused landscape photos.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on this little photography tip. You all answered correctly and followed the Aperture Mantra:

Big number, big focus area, little number, little focus area.

May 12, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Wood

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next four weeks, Deb and I will be doing some abstract subjects. I did not go photographing specifically for these subjects but found them in my archives when they were proposed. That is the lesson I taught about adding Captions and Metadata to your photo databases and libraries.

We start off with Wood. Not surprisingly there is a lot of wood to be found at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort at Walt Disney World. The entire lobby from the floor to the ceiling is made of wood (as much as our eyes can see anyway). Here are a couple of Big Horn Sheep located on one of the pillars of the lobby. You will find other wildlife wood carvings on the other pillars.

Hand carved Big Horn Sheep in the lobby of Disney's Wilderness Lodge resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Hand carved wooden Big Horn Sheep in the lobby of Disney's Wilderness Lodge resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/25s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0, 135mm focal length.

Tomorrow, Deb takes you back in time to the Vikings for her wooden post.


May 8, 2015

What's My Aperture

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Going to do something different this week. For those new to the Picture This! blog or to photography, this might be confusing. To those who have been following along, I hope this will be easy for you.

I am going to post two photos and I want you to tell me the aperture used and why. I won't post the comments for a few days.

Nikon Picture Spot near the Sword in the Stone located in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nikon Picture Spot near the Sword in the Stone.

Nikon has taken over sponsorship of the Picture Spots found in all of Walt Disney World. How many of you have tried to pull out the sword?

Spires of Cinderella Castle behind rock outcroppings in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom., Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spires of Cinderella Castle behind rock outcroppings in Tomorrowland.

Rocks are used between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland as transitional landscaping in the Magic Kingdom. I noticed this composition as I was heading back to the Hub.

Leave your educated guesses in a comment using the link below. (Hint: Select the Depth of Field category link)

May 1, 2015

Adjusting White Balance Inside the American Adventure

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of my favorite entertainers is the Voices of Liberty a cappella group at Walt Disney World. They perform shows inside the American Adventure under the rotunda at Epcoot's World Showcase. The area was designed for the acoustics and the talented singers take full advantage of them. But (isn't there always one?), the lighting for ambient light (no flash) photography is very challenging in the rotunda. The color cast is very yellow due to the incandescent lights as seen in the photo below.

Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voices of Liberty BEFORE White Balance Adjustment.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/80s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm focal length.


There are two ways to fix the color cast to bring it back to what our eyes see. You can take a Custom White Balance before photographing or change the white balance in post processing. Most photo editors allow you to change White Balance by either the use of sliders or by selecting a spot on the photo which should be white or gray with a dropper. Once selected by the dropper, the editor will alter the white balance based on the spot. It works very well and if not exactly correct, you can then adjust it via the sliders to your taste. That is what I did below. The spot I choose was one of the pillars behind the singers.

Voices of Liberty performing in the American Adventure at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voices of Liberty AFTER White Balance Adjustment.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/80s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

I use JPEG for my image size and quality so white balance works most of the time. If you use the image size and quality of RAW, adjusting white balance in post processing works even better.

April 24, 2015

Editing a Dinosaur in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

You walk up to the Dinosaur attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom with your camera and carefully compose a photo by getting in close to the statue of Aladar. You move around until Aladar is looking into the frame adding interest. It is a bright, sunny day but your eyes see all the details and colors. You press the shutter to record the image. It looks good on the camera's LCD and you move on to catch up with your party entering the attraction.

Upon opening up the photo on your computer, you are disappointed in how it looks (see below). This is when you put your favorite photo editor to work. Mine is Apple Aperture but most editors can improve on a digital image.

Statue of Aladar outside Dinosaur ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Unedited photo of the statue of Aladar outside Dinosaur ride.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/4.5, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 82mm (123mm DX) Focal Length.

For me, I set about opening up the shadows and pulling in the highlights using the sliders of the same name. I then added general edits over the entire image for Definition (Clarity), Vibrance and a touch of Saturation. This gave me a much better photo but Aladar was still a bit dark and washed out.

If your editor allows the use of Brushes to "brush" in adjustments on selected areas, you should become familiar with how to use them. Here I dodged (lightened) the dark areas under the eye and around the muzzle. After, I brushed in saturation to pull out the colors in Aladar's eye and skin. Lastly, I brushed in a good dose of Definition to pull out the textures of the skin.

The result you can see below.

AStatue of Aladar outside Dinosaur ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Edited photo of the statue of Aladar outside Dinosaur ride.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/4.5, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 82mm (123mm DX) Focal Length.

Quite a deference and a much better image than what I started with. It pays to take the time in learning how to improve your photos using an editor.

April 17, 2015

Cinderella Castle Archway

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

There is always something new to discover at Walt Disney World. While I had seen in the past the beautiful mosaic murals in the Cinderella Castle archway in the Magic Kingdom, I had never taken the time to photograph them. In doing so I was reminded of a series of blog posts I did back in 2013 on how to photograph at a busy and crowded Disney themepark.

I know a lot of Disney photographers who feel people in the photo is not a good thing. I, on the other hand, do not mind including people. They help to tell the story and add scale to whatever surrounds them. Below a family member is pointing out the dramatic scene when Cinderella has to leave the Ball at midnight leaving one of her glass slippers behind.

A family stops to view a mural in Cinderella Castle archway at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A family stops to view a mural in the Cinderella Castle archway.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I do realize it is nice to have a clean view, too. A couple of ways to do that at Walt Disney World is to either wait until late at night around park closing or wait for an opportunity when people vacate the scene as I did below.

A mural in Cinderella Castle archway at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A mural in the Cinderella Castle archway.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 4500, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

You can also look for details and get in close either by foot or using a zoom lens. In the Cinderella Castle archway, there are carvings at the top of the pillars on either side of the murals. The one I chose here shows the birds and mice who helped Cinderella make her dress.

Top of a pillar in Cinderella Castle archway at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mice and birds at the top of a pillar in the Cinderella Castle archway.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 52mm Focal Length.

While it is a challenge photographing at busy Walt Disney World parks, you can still get wonderful photos by being flexible, creative and patient.

April 10, 2015

Disney Food Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Have a question for you...do you photograph the food at Walt Disney World restaurants? You do! Then you are going to like this week's topic. Below is a set of photos from various Disney restaurants and how I took them.

Sometimes you just need spaghetti and meatballs and Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios filled the need perfectly. To add to the sense of place, I used a menu and ambiant light. The very shallow depth of field put the background out of focus but one still can recognize the location as a restaurant.

Spaghetti and meatballs entree at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaghetti and meatballs entree at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/13s, f/35, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I used my elbows to steady the camera and slowly exhaled as I pressed the shutter. I let the image stabilized (vibration reduction in Nikon lingo) lens do its magic. I took several images to get a couple of good ones including the one above.

On the Disney Dream, if your cruise offers a day at sea, you can enjoy the Palo Brunch. Come hungry and eat lightly through each course to save room for the dessert bar. In this case, I did not need a menu to document the location. I did have to take the photo quickly before the location got eaten.

A plate full of desserts at the Palo Brunch on the Disney Dream cruise ship
A plate full of desserts at the Palo Brunch on the Disney Dream.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 31mm Focal Length, bounced flash.

With the bright open Caribbean water as a backdrop, the use of bounced flash balanced the light and brought out the luscious colors of the sweets.

Inside the elegant Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort the lighting is appropriately warm and low. An assistant helped me by holding up the plate above the table which had lots of stuff upon it.

Prime New York Strip Steak entree at the Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Prime New York Strip Steak entree at the Yachtsman Steakhouse.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, bounced flash.

To get the true colors of the food, I used bounced flash to illuminate the plate evenly.

When you have even lighting via a window or by eating outside on a patio like at the Rose & Crown Pub in Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion, I like to use the Nifty-Fifty on my camera and get eye level with the plate the food rests on.

Scotch Egg appetizer from the Rose & Crown Pub in Epcot's United Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Scotch Egg appetizer from the Rose & Crown Pub.
Nikon D7100/50mm, 1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Shooting with a wide aperture of f/2.8, I selectively focused on the Scotch Egg appetizer throwing the background of napkins and table pieces completely out of focus. I did dodge (make lighter) the egg some to pull out its colors.

At the Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom, my party was sat at a table with warm afternoon light coming through a window. The low angle of the light brought out the food's texture.

Chicken Tikka Masala at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chicken Tikka Masala at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
Nikon D7100/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, EV 0, 12mm Focal Length.

Without the use of flash, a wide open aperture had me select a focus point on the bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala which did cause the front of the plate to be soft focused. I find that is not a problem here. Do you?

I realize most people quickly take photos of their food when served. If you take a little extra time, you can create very nice photos to make your friends and family envious and hungry when looking at your food photos.

April 3, 2015

Adding Light to the Stars in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios, I look forward to seeing the Citizens of Hollywood entertaining guests along Hollywood or Sunset Blvd. You can find the times to look for them on the park's daily entertainment schedule. While the Citizen's skits do have some structure, the performers play off the people they meet (that's you!) which leads to a lot of fun and laughter.

I found Officer Percival Peabody "undercover" on Hollywood Blvd. inquiring to those who were curious when he poked his head out if they had seen anything suspicious going on and other questions.

Officer Percival Peabody is undercover at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Officer Percival Peabody is undercover on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 48mm focal length, fill flash.

The divine Dorma Nesmond may be a fading Hollywood starlet but do not tell her that. She loves the attention she gets from people and will tell them about her many Hollywood exploits and films.

Hollywood Star Dorma Nesmond greets a fan at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Hollywood Star Dorma Nesmond greets a fan on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm focal length, fill flash.

Talent Agent Jack Diamond has a questionable occupation as he seems more interested in playing card tricks and running the shell game much to the delight of all who gather around his gaming table.

Talent Agent Jack Diamond performs card tricks at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Talent Agent Jack Diamond performs card tricks on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/10, ISO 100, EV 0, 50mm focal length, fill flash.

I do not know the story of Miss Betty Shambles. She always seems to be looking for a boyfriend or, in the case below, her Valentine.

Miss Betty Shambles looking for her Valentine at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Miss Betty Shambles looking for her Valentine on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/4, ISO 100, EV 0, 66mm focal length, fill flash.

All of the photos were taken using Fill Flash to open up the shadows from the bright Florida sunshine. Not all but most of the Citizens wear hats which further adds shadows on their faces. Fill flash adds some pop to colors and skin tones.

If you have never stopped to watch or interact with the Citizens of Hollywood, you are missing out on what I consider the best in live entertainment at Walt Disney World. The talent and comedic quick thinking is a joy to behold.