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August 22, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot Landscape

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Okay, I cheated this week for Epcot's Landscape Photography photo. Yes, I choose this photo from The Land's Soarin' Around the World presentation using the widest lens I own, a 15mm Fisheye lens.

Soarin' Around the World in The Land pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Soarin' Around the World in The Land pavilion.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

The characteristics of a Fisheye lens is on full display here as it curves everything around it's center focal point. Using the people's feet above and the edge below you get a grand view of Monument Valley. Hope you can forgive my cheating here.

Deb will be here to share her Epcot Landscape photo tomorrow. I bet she does not cheat.





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 15, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Disney's Animal Kingdom Landscape

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Of all the parks, Disney's Animal Kingdom has wonderful landscape photography locations if you know where to look. Below is a photo taken back in 2009 which is why you do not see the recently added seating for the night time Rivers of Light show. I photographed Expedition EVEREST late in the day which is why you see the golden light of the setting Sun and the almost full Moon raising behind it.

Expedition EVEREST and Moon reflected in the water at Disney's Animal Kingdom , Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition EVEREST and Moon reflected in the water at Disney's Animal Kingdom .
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/25s, f/22, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 44mm Focal Length.

In this case, while the lens I used was not very wide, I did use another trait of landscape photography called hyperfocus or hyperfocal distance. A really cool concept to learn.

Deb will be here to share her Disney's Animal Kingdom Landscape photo tomorrow.






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 8, 2017

Disney PIc of the Week: Magic Kingdom Landscape

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next few weeks, Deb and I will be sharing our landscape photography from Walt Disney World. The definition of Landscape Photography is showing spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. That's pretty broad. Must people think of vast expanses showing mountains, deserts, oceans and other such places when it comes to landscape photos.

Given that information, you can see where such photography is a challenge at any Disney themepark. As vast as the Walt Disney Resort is, the places where guests visit are certainly not "vast expanses". Luckily, Disney Imagineers are experts in forced prespective which helps a great deal. You can see forced prespective in action below in the photo of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 1250, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

Landscape photography is also known for the use of wide angle lenses which go from approximately 24mm to as wide as 16mm. Depending on your camera sensor's size it could go as wide as 10mm.

Deb will be here to share her Magic Kingdom Landscape photo tomorrow.





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.





August 1, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 2000s

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Picture This! Photoblogger Scott on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Picture This! Photoblogger Scott on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

I am cheating a bit here as the Wild Africa Trek started in 2010 and I did not do it until early 2011 but...Disney's Animal Kingdom is our 2000s decade park so I am going with it. Back in old 2011, you recieved a CD in the mail from Disney with photos taken from the Trek. I am assuming today you get them posted online.

To read about my adventure, here are the links:

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II


Deb will be here tomorrow with a photo from the 2000's at the Animal Kingdom and I bet she gets the decade right.





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 25, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 1990s

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Lobby of the Tower of Terror in the Disney/MGM Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Black and White photo of the Tower of Terror's lobby in the Disney/MGM Studios.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/15s, f/3.5, ISO 1600, EV -0.6, 18mm Focal Length.

The old Disney/MGM Studios arrived on May 1st, 1989. My favorite attraction/ride in this park did not arrive until 1994. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was an instant hit with me being a fan of the Rod Serling serial television show from the 1950's and 1960's. I often would convert my color photos for the Tower of Terror to Black and White as most of the shows were filmed in.

Deb will be here tomorrow with a photo from the 1990's at the Studios.





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 18, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 1980s

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Mural seen in the queue as guests wait to ride the Maelstrom in Epcot's Norway pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mural seen in the queue as guests wait to ride the Maelstrom in Norway.
Nikon D70/50mm, 1/20s, f/2.5, ISO 1600, EV +1.

While I visited Walt Disney World many time during the 1980's, I did not get a digital SLR camera until 2005. For my 1980's photo, I found something I photographed in 2009 which was there back in the 1980's. The Maelstrom ride in Epcot's Norway pavilion opened in 1988. It was the first dark and thrill type ride in Epcot and was very popular. Only thing that could possibilty replace it would have been a maga-hit like Frozen which it did in 2014.

Deb will be here tomorrow with a real photo from the 1980's and it's huge!





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 11, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 1970s

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Liberty Square dedication plaque in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Liberty Square dedication plaque in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

I did not visit Walt Disney World until 1983. For my 1970's photo, I found something I photographed in 2010 which was there back in the 1970's. The Liberty Square dedication plaque (not sure about dedication but that is what I am calling it.) is found as you enter Liberty Square from the Hub.

Deb will be here tomorrow with a real photo from the 1970's.





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.





July 4, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Patriotic

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have always been very concerned about conservation issues facing my country's natural resources from renewable ones like forests to saving ecological crown jewels in America's National Parks. The scene during the audio-animatronics show called American Adventure in Epcot's World Showcase with President Teddy Roosevelt and Jon Muir is my favorite. It reminds me of how long people have been talking about balancing industrial progress and population growth with conservation of the environment.

The American Adventure show in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The American Adventure show in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D70/50mm, 1/30, f/2.8, ISO 800, EV 0.

It is people like them from America's history we have to thank for the farsightedness of preserving unique wild areas, geological wonders and historical places. I hope Americans never lose that vision as they celebrate the United States of America's 241st Birthday today.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Patriotic photo.





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 27, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Live Performances

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am sticking with Disney's Hollywood Studies for this week's theme of Live Performances. It is my all time animated, now live action Disney movie, Broadway musical and, of course, the live show in the Theater of the Stars: Beauty and the Beast, Live on Stage. The costuming is Disney theme park big but the talent over the years continues to be top notch and the music is, well, timeless.

Beauty and the Beast Stage Show in the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Blvd. at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Beauty and the Beast Stage Show being performed in the Theater of the Stars.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250, f/5.6, ISO 2800, EV +0.6, 300mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Live Performance photo.




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 20, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Studios Yesterland

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On my last trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Streets of America were walled off in preparation to its transition into the new Star Wars and Pixar areas. It did make me a little sad as those streets, comprising the cities of New York and San Francisco, was a favorite place to stroll through. Full of details only Hollywood directors and producers would insist on. Yet, they still found ways to remind you where you actually were.

Venture Travel Service was found on the Streets of America at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Venture Travel Service was found on the Streets of America.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250, f/8, ISO 5000, EV 0, 22mm (35mm DX) Focal Length.

When my wife and I first visited what was then called Disney-MGM Studios, she was a full-time travel agent so stopping by the Venture Travel Service store front was a must on every visit.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Studios Yesterland photo.

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 13, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Studios Characters

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

It will be a sad day for me if Muppet characters disappear from Disney's Hollywood Studios. Even after all these years, I still enjoy Muppet*Vision 3D and all the fun zaniness of the Muppets Courtyard area.

Muppet characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Muppet characters found around Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Deb will be here tomorrow to with her Disney Hollywood Studios' Characters photo.

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 6, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Launch Bay

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The building I talked about last week was re-imagined into the Star Wars Launch Bay to promote the universe of Star Wars for past and future movies, animated series and other tie-ins. Inside you will find Star Wars movie models, wardrobe and props on display as well as video games based on the movies and Meet and Greets with famous Star Wars characters.

Star Wars movie models, wardrobe and props on display inside the Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Star Wars movie models, wardrobe and props on display inside the Launch Bay.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125, f/4, ISO 5000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to with her Star Wars Launch Bay photo.

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 30, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Animation Courtyard

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When Animation Courtyard first opened, it was home to the Art of Animation building which housed a working animation studio. I remember seeing Disney animators working on backgrounds for movies like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. Others animators would be inking cells for sale in Walt Disney World stores. It was a heady time as Disney Animation was coming out with hit after hit through the 1990's.

Over the years, computer animation technology became the norm and the Art of Anmation building lost its studio as Disney consolidated operations in their California studio. The building has recently been re-purposed but that is a story for next week.

Archway into the Animation Courtyard with the Art of Animation entrance in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Archway into the Animation Courtyard with the Art of Animation entrance from 2011.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60, f/16, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 82mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Animation Courtyard photo.

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 23, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Echo Lake

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have been asked so I am sure Disney Hollywood Studio Cast Members get asked all the time why there is a dinosaur along the shore of Echo Lake. Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction stand was part of the park's opening day. The link leads you to a Jim Korkis article about the the history of Gertie and the reason for including it in the park.

Recently, the stand is no longer in operation and may disappear as construction continues for the new Star Wars and Pixar additions.

Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction stand on Echo Lake in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction stand on Echo Lake.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Echo Lake photo.

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 16, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Sunset Blvd.

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After walking down Sunset Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios with all its shops full of Hollywood tie-ins and California styled counter service eateries, everyone is confronted by the tall Hollywood Tower Hotel where screams can be heard which thrills many but scares off a few. I often wish Disney could have somehow figured out a way create this area in Black and White.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Tower at the end of Sunset Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Twilight Zone Tower of Tower at the end of Sunset Blvd.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/320, f/9, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

I converted this photo to Black and White as I always find it fitting to cast the The Twilight Zone Tower of Tower that way as a nod to the old TV show.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Sunset Blvd. photo.

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 9, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Hollywood Blvd.

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Things change at Walt Disney World over time. Right now a lot of things are changing at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A few years ago a big change occurred all over Walt Disney World when Kodak, a long time sponsor, was replaced by Nikon. This changed all the Picture Spots and the photography store on Hollywood Blvd. Of course, in keeping with the art deco architecture of the era.

The Nikon Photography Store on Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Nikon Photography Store on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/400, f/10, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Hollywood Blvd. photo.

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.

May 2, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Train

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The trains at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World give people an enjoyable and relaxing experience. They are also a good way to bypass Main Street USA when the parade is going on. Walking the path between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, people can photograph the trains as they slowly leave Fantasyland station. If the engineer spots anyone, he will put on a show!

The Roy O. Disney Steam Train at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Roy O. Disney Steam Train putting on a show at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 55mm (82mm DX) Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to with her Disney Train pic.

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 25, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Trams

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Most Disney Trams get you from your car in a hot parking lot to one of Disney's great themeparks. Yet, my favorite Disney Tram is found on a remote private island owned by the Disney Cruise Line in the Caribbean called Castaway Cay. There, the trams take you from the ship to family beaches and, in the case below, the adult beach called Serenity Bay.

Castaway Cay Tram about to make a stop at Serenity Bay, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Castaway Cay Tram about to make a stop at Serenity Bay.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250, f/14, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to with her Disney Tram pic.

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 18, 2017

Disney PIc of the Week: Monorails

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After a long and fun day at Epcot, seeing a monorail entering the station for the trip back to the Ticket and Transportation Center before heading to the Magic Kingdom to catch a late fireworks show is a very welcome sight. The seats are comfortable and the ride smooth.

Monorail Green entering the Epcot station, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Green entering Epcot station.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/160, f/6.3, ISO 1600, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Raise your hand if you have ever fallen asleep on the Epcot to TTC track or visa versa. I know I have.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her monorail photo.

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 11, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Bus

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney buses are the most used mode of transportation at Walt Disney World. They meet us at the airport, transport us to all points within the resort and go out of their way to accommodate guests from newborns to the elderly. However, I must admit, the bus pictured below was a very special one for my wife and me as it took us from Disney's Wilderness Lodge to the Christening Cruise of the Disney Dream cruise ship back in January 2011.

Disney Cruise Line bus at Disney's Wilderness Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney Cruise Line bus at Disney's Wilderness Resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/320, f/9, ISO 800, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Disney Bus pic.

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.

April 4, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Watercraft

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of the reasons I enjoy staying at either the Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter Resorts is the ease of getting to Disney Springs using the water ferries on the Sassagoula River. They are a relaxing way to travel to and fro the resorts and the re-imagined shopping and entertainment complex.

Memphis Miss water ferry on the Sassagoula River near the Port Orleans Riverside resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Memphis Miss water ferry on the Sassagoula River near the Port Orleans Riverside resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60, f/11, ISO 200, EV 0, 82mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her watercraft photo.

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 28, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot at Night

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Night time in any Walt Disney World park or resort is magical. Use of lighting and shadows enhances the architecture's colors and shapes. The Morocco pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase is beautiful at night. The patterns found on the fountains and in the buildings is hard to pass up photographing them. The lighting after dark gives the buildings a golden color against the night sky. I tried to show this in the photo featuring the pavilion's water fountain and Koutoubia Minaret (prayer tower) raising high in the background.

Morocco pavilion at night in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Morocco pavilion at night in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/15, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her night time photo from Epcot.

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 21, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot Yesterland

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Remember the hysteria as the year 2000 approached? People were worried computers would stop working and computerized systems from air traffic control towers to thermostats would cause all kinds of problems. I sure do as I was running the computer systems for a manufacturing company. Meanwhile, Disney proudly waved a Mickey-handed wand over Spaceship Earth proclaiming the coming of the 21st Century (even though technically it didn't start until 2001), I was holed up in my company's computer room just in case something happened. Luckily, nothing did and we all went on with our lives.

Not at Epcot, however, as I took this photo in October 2001, way after 2000 had come and gone. Do you remember what came after this?

Spaceship Earth with the Mickey wand from 2001 in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth with the Mickey wand of 2000.

Since digital, for me, was still a few years down the road, this was taken with a Nikon 8008s SLR camera and a Sigma 24-70mm lens as I used it until the lens literally fell apart.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Epcot Yesteryear photo.

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 14, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Test Track

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The "crash test" in Test Track is a cool way to exit out onto the high banks especially after it got the Tron Effect-like updates back in 2012.

Test Track pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Test Track pavilion in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 10000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Test Track photo on our tour of Epcot's Future World.

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 7, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Imagination

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I was pleased when Disney decided to bring back my pal, Figment, to the Imagination pavilion. You can see him again inside the pavilion and outside, too.

Imagination pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Imagination pavilion in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 560, EV 0, 26mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Imagination photo on our tour of Epcot's Future World.

February 28, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Universe of Energy

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back when Epcot first opened in 1982, the concept of using solar panels to produce electricity was still a new and expensive proposition. The Universe of Energy's roof is filled with such panels which partially power the huge vehicles filled with guests through the attraction teaching when, where, how and what energy is.

Universe of Energy pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Universe of Energy pavilion in Epcot's Future World in HDR.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/320, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, Cropped.

Today, Tesla will soon be selling solar roofs which look no different then non-solar ones. "Now, that's progress!", to quote another famous Walt Disney created attraction.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Universe of Energy photo on our tour of Epcot's Future 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 21, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Mission: SPACE

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

With clouds above, I used a set of 5 photographs from -2EV to +2EV to create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of Mission: SPACE in Epcot's Future World.

Mission: SPACE pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mission: SPACE pavilion in Epcot's Future World in HDR.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/16, ISO 220, EV 0, 19mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Mission: SPACE photo on our tour of Epcot's Future World.

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 14, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Seas of the world are ever moving, always in motion. I really liked how Disney captured that trait of the sea at The Living Seas when it first opened and kept it with the re-imagined The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot's Future World. The sign to the attraction sits in the middle of a rugged sea shore reminisent of the western United States. "Waves" randomly splash up onto the rocks around the sign. Sea Gulls from the movie, "Finding Nemo", declare nearby, "Mine, mine, mine" ad nauseam.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Polarizer Filter .

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her The Seas with Nemo & Friends photo on our tour of Epcot's Future World.

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 7, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: The Land

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The old adage when visiting Walt Disney World is to always look up when inside a pavilion, attraction and even shops. In The Land pavilion at Epcot's Future World, the huge atrium has balloons "floating" high above the seating area for the Sunshine Seasons food court. I have taken many photos of them from the walkways but never from directly below them until now.

Season Balloons in The Land pavilion in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Season Balloons in The Land pavilion.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Each of the balloons circling the Earth balloon depicts a season.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her The Land photo as we continue our tour of Epcot's Future World.

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 24, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Disney Springs Aerial

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I visited Disney Springs twice last year and both times the weather grounded the Characters in Flight balloon ride. I wanted to get an updated aerial view since the transformation from Downtown Disney for this week's aerial topic. Unable to do so I went back and found this aerial taken back in 2011 when it was still called Downtown Disney.

Aerial view of Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
erial view of Downtown Disney now known as Disney Springs.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

I still hope to get Disney Spring aerials sometime this year. Stay tuned!

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Disney Springs aerial photo.

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 17, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot Aerial

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The aerial subject this week is Epcot. I am recycling an image I took during Epcot's 30th Anniversary celebration which still represented much of what I remember seeing when I first visited 29 years prior.

Future World from the monorail over Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Future World from the monorail over Epcot.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/125, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.6, 16mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Epcot aerial photo.

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 10, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Magic Kingdom Aerial

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Deb Wills asked Deb Koma, AllEars.Net Newsletter Editor, for ideas for the Disney Pic of the Week segment on the Picture This! blog. She gave us a bunch we have used over the last two months. Then, I came upon a series called Aerial Photos. Now, considering I was not going to rent a helicopter and Disney does not allow drones except for their use, I had to dig around my photo library. There, I discovered some "aerial" photos to share.

First up is the Magic Kingdom. Six years ago, a friend of mine invited me to his Magic Kingdom view room in Disney's Contemporary Resort. He did not get a chance to finish his sentence when I agreed. It was December and not the greatest of days either. Still, this photo of Cinderella Castle came out very good from an angle only seen from the resort.



Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom photographed from Disney's Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Cinderella Castle photographed from Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/10, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 170mm (255mm DX) Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Aerial Photo of the Magic Kingdom.

January 3, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Best of 2016

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As we begin 2017, Deb and I looked back and picked each other's favorite Disney Pic of the Week photo from 2016. I really liked a lot of them but after a few years of not being at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, this photo of a monorail cruisng over the colorful flower beds in Epcot kept catching my fancy. For me, it brings the two things I love most about being at Epcot: color and the promise of a bright future for all of us.

Monorail Yellow moves over the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Yellow moves over the 2016 Flower and Garden Festival.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 180, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Favorite Disney Pic of the Week photo from 2016.

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 27, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Christmas at Disney

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I strongly recommend those coming to Walt Disney World for the first time during the holiday season to see a performance of the Candlelight Processional in Epcot. The Candlelight Processional is the telling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator with music sung by a mass choir and performed by a 50-piece live orchestra. The choir is made up of the Voices of Liberty, volunteer Disney Cast Members, who make up the "tree", and high school chorus' from all over the United States.

Candlelight Processional takes place in the America Gardens Theatre across from the American Adventure in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Candlelight Processional being performed at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/3.5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Christmas at Disney photo.

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 20, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Favorite Holiday Entertainment

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I was at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party earlier this month, I enjoyed a new a cappella group for the first time. Voiceplay performed on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland and sang traditional and non-tradtional Christmas songs. To hear them perform a mashup of several Christmas favorites was both funny and totally awesome.

Voiceplay performing on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Voiceplay performing on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland during a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 2500, EV -1.0, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Favorite Holiday Entertainment.

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 13, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Favorite Holiday Resort Decoration

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have admired it from buses, ferries and monorails on previous trips. This year, I finally got off the monorail at Disney's Contemporary Resort and walked out to photograph the large Christmas tree outside the resort. The timing was perfect as the Sun had set and blue hour was coming on. I did not have a tripod with me so I used a Disney Quadpod (aka garbage can) to help steady my camera using a slow shutter speed.

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

Tomorrow, Deb will share her Favorite Holiday Resort Decoration.

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 15, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Face Painting

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

While I did not get a photo of someone getting their face painted, I did get the next best thing. A portrait of a Face Painter stationed just outside the entrance to Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari. As you can see she is also advertising her Face Painting skills.

Cast Member Face Painter in the African village of Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cast Member Face Painter in the African village of Harambe.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 250, EV 0, 56mm Focal Length.

She makes the perfect person for the Disney Pic of the Week about Face Painting.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her face painting photo.

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 8, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Artisans at Work

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in 2011, I had the pleasure of photographing the famed Disney character artist, Don "Ducky" Williams, during the "Everything's Just Ducky!" 15th Annversary AllEars.net Event in Epcot's Odyssey restaurant. He talked for nearly an hour all the while producing sketch portraits of Disney characters. It was a joy to watch a person who clearly loved his job. So much so that he keeps showing up years after his "retirement".

Don 'Ducky' Williams, famed Disney character artist, with a finished a portrait of Ariel during an event in Epcot's Odyssey restaurant, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Don "Ducky" Williams, famed Disney character artist, with a finished a portrait of Ariel during an event in Epcot's Odyssey restaurant.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 2500, EV 0, 200mm Focal Length, Bounced Flash.

Ducky makes the perfect person for the Disney Pic of the Week about Artisans at Work.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Artisan photo which will really blow you away.

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.

November 1, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Gardeners

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week's theme was to focus attention to all those wonderful Gardeners who keep Walt Disney World looking colorful and lush from the resorts to the themeparks and the roadways in between. I did not find any photos of them in my archives nor did I locate any on my last trip. Instead, I will show you the results of one of my favorite locations in Epcot.

Behind Spaceship Earth, there is a garden which changes throughout the year. During the annual Flower and Garden Festival, it gets particularly colorful as it was last March.

Flower garden behind Spaceship Earth in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flower garden behind Spaceship Earth in Epcot.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/50s, f/16, ISO 6400, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

I shall keep my eye out for WDW gardeners on future trips as I do enjoy the results of their fabulous work.

Tomorrow, Deb will share the quintessential gardener.

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 25, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Signature Restaurant

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Signature restaurants at Walt Disney World stand for fine dining and feature unique experiences, menu choices and are the most expensive places to eat on property. For those on the Dining Plan, meals at a signature restaurant take two dining credits per meal. It has been my experience the extra cost at a signature is more than made up in the quality of the restaurant, service and food and drink served.

I recently dined at the newest signature restaurant at Walt Disney World called Tiffins in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Tiffins is found on the path which will eventually lead you to the future Pandora attraction. Here is a collage of photos from the experience.

Collage of photos from Tiffins restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Collage of photos from Tiffins restaurant.

From top left, Tiffins napkin on the Travel Log (aka menu), Berkshire Pork Tenderloin entrée, wall art created from photos and items brought back from Africa by Imagineers when doing research for the Animal Kingdom and Berbere-Spiced Lamb Chop entrée.

The food and ambiance was excellent. Check out the Nomad Lounge for a before or after dinner cocktail which is right next door.

Tomorrow, Deb will share one of her favorite Signature Restaurants.

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 11, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Food Preparation

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

There a few show kitchens at restaurants in Walt Disney World. None more unique than that in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion. There, you can see pizzas made from start to finish.

Chef making a pizza in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chef making a pizza in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 1800, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I have featured this photo before in a post called: Making Pizzas at Via Napoli.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Disney restaurant food preparation photograph.

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.

October 4, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Cocktails

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am not a big drinker but, when I visit Castaway Cay during a Disney Cruise, I make a stop at Serenity Bay's Castaway Air bar for the island's signature cocktail, Konk Kooler. I have it on good authority, you get more to enjoy with the sipper cup, too.

Bartender fills up a Konk Kooler Sipper Cup at the Castaway Air Bar on Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Bartender fills up a Konk Kooler Sipper Cup at the Castaway Air Bar on Castaway Cay.
Nikon D750/Nikon 16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 180, EV +0.3, 22mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share one of her favorite Disney cocktails.

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 27, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: People Watching

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week's topic is a tricky one. We all love to people watch at Walt Disney World. From the very young to the very old, people are just entertaining as they move about the parks and resorts. As a photographer, one has to take into account a person or persons privacy. Disney property is private and not subject to the laws of public domain and access. If I do see an interesting subject, I will politely ask if I may take their photo. If they agree, I take the photo(s) and then hand them a contact card. Most people will email me and I will send them a digital copy with a permission note so they can get it printed if they wish.

The only time I do not do that is when someone has been brought "on stage" with cast members. This happens a lot and I have had the pleasure of being volunteered for a few shows as have members of my family. It is quite fun. When participating on stage, I feel fine in photographing the event as the person or persons has agreed to be on stage. Such was the case on Main Street USA when the Philharmonic was putting on a concert and asked this young lady to join them.

Main Street Philharmonic playing in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Main Street Philharmonic having fun with a guest at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 100, EV 0, 145mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her people watching moment with you.

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 20, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Ice Cream

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On a typical warm weather day at Walt Disney World, what is the one dessert or snack everyone loves to get? Ice cream you say? I think most of us would agree.

At Tutto Italia restaurant in Epcot's Italy pavilion, if you do not want one of their Italian desserts, you may order an ice cream one with a crunchie, candied stick like my daughter did here.

Ice cream dessert at Tutto Italia restaurant in Epcot's Italy pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A guest with her Ice cream dessert at Tutto Italia restaurant.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 1100, EV +0.3, 72mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her ice cream delight.

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 13, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Bikes

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When you walk around either Africa or Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom, you will see pedal bikes all over the place. Some are very ornate and colorful while others are plain and utilitarian like the one I found leaning against a building in the African village of Harambe.

A bike leaning against a building in Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A bike leaning against a building in Harambe.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 98mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share another bike photo at Walt Disney World.

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 6, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Rocking Chairs

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After a few hours of walking around any Walt Disney World park, a rocking chair to sit down and relax in is a very welcome sight. I found a member of my party really relaxing over on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom back in 2009.

A guest takes a nap in a rocking chair on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A guest takes a nap in a rocking chair on Tom Sawyer Island.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/20, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 44mm Focal Length.

I am not sure the rocking chairs are still there. Can someone confirm this for me?

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her favorite rocking chair location.

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 30, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Favorite Animal

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) photographed during a Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom. It is not often you see a Cheetah standing. This one even stood out in the bright sunlight.

Cheetah on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cheetah on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 560, EV +0.3, 400mm Focal Length.

Predators have always been my favorite type of wildlife and Cheetahs are my favorite ones.

Deb will here tomorrow to share her favorite animal in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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 23, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Rhinoceros

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) kicks up mud ahead of him as he leaves a wallowing pit photographed during a Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Rhinoceroses like to wallow in mud to keep bugs off of them and get protection from the Sun. May not look great but it gets the job done.

White Rhino in a wallowing pit on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
White Rhino in a wallowing pit on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

Deb will here tomorrow with her photo of a rhinoceros.

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 16, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Elephant

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, the one animal everyone riding with me which seems to bring out the most excitement, are the African Elephants. Especially, if they see the smaller ones as these two are.

Two young African elephants photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari through the Harambe Reserve of Africa in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Two young African elephants photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 120mm (180mm DX) Focal Length

Tomorrow, Deb will share a little history of the African Elephant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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 9, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Giraffe

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

My daughter's friend came with us to Walt Disney World about fifteen years ago. She brought with her a disposal camera with thirty-six film exposures. I was told she loved giraffes and I made sure we did an early excursion on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom the first day of our visit. Well, we came around the corner where the giraffes like to forage in the tall trees and came upon six of the tall herbivores. Before I could stop her, she fired off all thirty-six exposures in the camera. She had on a smile as wide as could be she was so happy seeing them up close and roaming freely.

That is what beautiful animals can do for us, humans. Bring pleasure and excitment. Just like the two young ones I photographed a few years later. Both of these reticulated giraffes had been born at the Animal Kingdom.

Two young reticulated giraffes seen on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Two young Reticulated Giraffes seen on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/3.5, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 28mm Focal Length, Intensify CK.

Deb will here tomorrow to tell you the differences between the two giraffe species found at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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 12, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Castaway Cay

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Every Disney Cruise Line Caribbean itinerary has a stop at Castaway Cay. Some even have more than one day there. It is my personal favorite of all the Disney Cruise Line Ports of Call. You don't have to worry about anything. Just be happy!

Mickey Mouse making friends on Castaway Cay during a Disney Dream cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Mickey Mouse making friends on Castaway Cay.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 250, EV +0.6, 40mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her photo from the Disney Cruise Line's private island.

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 5, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: The Disney Magic

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I started vacationing on the Disney Cruise Line, it was on the Disney Dream which is much larger than the Disney Magic. When I first walked onto the Magic, the size of the lobby looked small. I will say after a few hours, I didn't notice and enjoyed the Magic for the unique cruise ship that it is.

Lobby of the Disney Magic cruise ship, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Lobby of the Disney Magic .
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 2500, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Macphun Intensify CK.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her photo of the Disney Magic.

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 28, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: The Disney Dream

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Each ship of the Disney Cruise Line can be identified by the character or characters on their bows sterns. For the Disney Dream, the scene is one taken from the animated classic, Fantasia, with Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice "cleaning" the ship.

Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse cleans the bow of the Disney Dream cruise ship, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse cleans the bow of the Disney Dream.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 450, EV 0, 105mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with the media event which launched the Disney Dream.

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 21, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Full Service Restaurant

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As Downtown Disney transitioned to Disney Springs, The Landing area was born with new restaurants and lounges. The Boathouse restaurant is an upscale, waterfront dining experience. Yes, it is expensive but I highly recommend it if you can afford it.

The Boathouse restaurant in The Landing area of Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Boathouse restaurant in The Landing area of Disney Springs.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length

Tomorrow, Deb will share another sit down restaurant.

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 14, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Quick Service

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Have I ever mentioned the Columbia Harbour House is my favorite quick service restaurant at Walt Disney World? No? Well, it is. Below is one of the signs outside the restaurant which is very ornate like many signs back in the late 1700's.

Columbia Harbour House counter service restaurant in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
One of the signs outside the Columbia Harbour House counter service restaurant.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length

Tomorrow, Deb will share another quick service restaurant.

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 7, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Snack

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Snacks and Walt Disney World go hand in hand. Walk anywhere in the resort and you will find all kinds of sweet concoctions. I found these Maleficent candied apples in the Confectionery on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. They look absolutely evil-ly good.

Maleficent candied apples in the Confectionery on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Maleficent candied apples in the Confectionery on Main Street USA.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV 0, 250mm Focal Length

Tomorrow, Deb will share a another snack.

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 31, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Memorial Day

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am re-sharing this photo from the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony I photographed one October a few years ago. To me, it embodies the spirit of Memorial Day as a World War II veteran is honored and the fallen remembered.

Veteran of the Day and Disney Security pay homage as the flag is lowered during the Flag Retreat ceremony in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Veteran of the Day and Disney Security pay homage as the flag is lowered during the Flag Retreat ceremony in the Magic Kingdom.

Tomorrow, Deb will share some interesting facts about Memorial Day.

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 24, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Wilderness Lodge Lobby

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Disney never plans anything without a backstory. Disney's Wilderness Lodge is full of stories about the American West. Each of the two large totem poles in the lobby tell a tale from Native American lore. The one pictured below is the Raven totem.

The Raven totem pole in the lobby of Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Raven totem pole in Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/25s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 15mm Focal Length.

For more information, search for "Jim Korkis Wilderness Lodge totem pole". You will find details to the totem's stories.

Deb will here tomorrow with her view of the Wilderness Lodge Resort lobby.

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 17, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Contemporary Lobby

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in 1971 when Walt Disney World opened, Disney's Contemporary Resort was the signature place to stay. It was ultra-modern and futuristic. The lobby reflected its theme with the use of clean lines and a minimalist style. During the first decade of the 21st century, the resort went through some renovations including the addition of The Wave restaurant. The entrance, in which, added color and flare to the Contemporary's lobby.

Entrance to The Wave restaurant in Disney's Contemporary Resort lobby, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Wave restaurant in Disney's Contemporary Resort lobby.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/100s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will here tomorrow with her view of the Contemporary Resort lobby.

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 10, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Grand Floridian Lobby

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When you step into Disney's Grand Floridian Resort lobby, it is like taking a step back in time to the elegance of Victorian era Florida resorts from the late 19th century. You may hear the sounds of an orchestra playing from a balcony overlooking the lobby adding to the timelessness of the resort. Details abound and the staff always has fresh flowers throughout the lobby.

Flowers in the lobby of Disney's Grand Dloridian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flowers in the lobby of Disney's Grand Dloridian Resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/5s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0, 32mm Focal Length.

Deb will here tomorrow with her view of the Grand Floridian Resort lobby.

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.


May 3, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Polynesian Lobby

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When the new Polynesian Village Resort lobby was revealed it sported a more open one from the last one which was dominated by a large tropical landscape including a waterfall cascading down through beautiful flowers. A few months later, a Tiki god was added to the center of the new lobby. The Tiki god is the mascot of the resort.

Tiki god statue in the lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tiki god statue in the lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 5000, EV -0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will show you some of the old Polynesian Resort lobby tomorrow.

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 26, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Trees

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

What is not to like about Castaway Cay? Disney Cruise Line's private island in the Bahamas is the prefect place to enjoy this week's theme: Trees.

Below is a simple click of palm trees with the tops of colorful umbrellas found near the beach on Castaway Cay. Enjoy!

Palm trees and beach umbrellas on Castaway Cay during a cruise on the Disney Magic ship, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
alm trees and beach umbrellas on Castaway Cay.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Intensify CK.

Deb will show you a different kind of orange tree tomorrow.

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 19, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Flower and Garden Festival

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Each year's Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot features a different display in front of Spaceship Earth. in 2016, Daisy Duck was part of the display with her own vegetable stand.

Daisy Duck's vegetable stand in front of Spaceship Earth at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Daisy Duck's vegetable stand in front of Spaceship Earth.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 280, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Intensify CK.

Deb will show you patriotic Flower and Garden pics tomorrow.

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 12, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Topiaries

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Each year during the annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, Disney brings out many topiaries to decorate both Future World and World Showcase.

The topiaries come in many sizes from very small to extremely large like the Dragon I photographed in Epcot's China pavilion in front of the scaled replica of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

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.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 25mm Focal Length, Intensify CK.

Last week's theme was Spring and I missed posting it so I have added it for this week. So you get a Two-fer from me today.

When I think of Spring at Walt Disney World, the first thing that comes to mind are the floating flowers in the ponds between Epcot's Future World and World Showcase. Thought I would throw in a monorail in Spring yellow, too.

Monorail Yellow moves over floating flowers in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Yellow moves over floating flowers in Epcot.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

Deb will travel back in time for her topiary photo tomorrow.

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 29, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Yesterland Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When it comes to Disney's Animal Kingdom, there is only one Yesterland photo that comes to mind. While Finding Nemo - The Musical is an excellent and colorful stage show. I still miss Tarzan Rocks!. Its mix of part rock and part stunt show was high energy and very entertaining. Below is a photo taken back in 2000 when Tarzan swung over the audience at the end of the show.

Tarzan and Jane swing on stage at Tarzan Rocks in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tarzan and Jane swing on stage at Tarzan Rocks!

Hope you have enjoyed this look back at all the parks the past four weeks.

March 22, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Yesterland Disney Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When Disney-MGM Studios (now called Disney's Hollywood Studios) opened in 1989, it was full of references from the 1988 mega hit Walt Disney movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There is very little left of Roger Rabbit today at Disney's Hollywood Studios including an area where guests would pose with various character cut-outs from the film as seen below.

Guest posing with Jessica Rabbit at Disney/MGM Studios in 1989, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guest posing with Jessica Rabbit at Disney-MGM Studios in 1989.

Can anyone identify this area? It is still there and does have one "heavy prop" from the film hanging around. Put your answer in the Comments, please.

Tomorrow, Deb will share her Yesterland post for Disney's Hollywood Studios and/or Disney-MGM Studios tomorrow.

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 15, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Yesterland Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Of all the changes that has occurred at Walt Disney World since I started visiting back in 1983, Future World in EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) as it was known then has changed the most. In my opinion, not for the better. I remember it as a place of hope and openess. The plazas around the lands were open just like I envisioned future cities to be. The monorails moving quietly overhead and around the futuristic buildings. Walking through the gates and up to Spaceship Earth's geodesic sphere was humbling and exciting. Today, the plazas have been closed in with paths and the Leave a Legacy stones. I hear guests thought the openess made the park feel to large and intimdating.

I really miss the EPCOT symbol water sculpture in front of Spaceship Earth. Today, there is nothing but a rock water fountain. While it is nice, I feel there should be something more there...like it was in 1989.

Epcot symbol water sculpture in front of Spaceship Earth in 1989, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Epcot symbol water sculpture in front of Spaceship Earth in 1989.

Tomorrow, Deb is combining her Yesterland's posts for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Some really cool stuff!

March 8, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Yesterland Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

First, let me define what "yesterland" photos are to me. It is any Disney photo I took before I purchased my first digital SLR camera in 2005. In other words, I fired up my scanner and went through a bunch of prints I have in photo albums and boxes for this series. Deb and I will be sharing yesterland photos from each of Walt Disney World's parks over the next four weeks.

My first photo is from the 1992 Magic Kingdom parade called the Surprise Celebration Parade which has part of Walt Disney World's 20th anniversary.

King Mickey float in the 1992 Surprise Celebration Parade in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
King Mickey float in the 1992 Surprise Celebration Parade in the Magic Kingdom.

My thanks go to Jim Korkis' article Walt Disney World Chronicles: The 20th Anniversary for the following information:

Towering 35 to 40 feet, a series of larger-than-life inflated Disney characters would be the centerpiece of a new parade called the "Surprise Celebration Parade". These balloons were cold-air filled, meaning there was no helium used. These huge figures were "borrowed" and refitted from Disneyland's "Party Gras" parade the previous year, which had celebrated Disneyland's 35th birthday.

Actually, once they were placed on the floats, the entire float unit was 55 to 65 feet high and towered above the Magic Kingdom's Main Street USA.

For Walt Disney World, there would be a surprise Grand Marshal each day, selected from the park visitors, leading the procession. The Grand Marshal group rode on the Roger Rabbit float that began the parade. To tie in with the festivities' theme, Roger wore a jester's cap, something he did not wear at Disneyland.

He was followed by Minnie Mouse's float, which was unchanged from its Disneyland appearance. Goofy's was unchanged as well. However, Disneyland's Sorcerer Mickey Mouse was transformed into King Mickey and Donald Duck no longer wore a party hat, but played the drum.

There were floats without balloons, like one featuring a pineapple and King Louie and Baloo the bear from the film "Jungle Book". Chip 'n' Dale rode on palm tree carts.

Deb will be here tomorrow as she visits her Magic Kingdom yesterland.

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.

March 1, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Macro

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I do not own a Macro (or Micro in Nikon speak) lens and have never brought one to Walt Disney World. It would be interesting to explore Disney through such a lens. Imagine the detail you could find with one.

Like last week, you can get a Macro like image by cropping which is what I did below with the butterfly I found one day in Epcot's World Showcase. With insects, you have to be patient and wait for them to stop moving long enough to get a good, sharp image.

Butterfly on a flower bush in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Butterfly on a flower bush in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length, cropped.

In the past on my personal photography blog, I have explored a few ways to create Macro images: Close Up Photography 101

I rented a true Macro (Micro) lens once, too: Weekend with Macro

Here are more Macro tips: Quick Overview of How to do Macro Photography

Many smartphones and cameras today have Macro capabilities and settings. Check to see if your's does.

Deb will share her peek at a small world tomorrow.

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 23, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Panorama

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have written about how to create a proper panorama photo in the past and how NOT to create them. I did fail to mention the easiest way to create what I call pseudo-panoramics.

A pseudo-panoramic is done by cropping an image taken with a wide angle lens in a panoramic aspect ratio like 16x9 or 18x6. While you could use any lens to do this, a wide angle image works out better. The photo below of Epcot's Spaceship Earth at night was done in the 16x9 ratio or sometimes referred to as the HD (High Definition) ratio as that is the ratio used for High Definition televisions.

Spaceship Earth at night in Ecpot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaceship Earth at night in Ecpot's Future World.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 10s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -1.0, 16mm focal length, cropped.

Many smartphones and cameras today have panoramic modes. Look to see if your's does.

Deb will share her panorama tomorrow.

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 16, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Portraits

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The definition of a portrait is a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders. In our case, photography is our medium of choice. While the dictionary uses "person", I would substitute "subject" as portraits do not necessarily have to be human.

Take for instance my portrait of an Asian Tiger (Panthera tigris) on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. The tiger was posing perfectly for me in between short cat naps.

Asian Tiger (Panthera tigris) on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Portrait of an Asian Tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 160mm (240mm DX) focal length.

For more on taking portraits at Walt Disney World, visit these links: Animal Portraits and More on Portraits (of the human kind)

Deb will share her portraiture skills tomorrow.

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 9, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Action

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Action photography is something I do all the time in my role as team photographer for an American Hockey League team. You can either capture action with a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. This lets people see and study the action in ways they can not do by watching the action. Or, you can use a slow shutter speed which blurs the action giving the photo a sense of motion and speed.

I went the slow shutter speed method when I photographed Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I wanted to give the sense of speed and thrill this ride gives riders.

Guests fly down the side of Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests fly down the side of Expedition EVEREST.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

I processed this photo with Macphun's Intensify Pro CK using the Soft HDR filter.

Deb will be here tomorrow with some action of her own.

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!

February 2, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Close Up

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next few weeks, Deb and I will be sharing general photography themes. I am going to add past tips I have written about for each one. Starting with "Close Up".

The best tip I can give a new photographer is to get close and fill the frame. People will see an immediate improvement in their photographs using this advice.

Here are few ways to get close up:

1. Move closer by walking up to your subject.
2. Use a longer focal length.
3. Crop in post-production.

In my Close Up photo below, I used a long lens of 300mm to photograh the dancer in front of The Little Mermaid float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom to get in close and fill the frame. Don't you just love the colorful costumes in this parade?

Dancer in front of The Little Mermaid float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up of dancer in front of The Little Mermaid float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy parade.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 160, EV 0, 300mm focal length, fill flash.

Note the use of fill flash to add a little sparkle to her eyes.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Close Up.

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 19, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: POP Century

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Every Value Resort at Walt Disney World has huge letters spelling out the resort's name in the bus transportation area. The Pop Century Resort has fun giant POP signs which are impossible to miss as you get off your bus after a day in the parks. As I waited for a bus to get to a park one morning, there was very good light and some clouds to set off a mighty POP.

Huge Pop Century Resort logo sign, Orlando, Florida
Huge Pop Century Resort logo sign in the Bus Transportation area.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/9, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 28mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with a POP quiz.

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 12, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Art of Animation

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Value resorts at Walt Disney World have many things in common including larger than life icons based on the themes found at each resort section. At the Art of Animation Resort, the Lion King section is overlooked by the King himself, Simba.

Statue of Simba overlooks The Lion King section of the Art of Animation Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Simba overlooks The Lion King section of the Art of Animation Resort.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her photo from the Art of Animation.

January 5, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Favorite Photo from 2015

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I went through all my Disney Pic of the Week entries for 2015 and found my favorite one. It also happens to be my wife's favorite character, too.

It was so nice of Donald Duck to acknowledge me between greeting guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I had been patiently waiting for an opportunity for about ten minutes when he got a break between guests. That's when he gave me the thumbs up and I returned the gesture to let him know I got the cherished memory.

Donald Duck greeting guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Donald Duck giving Scott a "thumbs up" at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 135mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Favorite Picture of 2015.

December 29, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Goodbye to 2015

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As the Norway pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase prepares for Frozen Ever After, we bid goodbye to the Maelstrom boat ride through Norway's lore, wildlife and off shore oil platforms. Before boarding the longboats, the queue was overlooked by huge murals giving a preview of the ride's scenes.

Mural in the queue to ride the Maelstrom in Epcot's Norway pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mural in the queue to ride the Maelstrom.
Nikon D70/50mm, 1/20s, f/2.2, ISO 1600, EV +1.0.

Deb will be here tomorrow to give her Goodbye to 2015.


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 22, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Christmas

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Main Street Trolley Show in the Magic Kingdom takes on holiday theme around Christmas time (which for Disney starts after Halloween and goes through December). The show features Christmas songs and dance routines. The performers have on holiday colors and festive smiles. They still go Clang-Clang down Main Street USA but not until the very end.

Holiday version of the Main Street Trolley Show in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Holiday version of the Main Street Trolley Show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/10, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow for her Disney Christmas photo.

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 15, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Holiday Lights

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Frozen Holiday Wish returned to the Magic Kingdom for the 2015 holiday season. During the show, Queen Elsa uses her power and two hundred thousand LED lights to transform Cinderella Castle into a frozen palace. In my mind, this is the greatest Disney holiday light display.

Cinderella Castle as an ice palace in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle transformed into an ice palace in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/20s, f/8, ISO 800, EV -0.67, 28mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to show us a holiday light display from the past.


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 8, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: All Ears 20th Anniversary

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Attended the All Ears Net/Mouse Fan Travel Anniversary Adventure inside the rotunda of the American Adventure at Epcot's World Showcase. Surrounded by lovely holiday garland and wreaths, me and a couple hundred guests enjoyed a buffet and special holiday performance of the Voices of Liberty, an a cappella group, singing Christmas Carols from around the World.

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
All Ears fans and guests enjoy a performance of the Voices of Liberty during the All Ears 20th Anniversary event in the American Adventure.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length bounce flash.

As always, Deb and her crew put on a wonderful event.


November 24, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Holiday Shopping

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week starts the official beginning of the holiday shopping season with Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States). Though it seems each year, it is more like as soon as Halloween is finished, Christmas shopping commences. Well, no sense complaining as we jump into Holiday Shopping at Walt Disney World.

The Celebrity 5 & 10 shop on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios has a place where you can get several kinds of gifts personalized by Cast Members.

Disney's Hollywood Studios cast member personalizes a Christmas tree ornament for a guest, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney's Hollywood Studios cast member personalizes a Christmas tree ornament for a guest.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV +1.0, 38mm Focal Length.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping this week!


November 17, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Cinderella Castle

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When it comes to icons, Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is hard to beat. I know photographers all over the Internet who try and capture Cinderella Castle in unique and new ways. Not sure it can be done. I am not immune to the quest. I even think this photo might be unique. Though I doubt it.

Spires and towers of Cinderella Castle poke above trees in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spires and towers of Cinderella Castle poke above trees in the Magic Kindom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 210mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share another Cinderella Castle photo I am very proud of for the good it did for her.

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 10, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: The Great Movie Ride

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in February of this year (2015), the Sorcerer's Hat was about 80 percent removed from Disney's Hollywood Studies. I knew the next time I would visit, the view down Hollywood Blvd. would be very different. Or would it? For Star Wars Weekends and Frozen Summer Fun, Disney placed a large stage in front of the Chinese Theatre.

My next visit was just after Labor Day and the conclusion of the Frozen special events. The stage was only partially removed. By the time I returned later in the week, it had been fully removed. This allowed me to finally get a clean view down Hollywood Blvd. for the first time since 2001 of The Great Movie Ride now sponsored by Turner Classic Movies.

It is nice to see the return of Disney's Hollywood Studios "castle" to it's rightful place.

The Great Movie Ride at the end of Hollywood Blvd. in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Great Movie Ride at the end of Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 30s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 25mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Deb will be here tomorrow to show us something interesting about the Great Movie Ride.

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.

November 3, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Tree of Life

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Tree of Life continues to dominate people's attention as they emerge from the Oasis and travel over Discovery River bridge into Disney's Animal Kingdom park. Imagineers over time have added new viewing locations, waterfalls and animal carvings. While I like the new ones, my favorite view of the Tree of Life is this waterfall you pass after leaving the It's Tough To Be a Bug show. Look for it on your next visit.

Waterfall at the base of the Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Waterfall at the base of the Tree of Life.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/8, ISO 1600, EV 0, 25mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her view on the Tree of Life icon.


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 27, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Spaceship Earth

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Though we continue with Epcot, Deb and I are now going to be sharing photos of each Walt Disney World park "castle" or icon for the next four weeks. Starting with Spaceship Earth.

Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time; and for a brief moment we have been among it's passengers.

So begins the narrative as people travel through time and space inside Spaceship Earth. Riding in time machine vehicles, guests learn about the history of human communication and how it has served to take Man from caves to today's technology, which allows us to get information and to communicate almost instantly anywhere on Earth. Spaceship Earth was the first ride I went on in Epcot and still remains one of my favorites even as the script and the ride technology has changed over the years.

Late day sunlight mixes with lighting on Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Late day sunlight mixes with lighting on Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D750/Tokina 1-28mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 5000, EV +0.3, 16mm Focal Length.

Tomorrow, Deb is going to take you for a trip back in time to the beginning of Spaceship Earth.


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 20, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Like Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends evolved from the original The Living Seas pavilion which opened with Epcot back in 1982. The popularity of the movie, Finding Nemo, made the transition an easy one for Disney. It was nice to see people of all ages enjoying this pavilion on my last visit.

A Yellow Tang swims in one of the aquariums inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A Yellow Tang swims in one of the aquariums inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 3600, EV 0, 85mm Focal Length.

Which character in Finding Nemo was a Yellow Tang and where did we first see it?


October 13, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: The Land

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Land pavilion in Epcot's Future World is the home to the popular Soarin' ride. It is also the home to the best and healthiest quick service restaurant, Sunshine Seasons. After checking out the wall menu (see below), you can get your food at one of the stations. With such a variety, everyone traveling with you should find something good to eat.

The wall menu for Sunshine Seasons counter service restaurant at The Land in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The wall menu for Sunshine Seasons counter service restaurant in The Land pavilion.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 4500, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I find Sunshine Seasons a nice alternative to the other quick service locations at Walt Disney World.


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 6, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Test Track

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Not everyone likes to see changes at Walt Disney World. I do as I like to see today's Imagineers try to out-imagine their predesessors. Take today's Test Track in Epcot's Future World. Test Track was the successor to the World of Motion which was one of the original attractions when Epcot opened on October 1, 1982. It was a delightful ride through the history of Mankind motion from the discovery of the wheel to a breathtaking IMAX sized launch of a NASA Space Shuttle.

The first version of Test Track, call it 1.0, was about the testing of cars. The queue had all kinds of displays showing how cars, car parts and people (played by crash dummies) were tested. The ride continued the story as you rode a test vehicle through all kinds of road, environmental and high speed tests. It was very popular. Guests loved going around the banked curves at up to 65 miles per hour.

The lastest version, 2.0, of Test Track sponsored by Chevrolet is about designing vehicles. In the queue, you see all kinds of concept vehicles (like the one pictured below) and what went into their design. There are interactive displays along the way to show the start of the design: A Line. Before going on the ride, your party designs the car or truck of their dreams and take it for a ride on the Test Track.

Chevrolet concept car in the queue for Test Track in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chevrolet concept car in the queue for Test Track.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 32mm Focal Length.

I really like how Test Track has evolved over the years. Exactly how I feel a Disney attraction should.


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 29, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Mission: SPACE

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next few weeks, Deb and I will be exploring Epcot's Future World pavilions. Starting with the modern version of a trip to Mars.

Mission: SPACE in Epcot's Future World is a very good re-enactment of a trip to Mars for a themepark environment. I know when it first opened it was a little intense for a lot of people. Disney had gotten the help of NASA astronauts in development of the ride. To those astronauts, Mission: SPACE probably seemed tame. Goes to show you the difference between people like us and them.

After a few tweaks, most people started to really enjoy the experience. While some, as Deb will tell you tomorrow, never did.

Mission: SPACE in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mission: SPACE in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 1250, EV -0.3, 55mm Focal Length.

I have always liked this late day photo I took back in 2011 of Mission: SPACE.

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 15, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: The Little Mermaid

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Little Mermaid was the first Disney movie I took my first born child to. It did not take me long as I watched to realize Disney animation was back making wonderful stories, sharing beautiful songs and creating dazzling scenes after a long drought. The Disney renaissance had begun.

Near the entrance to Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, you can see Prince Eric's seaside castle. At night, bathed in blue light, you can almost hear Ariel singing to him.

Prince Eric's seaside castle shines at night in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Prince Eric's seaside castle shines at night in Fantasyland.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 20s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share with you the voice of the Little Mermaid.


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 8, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week's Walt Disney Studios film is one which comes directly from one of Disney Imagineering's best shows: The Pirates of the Caribbean.

Debuting in 1967 at Disneyland, it was the most immersive and technologically advanced attraction of its time. I remember Walt Disney gleefully describing how they got the audio-animatronics to work in a coordinated manner on the TV show, The Wonderful World of Color.

Jumping ahead to 2003, a movie based on the attraction called Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released featuring Captain Jack Sparrow portrayed by Johnny Depp who became so popular, Disney decided to change the attraction to incorporate the character. A first in Disney park history.

And it all started with pirate skeletons...

Pirate skeleton in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pirate skeleton in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 10000, EV +0.6.

Deb will be here tomorrow time shifting to the beginning of pirates at Walt Disney World.


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.

September 1, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Cinderella

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

All this month, Deb and I will be sharing photos based on Walt Disney Studios movies.

For the last few years, Disney has come out with a live cinematic version of an animated classic. This spring, Cinderella was released and featured a golden carriage. In advance of the film coming out in theaters, the carriage was displayed on the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Golden carriage from the live action movie, Cinderella, on display in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Golden carriage from the live action movie, Cinderella, on display on the Streets of America.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 220, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow sharing a special Cinderella image.


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 25, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Yellow

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Ah, Castaway Cay Port of Call on a Disney Cruise Line cruise in the Caribbean is about as perfect a place on Earth as one can find. What makes it so is the fun of having Disney characters sharing it with you. With this week's subject being Yellow, here is Pluto at Mount Rustmore.

Pluto at Mount Rustmore on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line, Bahamas
Pluto at Mount Rustmore on Castaway Cay.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV +0.7, 145mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow with her Yellow photo.


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 18, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Green

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

We have all heard about Little Green Men from Outer Space. For this week's color, Green, I get to share with you exactly that. Though you know him better as Yoda, the Jedi Master from Star Wars. Below he is wielding a light saber on the side of a Chevy Spark. This car was on display on the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios during the 2014 Star Wars Weekends.

Green Chevrolet Spark with Yoda and Star Wars graphics on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekend, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Green Chevrolet Spark with Yoda and Star Wars graphics on display during Star Wars Weekend.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

Thought you might want to see a closer look at Yoda.

Green Chevrolet Spark with Yoda and Star Wars graphics on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekend, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Green Chevrolet Spark with Yoda and Star Wars graphics on display during Star Wars Weekend.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV 0, 70mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow where she smartly decided against a cliche Green subject into something to lift the spirit.


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 11, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Blue

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This week's color is Blue. I changed it up some and instead of showing you a blue building, character or ride, I decided to go with my favorite time of day to photograph: Blue Hour. I also like to find brown/yellow to contrast the deep blue sky with. The Aztec Pyramid in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase was the perfect subject.

Blue hour over the Aztec Pyramid in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Blue hour over the Aztec Pyramid in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/100s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV -0.3, 24mm focal length.

Back in 2010, I did another Disney Pic of the Week for Blue. It still is one of my favorite posts here on Picture This! featuring Susie the Little Blue Coupe.

Deb will be here tomorrow to get all wrapped up in her Blue photo.


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 28, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Doors

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Doors are fascinating. Useful and practical. They are often used in metaphors about life. Walt Disney once said this about his company, We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

This is such a fun quote. My photo today shows the handle of a door which would make me curious to try it to see what it was inside. Why would a musical symbol called a clef be used on a door? For those of us who have gone through this door to experience Mickey's PhilharMagic know it is a delight to the senses and dazzles our imaginations. Something I believe Walt would have been proud to have at the Magic Kingdom.

A Clef handle for a door to Mickey's PhilharMagic auditorium at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A Clef handle for a door to Mickey's PhilharMagic auditorium.
Nikon D70/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 1250, EV -0.3.

Deb will be here tomorrow to show you a magical door found at Walt Disney World.


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 21, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Lights

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am confident that when it comes to lights and lighting, Disney uses about any kind of light you could think of and probably a lot we never knew about. From the amazing lights used on Cinderella Castle to create the Ice Castle during the holidays to the lights which illuminate the exit paths if a ride stops and guests have to leave their ride vehicles, there are millions of lights used at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Below is one example of a light we see all the time driving around our cities and towns. A simple traffic light which became the center of attention during the Pixar movie, Cars. By it's only flashing yellow during parts of the movie, the light signified loneliness and isolation. When the light was turned on for full use, the town of Radiator Springs came alive with activity and hope.

Traffic light in the center of Carsland at Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, California
Traffic light in the center of Carsland at Disney's California Adventure.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 400, EV -0.3, 28mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to quiz you on a light she found in a new, fun location.


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 14, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Benches

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Next to trashcans, benches are very plentiful at Walt Disney World. This is a good thing as anyone who has spent a day walking around a Disney park will testify. Park of the "magic" of Disney is that you will rarely find a bench which is wet. This is because cast members will dry off benches in the morning or after a rain.

Cast Members drying off benches in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cast Members drying off benches in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/125s, f/14, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 18mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to show us a famous Disney bench which traveled overseas.


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 7, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Trashcans

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Trashcans at Walt Disney World are everywhere. You can not walk 20 feet without coming upon one. Sadly, Disney has found in their American parks, such an abundance is needed. When photographing there, it is hard not to get a trashcan in a wide angle composition. This is what happened to me when I was setting up to photograph the Katoubia Minaret Prayer Tower in Epcot's Morocco pavilion.

Trashcan outside restrooms in Epcot's Morocco pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Trashcan outside restrooms in Morocco.
Nikon D70/Tokina 12-24mm, 1/2s, f/2.8, ISO 1600, EV +1.0, 12mm (18mm DX) focal length, tripod.

Of course, trashcans can come in handy for photography. Check out my past article about Quadpods: No Tripod? No Problem!

Deb will be here tomorrow to share musical trashcans.

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 30, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Cast Costumes in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Three years ago (how time flies!), I hosted an All Ears Photowalk which included a backstage tour of the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show. Our hosts for the tour was two of the stunt drivers we had been photographing at the last show. As you can imagine, their costumes were very different and fire proof.

Backstage at the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meeting a Stunt Driver backstage at the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share a CM from Disney's Hollywood Studios.


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 23, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Cast Costumes in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Cast Costumes Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you have never ridden the Wildlife Express out to Rafiki's Planet Watch (formerly Conservation Station), I encourage you to do so. It is usually not as crowded as the rest of the park, the train ride gets you off your feet for a few minutes and the displays, petting zoo, characters, peak behind the scenes and cast members are delightful. A few times each day, a Cast Member comes out dressed in his/her Naturalists attire to share a show and tell about one of the creatures being cared for. I have seen a lizard, a bird of prey, a spider and, in the photo below, a snake. It is of particular interest to kids as they enjoy seeing and learning about such creatures.

Cast member sharing information about a snake at Rafiki's Planet Watch in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cast member sharing information about a snake at Rafiki's Planet Watch.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/20s, f/3.5, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 18mm focal length.

Tomorrow, Deb will share a very happy CM at someplace new in Disney's Animal Kingdom.


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.