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June 19, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 200, EV 0.

This week's photo is a Public Service Announcement to all those people who have never ridden the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios for various reasons. This is what it looks like from the back row of the ride vehicle from the top of the drop shaft, I mean, elevator shaft.





June 15, 2018

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

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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


Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II

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





June 12, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster vehicle is launched on its journey to the Aerosmith concert in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster vehicle is launched on its journey to the Aerosmith concert.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

I have shown various launches of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios over the years but never from the prospective of a Fisheye lens. This is my favorite coaster at Walt Disney World for its G-Force launch, Aerosmith soundtrack and for each of its inversions.





June 8, 2018

Walt Disney World Wallpapers for Your Desktop

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





June 5, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

We are just a few weeks away from the opening of Disney's Hollywood Studios newest attraction called Toy Story Land. Before we all head online to get our FastPasses, let us remember what is currently available to see and do over the next few weeks at Hollywood Studios.

Actor avoids a spear during the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Stunt Double/Actor avoids a spear during the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 10000, EV +1.0, 300mm Focal Length, Spot Metering.

I am a huge fan of the Indiana Jones movies and am looking forward to the new ones Disney is working on. Having seen various stunt shows over the years, nothing beats the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular show for its massive sets, acting, audience participation and fun. Having seen this show numerous times over the years, I find it is just like the movies, anytime I catch one on TV, I watch it.

It is also a show I like to push my photographic equipment and software with. The photo above took an excellent sensor found in my Nikon D750 dSLR camera to capture a usable RAW image at 10,000 ISO, plug-in noise reduction software to Apple Aperture 3 photo management and editing system and the ability to selectively dodge and burn parts of the digital image with Aperture (Note: I have since switched to using Adobe's LightRoom system as Apple dropped Aperture).





June 1, 2018

Farewell to the Maleficent Dragon at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





May 29, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Memorial Day

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

History of American flags hang over the escalators in the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
History of American flags hang over the escalators in the American Adventure pavilion.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/30s, f/3.5, ISO 800, EV +1.0, 18mm (27mm FX) Focal Length.

Walking up stairs or take the escalators to the American Adventure's theater in Epcot's World Showcase, you pass through the Hall of Flags. These flags were displayed at different times throughout the history of the United States and include flags used by state and federal governments.

A fitting tribute not only to the United State but to all how have lost their lives in defense of it.





May 25, 2018

Composing Photographs at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





May 18, 2018

Travel Photography in Morocco at Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





May 11, 2018

Disney Vacation Planning for 2018

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





May 4, 2018

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

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





May 1, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Spring

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Peter Pan overlooks Captain Hook in United Kingdom pavilion topiaries at Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Peter Pan overlooks Captain Hook in United Kingdom pavilion topiaries.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 220, EV 0, 22mm Focal Length.

I ask you, what could be more Spring than the topiaries seen during Epcot's Annual Flower and Garden Festival? All of Disney's favorite characters literally spring to life in carefully groomed trees, shrubs and subshrubs as was the case for Peter Pan and Captain Hook back in 2016 at the United Kingdom pavilion.





April 27, 2018

Exploring Travel Photography at Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





April 24, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Pandora Grinch Tree in Valley of Mo'ara at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pandora Grinch Tree in Valley of Mo'ara at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 900, EV 0, 20mm Focal Length, Intensify CK.

Pandora's Valley of Mo'ara at Disney's Animal Kingdom is full of other worldly plants and animals. None more strange and beautiful as the large Grinch Trees growing throughout the planet.





April 20, 2018

On the Edge of Mission: Space

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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





April 17, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Dinoland USA

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Sign for Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama in Dinoland USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sign for Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama in Dinoland USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

The Disney Imagineers had a lot of fun with Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama in Dinoland USA in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Portraying it as a 1950's style USA roadside attraction was genious in my book. Even right down to the signs for the place.





April 13, 2018

Varying the Point of View at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





April 10, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Asia

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Motorcycle outside the FastPass entrance to the Rivers of Light show near Expedition: Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Motorcycle outside the FastPass entrance to the Rivers of Light show.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 110, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

The Disney Imagineers really went to town when it came to details throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom. I have found Asia to be the most colorful and suprising of all the lands there. Right down to this old Honda motorcycle outside the FastPass entrance to the Rivers of Light show across from Expedition: EVEREST. Looks in great shape, too.





April 6, 2018

Photo Ratios on Walt Disney World Images

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





April 3, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Africa

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next four weeks, we are going to explore the Lands of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Starting with Africa.

Africa's Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Africa's Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 70mm Focal Length.

The new home of the Festival of the Lion King Live Stage Show is reflected in the Discovery River on a calm morning.






March 30, 2018

Four Parks of Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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





March 27, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Princess Anna

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Princess Anna during the For the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along Celebration stage show in the Hyperion Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Princess Anna during the For the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along Celebration stage show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 120mm Focal Length.

I feel Princess Anna was the real Disney heroine of Frozen and really enjoyed photographing her during the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along Celebration stage show in the Hyperion Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios. My wife would argue the hero was Olaf.





March 23, 2018

Super Bokeh at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

March 20, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Merida

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Merida on the Brave float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Merida on the Brave float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade on Main Street USA.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 120mm Focal Length.

Disney heroine, Merida waving to guests on the Main Street Train Station platform during a Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade in the Magic Kingdom.





March 16, 2018

Don't Stand when Photographing at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

March 13, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Mulan

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Mulan smiling for guests in Epcot's China pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mulan smiling for guests in Epcot's China pavilion.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

Disney heroine, Mulan smiling for guests in Epcot's China pavilion.





March 9, 2018

Photographing Flowers and Gardens

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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





March 6, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Belle

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the next month, I will be featuring Disney Heroines.

Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Belle and Lumiere during the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, Cropped.

Belle, in her yellow dress, and Lumiere posed for a nice portrait during the Enchanted Tales with Belle in Fantasyland.





March 2, 2018

Photographing Animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

Trekking through Disney's Animal Kingdom

An African Day in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Super Zoom on Safari






February 27, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Carousel of Progress

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland moved to Walt Disney World from Disneyland in 1975. It has been updated a few times. The theme song changed once and the current one has been altered over the years. It is one of my favorite Sherman Brothers songs and I can not help but breaking out in "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!" upon walking out of each performance.

Below the picture will be a trivia question for you to answer in the Comments each week.

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Finale scene of Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

What is the name of the audio-animatronic dog in the Carousel of Progress? Answer: The dog's current name is Rover in each scene. Check out the comments for the history of his/her name.





February 23, 2018

Photographing Birds at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

February 20, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The classic Pirates of the Caribbean or POTC ride found in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom has been updated over the years. It was not originally planned for Walt Disney World but, after guests were surprised it was not one of the original attractions at the Magic Kingdom, Disney quickly put it into production. POTC opened in December of 1973.

Below the picture will be a trivia question for you to answer in the Comments each week.

Jail scene of Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Jail scene of Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 9000, EV 0.

What are the type of boats in the ride? Based on ones from New Orleans. Answer: Answer: The boats are called 'bateaux', which are small, flat bottomed river boats used in the southern and eastern U.S.





February 16, 2018

Get Close to the Magic Kingdom Train Station

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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





February 13, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Haunted Mansion

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom is a must do on every trip for me. The mystery of the stretching room is on display below.

Below the picture will be a trivia question for you to answer in the Comments.

Haunted Mansion's Portrait Chamber in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Haunted Mansion's Portrait Chamber (also known as the stretching room) in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/10s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV +0.3, 28mm Focal Length.

Does the floor descend or does the ceiling rise in the Haunted Mansion's Portrait Chamber (also known as the stretching room) at Walt Disney World?

Thank you for all who responded. The answer is the ceiling rises at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion. It lowers at Disneyland.





February 9, 2018

Using a Wide Angle Zoom at the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

February 6, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Country Bear Jamboree

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

For the month of February, I am going to visit classic rides at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom starting with those fun loving bears in Frontierland's Country Bear Jamboree.

Below the picture will be a trivia question for you to answer in the Comments each week.

Henry is the Master of Ceremonies of the Country Bear Jamboree show in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Henry is the Master of Ceremonies of the Country Bear Jamboree show in Frontierland.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/25s, f/8, ISO 4500, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

What is the name of Henry's raccoon buddy? UPDATE: Wow, everyone got it right. The raccoon's name is Sammy. Thanks for playing!





February 2, 2018

In Search of Nepal at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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





January 30, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Be Our Guest

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have dined in each of the three rooms of the Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom and, by far, my favorite is The Ballroom. Magnificent golden chandeliers hang overhead as the painted cherubs look down upon all the guests enjoying their meals. As close to being in the animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, as one can get.

The Ballroom of the Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Ballroom of the Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/25s, f/8, ISO 4500, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Yes, the grey stuff is delicious!





January 26, 2018

Disney Architectural Photography - Part 3

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





January 23, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Satu'li Canteen

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Satu'li Canteen in Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom has an unique way of ordering food. Instead of the usual Earth-way of doing it, you choose your protein, base and sauce for your Satu'li Bowl. Sounds appetizing? No? Well, in practise, it is very good and fits in with the Pandora story line.

Protein being prepared at the Satu'li Canteen restaurant in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Protein being prepared at the Satu'li Canteen restaurant in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 3600, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

Mmmm, protein...tastes like chicken.





January 12, 2018

Disney Architectural Photography - Part 1

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





January 9, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: '50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

My family and I have enjoyed dining at the '50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios since the park first opened back in 1989. I would call the food there "American Comfort". The service I would call interactive and fun! If you are looking for a great experience and are willing to immerse yourself in it, make a dining reservation at the '50s Prime Time Cafe on your next Walt Disney World visit.

A guest getting help in cleaning her plate at the 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A Guest getting help in cleaning her plate at the '50s Prime Time Cafe.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

The "guest" in the photo is my daughter and is used probably without her permission. :->





January 2, 2018

Disney Pic of the Week: Best Photo of 2017

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last year, my wife and I became grandparents for the first time. We got to share my grandson's first character meal experience with him at the Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom a few months ago. At 8 months, he was not afraid of the characters. It was funny watching the characters come up to him. They were very careful but, once they knew he was comfortable with them, they were very playful.

My favorite photo I took at Walt Disney World in 2017 was of my Son-in-Law introducing my Grandson to Piglet.

Child meeting Piglet in the Crystal Palace Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
My Grandson meeting Piglet for the first time in the Crystal Palace Restaurant.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

There was a lot of backlighting as the Crystal Palace allows for a lot of light to enter into the dining area. You can see by the rim light effect on my Son-in-Law's head how intense it was. To fill in the shadows I used flash bounced off the ceiling with the built in light reflector.





December 26, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Christmas 2017

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last year I captured Santa sending his love to all of us during Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom. It was a magical moment for me and for those around me.

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





December 19, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Holidays

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

What's a holiday in England/United Kingdom at Epcot's World Showcase without a spot of tea poured from a festive tea pot? This decoration always brings a smile to my face as my Mother had a holiday tea set just like it. Though it was never used, it was part of each year's Christmas in my family.

Holiday teapot at the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Holiday teapot at the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/4.8, ISO 100, EV 0, 62mm Focal Length.





December 12, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Star Tours

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The anticipation as you watch the pre-boarding video at Star Tours in Disney's Hollywood Studios in waiting for the doors to open gets your adrenaline pumping. You wonder which sequences will be shown and who will be the Rebel spy the Empire will be looking for. Maybe it will be you!

Doors open to a StarSpeeder 1000 for a ride on Star Tours in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Doors open to a StarSpeeder 1000 for a ride on Star Tours.
Nikon D700/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/15s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.





December 8, 2017

Christmas Traditions in Epcot's World Showcase

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

The first is the Tradition of the Mushroom Ornament.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





December 5, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Toy Story Midway Mania

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The queue for the second track for Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios takes you through Andy's Room's closet before boarding a ride vehicle to play 3-D video games.

Queue for the second track of Toy Story Midway Mania ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Queue for the second track of Toy Story Midway Mania ride enters Andy's Room.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/8s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.





December 1, 2017

Walt Disney World in Black and White

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





November 24, 2017

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

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

Photographing Holiday Lights at Home and at Disney

Photographing Christmas Lights at Disney

Christmas Light Photography

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





November 21, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Thanksgiving

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Thanksgiving gets a little lost as the Magic Kingdom goes right from Halloween celebrations into Christmas. There is one place which serves the spirit of Thanksgiving all year round. It is found in the Magic Kingdom's Liberty Tree Tavern restaurant which features a family-style meal with turkey, pot roast and pork roast with all the fixings such as vegetables, mac and cheese, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Oh, and gravey to pour over your favorites.

It is also my go to location to find Thanksgiving-like decorations like these.

Harvest decorations in front of the Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Harvest decorations in front of the Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length.

This photo was enhanced using Macphun's Intensify CK application's Soft HDR filter.





November 17, 2017

Photographing Happily Ever After in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorter shutters can result in deeper colors with less processing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





November 10, 2017

Frontierland Reflections in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland was next.

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

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






November 3, 2017

Photographing Pandora at Night in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 31, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora At Night

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Out in front of the Pongu Pongu beverages and Windtraders store is a RDA Combat Amp Suit standing guard. I found it an interesting contrast to the peaceful scene found in most of Pandora.

RDA Combat Amp Suit in front of Pongu Pongu and Windtraders in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
RDA Combat Amp Suit in front of Pongu Pongu and Windtraders in Pandora.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 30s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped, Tripod.

I bet you thought you would see something different from me for this topic. Do not worry, I will be featuring more Pandora night photography on my Friday blog this week.





October 27, 2017

Photographing Pandora Details in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 24, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Detail

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The first thing that tells you, you are now on the world of Pandora when walking from Discovery Island in Disney's Animal Kingdom are the sounds which suddenly hit you. The second thing is the exotic looking vegetation and flowers. Disney made the most of a small area with trails which weave in and around the forest of the Valley of Mo'ara. Natural flora and Imagineer creations are intermixed with flowing waters, pools and waterfalls. Details are everywhere including these other-worldly flowers.

Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Flowers in the Valley of Mo'ara in Pandora.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 2200, EV +0.3, 62mm Focal Length.





October 20, 2017

Waterfalls of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 17, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Cast Member

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After you ride a banshee, you might want to own your own. Luckily for you, the Windtraders store has a rookery full of colorful banshees. A Naturalist (aka Disney Cast Member) from Alpha Centauri Expeditions will be happy to assist you find just the right one for you and the banshee.

Cast Member with a Banshee on his shoulder inside Windtraders in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Naturalist from Alpha Centauri Expeditions with a Banshee on his shoulder inside Windtraders.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5, ISO 5600, EV 0, 70mm Focal Length.





October 13, 2017

Drums of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 10, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Ride

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Pandora is full of exciting new places and things to photograph. The color palette and lighting is a challenge to photograph as is the dark ride of the Na'vi River Journey. Towards the end of the peaceful and beautiful boat ride, you come upon the Shaman of Songs audio-animatronic.

Shaman of Songs audio-animatronic on the Na'vi River Journey ride in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shaman of Songs audio-animatronic on the Na'vi River Journey ride.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/200s, f/4, ISO 128000, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Cropped.





October 6, 2017

Reflections of Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

Fast forward to today...

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

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

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





October 3, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot 35th Anniversary

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Epcot35 Legacy Showplace is found inside the Odyssey Restaurant as Disney celebrates the 35th Anniversary of the park. The Legacy Showplace has photos, artwork and information of past, present and future pavilions in Future World and World Showcase. The exhibit is not large and can be toured in less than an hour. I highly recommend it.

Photos in the Epcot35 Legacy Showplace at the Odyssey Restaurant in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Photos in the Epcot35 Legacy Showplace at the Odyssey Restaurant.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 1400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

The framed photos show the World of Motion (left) which was the original pavilion which was later replaced by Test Track (right) in 1999.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share her Epcot 35th Anniversary tomorrow.





September 29, 2017

Child View of Enchanted Tales with Belle Queue

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





September 26, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Souvenir IF Money Were No Object

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If money was no object, I would buy out the Art of Disney shop found on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom and then build a house to best show off all the prints, paintings, figurines and collectibles. Of course, you would all be invited to see it.

The Art of Disney store on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Art of Disney store on Main Street USA.

Deb will be here tomorrow to share the Disney souvenir she would have if money was no object.





September 22, 2017

Cinderella Castle Study in Long Exposures

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

Shutter speed: 5 seconds.

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

Shutter speed: 13 seconds.

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

Shutter speed: 20 seconds.

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

Shutter speed: 30 seconds.

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

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






September 19, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Mickey Ears Souvenir

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Who has not tried on a Mickey Ears Souvenir Hat? Anyone? I thought so. Disney makes thousands of different Mickey Ears Hats from the classic Mickey Mouse Club to Attractions and Rides. Not to mention movie tie-ins like this one for Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast movies and stage shows.

Young woman trying on a Belle Mickey Ears Hat in the Celebrity 5 & 10 shop at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young woman trying on a Belle Mickey Ears Hat in the Celebrity 5 & 10 Shop on Hollywood Blvd.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 5000, EV +0.3, 44mm Focal Length.

Deb will be here to share her favorite Disney Mickey Ears Souvenir photo tomorrow.





September 15, 2017

Meeting Eeyore in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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






September 8, 2017

Scouting Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





September 1, 2017

Returning to Future World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





August 29, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Disney's Hollywood Studios Landscape

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Of all the parks at Walt Disney World, Disney's Hollywood Studios is the hardest to find a location for landscape photography. Now, if you want to consider cityscapes an off shoot of landscape photography then this photo of Sunset Blvd. with the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror looming over it works.

People walking on Sunset Blvd. in Disney Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
People walking on Sunset Blvd. in Disney Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/8, 200 ISO, 0 EV, 46mm Focal Length.

Here I used leading lines to give the photo depth.

Deb will be here to share her Disney's Hollywood Studios Landscape photo tomorrow.





August 25, 2017

Photographing the Festival of the Lion King Singers on Stage

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





August 23, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Landscape Epcot

Deb's Digest Blog

Well, it's become clear that even though I came up with this topic, I keep changing what it means.

So here is my Epcot photo of the Flower and Garden China Bears. It was near impossible for me to get all 3 in one shot so I took a panorama.

flower-garden17-34.jpg






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 16, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Animal Kingdom Landscape

Deb's Digest Blog

For Animal Kingdom I had to look back into my archives. These days it is difficult to get a panoramic or landscape photo without people in it.

Here is one I found from Camp Minnie-Mickey where Pocahontas and her Forest Friends performed several times a day. I needed the panoramic feature to get the entire stage area.

ak-landscape.jpg

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 9, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Landscape Magic Kingdom

Deb's Digest Blog

As Scott mentioned yesterday, Disney Imagineers are experts when it comes to "forced perspective". It tricks the eye into believing something is larger /taller than it really is. Walt was famous for this as he tried to deal with the space limitations at Disneyland.

Here is a recent example from the New Fantasyland, the Beast's castle! The architecture makes it look much larger than it really is.

forced-perspec.jpg

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 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 26, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 1990s

Deb's Digest Blog

Despite ANY fears I may have, I am determined to ride every single ride at Walt Disney World at least once.

The look on my face is sheer terror! I rode Rock 'n' Roller Coaster just twice! Linda, of course, thought it was a BLAST!

DebLindaTod-RnRC-11-30-1999.jpg

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 19, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: 1980s

Deb's Digest Blog

The 1980s... sadly I never stepped foot in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot during the 80s. So, once again I have to go elsewhere for a photo.

Did you know Epcot once had real elephants in Future World? It did, in a special event called the Daredevil Circus Spectacular.

Here is a photo a friend of mine recently found of said spectacular...

kay-daredevil-circus.jpg

If you are sitting there scratching your head about this, here's a link to a Jim Korkis article you'll find informative.


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 5, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Patriotic

Deb's Digest Blog

I vividly remember the time I met Betsy Ross at the American Adventure. Her story was told as part of the 4th of July festivities back in 2010. Here are 2 photos featuring Betsy Ross in the American Adventure Rotunda.

betsyross-1.jpg
betsyross-2.jpg

I'm not sure if she appeared after that time, but I know I never saw her again.

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 28, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Live Performances

Deb's Digest Blog

While there are many live entertainers I have totally enjoyed over the years there is one special one I have to share with you. It's not a photograph but a video.....

When the Dapper Dans did Boy Bands!


The World Disney World Dans:

The Disneyland Dans:

Hope you enjoyed! What is your choice for Live Entertainment??

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 21, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Studios Yesterland

Deb's Digest Blog

Many things have come and gone since Disney's MGM Studios / Disney's Hollywood Studios opened in 1989. From shows, to attractions, to special events, there have been many many changes.

One that is often overlooked is the "Super Soap Weekend". Beginning somewhere around 1999, this special weekend was generally held in the fall. Stars from the Soap World came to the Studios and had special presentations, autographs signings and more. The last Super Soap weekend took place in October 2008.

While not a Soap fan, I was often curious about the weekend celebration so in 2006 I decided to fly down and see what the buzz was all about. Just like Star Wars Celebrations, and ESPN Sports Weekends, Soap fans wanted to get an up close and personal look at the stars and attend the activities.

Here are two photographs from Super Soap Weekend:

ss06_3.jpg

Even Super Soap Star Susan Lucci attended the events!

ss06_5.jpg

Did you ever attend a Super Soap weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below.


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 7, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Launch Bay

Deb's Digest Blog

I took this photograph the very first time I visited the Launch Bay. Lucky for me, the procession was just beginning.

launch%20bay.JPG

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 31, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Animation Courtyard

Deb's Digest Blog

Like everything else at the Studios, the Animation Courtyard has undergone a number of changes over the years.

At one time, you could get a glimpse as some very cool autographs and hand prints back in that area.

Jim Korkis wrote the story about these hand prints his blog: The Hidden Hand-prints of The Magic of Animation I was fortunate enough after reading about these to go and take photos of the hand-prints.

Here is one I really like by Ward Kimball:

animation-handprints-3.JPG

Sadly, this area no longer exists today. Does anyone know what happened to these hand prints and autographs?

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 24, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Echo Lake

Deb's Digest Blog

The Imagineers left quite a few nods to the glamour days of Hollywood when they built Disney's MGM Studios and Echo Lake is a place where you can find all kinds of nuances. Think Rocketeer!

There have been a few times, over the years, that Echo Lake was rumored to be demolished, but it's still here in 2017! When I think of that area, I always think of Dino Gertie's and smile.
Come on now, who doesn't smile at the thought of green dinos and ice cream :)

echo-lake.jpg


P.S. Jim Korkis wrote about Echo Lake a few years ago for AllEars. Take a look and see if you can find any of the artifacts still around.

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 10, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Hollywood Blvd

Deb's Digest Blog

I'm a tad embarrassed to admit this to you, but Disney's Hollywood Studios is probably the park I have photographed the least. That face became abundantly clear when I realized I have very few older photos of good ole' "MGM".

However, I DO have a press kit from WALT Disney Imagineering dated 1989, that has some interesting photographs.

Here is one of Hollywood Blvd with the following caption: "THE EXCITEMENT OF HOLLYWOOD is captured for vacationers visiting the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Aerial view shows Hollywood Boulvard from Crossorads of the World (foreground) to the Chinese Theater, plus back-lot and soundstages where guests get to peek at actual motion picture and television production. The new Walt Disney World theme park features attractions, shows, street entertainment, shops and restaurants celebrating Tinseltown and the making of movies and TV shows."

hollywood-blvd.jpg

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 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.

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 29, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Photographers Choice

Deb's Digest Blog

Epcot's 25th Anniversary. One of my favorite photos from the re-dedication ceremony is this one of Disney Legend Marty Sklar with Spaceship Earth as the background.

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Hard to believe that was 10 years ago as Epcot celebrates 35 in October!

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 15, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Test Track

Deb's Digest Blog
EXHILARATION!

Remember that very first time you rode Test Track??.

You exited the building and took off on the track, veering left and right, and ramping hard left as you went past the front of the building.....

test-track.jpg
WOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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 8, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Journey Into Imagination

Deb's Digest Blog

I had the recent opportunity to examine the Journey Into Imagination Press Kit by Kodak and was able to scan the photos. See if you know the area of the pavilion this photo is from. Scroll down for answer. If only I had a digital camera back then.

jjji-press-photo.JPG

"The Magic Palette, one of several color video painting and drawing devices, entertains Dreamfinder and Figment as they experiment with the attractions in Image Works at Journey Into Imagination Epcot Center. The row of palettes is one of eleven different activities in the Image World, a hands-on special-effects area of the pavilion presented by Kodak"

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.

March 1, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Universe of Energy

Deb's Digest Blog

Here's an interesting photo I found of the outside of the Universe of Energy. At one time, in the early 2000s, the Flower and Garden festival would feature larger than life insects and bugs. From spiders to bees, to lady bugs.. they were great sculptures to see.

Here is one in the water feature out front of the Universe of Energy.

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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 22, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Mission Space

Deb's Digest Blog

I'm the first to admit I am not a fan. I wanted to be! I always dreamed of going into space as a kid growing up with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I will say Mission Space allowed me to experience a rocket launch but that's about it. The rest is a blur.

Here's a nod to the past:

Fastpass-2004.JPG


Oh and if you want to check out my report "To Boldly Go Where I Will Never Go Again", here you are!

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 15, 2017

Disney Photo of the Week: Living Seas

Deb's Digest Blog

While not an opening day attraction, the Living Seas grand opening was held in January 1986 with Michael Eisner, Diver Mickey Mouse and Diver Frank Wells.

In the early days of the Living Seas, you walked along banister lined curves that displayed historical photographs and artifacts of famous undersea explorations. Here was one the displays from the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

102-0266-living-seas.jpg


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 8, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: The Land

Deb's Digest Blog

Like most of Future World, I get lost looking through my photo galleries for each pavilion and start remembering times past and things that would make me smile. I've always loved The Land, there is/was so much do to in one building. One of my favorite "original" attractions is still there, the Living with the Land boat ride. Although I do miss the live Cast Member narrating, change is inevitable and at least the attraction is still there. (Yes, I love Soarin' but I go back to the early days.)

There was one small "attraction" that was very cool back in the 2000s... the Junior Chef Program, presented by Nestle Toll House. A small area in the back of the pavilion was set up as a mini kitchen where a couple times a day junior chefs would make Nestle Toll House cookies.

This photo was taken November 2005. Does anyone have additional information about the Junior Chef Program? How long it was in the Land? Other specifics? Please share them in the comments below.

juniorchef.jpg

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.

February 1, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Spaceship Earth

Deb's Digest Blog

From aerial photos we turn our attention to Epcot for several weeks. Today, Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth is arguably the most photographed building in all of Epcot, perhaps only 2nd to Cinderella's Castle in all of Walt Disney World. I enjoyed going back through my gallery of photos. From beautiful topiary displays, the magical wands of "2000" and "Epcot", the Lights of Winter Arch, to the Fountain of Nations dancing water... there is much to love. And I haven't even talked about the attraction yet.

Here is one photo that just stood out to me as I looked through all my pictures:

spaceship-earth.jpg


January 27, 2017

More Walt Disney World Aerial Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2017

Ruling the Animal Kingdom in Thirds

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

January 18, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Epcot Aerial

Deb's Digest Blog

For this photograph, I was trying to find pictures I had taken while riding the monorail from the TTC that goes through much of Future World. Well, where most of those photos are remains a mystery.

However I did find this photograph of the original Test Track in my Test Track folder. This was certainly taken from the monorail as it circled Future World.

epcot-aerial.JPG

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 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 7, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Holiday Parade Float

Deb's Digest Blog

Might as well keep the nostalgic posts coming for the holidays. Did you ever see Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade in Animal Kingdom? I always got a chuckle from this float:

holiday-parade.jpg

And here's a video of the parade:

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 30, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Holiday Landscape/Plants/Arrangements

Deb's Digest Blog

When I saw this topic on our list for Photo of the Week I knew exactly what I was going to hunt for in my archives! One of my favorite things, now in yesterland, were the themed trees in Camp Minnie-Mickey in Animal Kingdom.

Oh, there was Donald and his nephews, Goofy, Finding Nemo, Festival of the Lion King, Pocahontas, Pooh, Minnie, Stitch and many more. (Scroll past the photo for a video).

Here is the top of Minnie's Tree:

holidayplants.jpg


I took this video back in 2012 - see if you can guess who all the trees belong to!

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 16, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Face Painting

Deb's Digest Blog

During the summer of 2014, Animal Kingdom held a series of night-time parties called Harambe Nights. One of the fun things to do was to have your Face Painted. Here I am with Shelley and Catherine after we had been "painted".

face-painting.jpg

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 9, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Artisans

Deb's Digest Blog

For several years during Holidays Around the World, Reinhard Herzog set up his custom made glass ornament shop at Epcot's Germany pavilion.


The master at work:

artisan1.JPG

It is fascinating to watch the art of glass blowing as he took ground glass and made it into beautiful ornaments.

artisan3.JPG
artisan2.JPG

Do you have a favorite Disney artisan? Who is it?

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 2, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Gardeners

Deb's Digest Blog

I guess I have always been too fascinated watching gardeners at work at Walt Disney World, that I have very few photos of them.

As I looked back through my Flower and Garden festival pics, I came across this 2010 photo of Mother Nature herself! I mean, if she isn't the ultimate gardener, who is? And yes, her name tag says Mother Nature, so it must be so.

gardners.jpg

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.

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 28, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: People Watching

Deb's Digest Blog

One of my favorite "People Watching" activities involves character interactions. This photo comes from a Star Wars Weekend in 2015. I wish I had video of Minnie and Mickey's reaction when this mini Darth Vader approached!

Just use your imagination :)

poeple%20watching.jpg

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 7, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Rocking Chairs

Deb's Digest Blog

A variety of locations came to mind as I thought about this week's focus, Rocking Chairs. There are those great chairs in Frontierland and Liberty Square that you can sit on and people watch. I think there were some at Aunt Polly's over at Tom Sawyer Island.

I'm sure other locations come to mind when you think of rocking chairs.

Here's one you probably didn't think about... I vividly remember the time I met Betsy Ross at the American Adventure. Her story was told as part of the 4th of July festivities back in 2010. Here are 2 photos featuring Betsy Ross and her rocking chair in the American Adventure Rotunda.

betsyross-1.jpg
betsyross-2.jpg

I'm not sure if she appeared after that time, but I know I never saw her again.

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 31, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Favorite Animal

Deb's Digest Blog

It didn't take me long to decide what animal to feature in this week's Pic of the Week, it has to be the collared lemur!

I have been going to Animal Kingdom every year since it opened in 1998. In all that time, I have only seen the collared lemurs ONCE! They are nocturnal and are usually sleeping in the trees. You can find them in the same area as the ringed-tail lemurs (black and white). I think they are still in Animal Kingdom. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

It was hard to select which one photo to share - hope you like the one I have chosen. I just love the eye contact! The photo was taken January 2013. Let me know if you have ever seen these lemurs!

clemur.jpg


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 24, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Rhino

Deb's Digest Blog


Rhinos rank among the most endangered species on Earth.

There are five kinds of rhino: white, black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan. Two types, black and white, reside on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom. I believe these are white rhinos. If I am wrong, please let me know

rhino.jpg

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 17, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Elephant

Deb's Digest Blog

African elephants have been part of Animal Kingdom since it opened. These massive animals can be seen as you ride the Kilimanjaro Safari.

The Walt Disney World Resort's animal care team welcomed the first African elephant calf to be born at Disney's Animal Kingdom in May 2003. You can see photos of some of the first elephants born at Animal Kingdom HERE.

This photo is from 2006.

elephant.jpg

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 10, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Giraffe

Deb's Digest Blog

Did you know that the first animals in Animal Kingdom arrived in the Summer of 1996. They were two young giraffe named Miles and Zari.

-- Reticulated giraffe will have a pattern of large spots, similar in shape, with little "background" color shown so that you might wonder if the giraffe is all brown. Other giraffes have a wide variety of spots on their body of different shapes and sizes, the background color is also darker. Every giraffe has a unique pattern!

reticulated-girafe.jpg


A few years ago, a second giraffe species, Masai, was introduced at Animal Kingdom.

-- The Masai giraffe has jagged edges along their patches. They are also the tallest of all the giraffes.

masai-giraffe.jpg

Here they are side by side. Can you tell which is which?

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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 8, 2016

A Dapper Dan Close Up on Main Street USA

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The famous photographer, Robert Capa, once said that, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”. Keep this in mind when photographing at Walt Disney World. Using either a zoom lens or zooming with your feet, you will find getting closer and filling the frame will immediately improve your photos.

As an example, the photo below of the Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom is typical and one everyone takes. It is a good "I was there and saw this" type of photo.

Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

To get closer, I moved as close as I could to the performers without getting in anyone's way and zoomed in with my lens to fill the frame with one of the Dapper Dans playing the Deagan Organ Chimes. I find this photo a lot more interesting than the one of the entire group.

Close up of a Dapper Dan playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Close up of a Dapper Dan playing the Deagan Organ Chimes on Main Street USA.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 125, EV 0, 160mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

Remember...closer means better.

July 1, 2016

Liberty Bell in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This weekend marks the 240th year of the birth of the United States of America. Below is a photo of the famous Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom with the Hall of Presidents behind it. Happy Birthday to America and to my fellow countrymen.

Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Liberty Bell replica on display in Liberty Square.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/18, ISO 320, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Technical information about this photo. I used a small aperture and focused on the Liberty Bell which is about a third into the frame. This put everything in focus from the bell back to the Hall of Presidents. Not totally happy with this photo. As an exercise for the reader, can you tell me why you think I am not happy with it?

June 24, 2016

Purple Wishes over Cinderella Castle

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Wishes over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Purples hues during Wishes over Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 5.4s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, tripod, remote shutter release.

Scott is still on his Stay-cation this week but will be back next week with more on Disney Photography. He hopes you enjoy this purple hued photo of Wishes over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. After all, it is Fireworks Friday.

June 17, 2016

Riding Down Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Guests riding Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests riding Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

While Scott wishes he was riding Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom today, he is doing a Stay-cation this week and next. He did want to point out this is another motion photo using a slow shutter speed and a steady hand. Scott used Macphun's Intenify CK's Soft HDR filter to pull out the details in the scene.

June 10, 2016

Nikon Picture Spots at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Looking for a great place for a picture perfect photo at Walt Disney World? Using all the techniques I have outlined the last few weeks, Disney and Nikon have teamed up to take the guess work out of a good photo location.

Look for Nikon Picture Spots throughout the parks. They were chosen to provide good places to take a photo of the scene and, especially, for taking photos of you, your family, friends and maybe a random fellow guest and their family (I get asked a lot to do this at the parks). For us old-timers, they were known for years as Kodak Picture Spots but Nikon took over sponsorship a few years ago.

Nikon Picture Spot for Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nikon Picture Spot for Cinderella Castle.
Nikon D700/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/18, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

What is interesting at this Nikon Picture Spot in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingodom is the changes that have taken place since the original photo was taken. It has changed even more since I took this photo back in 2014 with the new Hub design.

I will be taking an early summer break the next two weeks. Look for a couple of fun photos as I recharge my photographic batteries.

June 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.

June 1, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Memorial Day

Deb's Digest Blog

This week's theme for Pic of the Week had me stumped. I did a few google searches for images and saw lots and lots of poppy flowers and flags at grave sites I looked through my Disney photos and found nothing that said Memorial Day to me.

Memorial Day is about remembering those who have died for our freedom, and there was a group in Epcot that always made me stop and pause, and remember.....

First, allow me to share a very small bit about the history of Memorial Day and then use a bit of "photographer's license" to use a photo from Disney that reminds me of Memorial Day.

Did you know that Memorial Day was in response to the huge loss of life of the Civil War. "Gen. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans made it official. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

Did you know that on Memorial Day, it is customary for the the US flag to fly at half staff until noon, ad then be raised until sunset?

My photo selection is of the American Adventure Fife and Drum corp. (I know they represented a different era but I said I was using "photographer's license", remember? )

Every-time I heard them play I would stand and watch. It always made me feel very patriotic. I always took a few moments to thank those who have died fighting for our freedom!

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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 20, 2016

Narrow Your Focus at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Another way to improve your photos at Walt Disney World and elsewhere is to use Selective Focus (click this link for details on how to create it). Most people try to put the foreground subject in sharp focus with this method. One can also put the foreground in soft focus and let the subject in the "back" of the frame be in sharp focus. People viewing such an image will gravitate to the area of sharp focus. Another way a photographer can control how an image is viewed.

The three ovens in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The three ovens in Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 400, EV +0.7.

Notice how the unfocused area leads the eyes to the three ovens in the Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Epcot's Italy pavilion. Here is some trivia for you. The ovens are named after volcanos in Italy. They are from left to right: Stromboli, Vesuvio and Etna.

Using my favorite lens, the Nifty-Fifty, I can even create an out of focus vignette if you have enough foreground and background elements like the photo of a Mickey Mouse golf ball found in a basket of golf balls at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Disney Springs.

Mickey Mouse golf ball at the World of Disney store in Disney Springs, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mickey Mouse golf ball selectively focused on at the World of Disney Store.
Nikon D700/50mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO 220, EV +0.3.

Selectively focusing on subjects is a fun way to give your photography a boost.

May 13, 2016

Leading Lines at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When the talk leans towards leading at Disney's Hollywood Studies, it is usually about leading men or women. Today, however, it is about leading lines. Photographers use leading lines to give a photo depth and/or to "lead" a viewer's eyes to something of interest.

My first example is the hallway you leave from after riding on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and going through the Rock Around the Shop store. I really liked how the lines converged and the texture of the bricks along the walls. The posters overhead giving a nice added splash of color and shapes.

Leaving the Rock Around the Shop after riding the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Leading lines in the hallway leaving the Rock Around the Shop.
Nikon D700/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/50s, f/2.8, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length.

The second example is not so straight forward (see what I did there?). Here, the "cars" create the leading lines to the big drive-in movie screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant.

Rows of cars leading to the Big Screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Rows of cars leading to the Big Screen inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant.
Nikon D750/Tokina 16-28mm, 1/4s, f/8, ISO 10000, EV +1.0, 16mm focal length.

In both of these examples, I used straight lines. Curved lines can also lead. Anyone have any examples of curved leading lines? Shoot me a link in a Comment below and I will share them in a future blog post.

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 27, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Trees

Deb's Digest Blog

Who remembers this Orange Tree that used to appear during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival in World Showcase??

Here is what the placard explained: "Sun and Citrus: From 1643-1715, France was ruled by King Louis XIV. Known as the Sun King, he is also recognized for building the infamous Palace of Versailles, which houses one of the most magnificent orangeries in Europe>"

orangetree.jpg

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 20, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Flower and Garden

Deb's Digest Blog

I must have hundreds of photos of Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival. The American Adventure had a great patriotic display in 2002. It featured American Flags, Stars, and Mickey and Minnie. This is one of my favorite Flower and Garden Displays. Enjoy this look back.

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