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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 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 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.






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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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?

AK-August12-o.JPG

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.

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.

February 26, 2016

Festival of the Lion King Finale in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Harambe Theatre is the new home of the Festival of the Lion King. It looks like the old theater. Maybe they dismantled it and re-constructed it? It could be a little bigger seating wise. No doubt all the cool upgrades went into the production end of things. This is a simple click as I let the camera do all the work using Shutter Priority Mode at 1/320th of a second.

Festival of the Lion King finale in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Festival of the Lion King finale on stage in the Harambe Theatre.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 1600, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

Sometimes, I just marvel at what today's cameras can do. I only had to open up the shadows and add a little sharpening to finish it off in post-production.

January 29, 2016

New Animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Things are always changing at Walt Disney World. At Disney's Animal Kingdom, I photographed new residents on my last trip in December of 2015.

The entrance to Discovery Island Trails before the bridge over to Africa is the home of the Cotton-top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Cotton-top Tamarins are new world monkeys from Central and South America.

Cotton-top Tamarin at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cotton-top Tamarin at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 4500, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

On the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, I spotted the Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) walking through tall grass. Turns out Sarus Cranes are the tallest cranes in the world reaching a height of nearly six feet (1.8m). They are found in India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Sarus Crane on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sarus Crane on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 180, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Staying on the Maharajah Jungle Trek and in the same exhibit area were Asian Antelopes. A whole heard had come up and over a hill to start grazing on the hillside. This lovely male was nice enough to pose for me.

Asian Antelope on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Antelope on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 450, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

While Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are not new to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, these two baby boys are. They were entertaining a large audience of guests with their antics.

Baby Western Lowland Gorillas playing on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Baby Western Lowland Gorillas playing on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 4500, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

I always make it a point to walk all the trails in Disney's Animal Kingdom as new animals go on display or replace other species all the time.

November 6, 2015

Reflective Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If there is one thing most photographers can not pass up, it is a good reflection photo. Add Disney architecture in the reflection and I can not pass it up. Like the time I walked across the bridge from Discovery Island to Africa on a still morning to see the Harambe Theatre reflected in the water at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Harambe Theatre reflected in the Discovery River.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 72mm focal length, Polarizer filter.

The reflection does not have to be perfect to make an interesting photo. On another morning while I was snacking on a pastry from the Boardwalk Bakery, the light on Disney's Yacht Club Resort was beautiful and the wavy reflection added to the photo.

Disney's Yacht Club Resort in morning light at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Disney's Yacht Club Resort in morning light.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 40mm focal length.

Keep your eyes open for reflection possibilites as you photograph either at home or on holiday.

June 23, 2015

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

Cast Costumes Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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


June 5, 2015

Cheetah on the Kilimanjaro Safari

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

If you enjoy photographing the animals in Disney's Animal Kingdom, you owe it to yourself to plan on riding Kilimanjaro Safari more than once and at different times of the day during your Walt Disney World visit. One can never predict when the perfect photo opportunity will arise.

It was late morning when I last took a ride through the Harambe Reserve. The driver/photography guide had a hard time finding good subjects for everyone's cameras. This sometimes happens and you might only get one good opportunity. This is what happened as we approached the area where the cheetahs were. One of them was walking up to a rock cropping and into the light. Then it posed for us. The driver stopped so we could all get good photos.

Cheetah photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cheetah photographed on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 120mm (240mm DX Crop) Focal Length.

I have been on safari many times since Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. This was only the third time I have seen the cheetahs in a photograph-able location. The other two times was when I used a Super Zoom Lens and did the Wild Africa Trek. I know other photographers have had better luck than me or visit more often. Still, because of the limited times I have been able to photograph them, the cheetahs remain one of my favorites in Africa.

March 27, 2015

Disney Social Media Cover Photos

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am still an old photographer when it comes to the new age of Social Media. I often forget when I am photographing at Walt Disney World or some other fun destination to take pictures with the various cover images in mind. On my last trip, I made it a point to find locations or subjects suitable for the Social Media world.

As an example, when I was on Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari and the driver stopped for a few minutes near a few browsing Reticulated Giraffes, I took the opportunity to compose a photo so I could crop it later for either my FaceBook, Twitter or Google+ profile profile pages. Here is the resulting crop.

Reticulated Giraffe photographed on Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari in the Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Reticulated Giraffe photographed on Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 120mm focal length, cropped.

These Social Media services sometimes change the sizes for their cover images so I will not give it out here. Check their support pages to verify current image sizes. If you go to my FaceBook page today, this is how it looks or looked with the giraffe:

FaceBook cover photo.
The author's FaceBook page is it appeared with the Giraffe from Disney's Animal Kingdom

FaceBook's cover photo is a good size. My personal blog is a bit harder. The header photo is 940 pixels wide by 198 pixels tall. A tricky size to work with. I used a wide angle lens around the parks and kept interesting subjects along the bottom third of the photos. I looked for subjects which would cover the entire length of the image in the viewfinder. This view of the Rivers of America from the Frontierland boardwalk did just that. Pictured is Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island with the Haunted Mansion and Liberty Belle riverboat in Liberty Square.

View of Tom Sawyer Island and Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
View of Tom Sawyer Island and Liberty Square.
Nikon D7100/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 11mm focal length, cropped.

While I am late to the party, I keep Social Media sites in mind when traveling with my camera.

February 10, 2015

Disney Pic of the Week: Festival of the Lion King

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The inside of the new home of the Festival of the Lion King live stage show in the Harambe Theatre is an exact replica of the old one. The lighting and staging are pretty much the same. In other words, why change a good thing.

A stilt walker performer in the Festival of the Lion King show in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A colorful stilt walker performing in the Festival of the Lion King show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.0, 190mm focal length.

Did you know, Flash Photography is allowed during the Festival of the Lion King performance? I talked about it in his blog: Flash Monkey


October 12, 2014

Where in the World #353

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

Chris Kelly and his family are down in Walt Disney World! He promised to bring something back for everyone!
From Millan.Net

Ken Savage, Judy Simonsen and Wendy Barney, thank you for your note! I'm so glad you enjoy the game. :)

Last week's challenge: number #352
Where in the World #352

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Erin Blackwell

The Festival of the Lion King in Harambe, Disney's Animal King! This is one of the times I thought, "Hey, my picture came out pretty good!" So I used it. Far different from the blog posts by the All Ears photographers. LOL

Chloe Mayhew, it's the new set. :)

Carol Bertolo-gamill said, "sigh, i miss home!!" Me too, Carol. This helped though:
From Millan.Net

Everyone got this right!

Kristi Strembicki was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Kristi and to all our winners this week! Melissa Such, Jim & Lorie Sonnen, Donna Frank, Sandie Albrecht, Theresa Rucando, Steve Thorpe, Murr Family, Murr Family, The Kahle Family, Linda Ranatza, Carol Ney, Jennifer Rowell, Megan Krainski, Suzanne Denham, Mike Amor, Daniel Record, Paula Massarelli, Joann Albrecht, Tim Johansen, Andrew Carrieri, Paul Dickson, Nan Amor, Chris Kelly, Hillary Waldroop, Abby And Mike Hulse, Andy Hickey, Andrea Kruszewski, Bob Patterson, Eric Berger, Phyllis, Julia Wickware, Phil Vickers, Ken Maikowski, Team Hill, Elaine Kleinhenz, Claire Gregory, Evanna Huda, Grumpy's Groupies, Tammy Rice, Kathryn Perkins, Janet Spiess, Shady Be Smith, Darlene Haven, Patti Gumiela, Carol Bertolo-gamill, Dawn Fiege, Gina Smith, Toni Lockwood, Debbie Bojnec, Clarissa M, Laur Warney, Annmarie Benavidez, Leach Family, Kathy Dockham, Pat Morin, Josette Gabel, Kim Novacovschi, Ellen Sullivan, Kendall Huffman, Karen Alti, Mike O'brien, Morag Lemon, Eric Enli, Kathy Hyle, Allison Velilla, Kariann Frazer, Pat Schwier, 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Tinelli, Kristan Bertelmann, Deb Ragno, Christine Kalil, Ronald Delorey 7parker Street Apt#79 Dartmouth Nova Scotia Canada, Stefanie Vest, The Koren Family, Ruth Senecal, Vera Dercole, The Kertes Family, The Double Family, Eric Johnson, Jen Tremley, John Buschiazzo, Caryn Schill, Stefanie Vandiver, Kathy, Andrew Eckert, Britta Andrews, Ken Savage, Bruce Hinterleitner, Maureen Handy, Dave Freemyer, Karen Schlumpf, Elaine Tomko-deluca, Mary Finkle, The States Family, Tom Koval, The Long Family, Matt Petty, Jennifer Snook, Tena Anderson, Ruben O'meara, Carol Collins, Arlene Vicek, The Tisdale Family, Amanda Zabor, Lee Anastasi, Hobbes And Snorky, Mary Sanderson, Ashley Collins, Mystic Barnes Family, Virginia Pierce, Lisa Pinder, Susie Howard, Mildred Popp, Melodye Berry, Lizzy & Dave Fullerton, Bruce Nash, Jen Petetson, Michelle, Jennifer And Elizabeth Geno, Erin Hammer, Lori Rienhardt, Megi Callais, Charleen Murphy, Gina Dounelis, Diane Curfman, Judy Simonsen, Dawn Mitchell, Wendy 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And William, Ed Elder, Wayne Chadourne, Lisa Kobal, Jessica Soulsby, Kristyn Scibienski, Brian Gallant, The Reichl Family, Ken Rhinehart, Lyn Johnson, Andrew Pettit, Ruth Woodhouse, Paul Ignudo, Jr., Duskin Henard, Wendy Barney, Mark Proper, Ed Suscreba, Dallas Hamilton, Annie Snodgrass, Chris Bauman, Matt Holley, Kelly Smith, Ed Adams, Bonnie Tulenko, Amanda C, Cameron Lange, Thomas Farquharson, Scott Mcbride, Vicki Shearman, The Hutchinson Family, Caitlin Lewis, Randy Thomas, Tammy Alweis Family, Karen Aguiar, Kate Fischer, Patrick Broaddus, Heather Macleod, Erin Loring, Tricia Noble, Carri Marotto, Tammy Alweis Family, Jeremy Reichelt, Thom, Karen Spreitzer, Terry Fleming, Caroline Burmester, Wendy Barney, Vera And Izzy Williams, Tricia Petty, Karrie Duffey, Jennifer Mercier, Dave Carriere, Jason Skow, Maja Kodani, Ron Harper, Scott Sangston, Diana Grady, Terry Blair, Matthew Jadro, Paul Moore, Joe Ragona, Al Sandal, Kathryn Hughes, The Holmes Family, Renee Hardiman, Steve Knapp, Autumn Geraghty, Karen Bellamy, Darrell Shortt, Rob Blundin, Robert P. Flaherty, Maureen Tavrell, Lisa Z., Smitty, Christopher Hall, Jessie Regan, Lizanne Fisk, Karen Adamakis, Brenna Gill, Matthew Frey, Margie Bigelli, Christine Dagney, Elise Sanford, Susan Doucette, Kristy Doucette, Trisha Kirejczyk, Kara Jones, John Paul Carnell, Trina Noggle, Scott Greenwald, Dee Dee Kenney, Anastasia Macneil, Doug Olson Family, Debbie Desimone, Michele Mongeon, Amber Penske, Michael Dale Pennington, George Mundy Jr, The Foley Famiily, Robert Hildebrandt, Jamie Steiner, Will Gates, Tom Swan, Josh Carney, Vicki Britt, Wendy T Faler, Matt Earl, Jeff & Cheryl Simmons, Nicole Benoit, Dan And Elizabeth Johnston, John Foggo, Team Meeker, Team Meeker, Joseph M. Zafia, Sheila Bagg, David Ballard, Chandra Mccall, M'shel Bowen, Jackie Graebel, Kelly Mt. Castle, Jennifer Bogdan, Candy Yancey, Kyle Burdo, Joan Schroeder, Sherry Trapp, Allison Caputa, Sandy Ednie, Jean Bussell, Sara Holloway, Jaynee Strycker, Barclay Bakkum, Les Stewart, Mike Gillardi, Tom Higbee, Mark Franklin, Kameo Crea, Jeff Finger, Rachel Hoover, Amy Fleming, Phil, Brian Grabowski, Peggy Saeger, Catherine, Emily Hudson, Jane Johnson, Jeremy Hardy, Sandy O'daniel, Ashley P., Jessica Iglesias, and Jackie Klafeta!
__________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #353 Where in the world is this?

We're moving on!
Where in the World #353

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, October 16th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

July 18, 2014

Family Photography at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

On all my trips to Walt Disney World, my family is with me. They put up with my constant clicking of my camera shutters, are very patient when I bring the tripod to the parks and very supportive of the results. Below are a few photos I took of the family on our latest trip back in May.

Family photography at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Family photography at Walt Disney World (see text below).

We brought along my Sister-In-Law who had a great time. In the upper left, she is with my eldest daughter with Donald Duck at his Safari Breakfast in Disney's Animal Kingdom's Tusker House restaurant. The upper right has the family group on the staircase to Boma restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Botton right has my youngest daughter's hair blowing in the wind provided by the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride in the Magic Kingdom. The bottom left has my wife with her sister in front of Cinderella Castle at one of the Nikon Picture Spots (yes, looks like all the Picture Spots have been updated with the new sponsor).

The family loves these photo opportunities and Walt Disney World is as photogenic with people as it is without. Hope these will give you a few ideas on photographing your family when visiting Walt Disney World in the future.

June 22, 2014

Where in the World #337

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

So here it is. My last night in Walt Disney World. No, it's okay... I'm fine.
From Millan.Net

Last week's challenge: number #336
Where in the World #336

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Erin Blackwell

The bat area along the Maharaja Jungle Trek of Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Good Batman jokes, Chris Kelly and Team Hill!
Batman

Kristi Strembicki was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Kristi and to all our winners this week! Tom Hermes, Donna Frank, Candice Grimes, Timmy Saunders, Bethany Boucher, Matt Wildey, Lyn Johnson, Ann Dunnington, Ed Adams, Chris Shirk, Jen, Mike Haven, Christina Trigiani, Mark Niebojeski, Brett Borowski, Teala Van De Ven, Chuck Strom, Larry Bratsch, Terry Blair, Rosemarie Novelo, Karrie Duffey, Karla Meyer , Double Family, Kevin Marriott , Davida, Lyn Smith, Noelle Myers, Maureen Handy, Laura Donmoyer, Alan Mize, Teresa Miller, Melanie Dalton, Matt Holley, Mandy R., Sarah Orman, Lynda Abiuso, Rob Blundin, Chris Lankford, Eric Johnson, Amanda Clayton, Jim &Lorie Sonnen, Amy P, Cathy Fleming, Lucille Angermaier, Jenny, Christi Ison, Melissa Such, Shelly Borella, Penny, Vicki Britt, Kathy Morris, Tony Lliteras, Jim Riley, Kim H., Nicole Lassiter, Jim Finley, Anne Heffentreyer, Beth Powell, Melodie Jurgens, Suzanne Renfroe, Phyllis, Renee Hardiman, Lisa Zitek, Allison Forson, Tim Johansen, Doug Olson Family, Mickey Eckert, Maggie Klotz, Vera And Izzy Williams, Annie Niece, Kevin Morgan, Mary Dieuliis, Hobbes And Snorky, Craig, Judy Simonsen, Chris, Gretchen, And Katie Barnes, Sheryl Bryan, Tina Newton, The Kahle Family, Roxanne Kliebert, Ruben O'meara, Art Hutchinson, Jennifer Rowell, Ed Suscreba, Gabriella, Terry And Matthieu, Maryann Eckenrode , The Emich Family, Lynette Michalos, Cindy Pink, Clay Anthony, Heidi Goodhue, Shelly, Michele Mongeon , Carol Ney, Linda Ranatza, Tyler Otts , Tjg, The Kertes Family, Team Hill, Mary Beth Tarbet, Lori Rienhardt, Gail States, The Parker Family, Elaine Kleinhenz, Donna Begley, Emily Hudson, Jackie Lamendola, Luis Rodriguez, Kirsten Miller, Dawn Bach, Les Stewart, Tricia Petty, Carla C, Kathryn Perkins, Heather Pedulla, Michelle Darabaris, Cheryl Costello, Theresa Rucando, Tom Wert, Claire Gregory , Bob, Brent Lindblad, Jeff Blank, Rebecca Smith, Christina , Jeremy Hardy, Pierre Bernard, Robert Hildebrandt, Deb Gallo, Duskin Henard, Deb Kettering , Chad Adams, Elizabeth Scarborough, Patti Mccaffrey, Ron Harper, Erin Hammer, Kim Paulakos, Sara Alaimo, Sharon Powell, Barbara Baker, Peg Jones, Kirk Hardy, Maryann Romagnano, Carrie R, Team Meeker, The Gunnels Family, Pj Popsuj, Cynthia Gaubert, P Kyle, Lizanne Fisk, Michelle Cassisa, Jen Tremley, Patty Carty, Mike Haeberle, Russ Morgan, Bob Henriksen, Jen Cerce, Deb Ragno, Patti Deluca, Daniel Record, Kathryn Record, Joseph M. Zafia, Shelby Watson, Julia Wickware, Jose Serrano, Paul Ignudo, Jr., Barclay Bakkum, Lee Anastasi, Dave Carriere, Josh Carney, Hillary Waldroop, Eileen Miller, Kyle Burdo, Sheila, Michael And Kelly Barnes, Nicole Shuler, Jane Johnson, Janet T Thorn, Grumpy's Groupies, Team Bonnie Sue, Kerri Coggins, Stephanie Dollar, Smitty, Chris Kelly, Nan Amor, Ronald Delorey, Les Whitten, and Robert Wescovich. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

__________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #337 Where in the world is this?

We're in a park, Players, and I don't want this to be to tough, so it's in the FIRST park that they built in Walt Disney World.

 Where in the World #337

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, June 26th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

April 25, 2014

Photographing around Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I see a lot people when they first walk up to the Tree of Life after crossing the bridge just take a photo or look at the tree for a bit then walk off to either side around Discovery Island. I suggest to many of my friends and family, to take the short trail down to the animal viewing area. Here you can see the animals and take pictures often with no one around with the tree making a nice background. You can see many of the Tree of Life's carvings from there, too.

Snowy Egret at the base of the Tree of Life on Discovery Island in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Carving of an American Bison or Buffalo looks down upon a Snowy Egret at the base of the Tree of Life.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/14, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Discovery Island is one of the places you can get good pictures of the beautiful and endangered West African Crowned Cranes.

West African Crowned Crane on Discovery Island in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
West African Crowned Crane on Discovery Island.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

When approaching the Lion area towards the end of the Kilimanjaro Safari be ready as you never know when you might get a glimpse of one of the felines.

African lioness looking from behind a rock on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African lioness looking from behind a rock on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

After you get off your Kilimanjaro Safari jeep, be sure to follow the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to see all the wonderful animals and birds. The highlight being the troops of Western lowland gorillas. Take your time as you walk along the trail as you are often followed.

A bachelor Western lowland gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A bachelor Western lowland gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Sadly, you can no longer visit with the Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek as a few weeks after I took this photo, the dragon died. He was a magnificent animal who gave me many thrills over the years. {UPDATE: Paul (see comments) has informed me there is a new Komodo Dragon. I will get a photo of it on my next trip for sure.]

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

Disney's Animal Kingdom is a beautiful place to see, learn and photograph animals from all over the world.

February 25, 2014

Disney Pic of the Week: Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is not just about the popular Gorillas. There are animals to discover from the small naked mole rats to the birdlife in the aviary portion of the trail. Here you will find a variety of African species including the long legged and toed African Jacana. The legs and toes allow the African Jacana to walk on floating vegetation in search of insects and small invertebrates.

An African Jacana on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
An African Jacana on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 150mm focal length.

Lisa will be here on Thursday to share her discovery on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail for the Disney Pic of the Week.

January 28, 2014

Disney Pic of the Week: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have often heard the story about Walt Disney wanting to use real animals for the Jungle Cruise until someone told him the animals would not be where he wanted them. He quickly switched to Audio-Animatronic animals and the rest, as they say, is history.

Still, I think Walt would have approved of the Kilimanjaro Safari adventure in Disney's Animal Kingdom. It can be true the animals are sometimes hard to see or photograph, but each ride is unique. Last time I rode, this cheetah was in perfect position with the light at the time and nice foreground and background elements to frame it nicely. Something I have rarely seen in all the times on the ride.

Cheetah photographed during a Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Cheetah photographed during a Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari ride.
Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 560, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Lisa will be here on Thursday to share her Disney Pic of the Week from Disney's Animal Kingdom.

December 8, 2013

Where in the World #309

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

Hello from Walt Disney World!
smiley

From last week: Challenge #308:
 Where in the World #308

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Erin Blackwell

It's Terk from Disney's Tarzan in the Jingle Jungle Parade in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Terk is one of my husband's favorite characters, so we always say hi.

Daniel Record was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Daniel and all our winners this week! Mary Beth Tarbet, Wayne Beck, Jennifer Rowell, Bruce Hinterleitner, Linda Scrivano, The Kertes Family, Nan Amor, Tricia Petty, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Kris Nixon, Smitty, Carol Ney, Linda K. Ranatza, Scott Cullen, Belicia Cullen, Jodi Cooks, Bryant O'meara, Elaine Kleinhenz, Team Hill, Colette Stanton , Phyllis, The Gunnels Family, Ken Clark, Gina Dounelis, Jacque Singleton, Jeanine B. , Chris Nichols, Tim Johansen, Mike Haven, Jennifer Harmon, Jason L, Rob Hepler, Pat Schwier, Lynette Michalos, Paul Moore, Chloe Mayhew, Caryn Schill, Betsy Silvestri, Kathy Morris, Deb Ragno, Sara Holloway, Kristi Waschitz, Scott Precise, Melissa Thomas, Melissa Such, Lori Rienhardt, Laura V., Ruth Senecal, Judy Simonsen, John &Rhonda Nottell, Brian Miller, Michael Frisbee, Craig, Jim Finley, Diane Batista, Chad Staeckler, Otown Popek, Vicki,elizabeth,thomas And William Edwards, Gabriella, Terry And Matthieu, Sharon Powell, Chris Kelly, Pam Vanaustin, Susan Fuger, Hobbes And Snorky, Jim &Lorie Sonnen, Paul Dickson, Team Meeker, Mike Haeberle, Susie Howard, Carolyn Como, Rosmarie , Patti Mccaffrey, Tom Koval, Donna Frank, Kevin Miller, Audra Miller, Maureen Hanlon, Vera And Izzy Williams, Patty Carty, Jennifer Greene, Maureen Handy, Jen Eacret, Paul Knott, The Tisdale Family, Mickey Eckert, Clay Anthony, Kirsten Miller, Doug Olson Family, Kerri Coggins, Rhonda Tomlinson, Demetrios Makres, Luis Rodriguez, Karyn Christenson, Jim Dewalt, The Patterson Family, Duskin Henard, Herb Miller, Vicki Shearman, Kelly Smith, Anastasia Macneil, Kate Fischer, Dayna Guay, Nathaniel Clements, Gail States, Barclay Bakkum, Vicki Britt, Erin Hammer, Karen Aguiar, Robert Wescovich, Michelle Palazzo, The Pearsall Family, Robert Pearsall, Diane Ramos, Steve &Ruby Jordan, Theresa Rucando, Stephanie Newell, Josh Carney, Larry Sprenkle, Sarah Orman, Olivia, Christine, Sophia Clifton, Matt Holley, Jennifer Snook, Ron Harper, Hillary Waldroop, Mark Franklin, Russ Morgan, Rob Blundin, Carrie Kenney, Kristi Strembicki, Dee Dee Kenney, Kerry Mccaffrey, Jackie Graebel, Sandie Albrecht, Claire Gregory, Jane Johnson, Joseph M. Zafia, Diane Curfman, Kyle Burdo, Les Stewart, Tricia Noble, Randy Thomas, Tom Higbee, Peggy Saeger, Morgan M., Amanda Izzo, Jullie Pudem, Mary Ann Eckenrode, Andrea Kruszewski, and Amy Fleming. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #309 Where in the world is this?

We're going to another park, Players. I think this one is a toughie!

 Where in the World #309

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, December 12th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

September 6, 2013

Trekking through Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have written about and shared many photographs from Disney's Animal Kingdom attractions: Kilimanjaro Safari and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Both can be found by visiting the village of Harambe in Africa. I have even taken you on the Wild Africa Trek: Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I and Part II.

Today, I want to share with you a few more photos from those experiences.

I see many people walking quickly on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Time can be one's master at Disney's Animal Kingdom with so much to do and see. If one can, I suggest stopping along the trail to enjoy the animals. The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) are an animal you need to observe. Watch how they use their tongues to eat and notice their neck in how it moves. Do not be fooled by the zebra-like stripes as the giraffe is their closest relative on the evolutionary tree.

To get a good photo of one of the okapi, you have to wait a bit as they move around looking for food in their habitat. Imagine trying to spot an okapi in the lush jungle of its native home in the Congo of Africa. It is no wonder it was not discovered by European adventurers until the late 19th century.

Young Okapi on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Young Okapi on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), long-necked species of antelope, browse behind the Meerkats on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. However, to get this view of one, you have to be on the Wild Africa Trek's overland trail which goes off into the woods to the side of the Meerkat compound. The Gerenuk was curious as to who was roaming his woods.

Gerenuk on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Gerenuk on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

While large bellied and cumbersome looking, Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) are the most dangerous large animal in Africa. Hippos are very aggressive towards humans, whom they commonly attack whether in boats or on land for no apparent reason. Which is why I was happy to photograph this female Hippopotamus from a safe and raised distance while on the Wild Africa Trek.

Hippopotamus on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Hippopotamus on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1100, EV -0.3, 300mm focal length.

Animal parks like Disney's Animal Kingdom educate and inspire people to help save these creatures in their native lands. I hope my photography helps in the same way.

July 7, 2013

Where in the World #287

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

I can't believe what I forgot this:
From Millan.Net
It's belated, but heartfelt!

Will Gates, have a magical trip! Everyone say Bon Voyage, Players!
From Millan.Net

Christi Ison, I'm torn. Should I tell you to stay on the wagon but miss you? Or be an enabler and have you back? Oh heck with it! Welcome back! From Millan.Net

Here's Challenge #286:
Where in the World #286

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Erin Blackwell

I call this photo "Crocs"; my husband calls it "The stupidest picture you've ever taken, Erin". :)
It's the Nile Crocodile area on Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom with me in the safari truck. This is important, kids: my foot is inside the jeep, leaning on the side. Listen to your driver and keep arms, feet, and the rest of you in your seat! Right, John Pasqueralli?

Daniel Record was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Daniel and all our winners this week! Bruce Jones, Chris Masse, Chris Connors, Debbie Connors, Cj Connors, Hoekzema Family, Double Family, Mike Rotkiske, Ed Elder, Vicki Edwards, Mary Beth Tarbet, Mike Haeberle, Donna Frank, Kristi Strembicki, Amber P., Missy Tillman, Karen Schlumpf, Chris Horne, Dee Dee Kenney, Melissa Thomas, Joy Ferson, Tracy Ludwig, Heather Devito, Jennifer Rowell, Paul Knott, Lee Anastasi, Lindsey Nozal, Chris Nichols, Amanda Campbell, Deb Ragno, Josh Dean, Brian Miller, The Kertes Family, Dawn Bach, Steve And Ruby Jordan, Rob Blundin, Anne Marie Cronin, Anne Marie Cronin, Tiffany Gibb, Team Hill, Chris Kelly, Colette Stanton, Maryann Moore, Steve Goodman, Mike Walter, Eric Enli, Chuck Sands, Paul Moore, John & Rhonda Nottell, Ken Maikowski, Kathy Huckabee, Kathryn Perkins, Maryann Eckenrode, Scott Cullen, Belicia Cullen, Lori Rienhardt, The Parker Family, Pam Vanaustin, Sharon Pierce, Bryan Kruse, Kelly Cummings , James Dezern, Brian Mcwithey, Michael Gainey, Colin Sawyer, Theresa Lennon, Rob Hildebrandt , Kerri Coggins, Pollyanna Buff, Curtis Bille, Tina Powell, Betsy Silvestri, Kenny, Trisha Johnson, Theresa Rucando, Tim Johansen, Mary Ann Lamay, The Malesky Family, Jen Cerce, Jeremy Hardy, Judy Simonsen, Maggie Klotz, Lynette Michalos, Jason And Melinda Lenz, Dewayne Shaw, Susan Doucette, Linda Ranatza, Carol Ney, Cynthia Hitchcock, Alex Gamill, Mike Mondoux, The Foley Family, The Crea Family, Carolyn Como, Brian Beckom, Kaylie Seeley, Hulse Family, Jim Finley, Rebecca Smith, Bob Patterson, Jason Skow, The Patterson Family, Cameron Lange, Vera Williams, Karen Costa, Jen Snook, Tricia Noble, Sara Alaimo, Andrew Pettit, Timothy Hutchinson, Andy Schumacher, Ken Rhinehart, Wayne Witherspoon, Tinkerbell Wells, Barclay Bakkum, Jeremy Reichelt, Kara Morton, Stephanie Dollar, Caitlin Lewis, Diane Ramos, Bonnie, Jennifer Mercier, Mark Proper, Scott Greenbaum, Maryann Romagnano, Steve Narel, Sandie Albrecht, Leach Family, Erin Hammer, Jen Tremley, Josh Carney, Peter Boguszewski, Matt Holley, The Kahle Family, Antoinette Leblanc, Jeff Bush, Ladonna Tisdale, Vicki Yarnell, Cindy Pink, Team Bonnie Sue, Gabriella, Terry And Matthieu, Christopher Hall, Carla C, Nadine Miltier, Zach Szymko, Lizanne Fisk, Mouse Junkie Adam, Stacy Guarracino, John Pasqueralli, Hayley Valk, Vickie Scioneaux, The Powells, Robert P. Flaherty, Fran Rendulic, Robert Wescovich, Russell Hamlin, Michael Gunnels, Meredith Rule, Les Whitten, Joseph M. Zafia, Elaine Kleinhenz, Tom Koval, Anjanette Tournillon, Jane Johnson, Evald Olson, Tricia Petty, Patti Mccaffrey, Paul Ignudo, Jr., and Julia C. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

In fact, time to draw the monthly winner! And that lucky Player is: Dawn Bach! Congratulations! You'll be getting a prize from Deb Wills!
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Challenge #287 Where in the world is this?

We're in a park with something newer! So if you haven't been to Walt Disney World in the past year, it's time to check around on the AllEars website!

 Where in the World #287

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, July 11th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

May 17, 2013

Using a Super Zoom Lens at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I am a big fan of using Super Zoom lenses on digital SLR cameras. When I travel to places like Walt Disney World, I do not want to be carrying a lot of heavy equipment. A Super Zoom lens lets me go with a small pouch which holds an extra battery, memory cards, lens cleaning cloth, flash and one extra lens, usually the 50mm f/1.8.

I have used Nikon's Super Zoom lenses on both a DX (cropped camera) and FX (full framed camera). They are the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR DX Zoom and Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR II FX Zoom Lenses. Canon has their 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-S IS Zoom Lens. Sigma and Tamron each have an 18-250mm zoom lens. All are image stablized and very versatile.

Super Zoom lenses are full of compromises. They have variable apertures and are not very fast nor are they extremely wide or long. I find they work perfectly in a place like a Disney themepark, festivals, or fairs. The following photos were all taken with a Nikon D700 FX camera and the 28-300VR lens.

For this photo of a tricycle parked near Kali River Rapids entrance in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I got in close and low using the widest focal length of the lens.

A tricycle parked near Kali River Rapids entrance in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A tricycle parked near Kali River Rapids entrance.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 25mm focal length.

Along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, the gorrilas, at their closest, are still far away and the reach of a super zoom lens comes in very handy.

Bachelor Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Bachelor Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 160, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

The Image Stablizaton (Vibration Reduction for Nikon's) in the Super Zoom lenses work even while doing motion photography like panning at the Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom.

Guests speeding around the Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests speeding around the Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/29, ISO 200, EV 0, 85mm focal length.

The verstality of the wide range of focal lengths helps to photograph scenes like this one. Space Mountain was being lighted by a late day Sun with rain clouds behind it. I really liked being able to crop in and create this composition with the spires of the ride bright lighted in front of a dark, gloomy background.

Space Mountain with rain clouds in the Magic Kingdom's Torrowland, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spires of Space Mountain in Torrowland.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/100s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 105mm focal length.

Let me repeat, Super Zooms give you a lot of compostional freedom. I envisioned this photo of the Red Hero car from Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show in Disney's Hollywood Studios knowing I was going to be seating in the VIP section of the grandstands during the show. The wide end let me get the car's reflection, the camera truck and the set behind all in the frame. Using a fast shutter speed let me freeze all the action at the right time.

Red Hero car during the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Red Hero car jumping during the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm focal length.

A slight zoom on the lens from 28mm to 40mm eliminated some foreground clutter and brought the broom in closer as I photographed the Sorcerer Mickey Mouse topiary in front of Disney's Hollywood Studios' entrance.

Sorcerer Mickey Mouse topiary in front of the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Sorcerer Mickey Mouse topiary in front of the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/16, ISO 1100, EV 0, 40mm focal length, HDR Image.

Are Super Zooms the perfect travel lens? Maybe not perfect but the closest thing I have used to one.

May 3, 2013

How to Photograph at a Busy Disney Park

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I came upon an article called How to Photograph Busy Tourist Sites by Kav Dadfar on the Digital Photography School website a few weeks ago. All the tips sounded a lot like the ones Lisa and I have talked about either directly or indirectly here on the Picture This! blog. I thought it would be fun to take each tip and expand on them in relation to Disney Photography. I hope you enjoyed the series. Below is each tip and a summary from the Disney posts with links for your reference.

1. Get Up Early

As I explained in my Walt Disney World version, staying late at a Disney park will give you your best people-free photography opportunities. On my personal photo blog, I did show how getting to non-Disney tourist destinations early is the way to go.

2. Include the Tourists

Especially at Disney properties, it is almost impossible not to get other guests in your photos. As I showed, just include the people like I did below. In fact, I waited for someone interesting (see #4 below) to stop in front of the fish tank on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

A lady looking at the fish on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A lady looking at the fish on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 1100, EV 0, 100mm focal length.

3. Compose Carefully

By carefully cropping people out of a photo either in camera or afterwards in post-processing, you can eliminate distracting crowds or individuals in your photos. While it is best to do it before taking the photograph, it is easy to crop and, even eliminate, distracting people in our photos using photo editing software.

4. Take Your Time

I do understand this can be hard to do for people visiting a Disney resort, waiting for a time when people are no longer around at the location you want to photograph does work. As Confucius said, The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

5. Think Creatively

This can be very challenging and very rewarding to do. Look from different angles, get low, get high or tilt your camera in different directions. At Disney, you never know what you might uncover.

6. Focus on the Details

For Disney photographers, looking for details to photograph in the parks, resorts, restaurants and queues is a favorite subject. Do not forget about all the Hidden Mickeys to be found at Walt Disney World.

November 23, 2012

Color Composition at Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

There are many rules of composition in photography, like the Rule of Thirds, symmetry, golden triangle and others. One thing that is often overlooked is using color in composition. Color can be used to lead the viewer's eye to the subject, create a response in the viewer or even frame an image. When studying this subject, I found I relied mostly on my subjects position or their relationship to other elements in the viewfinder. The following photos I did take with color being the primary photographic element.

Besides his humor, Cool Hand Luke stood out in front of Disney's Boardwalk Resort with his brightly colored costume which contrasted with the natural tones of the resort's buildings and wooded boardwalk. To further enhance his appearance, I placed him in the right third of the frame where your eyes are lead to first before exploring the rest of the scene.

Cool Hand Luke Juggling Show entertaining guests on The Boardwalk, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cool Hand Luke Juggling Show entertaining guests on The Boardwalk.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/11, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm focal length, fill flash.

The blue twilight sky makes for a beautiful backdrop for the brightly lighted and colorful Characters in Flight tethered balloon ride at Downtown Disney. Here I balance the balloon with the horizon in the lower third of the frame.

Characters in Flight tethered balloon ride at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Characters in Flight tethered balloon ride at Downtown Disney.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/3.5, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

A yellow Taveta Golden Weaver (Ploceus castaneiceps) bird on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom posed nicely for me against the natural background. The contrast of the yellow bird pops right out at you.

Taveta Golden Weaver bird on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Taveta Golden Weaver bird on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/80s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

Going to finish up with a couple holiday photos now that Thanksgiving here in the United States has passed and the shopping season is in full swing today.

The slivery-blue Cinderella Castle in holiday Dream Lights from the Ticket and Transportation Center near the Ferry dock reflects in the Seven Seas Lagoon on a December evening. Reflections in water and other surfaces help to draw one's eyes to the main subject.

Cinderella Castle in holiday Dream Lights from the Ticket and Transportation Center, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cinderella Castle in holiday Dream Lights from the Ticket and Transportation Center.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 3s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length, tripod.

The Toy Soldier statues around the Main Street USA Christmas Tree in the Magic Kingdom can be made the colorful subject by using a wide open aperture to create the dreamy bokeh (out of focus background) of the lights on the tree behind them.

Toy Soldier figure in front of the Main Street USA Christmas tree at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Toy Soldier figure in front of the Main Street USA Christmas Tree.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/40s, f/5.6, ISO 3200, EV -0.6, 116mm focal length, polarizer filter.

This month on my personal photo blog, I ran an assignment about Color Composition where you can find more reference articles and links to people who participated.

October 28, 2012

Where in the World #252

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

Thank you, Players, for your understanding for my mistake last week!

And Happy Halloween to everyone who is celebrating it!

Smiley from millan.net

As for this week, I am in Walt Disney World vacation! Everyone wave to me! Hi from Disney World! Smiley from millan.net

Kelly Mager is here too. You know we are both thinking of all of you! (In between kiosks a the Food and Wine festival.) ;)

Seriously though, if you are at Walt Disney World now and you see me with my AllEars backpack, say hi! I'm carrying AllEars swag like our trading cards and buttons!

Claire Gregory, I can't believe we're going to miss each other by a week!

Here was the challenge:
 Where in the World #251

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Erin Blackwell

It's the camel from Mickey's Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade. in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Actually, it's Mickey's JINGLE Jungle Parade. when they decorate the floats for Christmas.

Players, I love it when you talk with Imagineers' jargon. I had quite a few entries for "one of those paradey/floaty thingies". I don't know how you memorize technical specs like that!

Danielle Ciotti Harsley was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Danielle and to all the readers who got the answer right: Emily Hudson, Ed Elder, Betsy Silvestri, Chris Kelly, Mary Beth Tarbet, Jenny Brennan, Kerri Coggins, Chris Masse, Team Hill, Amanda Campbell, Annie Snodgrass, Morag Lemon, Vera Williams, Larissa Huda, Jamie K, Hayley Valk, Diane Arsenault, Sara Powell, John Pasqueralli, Karen Ramirez, Angie Young, Wendy T Faler, Vicki, William, Thomas, And Elizabeth Edwards, Cynthia Hitchcock, Kye Layton, Claire Gregory, Maureen Handy, Theresa Rucando, Katie Marshall, Pam Tees, Kelly Cummings, Jerry Weldon, Kris Nixon, Megan, Hobbes And Snorky, Diane Curfman, Tom Koval, Clay, Lee Anastasi, Jennifer Rupert, Jason Geberdt, Sharon Dale, Trina Noggle, Nathalie Periard, Angela And David Blevins, Hoekzema Family, Carrie Henderson, Peg Howard, Kellie Harpel, Amber Slifer, Diane Ramos, Debbie Desimone, Tricia Noble, Stephanie Linares, Erin Loring, Lindsey Nozal, Kristen Mccoy, Jaclyn Kelch, Kelly, Dan And Elizabeth Johnston, Jenifer Moyer, Jackie Graebel, Mark Franklin, and Jared Meeker. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

Remember, you are all actually entered TWICE in the drawing!
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Challenge #252: Where in the world is this?

Now a new challenge!
 Where in the World #252

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, November 1st, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

August 17, 2012

An African Day in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I spent a most of a day in Disney's Animal Kingdom Africa on my last trip. Thought I would share a few photos with you. Notice the camera data which will tell you how I was able to photograph them. Ask any questions in the comments.

First stop was the Kilimanjaro Safari. The attraction has a new story focusing on wildlife conservation and photography. The jeeps stop more often than before for more photo opportunities of the animals. As I have mentioned here before. Do not forget to photograph the wildlife spotting guide above your driver's head so you can identify the animals when you get back home.

Wildlife spotting guide on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Wildlife spotting guide on the Kilimanjaro Safari jeep.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 2200, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

Remember the Wild Africa Trek tour I took last year? Below is one of the trucks used on the savannah leg of the tour. You can see how close they get to the animals. They were stopped there for a long time, too.

A Common Eland lying down near a Wild Africa Trek truck in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Common Eland lying down near a Wild Africa Trek truck.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

As I mentioned above, the Kilimanjaro Safari jeeps make more stops with the new story. This Reticulated Giraffe was forging for food about 20 feet from where we stopped along with two others. The driver allowed plenty of time for everyone get photos before moving on to the elephants.

Reticulated Giraffe on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Reticulated Giraffe on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 640, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

After getting off the Kilimanjaro Safari, I took a stroll through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to visit with more of Africa's animals and birds. The Okapi is an amazing animal which looks like a cross between a zebra and an antelope. In reality, it is more closely related to the giraffes as the educational blackboard shows next to the Okapi's pen on the Pangani Trail.

Educational blackboard on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Blackboard explaining how the Giraffe and Okapi are related on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/4.2, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 48mm focal length.

The Aviary on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail has a healthy population of the Africa Golden Weaver bird. Guests enjoy watching them build and climb into their nests from below. Again, do not forget to take photos of the large bird spotting guides you find when you enter the aviary.

Africa Golden Weaver birds at their nests on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Africa Golden Weaver birds at their nests on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 720, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

There was a lot of activity in the gorilla enclave. The baby gorilla was playing on one side and a couple of bachelor gorillas were out on the other side. One of the bachelor troop was drinking from a little waterfall. Once he had his fill, he sat down and gave me this look.

Bachelor Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Bachelor Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 160, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

As many times as I have done both the Kilimanjaro Safari and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, I have never come away without learning something new, seeing something new and photographing something new. Walt Disney once said, "I have a great love of animals and laughter." I think he would enjoy Animal Kingdom very much for both.

July 29, 2012

Where in the World #240

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

To all who come to this photo trivia game, Welcome! Along the way, the photos can make us relive memories and see details Walt's Imagineers put into everything we love in Walt Disney World!

Bon Voyage to Gabriella & Matthieu! They will be in Walt Disney World as we all read this, so let's wave to them! Enjoy your trip, Gabriella & Matthieu! Tell everybody we said hello!
Then Mary Tackett leaves soon after they come back. Could you bring me back an eggroll, Mary? From the eggroll cart in Adventureland. My favorite!

Here was the July 22nd Challenge:
 Where in the World #239

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © 2010 Erin Blackwell, Canon PowerShot SD890 IS, f/3.2, 1/60sec, 7mm, ISO-250

Emily Hudson said: On the back of license plate # KOD 1817 Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicle - specific enough?

Smiley from millan.net
Whoa...

Do it again! What's inside the cooler?!

Until we find that out, that is a Kilimanjaro Safari vehicle in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
I do want to say something about the picture, though. I forgot how many places have piled camping equipment in Animal Kingdom. I should have edited the photo to give more of the background surrounding the items; the way I did it was making this close to guessing where the patch of grass was. (Remember that?) So I'm opening up the answer pool to take that into account.

Chris Masse was the first to send in the correct answer! Two weeks in a row! Congratulations to Chris and to all the readers who got the answer right: The Cummings Family, Bill Cudney, Katelyn Rapoza, Jennifer Rowell, Rachel Johnson, Jenny Brennan, The Strukel Family, Teresa Plunkett, Karen Klein, Steve Bieniek, Chris Horne, Mike M., Mary Thatcher, The Leach Family, Mike Walter, Marcie Soderlund, Erin Hammer, Jay Burkhart, Dana, Will Gates, Kim Williams, Kenny, Deb Ragno, Erin Loring, Hannah M, Matt Cofone, Marian Leafblad, Kris Nixon, Deme Grabert, Dana Cortese, Gabriella & Matthieu, Becky A, Kevin Arndt, Louise Barton, Erin Macdonald-behrend, Ken Maikowski, Jenny Stoneburner, Bruce Hinterleitner, Brenda Mcguire, Maureen Handy, Scott Greenbaum, Bob Patterson, Sara Holloway, Phill Connelly, Morgan M., Lee A, Deborah Boucher, Carolyn Como, Amanda Perkins, Jeremy Hardy, Emma, Heidi Burke, Katie Helton, Susan Tadlock, Kelly Dagney, Clay Anthony, Scott Mitchell, Bob A, The Parker Family, Hemphill Family, Mike Malampy, Mary Tackett, Eli Young, Wendy Snelgrove, Jennifer Rupert, Chloe Mayhew, Christopher Barnes, The Moore Family, Emily Hudson, Carla Nale, Pam Vanaustin, Christine Beal, Bill Mckim, Tom Buck, Veronica Monteiro, Daniel Schweizer, Julie And Kody Rider, Nick Bentz, Scott Cullen, Steve Smith, Wayne Chadourne, Matt Holley, Melesia Love, Walt, Andrea Kruszewski, Jeremy Reichelt, Jack Foley, Elizabeth Scarborough, Josh Carney, Eva Mayhew, Cameron Lange, Belicia Cullen, Nancy Daniele, Wendy T Faler, Dave Carriere, Linda College, Stephanie Linares, Scott Sangston, Alan Mize, Michele Delorenzo, Annie Snodgrass, Jason Skow, Bruce Jones, Mickey Eckert, Emma Poprock, John Ames, Jennifer Hoffman, Heidi Goodhue, Crissy Stout, Mark Proper, Walter N. Clark, Linda Grau, Hillary Waldroop, Megan, Betsy Dross, Claire Gregory, Dee Riccio, Joy Ousterout, Brian Mcwithey, Amy W, Karen Smith, Alissa, Karen Dresser-smith, Hobbes And Snorky, John Foggo, Kerry Mccaffrey, Olivia D., Christine D., Connie Mcneillie, Darrell Shortt, Shirley Garcowski, Jared Orth, Les Stewart, Patti Mccaffrey, Cathy Mager, M. Bafuma, Sherri Pell, Sandra Smith, Jeremy Mccaffrey, Evald Olson, Nancy, Dave Kanigowski, Dee Dee Kenney, Eileen Miller, Jennifer Bogdan, Margie Larmon, Stacy Guarracino, George Mundy Jr, Lisa And Richard Palmer, and Noah Schweizer. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #240: Where in the world is this?

We're stay in the parks, Players. In fact, I hope you got park hoppers!

 Where in the World #240

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, August 2nd, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer
_______________________________________________________________________

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

January 13, 2012

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I left you last week, I was still wearing the safety vest (see below). After visiting with the sunbathing Nile Crocodiles, my Wild Africa Trek group headed overland until we were across from the place where the Safari jeeps first enter the savannah part of the Harambe Reserve. For those who have been on the safari, this is the location drivers stop to point out the large baobab tree.

Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

Africa Trek Guide Lauren
Here you can see I had my camera secured via a neck strap and that I had on my flash which I used to fill in shadows during the first part of the Wild Africa Trek. You will also notice the black cord above and behind me which was attached to an overhead cable. They make sure you can not fall too far if you do slip. The vest itself had room for small objects in the zippered pockets like an extra camera battery and memory card.

Here we all took off our vests and climbed aboard a pickup-like truck with bench seating in the back with a canopy overhead. The tour guides switched places at this time. The photographer became the guide and visa versa. The bad news about these trucks is they bounce worse than the safari jeeps making photography very difficult when moving. The goods news is they stop for long periods of time when the guide asks the driver to pull over. This is how I got this photograph of the two young African elephants playing near the water. The truck pulled over and we all photographed them. We also stopped for antelopes, gazelles, kudus, giraffes, wildebeest and the Mandrill baboons.

Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 280, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

After the elephants, the truck pulled off the safari road and up to a viewing platform which overlooks the savannah and the flamingo pool. We were treated to an African snack made specifically for the tour by Boma's staff and more Jungle Juice. There are restrooms here which were needed by several of us. I can imagine this place being very hot in the summer months. In early December, it was very pleasant.

Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0, 32mm focal length.

The animals came close but not up to the viewing platform. Here is a photo of a Thomson's gazelle which was grazing about 20 feet from the platform. I watched and photographed him for a long time. Finally, he lifted his head and I was able to get a very nice portrait.

Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

This reticulated giraffe played hide and seek with me for most of the time I was watching him. There was some tall palm trees nearby he was ducking his head and neck in and out of. He finally decided to cross over the maintenance road to see if there was better eating on the other side. Notice how his left and right side legs stay together and is called pacing. This is rare. Most animals, including us, have a diagonal gait.

A reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 100mm focal length.

All to soon it was time to leave as another tour was getting close. In all, we spent about 45 minutes eating, enjoying each others company and watching and photographing the animals. We all gasped in unison a short time later after resuming our ride down the safari road as we saw two cheetahs lying out in the sunlight with another one walking slowing towards them. The guides quickly told the driver to pull over. As this is not a normal stopping area for the Wild Africa Trek, the driver had to be a bit creative as he pulled into the brush directly across from the cheetahs. There was no way I could have gotten this photo of cheetahs together on the regular ride.

Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 210mm focal length.

The group of 12 trekkers were a buzz about this encounter for the rest of the tour as we continued down the safari road. We did not stop for the warthogs but did slow down enough for me to get this photo.

Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 450, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

The lions where being their usual cat-selves. Snoozing through the mid-day and not being very photogenic. The tour guide told me it is best to go on the safari around 4 in the afternoon when they are more likely to be active.

The driver dropped us off at one of the safari terminals. We all gave him an ovation for his expert driving and finding a place to stop when the cheetahs presented themselves. We hiked back to the Wild Africa Trek starting location behind Tusker House to pickup our stuff from the lockers and get one last group photo with our guides kneeling in front; Lauren on the left and Eleanor on the right. This photo proves we started out with 12 and ended with 12. As you can see the group consisted of young and old, fit and not so fit individuals.

Scott and his fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Myself and fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

For me, as an avid animal photographer and conservationist, I felt the price of the Wild Africa Trek was in line with what I got out of the tour. The photo opportunities can not be compared to the regular safari experience as I believe the photos I have shared with you over the last two weeks have shown. Everyone who goes on the tour gets a stainless steel water bottle with the Wild Africa Trek logo on it and a photo CD. The CD contains not only photos of yourself and fellow trekkers but photos of the animals taken by the guides. So, if you do not take a camera on the tour or only a small camera, you will still get good photos of the animals encountered on the trek.

The guides were great. They answered mine and everyone's questions, were pleasant, courteous and understanding of everyone's ability to handle the Wild Africa Trek's trails, bridges and bouncy truck. If you go on the tour and get either Eleanor or Lauren, you'll be well taken care of.

If you've already done the Wild Africa Trek, post about your experience in our Review Area.

January 6, 2012

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last year Jeanine Yamanaka did a detailed review of the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I am not going to duplicate her excellent review here and will concentrate on telling you what I felt of it from a photographer's point of view.

Initially when this tour was announced Disney said nothing could be taken on it including cameras. That certainly put a damper on my excitement. It must have done the same for lots of other people as Disney soon changed their mind. I thought I would have to find a way to tether my camera to the safety vest everyone must wear during the first part of the tour. I was delighted to find out as long as the camera has a neck or wrist strap, no tethering would be necessary. After taking the tour, I totally agree with this assessment as I never felt my camera was in any danger.

My group heads out on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
My group heads out on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

Africa Trek Guide Eleanor
After checking in, signing the waiver, getting my safety vest on and successfully walking over the test bridges to assure the tour guides I would not fall or trip. I waited for my eleven fellow adventurers by enjoying a steel cup of Jungle Juice from Boma. A very pleasant surprise as I love that stuff.

A quick note on the equipment I used. Because you must store anything you would carry in your pockets in a locker before you start the tour, I went with my Nikon D700 camera body and Nikon 28-300mm VR super zoom lens with image stabilization (VR). This is a very compact and useful combination for any Disney park. I attached a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash for fill light a fellow Disney photographer friend of mine said he wished he had done. I put an extra camera battery and memory card in a zippered pocket of the safety vest. One should always carry such backups as you would not want to miss any photo opportunities due to a dead battery or full memory card.

Soon, we were heading out into the park and down the start of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail until we got to the Meerkats. There we headed off into the woods on an overland trail to the Hippopotamus pools. Here we meet up with a Hippo researcher who took our questions and explained the behavior of the hippos below us. Did you know, the males on in the right hand Hippo pool while the females are on the left side? If you are riding the Kilimanjaro Safari in the future, look just above the male Hippo pool on the right side and you might see a group of adventurers on the Trek. This is where the price of the Wild Africa Trek for a photographer pays off. At each location we stopped at, we were given time to enjoy watching and photographing the animals. Did not have to wish for a safari driver to stop!

A female hippopotamus walks towards the water after sunning itself seen on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A female hippopotamus seen on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

After the Hippo pools we walked over to a platform leading to the first of two long and high rope bridges. Your vest is securely attached to a steel cable above the bridge but with enough slack to have complete freedom when walking across the bridges. Here I am crossing the first bridge and the photos I took from it.

Walking over a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Scott walking over a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.
A female hippopotamus submerged as seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A female hippopotamus submerged seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 150mm focal length.
A Kilimanjaro Safari jeep full of guests seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A Kilimanjaro Safari jeep full of guests seen from a rope brige on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 28mm focal length.

Below you see me photographing from the second bridge. I made sure my camera was using a fast shutter speed as the rope bridges bounce and sway some. Not to mention the large gaps between some of the planks. I had to spread my legs to get as stable a shot as I could.

Photographing from a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Scott photographing from a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

I sure did not want to slip as these guys were below me...

Large Nile Crcodile males photographed from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Large Nile Crcodile males photographed from a rope brige on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/11, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 178mm focal length, fill flash.

All the Nile Crocodiles you see in Disney's Animal Kingdom are males. They range in age from 10 to 15 years and up to 20 feet long.

Once we all got to the other side of the two bridges, we attached ourselves to another safety cable and could get right out on the edge of an overlook about 10 feet above where the Nile Crocodiles where sunning themselves. It was quite a thrill to see them so close and without glass or bars between them and us.

After about 15 minutes, we headed back on the trail to our next destination on the Wild Africa Trek which I will talk about in Part 2 next week.

If you've already done the Wild Africa Trek, post about your experience in our Review Area.

December 16, 2011

AllEars.net 15th Anniversary Photo Essay

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This is my account of the AllEars.net 15th Anniversary December to Remember events I attended between December 8 and December 11, 2011. I was not sure if Deb Wills and the All Ears team could pull it off. Read below to see if they did.

The kick-off event was held in the Convention Center at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Disney historian Jim Korkis talked about the history of the Carousel of Progress. Like the Wilderness Lodge meet I attended back in October, Jim covered the Carousel of Progress from Walt Disney's initial ideas to how it came about to be included in the 1964 New York Worlds Fair before finding a home in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland in Florida by way of Disneyland. Jim filled in mystery's and included entertaining side stories. For instance, when Walt needed a song for the Carousel of Progress, he went to the Sherman Brothers and told them it had to be uplifting and only 13 and half seconds long.

Jim Korkis entertaining a room full of All Ears guest at the Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Jim Korkis entertaining a room full of All Ears guest at the Contemporary Resort.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 24mm focal length, flash.

I missed out on the Toy Story Mania Eat and Play Meet (click for Laura's coverage) and meet up with the All Ears team and fans for A Night of Sweet Bites and Street Lights in the Art of Animation building at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This event had two parts. The first was a dessert party in the Meet and Greet area. Of course, Minnie and Mickey came out for photos. Barrie and I got a taste of being PhotoPass photographers (that is Barrie on the left below) as we took turns photographing all the All Ears fans with the famous duo.

Barrie doing PhotoPass duty at A Night of Sweet Bites and Street Lights meet in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Barrie doing PhotoPass duty at A Night of Sweet Bites and Street Lights meet in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/100s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV 0, 28mm focal length, flash.

The second part of the night had all of us being escorted across Disney's Hollywood Studios to an empty and dark Streets of America. Deb Wills had the honor of throwing the switch to turn on the Osborne Spectacle of Lights (see below). We all spent the next thirty minutes enjoying, photographing and being amazed at the new enhancements to this year's display.

Deb Wills turning on the Osborne Lights in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Deb Wills turning on the Osborne Lights in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/5.3, ISO 720, EV 0, 98mm focal length, flash.

The next day, around 40 people showed up for Barrie's and mine Smile and Say Jambo at Animal Kingdom photowalk very early the next morning. After a brief introduction, we raffled off some photos, photo gifts and other cool stuff. We then reconvened in Harambe Village for a walk on the Pagani Exploration Trail to photograph birds, meerkats, hippos and gorillas. Most of the group then went on a Kilimanjaro Safari. We filled up most of a safari jeep and had good photo opportunities of antelopes, elephants, giraffes, white rhinos and cheetahs.

A jeep full of All Ears photowalk attendees on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A jeep full of All Ears photowalk attendees on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/13s, f/3.5, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

After our Africa adventures, it was time to relax at the Open House in one of the Grand Villas at Kidani Village. The villa was a two level, three bedroom suite complete with kitchen, dining and living rooms.

I attended a Hidden Mickey tour with author Steve Barret around the resort's lobby and hallways.

AllEars.net team member and Hidden Mickey author, Steve Barrett, in the lobby of the Kidani Village, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
AllEars.net team member and Hidden Mickey author, Steve Barrett, in the lobby of the Kidani Village.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/80s, f/3.5, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

The villa's balconies overlook the wildlife preserve where we all watched and photographed antelopes, giraffes and zebras. Inside, people collected All Ears trading cards, enjoyed snacks, cold beverages and a few raffle give-a-ways by Deb Wills.

All Ears guests watching animals from the Kidani Village Grand Villa, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
All Ears guests watching animals from the Kidani Village Grand Villa.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/3.5, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 28mm focal length.

The next morning, we were all in for a special treat as Don "Ducky" Williams gave an hour long talk about how he became a character artist for the Walt Disney Company. His story was full of funny anecdotes, interesting insights and, finally, triumph as he was hired (or more like never asked to leave). The whole time he drew Disney character after Disney character like the one of Ariel below. Afterward, Deb Wills raffled off each of the 22 different characters Don had drawn that morning. Each one was signed by him.

Don Ducky Williams finishing up a character portrait in the Odyssey restaurant in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Don Ducky Williams finishing up a character portrait in the Odyssey restaurant in Epcot.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/8, ISO 2500, EV 0, 200mm focal length, flash.

The last event of the four days was an Illuminations Dessert party held in one of the VIP rooms inside the American Adventure. It had turned rainy which prompted the change in venue from the Italy terrace. The dessert tables were filled with fruit, cakes, sweets and even some melted chocolate to pour over them. Below you see two All Ears team members enjoying the treats. The rain stopped just before Illuminations and about half of us went out to enjoy the show.

AllEars.net team members Mike Scopa and Jack Marshall enjoying delicious desserts at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
AllEars.net team members Mike Scopa and Jack Marshall enjoying delicious desserts at Epcot.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/4, ISO 200, EV 0, 28mm focal length, flash.

It was a jam packed four days. Deb Wills and her All Ears team truly did create a December to Remember. Thank you!

January 7, 2011

Scott's Photography Tips

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Lisa asked me to post three of my favorite photography tips to start out the new year with. Great idea, Lisa!

Tip Number One

Fill the Frame
Whether by feet, telephoto/zoom lens or crop, the one tip I can give you to improve your photography immediately is to get close and fill the frame. This is what I did for this portrait of one of the male gorillas on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Male gorilla portrait on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Male gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 3600, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length

Tip Number Two

Rule of Thirds
This simple rule of composition is easy to learn and will take your photography from simple snapshots to impact photographs. Below is a photo of Off Kilter's Bassist, Mark Weldon, I used to demonstrate the rule of thirds back in 2007.

A photo of Off Kilter's Bassist, Mark Weldon, used to demonstrate the rule of thirds in Epcot's Canada pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A photo of Off Kilter's Bassist, Mark Weldon, used to demostate the rule of thirds in Epcot's Canada pavilion.

Tip Number Three

Read the Manual
This is something many of us fail to do once we get a new digital camera or gadget. We dive right in and start using it. That works for awhile and then we start getting frustrated with the results. I suggest you take the time to read the manual. Learn what all the buttons, switches, dials and menu options do. The more you learn about your digital camera or gadget, the more satisfied you will be with your results.

A young woman reads the manual to her new digital camera.
A young woman reads the manual to her new digital camera..
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 2800, EV 0, 38mm focal length, rear-sync flash at -0.7 power, bounced off ceiling.

Using these tips and those of Lisa's and Barrie's, will help you to improve taking photos with and using your digital cameras at the Disney themeparks in 2011.

October 8, 2010

Galloping Giraffe

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have given tips in the past for photographing on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom. One tip I forgot to mention was to be ready for anything. The animals appear seemingly from out of nowhere at times. On my last safari, the jeep came around the bend onto to the savanna just as a group of giraffes were crossing the road in front of us. The guide had to stop for a bit for them to clear. As he did so, the two yearling giraffes in the group broke into a graceful gallop which I was quick enough to photograph.

A galloping giraffe on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A galloping giraffe on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 720, EV -0.6, 190mm focal length

If it is not too busy, ask to be seated in the very last row by yourself. You can slide from side to side and out the back to maximize your opportunities for photographing the animals. I must caution you the last row is the bumpiest one on the jeeps so crank up those shutter speeds!

August 13, 2010

Photographing Disney Food

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I enjoy a good meal after spending a day walking around a Walt Disney World park. Thankfully, you have a choice of all kinds of table and counter service restaurants in the parks, resorts and Downtown Disney. I like to photograph the food for future restaurant reviews at the PSCalculator.net website. However, judging by all the photos I see on Disney forums, photographing Disney restaurant food is very popular.

To get really good photos of food with a digital SLR camera, I suggest you bring a flash unit you can rotate the flash head in order to bounce it off a nearby surface to spread and even out the light on the food.

Photographing food is not unlike anything else. Watch your backgrounds and edges along the frame, focus carefully, hold the camera steady and get a good exposure. A couple of other things, don't start eating until after photographing the food and arrange everything the way you want. This is what I did for the lunch buffet plate at the Tusker House restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

A plate of food from the Tusker House restaurant lunch buffet in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A plate of food from the Tusker House restaurant lunch buffet.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/6s, f/3.5, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 18mm focal length, flash at -1 power

I took the photo directly from above as it worked best for the amount of different items arranged on the plate. For the Maine Lobster entree at Narcoossee's restaurant in the Grand Floridian, I photographed as one would see it if they were seating in my place. Yes, the lobster was as good as it looked.

Maine Lobster entree served at Narcoossee's restaurant in the Grand Flordian Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Maine Lobster entree served at Narcoossee's restaurant.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/5, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 18mm Focal Length, flash at -1 power

In both the above photos, I used the Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash unit bounced off the restaurant's ceiling with a -1 power setting to give the food the added pop of color and succulent lighting.

When waiting in line at Norway's Kringla Bakeri og Kafe, I remembered Barrie's wonderful photo of the Cloudberry Horns. As I didn't want to duplicate her version, I made the famous Kringla Sweet Pretzels the main subject using the Cloudberry Horns in the softly focused background.

Cloudberry Horns and Kringla Sweet Pretzels at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe counter service restaurant in Epcot's World Showcase Norway pavilion, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cloudberry Horns and Kringla Sweet Pretzels at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe counter service restaurant.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/15s, f/, ISO 360, EV +0.3, 170mm Focal Length

One last thing, you may have to get down low or stand up above or even look a bit goofy as you find the best angle to get a favorite snack properly framed in the viewfinder. Don't worry, the servers and cast members have seen it all before.

January 16, 2009

Super Zoom on Safari

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In 1998, a wannabe wildlife photographer's dream came true when Disney's Animal Kingdom opened. I've always wanted to bring a super zoom telephoto lens to this park and I did just that during Mousefest 2008. There were three specific locations at Animal Kingdom I wanted to try my super zoom lens, Nikon's 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus VR Zoom Nikkor Lens, on. They were the Kilimanjaro Safari, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Kilimanjaro Safari is a ride on large vehicles, called jeeps, which are designed to give a very bumpy ride. In the past, I've used 200mm zoom lenses with much success. The Nikon 80-400VR is much heavier at 3 pounds than those shorter lenses. I was a little worried about being able to steady it even with Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) technology. This proved to be a problem and, when the ride vehicle was in motion, I found it nearly impossible to get any non-blurred photos at 400mm.

I was more successful using lesser focal lengths like with this lumbering White Rhino taken at the shortest focal length of the lens at 80mm.

A White Rhino lumbers past a safari jeep in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A White Rhino lumbers past a safari jeep on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/4.5, 560 ISO, -0.3 EV, 80mm Focal Length

The lens did allow me to get a photo I've never been able to get on all my previous safari trips. The Cheetahs are very far from the road the safari jeeps use and, being cats, are either not in view or lying down sleeping. On this day, they were in full view and posing! Using the lens at its full 400mm focal length (which is 600mm on my Nikon D70 1.5x cropped body), I was able to get the following photo which has been further cropped from the original.

Pair of Cheetahs seen on the Kilimanjaro Safari adventure in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Pair of Cheetahs seen on the Kilimanjaro Safari adventure.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, 1600 ISO, -0.3 EV, 400mm Focal Length

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a walking trail featuring African wildlife from Naked Mole Rats to the mighty Silverback Gorillas. One of the highlights for me on the trail is the colony of Meerkats. Like North America's Prairie Dogs, Meerkats have a sentinel member keeping watch of the surroundings when other members are out of their protective burrows. This Meerkat portrait shows the nice bokeh (out of focus background) of the Nikon 80-400VR lens shooting wide open at f/5.6 and 400mm focal length.

Meerkat sentinel on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Meerkat sentinel on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, 200 ISO, +0.3 EV, 400mm Focal Length

The trail features a family troop of gorillas in a large compound with great viewing locations for people to see and photograph these magnificent animals. Here is a picture of the leader who reminds me of the gorilla, Kerchak, in Disney's Tarzan animated movie. Normally, I would discard a photo like this but his eyes make this one a keeper.

Male Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Male Gorilla on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, 1000 ISO, +0.3 EV, 400mm Focal Length

Another walking trail, the Maharajah Jungle Trek features wildlife from the continent of Asia. I was fortunate to catch the Komodo Dragon alert and the Nikon 80-400VR gave me the reach to capture this portrait of a species you wouldn't want to be this close to in the wild.

Portrait of the Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Portrait of the Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, 1000 ISO, -0.3 EV, 400mm Focal Length

The Asian Tigers are in a compound themed as ruins of a jungle palace. The residents act as royalty often lounging and sleeping as big cats often do. I try to be there in the late afternoon when they are more likely to be active as they are feed about a half hour before park closing. I have gotten many sleeping and resting tiger photos in the past so I was thrilled to get a few on this trip as they moved about their lair.

Asian Tiger on the prowl on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger on the prowl as seen from the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/640s, f/5.3, 200 ISO, -0.3 EV, 200mm Focal Length

After the Maharajah Jungle Trek, I was ready to put the large 80-400VR lens back into my camera bag. I got some great photos I would not have been able to get with shorter lenses. Though it is not something I think I'd take to Animal Kingdom again in the near future unless I have a need to get some really close up photos of animals I can't find elsewhere.

For more on Animal Kingdom photography, check out my previous articles on Kilimanjaro Safari Photo Tips and Maharajah Jungle Trek Photo Tips.

August 2, 2008

Alpha Male Gorilla

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The alpha male gorilla as seen from the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Alpha Male Gorilla as seen from the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Nikon D70/80-200D, 1/60s, f/5.6, 400 ISO, +0.3 EV, 200mm Focal Length

After disembarking from your Kilimanjaro Safari, I recommend taking the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail back to the African village of Harambe in Disney's Animal Kingdom. From the trail, you may come face to face with some of Animal Kingdom's great apes, the Sliverback Gorillas, in the glass viewing area. After checking out the excellent educational displays, I encourage you to continue on to the suspension bridge. This is where you'll often find the Alpha Male Gorilla, the leader of the family. For this photo, he was just appearing on to his favorite "pride" rock for the morning. He makes a wonderful example for my Disney Pic of the Week theme on Mammals.

July 11, 2008

Backlighting

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Backlighting is light illuminating from behind the subject. This is very tough to correctly expose for and causes havoc with your camera's light meter.

If you are outdoors and the light source is the sun, the best way to meter for backlighting is to point your camera to one side of the sun or the other, read what your meter is saying in Auto or Program mode, switch to Manual mode and then set the aperture and shutter speed. This will create a silhouette of the subject. Let me point out that you should never point your camera directly at the sun. In fact, do not have the sun anywhere in the frame when you are metering.

You can also bring out more detail in your subject if, still in manual mode, you open up one or more f-stops. This is what I did in the photo of the male African Lion when taking an early morning Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom. When pointing my lens to one side of the sun, I got an exposure of 1/1600th of a second shutter speed and an aperture of f/16. By opening up one stop to f/11, I brought out more features and color of the lion. Remember, the smaller the f-stop, the larger the lens opening or aperture thus letting in more light to enter when the shutter is pressed.

You may be wondering why the shutter speed is so fast in this case. Let me tell you, those "jeeps" on the safari bounce and rock a lot. So, I increased the camera's ISO to allow for faster shutter speeds. For more on this technique, visit my tips on photographing on a Kilimanjaro Safari.

African Lion on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A male African Lion is backlighted on an early morning Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D70/80-200D, 1/1600s, f/11, 800 ISO, EV +0.3, 200mm Focal length

If you can get close enough to your subject either by using a zoom lens or being able to walk up to it, take your meter reading with the subject filling the frame through your viewfinder. Again, set your exposure manually and either zoom out or back away, compose your shot with the light behind your subject and you should get a great photograph.

There will not be a Photographic Innoventions next week as I am taking a vacation to various parts along the Atlantic shore ending up at Magic Meets. I'll be helping Deb Wills out at the AllEars table along with Lisa and attending many events and presentations. See you there or see you back here in two weeks.

June 27, 2008

Frontlighting

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Almost as important as the amount of light for a photograph is the direction the light is coming from. In the next three weeks, I'll show you how the direction of light effects your photographs. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you use, light properties and direction remain the same.

Frontlighting is light illuminating the front of a subject. The best kind of outdoor frontlighting is shown below when I captured the Resort Monorail heading to the Magic Kingdom while some anglers fished in the Seven Seas Lagoon. The sun was still low enough not to cast too much of a shadow below the monorail and evenly illuminated it and the fishing boat.

Resort monorail heading to the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Resort Monorail is frontlighted by the morning sun as it heads to the Magic Kingdom.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/800s, f/8, 200 ISO, EV -0.3, 200mm Focal length

A variation of the sunny frontlight is the Overcast Frontlight. This is very nice, soft, even light and brings out colors and textures hard to see in bright sun. The ostrich on Disney's Animal Kingdom's Kilimanjaro Safari is a nice example. This was taken on one of the first morning safaris so the sun was behind me when I took this.

Ostrich seen on Disney's Animal Kingdom's Kilimanjaro Safari, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Overcast frontlighting as shown by this ostrich on Disney's Animal Kingdom's Kilimanjaro Safari.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/8, 200 ISO, EV 0, 65mm Focal length

Something you have to be careful of when shooting with overcast skies is to try and keep the sky out of the image as much as possible. The overcast sky acts like a huge light diffuser but is very bright. In the above photo, I wanted the jeep following mine in the picture or I would have framed it with only the ostrich and without the sky.

March 21, 2008

Photographic Innoventions: Kilimanjaro Safari Photo Tips

I was reading about some photographers who came back from an African safari the other day. They listed the equipment they used the most. Cameras costing thousands of dollars, lenses in the 500 to 600mm range which cost, you guessed it, thousands more. It got me to thinking about how wonderful the Kilimanjaro Safari is in Disney's Animal Kingdom. However, it does have it's challenges, too. With that in mind, I'd like to give you my list of equipment needed and other tips to get great wildlife photography in the Harambe Reserve.

I would recommend a camera or camera and lens combination which will reach out to 300mm or more. This will allow you to fill the frame with an animal or animals. Many Point and Shoot cameras do not do this. You can still get some great environmental photos of the savannah and when the animals venture close to your "jeep". For me, I'd recommend a high end Point and Shoot camera with an 8x or more zoom lens. If you own a digital SLR, a lens reaching 200 to 300mm (depending on your camera's crop factor) will work great. I have used a couple of different lenses on the safari with good results. A Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6D AF and the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom lenses. With my Nikon D70 crop of 1.5, I get a 300mm focal length with either lens. There are many economically priced zoom lenses in the 55mm or longer to 200 to 300mm range.

Now the part which separates the P&S from the dSLR, because the jeep was designed to give a bumpy ride and it does move, you have to set your camera to get fast shutter speeds to cut down on blurry pictures due to vibration. Anit-vibration technologies aside, those jeeps sway and bump even when stopped as people try to get to one side or the other to see the animals. I set my camera to Shutter priority mode and 1/500th of a second shutter speed. If it happens to be a very bright day you can set it even faster. You may have to increase your ISO setting to obtain these shutter speeds. I usually set mine to an ISO of 800 if it's an early morning or late afternoon safari and 400 if it's during the mid-day sun.

Due to the distance even with a long lens, chances are you will want to crop your photos as, again, it's hard to compose in a moving, bouncy vehicle. A 6 megapixel (MP) or more camera is probably going to give you the ability to do this. Lower MP cameras will not give you as much creative leeway. In the African Lion photo below, I cropped this from the original portrait orientation to eliminate some sky which was cloudy and the bottom portion which featured a fellow guest's arm.

I've ridden on both sides of the jeep and have found most of the good viewing is on the left side. They load you from the right side so you want to be the first one in a row. The hippos, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, and many of the antelopes tend to be on the left side.

Time to get on your safari hat, shirt and shorts to go after some big game, Disney-style! Oh, don't forget to make sure you have extra batteries and they are all charged up before you leave your room. Nothing like having the perfect shot of a giraffe in your viewfinder, pressing the shutter and your camera tells you it's battery is too low. Don't ask me how I know this.

November 16, 2007

Photographic Innoventions: Disney Props

The definition of a prop is something used in creating or enhancing a desired effect. The entire Walt Disney World resort is full of props. Some conspicuous and some not. I'm going to show you an example of each from Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The first prop is found in Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama which is like a little scene people can get into. This was taken a few months before my youngest daughter (seen here as the driver) would be able to get her driving learners permit and my eldest daughter acting out how she feels about that. Makes for a great photo from that trip. This can be found near the tail of the large, cartoon-ish brontosaurus, which you can see, in the background.



Dino-Rama Prop.
Nikon Coolpix 995, 1/350s, f/7.5, 100 ISO, 0 EV

In the gorilla glass viewing area on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail there are many displays of information showing the differences between a gorilla's anatomy and Man's. Here my daughters are comparing their hands to the hand prints of a 6 year old male gorilla. Again, this prop makes for a wonderful memory and photograph.



Comparing Hands.
Nikon Coolpix 995, 1/30s, f/3, 200 ISO, 0 EV

You can find props in all the parks, resorts and entertainment areas in Walt Disney World. Here's some more places you can look for on your next trip: the park bench with Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse near the flag pole on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, stage crates near Min and Bill's Dockside Diner in the Disney-MGM Studios, parasols in the Yong Feng Shangdian Department Store in Epcot's China pavilion and a life size Buzz Lightyear outside of the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney's Marketplace. Do you have a favorite prop at Walt Disney World? I'd love to hear about them and I'll share them in a later Photo Blog entry. Just send in a Comment!

August 17, 2007

Photographic Innoventions: Dialing in Digital Exposure


Negative Exposure Compensation of -0.3 EV.
© Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/125s, f5.6, 200 ISO

Positive Exposure Compensation of +0.3 EV.
© Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/50s, f5.6, 200 ISO

Exposure Compensation allows you to adjust the exposure measured by the camera's light meter and telling the camera to allow more light in (positive exposure compensation) or less light in (negative exposure compensation). On your digital SLR camera, look for a +/- button to press to adjust exposure compensation. By making it negative, zero or postive in 1/3 (0.3) or 1/2 (0.5) intervals, you "dial" in the exposure for the photograph. As you change the exposure compensation, your camera will change it's shutter speed or aperture. Sometimes, even both, as you alter how the camera's light meter is "seeing" the subject you are pointing at.

In the two photos of the Research Station camp taken on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom, the one on the left has a -0.3 EV (EV is the standard way of indicating exposure compensation) giving a rich color to the green foliage and detail in the rock face. The shutter speed of 1/125s freezes the waterfall. The photo on the right has a +0.3 EV, see how the contrast is heightened and some of the objects near the front of the tent get "blown out", which means the loss of detail, as the shutter speed decreased to 1/50s. Some of the shadowy areas now have details and the waterfall has a whispy look. The rule of thumb is to expose for the highlights, the brightest part of the scene, which is what I did in the photo on the left.

How do you know which exposure is best? You don't really, you pick the one you like the best. For me, I try not to get any blown out areas in my photos. This is not always possible. I hedge my bets by bracketing the exposures. Bracketing is taking one photo each at a negative compensation, a zero compensation and a postive compensation. Most digital cameras today can be set to auto-bracket and take a series of 3 to 5 photographs in a single shutter release.

Quick Tip: Do you know how much exposure compensation range your camera has? My Nikon D70 can go plus(+) or minus(-) up to 5 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 intervals. Don't be afraid to go as high or low as you need to capture the photograph.

July 28, 2007

Photographic Innoventions: Creative Uses of Aperture

As we learned earlier, aperture is the size of the opening in the camera's lens measured in f-stops. I know it sounds weird but the smaller the f-stop number the larger the opening. I want to show you today how you can take advantage of apertures to create outstanding photographs.

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Maximum Depth of Field or Hyperfocus. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/500s, f/11, -1.3 EC, 18mm Focal Length

The first technique is called hyperfocus and getting the maximum depth of field in a photo. This is where everything in the photo is in focus from the closest to the farthest objects out to infinity. Searching on hyperfocus will bring up all kinds of calculators on how to figure out where to focus when using a certain focal length (18, 28, 35, etc. in mm) and f-stop. By setting the aperture to an f-stop of f/11 or f/16 and focusing on a close subject, you'll get the hyperfocus effect. In the photo taken from Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival of the floating flowers, I wanted people to view this photo starting with the floating flower pot at the bottom and continue upwards to the clouds in the sky. This is how imagineeers use forced perspective throughout the parks to makes things look bigger than they actually are.

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Selective Focus. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, -0.3 EC, 200mm Focal Length

What do you do if the background of the subject you want to photograph is busy? If you used a high f-stop, your subject could get lost in that busy background. For this situation you want to use a smaller f-stop or do, what is called, shooting with your lens wide open. This is done by setting the aperture at it's lowest f-stop. For my 18-200mm VR zoom lens at 200mm, it's wide open f-stop is f/5.6, which is what I used to separate and selectively focus on the meerkat at Disney's Animal Kingdom from the foliage in the distance. In this way, you are focused on the meerkat and not what is behind him. This is a great way to take human portraits at Walt Disney World and not get all those other humans in the background.

Quick Tip: I know some of you are thinking how do you set apertures using a digital camera. You do this by setting the camera's shooting mode to Aperture Priority. Refer to your camera's manual on how to do this. Once done, you set your f-stop and the camera calculates the shutter speed. Be careful here. If the aperture chosen is making your shutter speed to long, you may need to either make your aperture bigger or use a tripod.

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About Africa

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