Main

Asia Archives

May 19, 2017

Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 27, 2017

More Walt Disney World Aerial Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2017

Ruling the Animal Kingdom in Thirds

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

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

Here is the same photo with the grid.

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

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

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

July 22, 2016

Waiting for Tigers in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I watch people all the time when I am at Walt Disney World. I particularly pay attention to those taking photographs whether they are using smart phones or full size digital SLR cameras. I can almost tell you which ones will come home with photos they will like and be proud to show to their family and friends. Those are the the people who take a little extra time and patience.

Those who walk up to something, pull out a camera or phone and point and shoot will rarely get a great photo. I used to be one of them. Prided myself in the grab shot as I toured the parks with my family. It wasn't until I started to take the time which, usually meant an extra minute or two, did I start to see better results in my photography.

At the Asian Tiger exhibit on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I see many people come up to the overlook, see a tiger below walking or lying down, take a photo and move on. Now, they might have gotten the perfect tiger photo they wanted. Chances are, they probably got something like this.

Asian tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1250, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

That was my first shot upon looking down. The first shot is rarely a keeper. I knew if I waited, I would get a better one. I was rewarded only thirty seconds later. The tiger moved his head around and looked in my direction.

Asian tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger looking around on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1400, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

I realize if you are traveling with a group and especially, with young children, it is hard to be able to spend a lot of time observing or waiting for a better photo opportunity. When you can, you will be rewarded.

Seven minutes later, this tiger jumped up to the water pool and started to drink. I was able to capture a behavior I had not seen before. This has became one my favorite photos of a tiger.

Asian tiger drinking water on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Asian Tiger getting a drink of water on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

Remember this the next time you are in Walt Disney World or even when photographing your family. The first shot is often not the best shot. Take a few more and see which ones you like later. I am willing to bet the one or ones you like will come later in the shoot.

June 17, 2016

Riding Down Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

February 16, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Portraits

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

Deb will share her portraiture skills tomorrow.

February 9, 2016

Disney Pic of the Week: Action

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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.

April 10, 2015

Disney Food Photography

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Have a question for you...do you photograph the food at Walt Disney World restaurants? You do! Then you are going to like this week's topic. Below is a set of photos from various Disney restaurants and how I took them.

Sometimes you just need spaghetti and meatballs and Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios filled the need perfectly. To add to the sense of place, I used a menu and ambiant light. The very shallow depth of field put the background out of focus but one still can recognize the location as a restaurant.

Spaghetti and meatballs entree at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Spaghetti and meatballs entree at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/13s, f/35, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

I used my elbows to steady the camera and slowly exhaled as I pressed the shutter. I let the image stabilized (vibration reduction in Nikon lingo) lens do its magic. I took several images to get a couple of good ones including the one above.

On the Disney Dream, if your cruise offers a day at sea, you can enjoy the Palo Brunch. Come hungry and eat lightly through each course to save room for the dessert bar. In this case, I did not need a menu to document the location. I did have to take the photo quickly before the location got eaten.

A plate full of desserts at the Palo Brunch on the Disney Dream cruise ship
A plate full of desserts at the Palo Brunch on the Disney Dream.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 31mm Focal Length, bounced flash.

With the bright open Caribbean water as a backdrop, the use of bounced flash balanced the light and brought out the luscious colors of the sweets.

Inside the elegant Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort the lighting is appropriately warm and low. An assistant helped me by holding up the plate above the table which had lots of stuff upon it.

Prime New York Strip Steak entree at the Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Prime New York Strip Steak entree at the Yachtsman Steakhouse.
Nikon D7100/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, bounced flash.

To get the true colors of the food, I used bounced flash to illuminate the plate evenly.

When you have even lighting via a window or by eating outside on a patio like at the Rose & Crown Pub in Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion, I like to use the Nifty-Fifty on my camera and get eye level with the plate the food rests on.

Scotch Egg appetizer from the Rose & Crown Pub in Epcot's United Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Scotch Egg appetizer from the Rose & Crown Pub.
Nikon D7100/50mm, 1/250s, f/2.8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Shooting with a wide aperture of f/2.8, I selectively focused on the Scotch Egg appetizer throwing the background of napkins and table pieces completely out of focus. I did dodge (make lighter) the egg some to pull out its colors.

At the Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom, my party was sat at a table with warm afternoon light coming through a window. The low angle of the light brought out the food's texture.

Chicken Tikka Masala at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chicken Tikka Masala at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
Nikon D7100/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 2000, EV 0, 12mm Focal Length.

Without the use of flash, a wide open aperture had me select a focus point on the bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala which did cause the front of the plate to be soft focused. I find that is not a problem here. Do you?

I realize most people quickly take photos of their food when served. If you take a little extra time, you can create very nice photos to make your friends and family envious and hungry when looking at your food photos.

September 19, 2014

Birds of Flights of Wonder at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Flights of Wonder show in Disney's Animal Kingdom features many species of birds found throughout the world. Many are shown flying around the stage and audience.

The best way to photograph this show is with a fast shutter speed. I set my camera to Shutter Priority mode with the shutter at 1/1000th of a second and changed Auto Focus (AF) to Continuous.

Birds of the Flights of Wonder show in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Birds of the Flights of Wonder Show (see below for more info).

From top left, Harris Hawk landing on a handler's gloved hand, West African Crowned Crane coming in for a landing, American Bald Eagle with handler and a Rose-breasted Cockatoo getting ready to return money from a willing volunteer.

July 25, 2014

Using HDR in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In a previous post I wrote back in 2009, I detailed the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique as one way to photograph a scene with a big range of light from very dark to very light. In the article, I used an HDR image I did of Disney's Animal Kingdom's Expedition EVEREST attraction taken from the bridge to Africa. Since then, Photomatix, the software I use for HDR processing, has gone through two version updates and I have gotten better at identifying the right conditions for taking a set of photos for high dyanmic range.

Last December, I returned to the same location. The Golden Hour was in full swing with the Sun setting and bathing the top of Expedition EVEREST in beautiful warm light. The rest of the scene was in deep shadows with pops of bright sunlight coming through. I tried a few single exposures but either got the mountain blown out or the shadows almost in total blackness. I knew a set of photos for HDR was the answer. I took several sets and found a set of 7 photos from -3EV to +3EV captured the entire range of light. After running the photos through Photomatix and finishing up the processing in a photo editor, this was the result:

Expedition EVEREST rising above Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
HDR Image of Expedition EVEREST.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/16, ISO 1000, EV 0, 98mm focal length, tripod, HDR Image.

I feel this photo is a good representative of what my eyes were seeing. That is how I use HDR. Other photographers might come up with a totally different image. I also made sure I took both Landscape and Portrait versions of the scene in several focal lengths.

Expedition EVEREST rising above Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
HDR Image of Expedition EVEREST.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 190mm focal length, tripod, HDR Image.

Notice the difference in the second HDR image from the first one. The Sun was much lower in the second photo so the light was highly reduced on the top of Expedition EVEREST and created more subtle and muted colors.

Next time you are faced with a scene you are having trouble exposing for, create a set of photos and give HDR processing a try. HDR software, like Photomatix, can be downloaded for trial periods. Have fun!

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!

May 20, 2014

Disney Pic of the Week: Asia

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom is full of mysterious places like Expedition: Everest where the Yeti lurks, Maharajah Jungle Trek where tigers and dragons romp and a trip down the Kali River Rapids is anything but dry. It is also a place you can relax and enjoy the sounds of Chakranadi, the sitar and drum players from Anandapur, as they produce their hypnotic sounds outside of the Yak & Yeti restaurant.

The Sitar player in Chakranadi in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Sitar player of Chakranadi.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/5.3, ISO 800, EV 0, 210mm focal length.

Lisa will be here on Thursday to share a mysterious Disney Pic of the Week from Asia.

May 9, 2014

Blue Hour over Expedition EVEREST

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

In reviewing past blogs recently, I did a few on Blue Hour but never really explained it beyond saying it is something that happens after sunset and before complete darkness.

Here are a few facts about Blue Hour:

  • It is not an hour long but more like 15 to 25 minutes.
  • Happens twice a day.  Once before sunrise and after sunset.
  • Best seen 90 degrees from the Sun's location.
  • Occurs no matter the weather.

There is no precise way to predict when Blue Hour starts or ends though roughly 20 to 40 minutes after sunset is a good time to see it. It takes long exposures for a camera's sensor to build up the blue color. Which is why tripods are a good tool to use for capturing Blue Hour.

In the photo below of Expedition Everest, a Blue Hour sky can been seen above the ride. I photographed it from near the Yeti Shrine and the angle to the sunset location was close to 90 degrees. The Sun had set at 5:29 PM with the photo being taken at 6:06 PM.

Blue Hour Sky over Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Blue Hour Sky over Expedition Everest.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 30s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 56mm focal length, tripod.

Apps like LightTrac for iOS and Android devices will tell you when Civil Twilight starts. Though not exact, it's a good indication within a few minutes leeway before and after to plan your photography.

Once your camera starts to pick up the deep blue sky color, look around you to see if you can detect it. What I found was the black night sky I always saw before was now different shades of blue depending on how far before or from the sunrise or sunset time and location I was looking at. If you click on the "blue hour" tag below, you will see my other posts about it.

NOTE: I will be visiting Walt Disney World next week. I will be sending out lots of photos via my Twitter account at Scottwdw where you can follow along. Lots of exciting stuff going on between the new Magic Kingdom parade, Star Wars Weekend events and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster.

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.

January 3, 2014

Best of Walt Disney World in 2013

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After visiting Disneyland in September, I had two trips to Walt Disney World in October and December. The first was a family vacation where I photographed while touring the parks. The other was a planned couple of days photographing with other Disney fan photographers. Both trips were fun, enjoyable and presented new challenges and experiences in each park. Today, I am sharing with you some of the highlights from those trips.

It is exciting to see something new at Walt Disney World even if it happens every day. In all my visits, I never saw the IllumiNations barges enter Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon. When I noticed the Earth barge coming through the draw bridge, I stopped and took several photos.

IllumiNations Earth barge entering Epcot's World Showcase lagoon, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
IllumiNations Earth barge entering Epcot's World Showcase lagoon.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 150mm focal length.

This was the first time I had the Fisheye lens with me at Walt Disney World. I probably used it way too much but it was a lot fun. While waiting for my ride on Rock'n'Roller Coaster, I photographed fellow guests being launched. The lens' f/2.8 aperture and a high ISO allowed me to photograph inside the dark ride.

Guests are launched at the Rock'n'Roller Coaster in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Guests are launched into the Rock'n'Roller Coaster.
Nikon D700/15mm, 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Each December, Disney fan photographers always watch for Extra Magic Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This allows for photographing in the park after sunset. Something that is a rarity. The bare light bulbs hanging over the path to Expedition EVEREST made for good foreground interest to the Forbidden Mountain. By using a small aperture of f/22, the small light sources became small starbursts. I waited for Blue Hour, the time between sunset and full night, to give it a magical light.

Blue hour at Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Blue hour at Expedition EVEREST.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 2.5s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 92mm focal length, tripod.

After Blue Hour in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I traveled to the Magic Kingdom to take advantage of its late night closing. Putting the Fisheye lens back on my camera, I photographed the lights and movement of the park. Fantasyland's Mad Tea Party is colorful and full of motion when using a long exposure and tripod to photograph it.

Mad Tea Party tea cups whiz around at night in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Mad Tea Party tea cups whiz around at night.
Nikon D700/15mm, 10s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0, tripod.

These are my favorites from this year's trips to Walt Disney World. Here's to even more in 2014. Do you have any favorites from the past year?

November 17, 2013

Where in the World #306

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!

A big thank you and hug to Claire Gregory and her family for sharing their Disney vacation with me!
 Where in the World #305

From last week: Challenge #305:
 Where in the World #305

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

"Everybody, this is Hope. Now Hope here is a symbol of one of the most successful conservation stories of all time." And so this lovely star of the Flights of Wonder show in Disney's Animal Kingdom is introduced to her guests. Namaste.
 Where in the World #306

You always hear ooohs and aaahhhhs when Hope is brought out! And see people rushing to get a picture. I know that because I'm one of those people, no matter how many other pictures I have of her. I can't resister her or Sluggo the Red-legged Seriema, the bird who smacks the beejeezus out of the little rubber lizard!

If any of you Players were picked to be on stage to get a photo of the owl in flight.... I'm not jealous at all. (grumblegrumblegrumble) And don't get me started on how not jealous I am of anyone who gets into the parade!

John P., you were a cast member at this show?! I can't thank you enough; this is one of our must sees, so thank you to you and everyone else in the show for all the wonderful times you've given us! (I'm not jealous of you either.) Of course we're thankful to all of the Cast Members: Walt's makers of magic!

Kristi Strembicki was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Kristi and all our winners this week! The Kahle Family, Andrew Carrieri, Tim Jeltes, Donna Frank, Linda Ranatza, Carol Ney, Scott Cullen, Kirsten Miller, Belicia Cullen, Mary Beth Tarbet, Daniel Meagher, Sharon Pierce, Kris Nixon, Jim &Lorie Sonnen, Ed Elder, Hillary Waldroop, Matt Wildey, The Kertes Family, Andrea Kruszewski, Bill Mckim, Joe Calomeni, Janet T Thorn, The Gunnels Family, Megan Conley, Linda College, Lee Anastasi, Tinkerbell Wells, Vicki Britt, Team Hill, Kye Layton, Kerri Coggins, Agnes Ciotti, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Betsy Silvestri, Deb Ragno, Clare S, Mark Lyons, Colette Stanton, Jennifer Rowell, Robert Wescovich, Deb Audette, Tina Powell, Ruben O'meara, Erin Loring, Dennis Loring, Sarah Orman, Julie Wickware, Chris Kelly, Sherri Pell , Julie Gilliard, Michelle Darabaris, Paul R Greenleaf, Josh Weiss, Jennifer Piehl, Elaine Kleinhenz, Jerry Felder, Melissa Such, Melissa S, Paul Knott, Kevin Jones, Craig, Michael Brown, Ed Suscreba, Deme Grabert, Brian Miller, Linda Mac, Elizabeth And Vicki Edwards, Tricia Petty, Caroline Knowles, Zach Szymko, Randy Laughlin, Kara Jones, Jen Snook, Maryann Romagnano, Bob Patterson, Dee Dee Kenney, Eileen Rice, Wayne Beck, The Parker Family (with Doubting Nikki), Ellen Sullivan, Mary Ann Lamay, Robert Hildebrandt , Tim Johansen, Phil Badcock, Russ Morgan, Amy Letts, Pam Vanaustin, Ruth Senecal, Leach Family, Gabriella, Terry And Matthieu, Julie Harris, Phoebe Speiser, Jackie Drexler, Kate Nejman, Louise Barton, Claire Gregory, Nicolle Clement, Hobbes And Snorky, Cheryl Chambers, Ken Clark, Dave Freemyer, Tim Mckay, Carol Collins, Wendy Beaudoin, Patti Gumiela, Nathalie Periard, Kristyn Scibienski, Jen Eacret, Phyllis, Mickey Eckert, Chris Nichols, Mary Ann Eckenrode, Doug Olson Family, Nathan York , Patrick Crum, The Pearsall Family, Kerry A, John Pasqueralli, Jodi Cook, Craig Livingsotn, Lisa Zitek, Jeremy Reichelt, Mike Cerce, Dave Kanigowski, Sandy Kanigowski, Bruce Lawson, Joe Fortunato, Morgan M., Pat Schwier, Melody Odonnell, Karrie Duffey, Jenny Stoneburner, Sandie Albrecht, Nathaniel Clements, The Hutchinson Family, Annie Snodgrass, Sara Holloway, Sabine, Anastasia Macneil, Mario Grasso, Matthew Jadro, John Malone, Deborah D'agostino, Karen Smith, Daniel Record, The Holmes Family, Team Bonnie Sue, Erin Connell, Jim Finley, Terry Blair, Ken Rhinehart, Brian Mcwithey, Diane Ramos, Patti Mccaffrey, Kirk Hardy, Team Meeker, Kevin Welch, Rob Blundin, George Mundy Jr, Mark Franklin, Gail States, Ronald Delorey, Riki Popek, Penny Urell, Carolyn Como, Jane Johnson, Kevin, Rick R., Jackie Klafeta, Judy Simonsen, Amanda Campbell, Joseph M. Zafia, Kerry Mccaffrey, Betsy Dross, Nancy Cole, Kyle Burdo, Josh Carney, Paula B, Barclay Bakkum, and Jenn Durham. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #306 Where in the world is this?

We are going out of the parks!
 Where in the World #306

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, November 21st, 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 28, 2013

Where in the World #290

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 all the wonderful anniversary messages! I appreciate it so much!
From Millan.Net

Let's answer those challenges.

Special challenge:
Where in the World Photo Fun

And here's the answer:
Where in the World Photo Fun
Copyright © Barrie Brewer

I was very impressed with how many people got this, especially when a lot of the answers started with "I have no idea, but could it be...":

Let's get the answer from Barrie herself in the WitW second post:

"If you guessed Asia in the Animal Kingdom you're right! This string of lights crosses the path on the way past the restrooms disguised as a mountain trading post. That's Expedition Everest in the background.

Quick Tip: Head to Asia in the afternoon to get good photos of Expedition Everest. Later in the day the sun will be at your back, shining brightly on the mountain."

Sharon Pierce was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Justin and all our winners this week! Phyllis, Bill Mckim, Karen Schlumpf, Pam Vanaustin, Mary Beth Tarbet, Cathy, Colette Stanton , Steve And Ruby Jordan, Demetrios Makres, Larissa Huda, Evanna Huda, Ken Maikowski, Jen Tremley, Lee Anastasi, Team Hill, Team Hill, Chris Connors, Candice Grimes, Patti Gumiela, Donna Frank, John P, Andrew Carrieri, David Tarbet, Lynette Michalos, Deb Ragno, Daniel Record, Deb Ragno, Christina And Natalie Rotella, Jim Logue, Elizabeth And Vicki Edwards, Josette Gabel, Tricia Petty, Amy Martel, Carolyn Como, Mike Cerce, Evald Olson, Carol Ney, Linda Ranatza, Nathaniel Clements, Ladonna Tisdale, The Scimeca Family, Jeremy Hardy, Virginia Pierce, Heather Young, Mary Ann Eckenrode, Jim Riley, Jeff Blank, John Menjes, Kerri Coggins, Jason Skow, Catherine Connors, Amanda Campbell, Rob And April -team Vanderpool, Robert Wescovich, Tricia Noble, Tiffany Gibb, Vera Williams, Lily-pierre Couet, Josh Weiss, Michelle Boykin, Mickey Eckert, Barclay Bakkum, The Patterson Family, Shelly Borella, John Pasqueralli, Josh Carney, Team Bonnie Sue, Stephanie Dollar, Judy Simonsen, Kristan Bertelmann, Tom Hermes, Anna Keene, Dave Kanigowski, Sandy Kanigowski, Ashley P. , Karen Smith, Dave Carriere, Debbie Poole, Maryann Romagnano, George Mundy Jr, Heather Calvey, Vicki Britt, Wendy Mowery, Emily Harper, Jane Johnson, Hillary Waldroop, Timothy Hutchinson, and Tom Higbee. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

Now to announce the winner of our special Sixth Anniversary drawing! The winner is...

[can you feel the excitement in the air? From Millan.Net]

"Andrew Carrieri! Congratulations, Andrew! You will be receiving a prize shortly!

(Don't you love getting stuff in the mail? I'm always like:
From Millan.Net
)

Challenge #289:
 Where in the World #289

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

Purple Street Signs!! These are one of things that tell me I'm at Disney and when we leave & I see a green sign, I get like this: From Millan.Net

We didn't break the 555 record, and we all know why. It's because my friend Ed Elder didn't play. Tsk tsk, Ed. From Millan.Net Just kidding.

Thank you to everyone who did answer! Quite a lot of you did while on vacation, even on cruise ships! I appreciate you doing that!

Chris Masse was the first to send in the correct answer! Congratulations to Justin and all our winners this week! Phyllis, Rob Jacob, Brad Nolan, Erin Hammer, Sharon Pierce, Roger Vollmer, Karen Schlumpf, Pam Vanaustin, Tommy Montgomery, Mary Ann Lamay, Mary Beth Tarbet, The Kahle Family, Colette Stanton , Steve And Ruby Jordan, Demetrios Makres, Larissa Huda, Evanna Huda, Brian Odonnell, Jen Tremley, Lee Anastasi, Joanne Surprenant, Team Hill, Dawn Davis, Angela Fennell, Chris Connors, Candice Grimes, Patti Gumiela, Kristi Strembicki, Donna Frank, Fishman Family, Kenny, Dave Wang, Chris Nichols, Schweizer Family, Angie Blair, Liz Moreau, John P, Andrew Carrieri, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Rob Blundin, Kerri Kobylka, Jim Riddle, Leach Family, Emily Hudson, David Tarbet, Chris Hanna, Sandie Albreht, Tinkerbell Wells, Mike Haeberle, Lynette Michalos, Lynette Michalos, Deb Ragno, Daniel Record, Deb Ragno, Christina And Natalie Rotella, Jim Logue, Jim Dewalt, Elizabeth And Vicki Edwards, Cheryl Chambers, Bill Cudney , Michael O'brien, Belicia Cullen, K Beasley, Scott Cullen, Betsy Silvestri, Chuck Sands, Marsha Waidelich, Patty Carty, Laurie Walker, Stefanie Vandiver, Josette Gabel, The Malesky Family, Tricia Petty, Amy Martel, Tim Johansen, Carolyn Como, Maureen Handy, Mike Cerce, Evald Olson, Carol Ney, Linda Ranatza, Nathaniel Clements, Hobbes And Snorky, Bruce Hinterleitner, Kris Nixon , Michael Gunnels, Ladonna Tisdale, The Scimeca Family, Morgan M., The Omeara Family, Jeremy Hardy, Kerry A., Paul Knott, Virginia Pierce, Louise, Heather Young, Nathalie Periard, Jonathan Thomas, Antoinette Leblanc, Ainsley Poe, Mary Ann Eckenrode, Larry Sprenkle, Jared Orth, Cynthia Hitchcock, Cris Sefransky, Jim Riley, John Bickers, Tracy Discher, Russ Morgan, Diane Curfman, Jeff Blank, John Menjes, Kerri Coggins, Kristyn Scibienski, Robert Hildebrandt, Diane C., Chloe Mayhew, Jason Skow, Catherine Connors, Jodi Cook, Amanda Campbell, Rob And April -team Vanderpool, Robert Wescovich, Tricia Noble, Karen Costa, Tiffany Gibb, Paul Ignudo, Jr., Matt Holley, Janet T Thorn, Kate Fischer, Sara Alaimo, Vera Williams, Gallagher Family, Lily-pierre Couet, Josh Weiss, Craig Lordan, Katie, Chris Bauman, Jim Finley, Theresa Maradei, Michelle Boykin, Amber Slifer, Karen Bellamy, Steve Knapp, Mickey Eckert, Barclay Bakkum, Karrie Duffey, The Patterson Family, Mike M., Shelly Borella, Andy Schumacher, John Pasqueralli, Carri Marotto, Josh Carney, Carla C, Alison Rosenberger, Matt Ciccone, Diane Ramos, Caroline Burmester, Cheri Palmisano, Team Bonnie Sue, Terry Fleming, Stephanie Dollar, Lori Rienhardt, Melodye Berry, Dan And Elizabeth Johnston, Judy Simonsen, Sophia, Kristan Bertelmann, Derek Carty, Les Stewart, Jenn Crosby, Sarah Williams, Diane Batista, Tom Hermes, Patrick Broaddus, Anna Keene, Dave Kanigowski, Sandy Kanigowski, Ashley P. , Lindsey Nozal, Karen Smith, Dave Carriere, Curtis Bille, Kaylie Seeley, Theresa Rucando, Angel Diven, Melissa Rappley, Wendy Palmquist, Jeff Stetson, Debbie Poole, Karen Ford, Heidi Goodhue, Joseph M. Zafia, Maryann Romagnano, George Mundy Jr, Carla Nale, Shirley Garcowski, Heather Calvey, Ken Rhinehart, Chris, Gretchen, And Katie Barnes, Stacy Guarracino, Vicki Britt, Matthew Earl, Brian Richmond, Wendy Mowery, Claire Gregory, Emily Harper, Kristen Mccoy, Elaine Kleinhenz, Joseph M. Zafia, Jane Johnson, Cassandra Newton, Caitlin Lewis, Hillary Waldroop, Angela Johnson, Christi Ison, Carol J, Clare S, Jeff Finger, Timothy Hutchinson, Patti Mccaffrey, Tom Higbee, and Mark Franklin. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #290 Where in the world is this?

Back on track for our usual fun. We are in a park!
Where in the World Photo Fun

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, August 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!

June 28, 2013

Ceremonial Canoe in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Our next stop is along the walk to Asia and just past the Yeti Shrine in Disney's Animal Kingdom rests (rested) a very colorful ceremonial canoe. On a calm day, the water creates reflections of the canoe. To capture the beautiful colors of the canoe, I underexposed using exposure compensation by -0.3 of a stop.

Ceremonial canoe on the walk to Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Ceremonial canoe on the walk to Asia.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 200mm focal length.

I used a stopped down aperture of f/16 to make sure to get everything in focus from the water reflection to the wooden fencing behind the canoe. Have not seen this canoe on my last couple of trips. It may have been moved or otherwise taken off stage.

I will be taking a summer break the next two weeks. See you back here then!

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.

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!
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

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!

November 4, 2011

Flights of Wonder Photo Op

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Back in August, we featured a Disney Pic of the Week theme called Lucky Shot. I received an email from a regular reader and commenter Steve Knapp about his unlucky shot. Here is his story.

I tried posting a comment to your blog about "lucky shots" but something with my office system wouldn't permit me to post it. Then I got busy and totally forgot about it. But I wanted to make sure to let you know my experience with an "unlucky" shot.

I had the chance to take a photo of a lifetime and totally blew it. I was selected for this opportunity during the Flights of Wonder show in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Seated on stage, they released a bird from the back of the seating area and he flew right over me and another tourist. Before the release, the host told us to both focus on a spot at the end of the stage. Using my Nikon D5000 with the 55-200mm lens, I set my dial to "action" and focused on that spot. What I wasn't told was this bird had over a 6 foot wing span and I wasn't prepared for the speed of the bird as it flew. Needless to say, my autofocus shifted to the audience and, well, let's just say it was a nice photo of the audience as the bird flew quickly through my set spot. The other tourist missed the shot, too. As we were being led on stage, I almost shifted my settings to the multiple framed (ie., continuous or burst mode) setting. I should have also switched to using my 18-55mm lens and started shooting as soon as the bird left the handlers hand, tracking it all the way over my head. Attached is a picture of the bird, an Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, on its perch, which was my consolation picture! I did switch to the multiple frames setting for the rest of the show, capturing a few good shots of birds in mid-flight.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill in the Flights of Wonder at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida.
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill photographed by Steve Knapp at the Flights of Wonder.

Steve went on to say there really is no such thing as an "unlucky" photo at Walt Disney World and he did come home with lots of good photos.

I want to thank Steve for passing on his experience on stage during the Flights of Wonder show. Now I (and all of you) have a good idea what to expect if any of us are selected for such a photo opportunity.

October 7, 2011

The Expedition EVEREST Challenge

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Most people when seeing the sign below just chuckle. They know Expedition EVEREST is a high-speed attraction. How can anyone take pictures while riding it. Right?

Photo memories sigh in the Expedition EVEREST queue in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Remember to capture memories in your ride through the Himalayas.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 2200, EV +0.3, 160mm focal length.

You know us here at Picture This!, we have a bit of an adventuresome spirit. They do take a ride photo for you of which I have a few. I ask you, where's the challenge in that? If you take care to secure your camera, you can successfully take ride photos on Expedition EVEREST.

I do not do this every time I ride (no matter what my family will tell you). I do like to sit back, scream and throw my arms up in delight while enjoying the thrill and awesome details of the experience that is Expedition EVEREST. Especially the big drop. I know I have left my stomach with the Yeti a few times.

Others may opt not to ride and enjoy taking in the beauty of the Disney Imagineer-ed mountain and how it blends in with the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom park.

Expedition EVEREST loams behind the Yeti Shrine in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Expedition EVEREST loams behind the Yeti Shrine.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, f/16, ISO 900, 72mm focal length, HDR Image.

I used HDR processing to take five images from -2 to +2 to create this image. It was the best way to control the huge range of light from the overcast sky.

August 20, 2011

Soaked and Happy on Kali River Rapids

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Soaked riders wave to the photographer towards the end of the Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Soaked riders wave to the photographer towards the end of the Kali River Rapids.

This photo was taken back in 2002 during a trip for my eldest daughter's Senior year. Each of my daughters brought a friend which allowed me to stay dry as I waited for them at the end of the Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom. As they had no control on how they would be oriented in the raft, I was hoping for the best and got it. They were soaked and happy as they waved to me from the raft. Makes for a very wet Disney Pic of Week about River Rapids.

Note: I do not have any data for this photo as it was taken with a Nikon 8008s film SLR camera on ISO 100 film. I was probably using an 80-200mm lens.

May 29, 2011

Where in the World #179

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

Thank you to Heather Young and Kelly Zanauskas for your wonderful notes to me about the Where in the World contest. I really appreciate it!

Mike Venere, I'm in New Jersey too! You know, "It's a small world", isn't it? I think there's a song like that. :)

This was Challenge #178:
 Where in the World #178

And here's the answer:


Copyright © 2006 Erin Blackwell Canon ZRDC MC, 6mm, 1/30s shutter, f/2.2, (Night Mode)

This is the Hidden Yeti face that you can see from certain angles on Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom. My friend, Barrie Brewer, one of the AllEars photographers, has a wonderful picture where you can see the Hidden Yeti face on the mountain. I find it MUCH easier to see the face at night although I did find it during the day (once. LOL!)

Robin Fitts was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Robin and all other readers who got the answer right: Robin Fitts, Lee Anastasi, Heather Young, Maryann Eckenrode , Steven Bowling, Cathy Skiba, Angie Young, Debbie Desimone, Susan Doucette, Bill Mckim, A Leblanc, Kristine Gallatin, Dan Owens, Kimberly Woodruff, Kelly Zanauskas, Chris Lomonaco, Kurt, Luis Rodriguez, Roye Ann Morris, Ed Suscreba, and Amanda Linington. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

It's time for our monthly drawing. This month's big winner is Roye Ann Morris! Congratulations, Roye, you are the lucky recipient of a fabulous Disney book and some really cool AllEars® swag!
__________________________________________________________________________

Challenge #179: Where in the world is this?

Who wants to do a little time traveling? Then come with me to a little ways into the past for this week's photo:

 Where in the World #179

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, June 2nd, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.

See you next week, Worlders!

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 and a cool Disney book!

May 20, 2011

Photographing Tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Over the years I have given you tips on how to photograph on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. However, the stars on this animal trail are the Asian Tigers. Being cats, the tigers sleep most of the day. In fact, up to 15 hours of a tiger's day is spent sleeping. In Disney's Animal Kingdom, the best time of day I have found to photograph the tigers is in the afternoons after 2:00pm. The series of photos below was taken around 3:00pm last October. It helps to ask a cast member on duty when they have seen the tigers and other animals on the trail active.

Besides sleeping, another popular activity of the Asian tigers is the daily cleanings.

Tiger keeping clean at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
An Asian Tiger keeping clean.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Soon after I took this photo, the tiger got up and started prancing across the compound.

Tiger prancing at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
An Asian Tiger prancing.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

The tiger had a goal in mind and flushed out a fellow tiger. They raced each other down to the windowed viewing area.

Tiger chases another at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
An Asian Tiger chases another.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

They soon settled down and enjoyed a quiet moment together.

Tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/10, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Have you found other times during the day when the tigers or other animals are active when visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom? Leave me a comment.

April 29, 2011

The Bird Sanctuary on the Maharajah Jungle Trek

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of my favorite areas in Disney's Animal Kingdom is on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The Asian tigers are a crowd favorite on the trail but do not overlook the bird sanctuary. Grab a large bird identification chart as you enter to enhance your enjoyment. You will also see some very ornate bird houses just as a real Maharajah may have had in a royal bird sanctuary which was popular in Asia. Today, many of those sanctuaries still exist as national parks and refuges.

A royal bird palace in the sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Royal bird palace in the sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5, ISO 200, EV 0, 65mm focal length

Let's meet some of the exotic bird species in the Maharajah Jungle Trek bird sanctuary. It helps to have a lens with a focal length of 200mm or better. If you have a P&S with a 10x zoom or better that will work great to.

The male Mandarin Duck is Asia's version of the North American Wood Duck. Brightly colored and sometimes hard to tell it is a living waterfowl as they are as ornate as the bird house palaces in the sanctuary.

Mandarin Duck in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Mandarin Duck in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/70-200VR, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 155mm focal length

The Emerald Dove is the state bird of the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. With 'emerald' in the name, you can see why these pigeons were popular with the royal casts.

Emerald Dove in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Emerald Dove in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 5600, EV 0, 300mm focal length

As their name implies, Jambu Fruit Doves eat fruit directly from trees or from items dropped by hornbills or monkeys. Like other doves but, unlike most birds, it can drink by sucking.

Jambu Fruit Dove in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Jambu Fruit Dove in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 320, EV 0, 300mm focal length

Masked Plovers or Lapwings spend most of their time on the ground searching for food such as insects and worms and has several distinctive calls. Their bright and distinctive 'masked' face is easy to spot in the Maharajah Jungle Trek bird sanctuary.

Masked Plover in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Masked Plover in the bird sanctuary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/70-200VR, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 250, EV -0.3, 200mm focal length

August 17, 2010

Disney Pic of the Week: Expedition Everest

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

A true judge of a successful attraction at Walt Disney World is the number of people willing to see or ride it when the weather is not perfect. Expedition Everest still had long waits and Fastpasses going into the afternoon soon after rope drop at Disney's Animal Kingdom on a cold December day when I took this photo of my daughter and friend before heading back into the mountain for some dark high speed fun.

Riding Expedition Everest on a cold December day in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Riding Expedition Everest on a cold December day.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/320s, f/13, ISO 800, EV -1.0, 18mm Focal Length

Barrie and Lisa will share their favorite EE photos on Thursday and Saturday for our Disney Pic of the Week on Expedition Everest.

July 16, 2010

Digital Photography Beginner's Guide

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

This month marks three years I have been writing weekly (more or less) on the Picture This! Photoblog here at AllEars.net. The questions Lisa got from her inquiry last week got me to thinking in the last three years, many of you have upgraded to better cameras which give you more control. With that in mind, I want to link you to some of the first posts I did here which explain the basics of Digital Photography.

Pirates of the Caribbean plaza in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Mechanics of Exposure: This post defines what aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation are. For me, you have to define and understand the parts before you can understand the whole which in this case is called photographic exposure.

Exif Photo Data: In this post I explain the numbers you see under the photos here on the Picture This! blog.

Creative Uses of Aperture: Details on how aperture effects the depth of field in photographs.

Shutter Speeds and You: Read about how shutter speed controls the amount of movement in photographs.

Indian artwork on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Light Sensitivity: Of the three parts of the exposure triangle, ISO or light sensitivity is not easily understood. I lift the veil of the ISO numbers in this post.

Dialing in Digital Exposure: The exposure compensation button found on digital SLRs and advanced Point and Shoot cameras is often overlooked by many new digital photographers. I think you'll agree once you read this how useful the EV button is.

If you have any questions regarding these articles, leave a comment here and I will answer them.

June 10, 2010

Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom Hidden Mickey

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Before my last trip to Walt Disney World, Steve Barret, the Hidden Mickey Guy, had just released his WDW Hidden Mickey iPhone App. The Hidden Mickey app lets you select which Walt Disney World themepark you are in and which area of the park, attraction or ride. For example, I was in the queue for Expedition Everest and the hint was: Search for a classic Mickey in the first sunken courtyard. It took me a few minutes which the length of the queue game me and I found it! Photo proof below for my Disney Pic of the Week for the theme on Hidden Mickeys.

Okay...I am adding Steve Barrett's website link for this HM: Expedition Everest - Yeti Base Mickey.

By popular request, here is a direct link for the Hidden Mickey iPhone app (Caution: This link will launch iTunes if it is on your computer): Steve Barrett's Hidden Mickey iPhone App

A Hidden Mickey in the Expedition Everest queue in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
A Hidden Mickey in the Expedition Everest queue.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 800, EV +0.3, 200mm Focal Length

May 15, 2010

Escaping the Yeti

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Screaming expeditoners hurtle down Everest to escape the Yeti in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Screaming expeditoners hurtle down Everest to escape the Yeti.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/5.3, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 95mm focal length

Expedition EVEREST dominates Disney's Animal Kingdom's Asia in size and sound. I found a quiet camping lantern to focus on while screaming expeditioners escaped their encounter with the Yeti in the bokehed background for my Disney Pic of Week on Asia.

February 5, 2010

Illuminating the Yeti Shrine

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

After I found out I was going to be attending Extra Magic Hours at night in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I had this photo idea in my head. The Yeti Shrine at night with Expedition Everest beautifully lighted in the background. I knew I would need a tripod, remote shutter release and a lens that could handle the sweeping image I had dancing in my head like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens I have.

Now, you can imagine my disappointment when I rounded the corner and saw the scene below which greeted me. I never thought the Yeti Shrine would NOT have a light or two on it like the stone column off to the right.

The unlighted Yeti Shrine with Expedition Everest in the background at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Unlighted Yeti Shrine.
Nikon D70/Tokina 11-16mm, 25s, f/11, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length, tripod

As I pondered this I came upon another idea. An even better one as it turns out. I took out the Nikon SB-600 Speedlight (flash unit) from my camera bag and set it and my camera to trigger the flash remotely. On any Nikon dSLR cameras with a pop-up flash, you can use the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) with either the SB-600, SB-800 or SB-900 Speedlights. Other Nikon dSLR cameras will need either an SB-800, SB-900 or the SU-800 Commander Unit. If you own another camera brand, refer to your manual to see how you can set up remote flash.

I am not going into the detail on how to use the CLS (see link and Google for more information) this time but just give you the results you see in the next photo. Here is the photo I had in my head. By using off-camera flash held at camera left, I angled it in such a way as to illuminate the Yeti Shrine. I set the camera to Rear-Sync Flash mode to capture the purple-white colors of Expedition Everest in the background.

The illuminated Yeti Shrine with Expedition Everest in the background at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Florida
Illuminated Yeti Shrine.
Nikon D70/Tokina 11-16mm, 25s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length, tripod, rear-synced off-camera flash at -1 power

What do you think? See, flash is not a dirty word but another tool to correctly expose your subjects.

December 18, 2009

Walt Disney World in HDR

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

High Dynamic Range imaging which is referred to simply as HDR is a process to increase the amount of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. Digital cameras can handle from 4 to 7 stops of light. In contrast, the human eye can see 20 stops of light. People "see" in HDR. Photographers for years have done all kinds of things in the darkrooms to increase their photos dynamic range.

With the advent of more powerful personal computers, digital cameras and imaging software, photographers and software engineers created the HDR process of merging a set of digital photographs which would have taken hours of setup in a darkroom and do it in just a few minutes. Today's blog is just an introduction to HDR as I have recently discovered it myself.

There are two kinds of HDR images. One is created by a set of images I call an HDR set. The second is created from one image which I will cover in three weeks. So, what is an HDR set? To explain that I first have to introduce you to the term bracketing. In photography, bracketing means to take one picture at a given exposure then one or two brighter and one or two darker, in order to obtain the best image. I did this often whenever I was using slide film. Digital sensors are a lot like slide film so when I took up digital photography, I returned to bracketing, especially if the the subject I was photographing had very light and dark areas.

HDR imaging takes bracketing a bit further. Instead of changing a half or a full stop around an exposure, HDR photographers go 2, 3 and sometimes more stops. Digital cameras make it very easy as most come with auto-bracketing settings which will program your camera to take a series of photos plus and minus around the exposure the photographer decides to start with. Auto-bracketing can be truly automatic where one shutter press takes all the photos in sequence or, like my older digital camera, you have to press the shutter for each bracketed photo. To find out how your camera does auto-bracketing, check its manual (haven't bugged you about reading that in awhile!).

Now that you have an idea of what HDR is. Let me show you how it works. Most HDR books and web tutorials recommend you start with a 3 image bracket of +2, 0, -2 EV (exposure compensation). When I turn on auto-bracketing, the first shutter press will take the +2 EV photo first, the 0 EV photo second and the -2 EV photo last. This gives me the HDR set of 3 photos you see below of Expedition Everest from the bridge to Africa in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

HDR set of photos of Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
HDR set of photos of Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

When I first started doing this I had to get used to seeing such light and dark images and to NOT delete them which I did the first few times. Once you get the HDR set onto your computer the real fun begins. A couple of years ago, you really needed something like Photoshop to merge the HDR sets together. Most HDR gurus today recommend Photomatix either as a stand along program or plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom or Apple's Aperture. Since I use Aperture, I'll explain how easy it is to use the Photomatix plugin. If you get the stand alone version, Photomatix Pro, you have to create the JPEG images for it.

In Aperture, I selected the three images you see above and choose to edit with the Photomatix plugin. This launches Photomatix and imports the three images. Since I didn't use a tripod here, I told Photomatix to align the images. After a minute or less, the merged image is displayed in the plugin. The first time you see this you'll be amazed. Dark and light areas which in the "properly" exposed image had little to no detail, now have detail. The links below will go into more detail as to what all the adjustment sliders in Photomatix does. After a few minutes, below is what I ended up with. Notice how you can see details in the bright clouds and dark green foliage. In my normal processing, I would have had a hard time getting something even close to this.

Expedition Everest from the bridge to Africa in Disney's Animal Kingdom in HDR, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition Everest from the bridge to Africa in HDR.

Remember, HDR works best with scenes which have very dark and/or very light areas. If the scene is very evenly lighted, HDR won't do much for you. With that in mind, lighted structures at night have a large contrast in light and dark. I had seen others do HDR images of Spaceship Earth at Epcot but I thought I would give it a try and see what I came up with. Below is the HDR set of three images. This time, I decided to do it manually by using my camera's light meter and a tripod. I kept the ISO at 200 and aperture at f/16 and varied the shutter speed to get the same exposure range of +/- 2 stops.

HDR set of photos of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
HDR set of photos of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World.

Night HDR processing was a lot harder than I thought it would be. HDR increases noise. So, if you start with ISO 200 images, the HDR image turns out like an ISO 400 image. In very dark areas, like a night sky, noise can become very apparent. After a long time, I finally came upon the settings to keep the night sky black and not a grainy brown. The result you see below.

Nighttime HDR of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Nighttime HDR of Spaceship Earth in Epcot's Future World.

When HDR images first appeared, they were panned as being too cartoonish and not very realistic. As software engineers and photographers improved the tools and techniques, HDR images got better and better. For fun, you can still create those extreme HDR images like the one I did below of the set of the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Extreme HDR of set of the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Extreme HDR of set of the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show.

To me, this looks like concept art which might have been seen in the offices of Disney Imagineering when they were creating the show. What do you think? For more HDR examples from Walt Disney World, click here.

I have been rather vague as to how to use Photomatix. This is because like all photo editing software, there are no wrong or right ways to create an HDR image once it's in Photomatix. Below are some links which will explain further how to create HDR photos using Photomatix.

Stuck In Customs HDR Tutorial - Trey Ratcliff is considered a master of HDR photography.

HDR Tutorial by Pete Carr - goes into how adjustment sliders in Photomatix effect an image. (This is an update from the original link.)

HDRsoft's website - the maker of Photomatix which have 30 day trials of the stand alone and plugin versions for download.

Stuart Perry's Photomatix Presets - I know it's early but this is my Christmas gift to anyone who wants to try out Photomatix. This link has a download with over 80 presets you can use in Photomatix. It's a great way to see how each preset changes your images while in Photomatix. Enjoy!

October 23, 2009

Telephoto Landscape

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Mistakes. We all make them. Most of the time when we make a mistake, it doesn't work out to good. Sometimes you get a pleasant surprise. Such as the case in the photo below of Expedition EVEREST taken from the bridge between Africa and Discovery Island. I had just finished walking the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and had my camera in Aperture Priority mode and set to it's largest f-stop of f/2.8. That is best for taking animal portraits with and not landscapes. Well, I forgot and took this photo. I didn't realize what I had done until later when I was on the other side of the park. What do you think? Ideally, I would have used f/11 to f/16.

Expedition Everest telephoto landscape in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Expedition Everest Telephoto Landscape.
Nikon D70/70-200VR, 1/3200s, f/2.8, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 70mm Focal Length

Using a telephoto lens, even a short one, compresses the image captured by the camera's sensor. The compression worked here to keep the depth of field small enough to keep the image in focus almost from front to back. Remember, with my camera crop of 1.5x, this is the equivalent to a 105mm telephoto lens (70mm x 1.5). There is softness in the extreme areas and I wouldn't want to print this any bigger than an 8" x 12".

August 7, 2009

Everest Sun

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

One of the first things you learn in any basic book or course on photography is to keep the Sun at your back when taking an outdoor photo. Yet, there at times when having the Sun in your photo creates interesting light patterns, flare and, when stopping down the lens, star effect. Remember NOT to look directly at the Sun as that will cause damage to your eyes. Very carefully put the sun in a corner, lower or upper half of the frame. Use a small aperture in the f/16, f/22 or f/32 range to cut down the amount of light entering the camera when the shutter is pressed.

This is what I did when heading towards the summit of Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom. The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens has a 9-bladed diaphragm and creates lovely stars of bright light sources at f/22 and you can't get much brighter than the Sun.

Sun near the summit of Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Sun near the summit of Everest.
Nikon D70/Tokina 11-16, 1/400s, f/22, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, 11mm Focal length

I found this link to 25 Excellent Sun Flare Photography Examples showing some outstanding photos featuring the Sun. Here's more tips for achieving artistic lens flare. Have fun and be careful!

June 12, 2009

Capturing an Empty Disney Park

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Walt Disney World hosts millions of visitors each year. There are always people about even during a slow period. Yet, you can take photographs without people in them. One way is to get low and shoot at an angle to eliminate people around you or find a way to elevate yourself over people's heads. Another way is to find scenes where people can not get to like the photo of the ceremonial canoe I found in Disney's Animal Kingdom near the Yeti Shrine.

Ceremonial Canoe in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Ceremonial Canoe near the Yeti Shrine.
Nikon D70/18-200VR 1/400s, f/16, 200 ISO, +0.3 EV, 150mm Focal length

I am a lightweight when it comes to getting truly empty photos of a Walt Disney World park. Let me introduce you to a true heavyweight, Tom Bricker (aka WDWFigment) has perfected empty Disney park photography. What he does is stay late at one of the parks...say, the Magic Kingdom until all the guests have left. He has seen the second Kiss Goodnight more times than I've been to Orlando (did you know there was a second one? Have you ever seen the first one?). Long after most guests are sleeping back at their resorts, Tom is getting photos only a paid Disney photographer normally gets a chance to shoot. Here are a couple of his favorites from the Magic Kingdom.

An empty Main Street USA during the Christmas holiday season in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
An empty Main Street USA during the Christmas holiday season by Tom Bricker.
Nikon D40, 5s, f/20, 200 ISO, +0.6 EV, 26mm Focal length

Tom talked about this photo, "Although the rain dampened the mood on portions of the (Mickey's Very Merry) Christmas Party, it sure did make for some pretty after hours shots (my first with "rain reflections"!)."

In this very unique photograph of the castle below, Tom explains why it is often overlooked. "Most people stop in awe when they first see the Castle on the other side of Main Street, USA. By the time they walk through the Castle to Fantasyland, a little of the amazement has worn off, and they are scurrying off to get in line at their favorite attractions. However, the back of the Castle shouldn't be overlooked. With its nuances and beautiful architecture, it is unique and awe-inspiring in its own right."

Cinderella Castle from Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cinderella Castle from Fantasyland by Tom Bricker.
Nikon D40, 1.3s, f/3.8, 200 ISO, +0.6 EV, 22mm Focal length

Tom uses a tripod to obtain these fantastic photos. He freely admits breakfast is something he seldom eats when visiting Walt Disney World. So, are you up to the challenge of photographing an empty Disney park?

I would like to thank, Tom, for letting me share some of his wonderful Walt Disney World photography!

June 5, 2009

On-Ride Photos

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I do and I'm sure many of you do it. Using our cameras while on a Disney ride or attraction. In the past I've shared one on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Test Track. Please, if you attempt ride photography do not endanger yourself or anyone riding with you. I make sure I am securely in my ride vehicle and my camera is not going to leave my hands. I wrap my strap about my arms and neck to make sure.

It is a challenge. Rides are fast and bumpy or slow and dark or a combination of the two. People who enjoy Disney themepark photography try to outdo each other on flickr and many Disney boards as to who can get the best ride shots. Many openly admit that it takes some luck to get a good ride photo. Just as the one I took on Expedition EVEREST. This is a fast ride which is half done inside a dark mountain with a Yeti chasing you. I thought it would be fun to see what a wide angle lens could do on this ride. The result you see below.

A Yeti mural seen on Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A Yeti mural found in one of the caves of Expedition EVEREST.
Nikon D70/Tokina 11-16, 1/15s, f/9, ISO 400, EV -0.3, 11mm focal length

If you look at the shutter speed, you can see why I was lucky. There is a lot of motion blur in this photo but the mural of the Yeti is fairly steady even with the large contrast of the bright light coming from the cave opening. By the way, anyone know where on Expediton EVEREST this was taken? Leave a comment.

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 8, 2008

Maharajah Jungle Trek Photo Tips

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Komodo Dragon on the Maharajah Jungle Trek

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is a walking trail featuring the beautiful and powerful Asian Tigers. Unlike the Kilimanjaro Safari (see link below), you can take your time viewing the animals. At least until those with you bug you to move on. You will need a camera that can take good photos at ISO speeds ranging from 100 or 200 to 800 or 1600 as the light varies greatly along the trail. To be able to fill the frame, a lens of 200mm in length is a must. With the crop factor on dSLR cameras this often gets you a 35mm equivalent of 300mm. A Point & Shoot camera with a zoom factor 10x or more will give you excellent range to get viewfinder filling shots.

When shooting at these magnification, your camera will be using large apertures which means the depth of field or zone of focus will be small. You need to be careful what you are focusing on. Like people, the eyes must be in sharp focus. Viewers will overlook softness in other features of the animal as long as the eyes are in focus.

Luck has a lot to do when photographing an animal doing something when you are there. The photo of the Komodo Dragon above was taken on my seventh trip to Animal Kingdom. All the other times, he would be lying there with his body flopped on the ground. In this case, a bird had landed in his enclosure and he was hunting it. You can increase your chances of seeing activity by walking the trail early or late in the day. As mentioned on the AllEars.net page on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the tigers get very active around 4pm in the afternoon.

Related Links:

Kilimanjaro Safari Photo Tips

May 16, 2008

A is for Aperture Control

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Aperture seems to work in reverse to common sense. Measured in f/stops, the smaller the f/stop, the larger the aperture or opening of the camera's iris and the more light is allowed to hit the sensor. It also controls the Depth of Field or how much or how little the plane of focus is in your photographs.

In the photo of Expedition EVEREST, I wanted everything sharply focused (a large plane of focus) from the tops of the trees to the clouds in the sky.

Click for larger version of Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/18, 200 ISO, +0.3 EV, 35mm Focal Length

To get the maximum depth of field, I moved the Dial Mode to the A position to put my camera in Aperture Priority mode. I now had control of the aperture or f/stop setting by turning the command dial (this may be different for your camera so check your manual. There I go again!). I took a series of photos of Expedition EVEREST, waiting for the train to enter the mountain. It took a few tries to get the timing down. Once I downloaded the files to my laptop, I liked this one the best at f/18. It shows every detail in mountain's "rock" and "snow" with a nice base frame of trees and top frame of sky. I took this while waiting outside the Theater in the Wild to see Finding Nemo -- The Musical.

On the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the sun angle on this hanging Malayan Flying Fox showed how thin the membranes are in his wings. To make sure the background went out of focus, I selected an aperture of f/5.6 for a narrow plane of focus. This technique is called selective focus and is a great way of separating your subject from a busy or unappealing background.

Click for larger version of Malayan Flying Fox soaking up the sun on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Malayan Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus) soaking up the sun on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/25s, f/5.6, 200 ISO, +0.3 EV, 120mm Focal Length

February 15, 2008

Photographic Innoventions: Bokeh!

No, it's not the name of a new ballroom dance craze. Bokeh is used to describe a certain camera lens characteristic. Bokeh comes from the Japanese word "boke" which means fuzzy. Sounds like a strange characteristic for a lens to have, doesn't it? Bokeh describes how the background looks when shooting with the lens at it's largest aperture. A lens with "good bokeh" has a nice smooth looking but out of focus (or fuzzy) background. Lenses with "bad bokeh" have spherical or other geometrical shapes with hard edges which look bad behind a sharply focused subject in the foreground.

The picture below shows what "good bokeh" looks like. The foliage behind the tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek is softly out of focus and does not take away from the handsome portrait. You will find when taking someone's portrait, this is the best way to separate them from the background. In my previous entry on the Creative Uses of Aperture, you can see another example of what good bokeh looks like.


Tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. © Scott Thomas Photography 2008
Nikon D70/80-200D, 1/125s, f/5.6, 400 ISO, +0.3 EV, 200mm focal length

February 1, 2008

Photographic Innoventions: Best Lens Aperture

To get the sharpest images possible with your lens, it's best not to use the widest or smallest apertures. Most lenses are optimized in the f/5.6 - f/11 aperture range and give their best performance when stopped down a couple of f-stops from the widest aperture. If you have a 50mm f/1.8 lens, it's best to use it around f/4 to f/8. Most consumer zoom lens have a sliding scale when it comes to their widest aperture. The Nikon 18-200VR lens I use has it's widest aperture of f/3.5 when it's at 18mm. At 200mm, it goes down to f/5.6. That's what it means when you see a lens' description like this: Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Zoom Lens where this lens starts at f/4.5 at 70mm and goes down to f/5.6 at 300mm. Usually, the faster the lens, meaning the lens starts at a very large aperture, the more expensive the lens is.

So, why not use the widest or smallest aperture? The problem with using small aperture sizes is that light waves are affected due to diffraction and though you have great depth of field, you lose out on sharpness. Large apertures are great for low-light, but unless you have an exceptional lens, its just too difficult to produce lenses that are razor sharp when wide open.


Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom. © Scott Thomas Photography 2008
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/8, 200 ISO, -1.0 EV, 20mm focal length

These are good guidelines to start from. The best way to find out the best apertures for the lenses you own is to test them. Set up a small still life with various objects. Include something with text on it like a sign. Watches are also good as they are small and very detailed. Put your camera on a tripod and put it in aperture priority mode. Take a series of photos varying the aperture size with each one from the smallest f-stop to the largest. Download the pictures to your computer and view each photo at 100%. I found the sharpest aperture range for my 18-200VR lens to be around f/8 at 18mm and f/11 at 200mm doing similar testing when available light permits.

Further reading: Creative Uses of Aperture

September 21, 2007

Photographic Innoventions: Look Up!

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
The Crown and Crest store in Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/15s, f/3.5, 450 ISO, +1 EV, 18mm Focal Length

While "researching" family crests and name histories in the United Kingdom's Crown and Crest store in Epcot, I suddenly remembered the old Walt Disney themepark fan's adage, "Look Up!". I was rewarded with the view you see above of multicolored flags depicting family crests from Ol'England hanging from the wooden rafters.

Did you know most pictures are taken about five to six feet off the ground or eye level of most people? While I was standing for this photograph, many times after taking an initial photograph, I pause and think how I can make it better. Would a different angle help? What if I move closer? Or farther away? Would getting down on my knees or belly give the picture more impact? How about from above? Is it possible to come back at another time of day when the sun is low or at night?

Now, I do know it is very hard to do this at Walt Disney World with the crowds, kids in tow or rushing to get to a scheduled show or dining reservation. However, I encourage you to practice this exercise with subjects around your home, neighborhood or anywhere you have your camera with you. Thankfully, Disney Imagineers make it easy and all you need to do is look up...

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Flags blowing in the wind above the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Animal Kingdom. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/8, 200 ISO, -0.3 EV, 75mm Focal Length

August 3, 2007

Photographic Innoventions: Shutter Speeds and You

Shutter speed is the time for which the shutter is held open during the taking of a photograph to allow light to reach the image sensor in a digital camera. A fast shutter speed will freeze the subject but needs plenty of light. A slower shutter speed needs less light and a more stationary subject or will cause image blur. However, you can use this to your advantage, as this article will show you.


Expedition Everest explorers emerging from the mountain. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/800s, f/7.1, 400 ISO, -0.3 EC, 135mm Focal Length

In the mid-afternoon Florida sun, it is easy for our cameras to select fast shutter speeds. From the observation area of Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest ride, I wanted to freeze the ride vehicle and guests as it came out of the mountain by using a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second. By doing this, you can see their expressions and body language as they see the plunge before them. One guest in the lead car is even video taping! To capture fast action, the faster the shutter speed the better to make the images sharp and clear.


The Beatniks entertaining guests in Disney's Animal Kingdom. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon Coolpix 995, 1/30s, f/7.5, 200 ISO

When I came upon The Beatniks as I walked towards Dinoland in Disney's Animal Kingdom, I saw an opportunity to show not only their colorful costumes but their energy by using a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second. Photographs record still images, however, with the creative use of slower shutter speeds, a photograph can convey movement. The trick is not getting so much movement the subject is unrecognizable. The other trick is being able to keep your camera still while making the photo. I talked about how using stablizing lens technology can help in a previous entry. You can practice at home and test how slow a shutter speed you can use and still get acceptably sharp images. To get really long exposures slower than 1/15 of a second, you will need to either anchor yourself against something like a wall or pole, use a tripod or place your camera on a flat surface. At Walt Disney World, I've found the tops of garbage cans to be particularly useful.

Quick Tip: To take control of your shutter speed, set your camera to Shutter Priority Mode. In this way, you set the shutter speed and the camera calculates the aperture or f/stop for you. Be careful the aperture will give you the results you are looking for.

Return to Blog Central

About Asia

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Picture This! in the Asia category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Africa is the previous category.

Camp Minnie-Mickey is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.