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Expedition Everest Archives

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.

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 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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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

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.

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About Expedition Everest

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

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