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November 3, 2017

Photographing Pandora at Night in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 31, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora At Night

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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





October 27, 2017

Photographing Pandora Details in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 24, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Detail

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





October 20, 2017

Waterfalls of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 17, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Cast Member

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





October 13, 2017

Drums of Pandora in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





October 10, 2017

Disney Pic of the Week: Pandora Ride

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





September 8, 2017

Scouting Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

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

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





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About Pandora

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

Discovery Island is the previous category.

Rafiki's Planet Watch is the next category.

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