Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

Disneyland Teacups at Night

My road trip earlier this summer ended in Disneyland, home of the iconic Alice in Wonderland Teacups. It’s a pretty cool attraction regardless, but at night, it’s quite a dazzling sight. Because the motion between and during exposures would have been just too much, this is a single-shot HDR of the ride in action at nighttime. I’ve never actually ridden the Teacups, but I have a feeling they’d make me sick: bring on all the crazy roller coasters you want, but as soon as a ride devolves down to concentrated spinning, I’m out.

Stay tuned for Tucker to post the full image of the current site banner from Yosemite. It may be the most planned shot on here and is certainly the most collaborative.

Just working on this image makes me want to go back... I've got the annual pass so I really have no excuse: Anaheim, CA

Lunch at the Blue Bayou, Disneyland

As our road trip came to a close this summer, Disneyland was our final stop before the family headed to LAX and made a break for the East Coast again. For us, Disneyland has a handful of very special places (not a super unique claim, no doubt you’ve got your own favorite nooks) and the Blue Bayou restaurant may just be at the top of that list. Situating its guests in a simulated New Orleans evening on a back patio, it is the end-all be-all of how to do dining atmosphere with style. I may have been here eight or nine times in my life and pretty much each time I’ve tried to take a picture of it that I liked… and I finally have one. Just after being seated, I spotted a freshly cleared table overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Knowing the table would be vacant for less than five minutes, I quickly built my tripod and framed up. I realize not everybody in the world is a 30 minute drive from the Happiest Place on Earth, but next time you plan on visiting, call ahead and make a reservation at the Blue Bayou for a classy lunch or dinner. Order the gumbo. Regarding some technicalities, the 16-35mm on the 7D is really a 26-56mm and though that means my wide angle lens is not being fully realized, it keeps me honest with my framing. Whereas a full frame body would have given me the easy option of including the entire seating area, this 26mm view allowed a “wide but not obnoxiously so” composition that I like very much.

The Blue Bayou restaurant is far and away my favorite dining experience at Disneyland (Disney World just wishes they had one): Anaheim CA

Disney World: New Years Fireworks

Where to begin with this one… Never have I ever received more weird looks than I did while arranging this shot. Although the families next to me had been waiting in their prime viewing locations since as early as 3pm, I didn’t feel too ridiculous spending 6 hours standing in my spot. I think I saw three parades go by and the standard 9pm fireworks while I was twiddling my thumbs up on the Main Street train station back balcony… At any rate, this final image is the result of a 5-shot bracket taken about 15 minutes before the actual fireworks started. Then, trying my very best to not let the throngs gathered up on the balcony to jostle the camera, I took stills of the fireworks going off (alas, I absolutely need to dish out the 99 cents for a cable release) and composited it as best I could into the HDR. This may very well be my favorite picture I have ever worked on, but that owes mostly to the memory of the scene this picture takes me back to. It is also my first entry into our desktops section, so on the off chance you’re feeling like a new background is in order, head on over to the desktops section and figure out what size fits your monitor best. If not, then that’s cool, too.

I feel like there are so many good places to be when midnight strikes on New Year's Eve. Right here is definitely pretty far up that list: Orlando, FL


At one point while I was at Disney World with my family over New Years, we were waiting for a parade on a curb at Main Street and the sight of a balloon vendor reminded me of a shot I had seen Trey put up of balloons at Disney. For the record, they still cost $10. At any rate, the vendor came right over next to us to sell a balloon to a kid and I decided that my curbside vantage point would make for an interesting balloon shot for myself. This may be the most ghosting work I’ve ever done on an image but I really like the result. Why not single shot it and save the effort? The range in the shot is just a little too much to rely on RAW tweaks but I was determined to have this one turn out. It’s a 3-shot bracket of balloons blowing in the wind and Photomatix 4 did an unbelievable job of figuring out which balloon goes where on its initial de-ghosting effort. It wasn’t perfect of course, but it turned Photoshop hours into minutes for me. And while I’m applauding PM4, why not also give a shout-out to the 7D’s 8fps shooting which undoubtedly assisted PM4’s creation of a clean image.

Can't decide whether I wanted to be able to see the vendor's face or not... either way I didn't really have time to wait around before this moment would have passed: Orlando, FL

Main Street during the holidays…

The Magic Kingdom is packed around New Years, at capacity, in fact. It is so full that even if you have the Park Hopper ticket to be able to roam about any of the parks for a day they will warn you up front that if you leave the Magic Kingdom at any point, you might not be allowed back in due to capacity. Of course, as 2010’s time came closer and closer to an end, this outright mob clustered up on Main Street and the central hub in front of the castle to get ready for the fireworks. The sun sets early these days and though this bracket was only taken at about 3:30pm, this congestion was already starting to build. Actually, I got to my spot to shoot the final New Years fireworks show at around 6:30 or so, fully expecting to stand and guard the location for the next 6 hours. I was shocked to find that there were eight people around me who had gotten their spots up to 3 hours before me. When 2011 finally rolled around it was well worth the wait though and I can’t wait to post some of the amazing things I saw from my nook at the Main Street train station… until then, though, enjoy Main Street at dusk.

In taking this bracket, my tripod was in a position where I could not extend its third leg. Needless to say, I'm very pleased with this two-legged-lean-against-a-post shot: Orlando, FL

From Cinderella Castle

Our trip to Disney World was fairly last minute and caught my mom and I completely off guard. I must admit, my sister must know her way around some sort of system because I have no idea how she wrangled dinner reservations in Cinderella Castle on New Years Eve… with about two days notice. However it happened, it was very cool to dine inside the castle. I took this shot through a window in the restaurant, right next to the table where we watched a proposal take place not minutes earlier. It’s certainly a feel-good place and I’m looking forward to putting together a lot more material from this trip.

This was more difficult to process than it should have been and I think it was because I was using a circular polarizer on these which seems to have done things to the sky that confused Photomatix somewhat. The learning process continues... Orlando, FL

Tough Competition

With Tucker off on some gorgeous island chain in the Pacific, Giacomo and I will be hard pressed to generate some competitive material. I can only guess as to what Tucker will be posting in the coming days because Hawaii tends to be a picturesque location… In the meantime however, Giacomo and I will continue to figure out the best approach to HDR time-lapse video in addition to posting the occasional image or two. Earlier today I stumbled across a 5-shot bracket I did of Splash Mountain around sunset when I was in Disneyland a few weeks ago — why had I not processed it? Whatever the reason for my delay, I have finally sat down with it and I am really pleased with the result. California has its sunsets, yes, but that rarely guarantees anything in the sky but beautiful colors, let alone the really awesome clouds we had a few weeks ago. I give you, Splash Mountain at Sunset. I will now set up a batch in photomatix and will see the results of our latest test HDR time-lapse test shoot in the morning!

I mean, how could I have passed this one up? You've got the tripod, you've got the camera, and you're standing right here. Every time I hit Disneyland I find something great to shoot... what a place: Los Angeles, CA

Disneyland: Minutes Before the Fireworks

Before heading over to California Adventure for World of Color, we had enough time to see the fireworks show in Disneyland. However, this shot is obviously not aimed at the fireworks area. Remembering a shot I had seen a long time ago on stuckincustoms, I decided that I really wanted to try something similar. We quickly saw that ghosting would be an issue and I’ve tried somewhat to retain the details of the seated people nearest me by pulling that data from whichever of the three shots was clear and masking it in. The areas to the right and the immediate bottom of the frame are places where I wanted to preserve the motion present in the scene since getting a single clean shot was impossible due to the people rushing to find a place to sit and enjoy the fireworks. I believe Trey’s shot was from DisneyWorld but I really like was Disneyland was able to offer up here. Main Street in CA is still just as magical at night (maybe more, actually) as its bigger counterpart across the country.

It's not uncommon for crowds like this to form two hours in advance for the fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland: Anaheim CA

Paradise Pier

So I went to LA this weekend to visit Andrew, and so of course he took me to Disneyland since I had never been. We got to the park pretty early at around 9:00 (most of the rides open at 10), but since we knew we wanted to shoot that day we brought all our camera stuff and a hefty Manfrotto tripod so we could get our HDR on that night at World of Color. Andrew spent the whole day building up the World of Color event (a light and water show in the California adventure park), which is so popular it happens 3 times a night with ~5000 attending each showing, and it was ABSOLUTELY justified. We got almost the whole thing on video in HD on his 7D, which made lugging the tripod around for the whole day completely worth it. We also got some HDR from the event as you can see below in Andrew’s post, but in the between time we stopped off a couple times to shoot some of the sunset, since we were there…

Mickey's Fun Wheel at Paradise Pier in the California Adventure park

Disneyland: Soarin’ Entrance

When California Adventure opened in 2001, its big claim to fame was the incredible Soarin’ Over California attraction, a state-of-the-art movie/motion simulator/smell-o-vision ride all rolled into one that features arial views of California’s most i

conic locations. It has since been replicated at Epcot in Disney World, but we had it first! Giacomo and I nabbed a shot of the entrance before moving on to check out the attractions in the Paradise Pier area of the park…

Obviously, Disney is always a crowded place... Our visit on Friday turned into an exercise in ghost-busting when it came time to process the images later: Anaheim CA

Disneyland: Paradise Pier Prior to World of Color Show

As Giacomo and I spent the better part of the day goofing off and hitting the main attractions (the sack of Fastpasses certainly didn’t hurt) of both parks, there was a constant concern that stuck at the back of the mind throughout the day: where were we going to get put for the World of Color Seating? I had seen the show once before (well, twice but the first time shouldn’t count since it was from behind) with my family and realized all too late that I was too close to the water to get enough of it in frame. We knew we would have about 60 seconds to find a spot and stay there once the gate opened as the mob for the 11:15 showing poured into the reserved area. We settled on a spot and took a shot in the few minutes before the show started…

The show takes place on the surface of Paradise Pier and is unlike any other type of show I've ever seen before... Stunning. Anaheim CA

Disneyland: Dumbo

Right after I got a few shots of the carousel, I turned around and tried to see what I could do with Dumbo. I spent a while trying to get separate images of the ride in motion but I couldn’t see any of them coming out looking right. I settled for a single shot approach and reframed to try and get something interesting that would show off the fact that the motion of the ride had been frozen in an HDR. Now that I think about it, I really wish I’d actually gotten on the ride… oh well, I was having fun regardless.

Flying Dumbo's careen past in Disneyland's Fantasyland: Anaheim CA

Disneyland: Downtown Disney at Night

So my dad and my sister got sick of my mom and I walking around and taking pictures of everything… they decided to bounce and head up to the room since tomorrow was going to be an early one (the character breakfast mentioned in the shot of California Adventure Entrance) leaving my mom and I to continue roving around Downtown Disney at night. I’m working on a few from within the Rainforest Cafe right now, I really like where they’re going. Anyways, we wanted a vantage point to be able to look down on as much of the area as possible and, sighting an empty-looking balcony on the second floor of a restaurant, barged in the door and up the stairs in a “we belong here, don’t ask questions” manner. It was a fun little intrusion, I really like how it turned out…

Bustling people and their humming credit cards. Makes for troublesome ghosts here and there but for the most part I like it: Anaheim CA

Disneyland: California Adventure Main Entrance

So we got our day started off bright and early with a character breakfast at 7 am, sneaking in before the park actually opened at 8. Just before going inside I figured that 6:45am would be as good an opportunity as any to catch the entrance of California Adventure with as few people as possible…

Don't know how much longer the entrance will look like this, the whole front will be redone in an old Art Deco style before too long... Anaheim CA

Disneyland: Color Rave in California Adventure

It has been way too long since I entered a username and password here. I finally have some new stuff to put up and it’s going to take a while to get processed but I wanted to start off with a flash of color. Apparently Disney California Adventure turns the Hollywood section of the park into an all out rave complete with cash bar every night and I never knew about it. I was on my way to the Tower of Terror with my family and we were caught up in the infectious Journey remix that the Uncle-Sam-meets-disco DJ was laying down. The place was going crazy! Anyways, many more to come…

Disneyland Rave - no saturation settings were adjusted here. Shot with standard photo style etc., the place really was this psychedelic: Anaheim CA