Archive for the ‘Orlando’ Category

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

Hogwarts Exterior

As I investigate the issue I’m currently having with Photomatix 4 I am left with little option but to whip out the old 3.1 in order to continue processing. The New Years trip to Orlando brought with it a TON of fun stuff to shoot and manipulate and

it’s going to be showing up gradually on the site. Naturally, DisneyWorld was a must but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure was also on our to-do list. It is an incredible recreation of exactly what it claims: it’s a veritable WORLD of wizard- and magic-related items from the books and has such attention to detail that you’d swear you were actually inside the book. The area comprises about a dozen shops named after their literary counterparts including Ollivander’s Wands and the Three Broomsticks, but the real piece of art is the castle. The ride it houses is a nausea-inducing motion simulator that takes you through most of the Harry Potter canon as you ride aboard an enchanted piece of levitating furniture. Amazing accomplishment, a requirement if you call yourself a true Harry Potter aficionado.

The sign advertises a 10-minute wait, made possible by the lack of crowds on New Year's Day thanks to the three bowl games being played in the neighboring areas of Florida: 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