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Old 12-30-2010, 12:50 PM   #1
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A photographers point of view - 3rd December - 16th December

I just spent an amazing and eventful 2 weeks (the 3rd -16th December) in Kissimmee, Florida. It was my aim to get some nice shots of the various world famous parks when I was over there. I'm a photographer and make my living that way so a lot of this post is leaning towards photography and what was going through my mind, so you'll have to ignore my ramblings! Also this is only my second visit so a lot of this is new to me, yet extremely familiar to others.

We were supposed to fly out on the 1st December but due to adverse weather our flight was cancelled. As soon as I found this out I was straight on the phone and managed to push the flight and booking a couple days down the line. We were very lucky we flew out at all on the 3rd, as when we arrived at the airport we were met with the following ..

The flight was delayed by a fair few hours but thanks to Virgin we were able to take advantage of the V-room. It's a fantastic lounge but I couldn't help but feel guilty for the swarms of crowds huddled together below us in the incredibly cold airport terminal. Some people had been in the terminal for a few days waiting for their flight (and were unable to leave the terminal due to the weather, stalling most public transport and closing most roads).
Eventually we were in the air and on the way.

When we landed I was looking forward to walking through the airport doors into the fresh warm air but was greeted by an incredibly cold front that had arrived the same day we had (typical). Either way that wasn't going to halt anything, we picked up our car at the airport (2010 Dodge Caliber, a very nice, surprisingly smooth drive) and down the I4 we went.

There is so much to write about I could easily manage a novels worth, albeit a badly written one knowing me.
The first day at the parks was a great day, but a bad shooting day. I find when you're at the theme parks (for photographic reasons) it takes at least a couple of days to get into the swing of things. During the first day or two I find myself to be so overwhelmed with the structures, shapes and views of the parks that I just end up clicking away without actually thinking about my compositions. Once I get used to the surroundings that is when I can get into my element and really think about what I'm shooting.

One day we found ourselves in the Magic Kingdom. I was just exiting the ride Space Mountain and went to throw a receipt in a small steel bin. As I went to put my hand in the bin came alive! It started shouting at me for trying to put rubbish inside of it and began to wheel off. I decided to follow the bin outside the shop and round the park a bit and this happened (please forgive my awful video recording skills, I'm a photographer not a filmographer!)


Throughout Walt Disney World there are various shops that sell original prints of Disney Animation. One of the best part of these shops is they usually have an animator/illustrator sitting at a desk creating some of the items for sale.


I wanted to get a shot of one of these creators at work, doing what they do best. I was able to get this shot at "Main Street Gallery" in the Magic Kingdom. I tried various exposures with flash and without flash. The best shot turned out to be the one with the ambient light, as I thought the way the light from the lamps bounced off the desk and into the animators face gave a very natural, "hard at work" feel. Whilst at the Magic Kingdom I had to get a picture of the following -


This has to be one of the most photographed angles of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, but who can blame anyone for wanting to shoot the castle from this angle?! The river leading upto the castle is like having a perfect composition already laid out for you, the imagineers have done all the work for us! I decided to make a vertorama out of this view, stitching together 3 images to give me as much detail as possible and a lot of flexibility in editing.
From a photographic standpoint the best part of the experience was waiting until the parks had closed and cleared to take some shots. This was fantastic because there were there no crowds allowing you to set up shots without worrying about other people. Mainly though, being a huge Disney geek myself, it was a chance for me to capture the parks in the form that the Imagineers had originally set out to create.

From a technical standpoint I made sure every composition was bracketed and taken more than once at the same angle.
Firstly, I shot bracketed because I felt as though I had waited long enough to get to the point where I could take the shots without anyone around. So I wanted to capture as much detail as possible, to blend together later in post.
Secondly, every composition was taken more than once at the same angle, this again was for the same reason. I'd waited long enough to get the shots that I wasn't going to let one corrupt raw file ruin a shot. Taking multiple exposures of the same shot was at least some form of insurance.

This is one of my personal favourite shots of the trip..


The above shot was 2 bracketed images blended together to create an HDR pano(verto)rama. Disney security then started to get a little edgy due to the fact we were holding them up from going home (completely understandable) so we packed up and left. But not before I managed to land a few more shots of Main Street covered in Christmas decorations without a single person around -


One shot I really wanted to get was an on-ride composition of Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. I wanted to get a shot that captured the anxiety of the unknown. The initial, incredibly steep, first climb in the ride that leads to an incredible experience. This was the final edit -


I am extremely happy with the final composition, but, I think I got a better picture when I got off the ride. The on-coaster camera caught me snapping away at one of the drops!

Whilst still at Animal Kingdom I had an idea for a composition to get a panoramic shot of the Expedition Everest "facade". The park was empty during the day and thanks to the ride malfunctioning everyone left that area of the park very quickly, so as soon as darkness fell it was a ghost town. I managed to get the shot I was after.


The second day we found ourselves at Disney's Hollywood Studios, I wanted to get a shot of the Chinese Theatre that really gave viewers who haven't seen the building before the chance to check out the incredible detail, so I decided to go for a lot of contrast and sharpness in post. Once again I waited 'til late. Not only because of the crowds, but, as you're about to see, the building is beautifully lit up at night .Technically, this was 7 shots, all bracketed (21 exposures) then blended together into a vertorama.


I also managed to snag this bad boy


During the trip we visited Islands of Adventure at the Universal Orlando Resort since they had recently built the new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the year. It was incredibly impressive, certainly gives Disney a run for their money! I was able to snag a couple of shots whilst I was there.



This post is just a sample of things to come as I haven't completed all the photos from the trip and probably won't for a while. I managed to get over 3000 exposures during the trip (including retakes, bracketed shots etc) but I think only around 1% of them will be used!
My flickr account is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam_justice and my twitter is http://www.twitter.com/samueljustice
Thanks for reading!
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #2
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These are just amazing photos!!
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:18 PM   #3
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Those shots are absolutely incredible!!
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #4
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Gorgeous shots, really beautiful! What kind of camera did you shoot with?

I love that angle of the castle as well. The way the river gently winds its way up is perfect.

I had no idea there was an actual animator at the Main St. Gallery! I will be stopping by there for sure to check it out. The lighting is very subtle too, great shot!

I love the Main St. shot you took at night with the decorations. Gorgeous!

Animal Kingdom is in my opinion the best themed of all the Disney parks so I absolutely loved the panoramic shot, particuarly that it was at night too!

The Harry Potter shots are amazing as well. Can I ask if it was crowded while you were there? I'm contemplating spending a day over there for our upcoming trip.

Thanks for sharing your pictures, they are amazing!
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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...absolutely breath-taking!! I wish I had your talent!!
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:25 PM   #6
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wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing them with us!
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:35 PM   #8
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Thanks for the kind words guys I am going to offer some as prints, PM me if you're interested.

Originally Posted by 3prettyprincesses View Post
Gorgeous shots, really beautiful! What kind of camera did you shoot with?
These were all shot with the fantastic Nikon D90

Originally Posted by 3prettyprincesses View Post
The Harry Potter shots are amazing as well. Can I ask if it was crowded while you were there? I'm contemplating spending a day over there for our upcoming trip.
We went the quiet season, on weekends it was absolutely rammed but during the weekdays it was dead! We went on the ride 10 times in one day whereas on weekends you're looking at a 3 hour wait for it.
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Old 12-30-2010, 05:10 PM   #9
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Here's another one that I've done since the report

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Old 12-30-2010, 05:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sam_justice View Post
Here's another one that I've done since the report

That shot is amazing!

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Old 12-30-2010, 08:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by sam_justice View Post
Here's another one that I've done since the report

Beautiful ! Your photos GREAT !

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Old 12-31-2010, 12:49 AM   #12
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Fantastic photos. Do you give lessons?

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Old 12-31-2010, 12:59 AM   #13
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May I just say W.O.W. That last shot of partners with the castle in the background is definitely my favorite so far. Your patience and skill is amazing. I also liked the Harry Potter shot and I am so not a HP fan!
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:13 AM   #14
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These are incredible shots sam_justice! Wow these made my day I am subscribing to this thread just so I can look at these when I want to see Disney beautified A TON.


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Old 12-31-2010, 01:18 AM   #15
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Loving the shots...hoping to learn!

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