Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella Castle


Before we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year’s Eve fireworks shows. And although we’re not fans of large crowds (I’m betting not many of you have “large crowds” listed as a Facebook interest, though!), we can deal with them if necessary. We’ve done the attractions enough that not being able to experience all of our favorites wasn’t a big deal.

Our decision to visit during that infamous week was vindicated on the very first morning, when I arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 6:25 am for its 7 am opening. When I was allowed into the park, I was in awe at seeing the lights on Main Street against the pre-sunrise blue hour sky. A bit later, I was overjoyed as the sun peaked up over the horizon, and I dashed around like a madman trying to capture it. This sunrise, alone, justified bearing those crowds.

My frenetic shooting that morning is not at all evident in this photo. This sunrise photo was gorgeous straight out of the camera, but I decided the perfect processing fit for this tranquil and placid scene would be a soft glow to really give the photo an ethereal feel. A sunrise photo of Cinderella Castle would be pretty unique on its own, but I think this processing works here to give a dream-like quality to an already dreamy scene.

Technical details: shot with a Nikon D7000 with a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations

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8 Responses to “Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella Castle”

  1. Sharon says:

    So beautiful. Seeing that random person over on the left makes me wonder, do you ever “smart erase” any distractions out of your photos when you do your “processing”?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I clone and use content-aware fill pretty regularly, but in this case I purposefully left the guy on the left in the frame. Not that he really adds to it, but I don’t think he distracts from the scene, and he brings just a touch of humanity into the scene.

      Reasonable minds could differ on that, I suppose, as I came pretty close to removing him, but just decided against it…

  2. Steve Burns says:

    We have been there a few times between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, although we have always left the morning of December 31 to start for home. And yes, the crowds were a good bit larger than some of the other times we go. But as you said, with FastPasses and arriving early, we have always been able to see everything that we want to see, and then some. It can be done.

    Nice shot, by the way!

  3. Sheilla says:

    Really looking forward to the trip report from that Christmas trip… hint hint :)

    The photo is just breath taking. The beauty of nature and the magical gift of fantasy made real from Walt. The soft glow effect makes it seem like it’s trying to decide if it will be real today or magic… perfect.

  4. Tracy says:

    You really are an amazing artist. All of your photos are beautiful, but this one really captured my heart. For anyone who loves Walt Disney World, this photo is a ” must see”. Maybe you could hire Stacey to do a “Top Ten Must see” photos for your site. :-)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I’ll have to check into our budget, but I’m guessing we don’t have the funds to hire Stacey! ;)

  5. Angela says:

    That is an awesome picture. I’ve never been in the Magic Kingdom at a time to see that. We will be there over Christmas this year so hopefully I will. Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Spencer says:

    Great shot! Your photos are really great, I’m very impressed in your self taught photography skills. Plus it is nice to see that my wife and i aren’t the only young couple with no kids who love our Disney vacations. :-) I”m curious, do you find yourself shooting with your 8mm fisheye or your 8-16mm rectangular wide angle more often? I’m looking to expand into an ultra wide angle lens (primarily shoot with a 17-85mm on a Canon 20D right now), and I can’t decide if I should go the fisheye route or not. I’ll probably only be buying one lens for now. Any thoughts are appreciated, and keep up the great work!

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