Scenes from Disney Parks: “Regular” Disney World


It’s time for more of my Disney photos in this installment of “Scenes from Disney Parks”! This time, we’re heading to Walt Disney World, with a set of new photos of the parks looking “normal.” I almost opted to dig into the archives and edit some new Christmas photos, but I know not everyone is excited for Christmas as I am, so I’ll spare you that…for at least another week! ;)

I’ve been photography at Walt Disney World has been a hobby of mine for 6 years now, and I’m still amazed at how I keep finding new subjects to photograph and new ways to compose familiar subjects. This is not meant to boast–I’ve been to plenty of non-Disney locations and found myself lacking any variety in my photos outside of the weather after only a handful of visits. It’s more a testament to how photogenic, thoughtfully designed, and inspirational the parks are in terms of photography.

Some people might roll their eyes and think another Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, etc., photo?!, but I feel like there’s an infinite number of ways to come up with interesting and unique photos of these oft-photographed subjects. The Disney theme parks really are a photographer’s playground, and taking good photos in the parks is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel. Not only is it great hobby, but I feel like it’s a great way to absorb and appreciate more of the detail in the parks (I know there were a lot of things I missed prior to getting serious about photography). So, if you’ve ever thought about taking up photography, and you’re a Disney fan, I’d highly encourage you to give it a try. Sorry for the random-ish odd thoughts there, but it was just something that struck me while going through photos from this particular trip, and I figured I’d share here…

As for these photos, after each photo I’ll share some technical stuff like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D810 DSLR–check out my full Nikon D810 Review for more details about the camera. I also have more sample photos from the D810 here. You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers find this useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Walt Disney World!



This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. For a while, I’ve been trying to capture a new photo that effectively conveyed the solitude of the Hub when the Magic Kingdom is empty, but not just by taking another generic shot of the empty hub. I think I finally got that here, with the low angle and the lines of the bricks leading to Cinderella Castle. I used the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens (read my review of this lens) because originally this was going to be @ f/1.4 to make the bricks out of focus foreground bokeh, but that photo was too distracting that way. There was no real reason why I stuck with that lens for this version of the photo other than laziness, I guess. (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Disneyland Halloween

I’m back with the second installment of “Scenes from Disney Parks,” with a set of new photos that I recently shot during the start of Halloween Time at Disneyland. Every photo in this set is from Disneyland and features Halloween as a motif (be it prominent or in the background, etc.).

Disneyland is always a gorgeous park, but I especially like how it looks during Halloween Time at night, when it has a slightly ominous vibe in Frontierland and Main Street has some of my favorite flowers of the year. Seasonal decorations are very well done at Disneyland, and I love how they make familiar scenes “new” with changes in color schemes or by incorporating elements of the holidays into existing displays.

Halloween Time at Disneyland still doesn’t top Christmas at Disneyland for me, but it is a beautiful time to visit. If you want to know more about what to expect when visiting this time of year, check out our Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland.

As for these photos, after each photo I’ll share some technical stuff like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D600. (Unfortunately, I had to send in my Nikon D810 DSLR for repair before this trip, so it was out of commission). You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers out there find this info useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Halloween Time at Disneyland!

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Here Comes the Christmas 2012 Grand Finale!

If the Christmas season were a fireworks show, we’d be nearing the grand finale. The presents are wrapped, the food is prepared, and one of our smaller family gatherings just concluded, leaving the house empty and quiet for the rest of the night. Of course, tomorrow morning the “grand finale” will occur, in the form of Christmas morning. I no longer have the sense of anticipation for Christmas morning that I did as a child–Sarah and I don’t do much in the way of gifts for one another and we don’t yet have kids to vicariously experience the joy of Christmas gifting–but it’s still a great day for spending time with family and enjoying festivities.

It might be a tortured analogy, but I think firework shows have some parallels. Just before the grand finale is the “late Christmas eve” portion of the show, where everything quiets down to build anticipation and make the grand finale all the more poignant. The grand finale is like a series of glorious, explosive presents. Fireworks themselves are festivities. As for the family part of the analogy…well, uhh…like I said, it’s a tortured analogy.

In real life, I love this quiet time. It’s a great time to just sit around, eat a couple a few dozen cookies, and watch Christmas movies with the family. In the world of fireworks…well, who likes a “tranquil” fireworks show? Only communists. To that end, here’s a photo from the grand finale of Holiday Wishes, when the perimeter bursts, incredibly bright streaming fireworks, and Cinderella Castle Dreamlights all erase the tranquility from the night sky over Walt Disney World.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Please click the photo above to view it large.

Technical details: shot with a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

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Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even…

Not only is Disneyland Paris’ Main Street the most beautiful and detailed Main Street I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the most beautiful Main Street at Christmas. This is in large part to the Christmas tree (which I’m told dates back to 1992 and is due to be replaced next year, but has aged quite well), but is also due to the whole Town Square area, which is filled with small pine trees and fake snow (or fake and real snow, depending upon when you visit). It also doesn’t hurt that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant looks even more resplendent with its icicle lights than it normally does, and that other decorative touches are added up and down Main Street. Besides Main Street and the north corner of Frontierland, the Christmas decorations are fairly subdued, but it definitely feels like Christmas on Main Street in Disneyland Paris.

This is my favorite view of Disneyland Paris at Christmas; I could have stood up here for hours just gazing out at the park (definitely make sure to click the photo to view it large). For some more of my photos of Disneyland Paris at Christmas, check out this post on the Disney Parks Blog yesterday. (more…)

Illuminations: Peace on Earth Photo

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with the Peace on Earth tag is one of my favorite aspects of Christmas at Walt Disney World. One of my other favorite aspects is the Osborne Lights. Unfortunately, we only had one night last weekend to try to see both. Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed at 8 pm and Epcot closed at 9:30 pm. Perfect, I thought. Unfortunately, we hung around Disney’s Hollywood Studios for “just one more song” and “just one more photo” until 9 pm (I didn’t realize they kept the music running after the park closed…I thought it was just the lights.

Anyone know when this changed?), at which time I literally had to RUN from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get to Epcot in time for the fireworks. I made it just in time, and didn’t even bother trying to find a better spot along the World Showcase Lagoon to view the show. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see much or, more importantly, hear much from here, but it actually wasn’t too bad of a view and I could hear the show perfectly. Walt Cronkite’s narration always gives me chills. (more…)