Unique Cinderella Castle Photos – Part 1
If I had to guess (and I do, because I can’t find a supporting source), I’d say Cinderella Castle is one of the most photographed structures in the world. I know it ranks right up there with Spaceship Earth for me as my “most photographed things.” Cinderella Castle wins the battle since it comes in duplicate, but that’s a minor, technical detail.
Some people might say that it’s cliché and unimaginative to photograph something so obvious and over-photographed. I assume these are the same fun-loving folks who dislike Seinfeld. While Cinderella Castle may be photographed a lot, there’s good reason for this: it’s awe-inspiring, and a subject that moves people.
Plus, while most people photograph it straight-on, there are unique ways to photograph it. I always try to achieve new perspectives, to varying degrees of success. On my recent visit to Tokyo Disneyland, I picked up the new Cinderella Castle 100 book. I was pretty impressed by the diverse range of perspectives and interesting takes on this single, iconic subject. It inspired me to challenge myself: find and photograph at least 10 unique takes of my own on Cinderella Castle over the course of the trip.
I was pretty pleased with my results, and here are my first 10 photos from the “project.” Click on any of the photos to view full size on SmugMug, where you can also view EXIF data (camera settings). Enjoy!
I’ll start with my favorite of the bunch. When I look at this, I imagine trudging through a forest, hopelessly lost. Suddenly, you stumble upon a clearing, and see a breathtaking castle and a vivid sunset. I don’t think you’d believe your eyes.
At their best, the Disney Parks are transportive, and I think that’s really the case from this perspective.
A couple of nights, I skipped watching “Once Upon a Time” to run around and capture interesting photos of Cinderella Castle during the show. I think Winnie the Pooh would prefer this honeycomb version.
This is the shot on which I spent the most time, taking like 20 different versions (thank you, digital!) trying to get the angle and aperture right for best depth of field. Ultimately, I settled on the f/2.8 version, as I think the blurred foreground lines lead to Cinderella Castle, without being overly distracting.
Despite being just as gorgeous as the front, it seems 95% of Cinderella Castle photos are of the front. Here, I framed the photo so that my wide angle lens made the tree and outer edge of the castle converge upon one another.
When you are setting your camera directly in a puddle of water, you’re going to get some looks. When you’re the only Westerner in sight, that’s doubly true. (“This is how we take photos in America, trust me!” 😉 ) This is one of the few daytime photos in the series, as skies were generally overcast or rainy during our trip.
Of course, the rain came in handy at night. Here, I set up a good distance from the side of Cinderella Castle in Westernland, trying to get an interesting reflection. This was probably the rainiest day of the trip, and was taken several hours before park close–in the busiest Disney park on earth–yet the walkways are mostly clear.
Rain is a common motif in these photos, and here I used it to different advantage. I cleaned the raindrops that got on my lens after seeing the results here in my viewfinder, but I ultimately opted to edit this photo because I felt the drops put the viewer in the atmosphere, and gave the photo a moodier look. Sometimes there’s beauty in the imperfections.
A “normal” straight-on view, but utilizing a low angle in front of a flower bed to make it appear as if a field of flowers is in the foreground of Cinderella Castle.
Finally, a photo with Cinderella Castle as the backdrop for a dusk scene of the lanterns found in the Central Plaza during Natsu Matsuri, the Japanese Summer Festival at Tokyo Disneyland.
For this part of the series, I used my Nikon D810 and Nikon D750 cameras, plus Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses. No tripod was used for any of the photos.
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. To save money on a visit to Japan, read our Tokyo Disney on a Budget article. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
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What do you think of these Cinderella Castle photos? Any favorites? Any you think don’t work? Do you try to take unique photos of Cinderella Castle? Any tips? If you have any other comments or questions, post them below and I’ll try to answer!
I will be taking your advice on purchasing the Sony RX100 for our upcoming Disney World trip Nov 25-Dec 5 (I’m so excited to see Disney over the Christmas holiday!!!). With a young child I think the combination of portability and quality will make for much better,and spontaneous, pictures. Anyway, have you ever taken yours to Disney, and if so, what was your experience?
Love the blog! Thanks for all your insight and great photos!
Great photos. The part that really gets me is low light and no tripod. Amazing.
Waiting for part 2……
Beautiful shots Tom. I especially liked the honeycomb version.
While the Castle is only one of many popular photo opportunities at Disney World, in my opinion, it is the best. We took a total of 300 pictures (slides really) on our first trip in ’73, 102 were of the castle. Its beauty still mesmerizes. The first time it was decked out in the icicle lights at Christmas, it took my breath away, literally. It was just that stunning. (Sigh)
I really love the shot of the reflection of the castle! Really creative!! I love all of the shots but this one stood out to me the most! I really love TDL and I can’t wait to go there next year. I’m really excited to visit the parks.
I went back and forth on that photo, not sure if it “worked” or not, but ultimately decided to use it because it’s something different, so what the heck. If it doesn’t work for most people, oh well! 🙂
Great shots. I am always inspired by your photos. I think I am going to have to go to WDW alone some time so nobody will have to wait on me to try shots like these.
I think to get certain shots, that’s what you really need. I always used to just run and gun–which worked pretty well–but I’ve found having some time to myself improves the overall quality of my shots.
Thank you for these photos. There aren’t enough photos of Cinderella Castle that appeal to me. I know I’m in the minority, but it’s easily my least favorite Disney castle (now that the BAH is gone, it might be my least favorite Disney park icon in general). It’s too garish, and the color scheme doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t know what it is, but I really hate both the back and front of the castle I only like it from certain odd angles when it’s lit up at night.
I love reading your posts and your photos are amazing ! I want to buy them and frame them and put them up in my home !
I am a travel consultant in Australia and I tell my clients some of the best advice thanks to you !
Thanks for the kind words–glad you enjoy the photos! 🙂
I love your photos and blog. Your advice/info. really helped in planning our August 2015 trip!!!
This is a challenge I’d like to try myself during our next trip (and not just for the castle.) Heck, I’ll be happy coming back with ONE unique shot. Thanks for the link to the book, by the way. Looking forward to Part 2.
It’s always rewarding to come back with unique shots, and I’ve found challenges like this are fairly effective!
I absolutely love all of these photos, and I love the idea of finding unique ways to photograph Cinderella’s castle. It’s beautiful from every angle (personally I love the windows on the back and find them more beautiful than the front!) The first photo of this post is my favorite, with the castle framed by the entryway. Absolutely perfect.
Time for me to take some of these tips and get more creative with my photos!
I agree that the windows are stunning. One of the thing I loved about Cinderella’s Royal Table (Walt Disney World) was being right inside those windows and being able to see their detail up close.