Tokyo DisneySea is my favorite theme park in the world. I love everything about it, from the food to the attractions to its brilliant design. However, its beauty is not just in the awe-inspiring landscapes anchored by an erupting volcano or the transportive vistas of the Mediterranean. It’s in the subtle details, the painstaking attention to detail, and the little vignettes of “daily life” of the lived-in places that Tokyo DisneySea represents.
I think a lot of this gets lost in photos of the park. I know I’m guilty of it, as I’m eager to photograph those flashy, eye-catching scenes like the photo of Mount Prometheus above. While the little things capture my attention and spark my curiosity, I’m less likely to photograph them. Well, after struggling all morning to capture any of those impressive grandiose scenes from a fresh perspective, I decided that maybe it was time to switch up my approach.
So, about halfway through the day, I decided to focus on using my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 (read my review of this lens) and Nikon D850 for remainder of the day in Tokyo DisneySea. To be fair, this wasn’t some huge risk since I had my entire camera bag with me as a safety net should I need other lenses. (On the other hand, I had the weight of my entire camera bag that I could’ve done without after carrying it everyday for over a month.) Additionally, since tripods are not allowed, I often use my Sigma 35mm for sunset and evening shots since it’s my fastest (f/1.4) lens. Nevertheless, I was pretty pleased with some of the results, and thought I would share them here…
During that afternoon and evening at Tokyo DisneySea, I did not shoot every photo at f/1.4. By the way, for the non-photographers reading, f/1.4 is the lens’ aperture. F/1.4 is a “wide open” aperture that produces shallow depth of field, which is why the backgrounds or foregrounds are out of focus in many of these images. However, I had so few non-f/1.4 photos that I decided to narrow this post to only the f/1.4 shots.
A few years ago when I was in a similar slump, I had the idea to take only my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens to Disneyland, and force myself to use only that lens @ f/1.4. I posted the results in my “An f/1.4 Day at Disneyland” post; I wanted this to be a companion post (of sorts) to that one, which is a big part of why I decided to limit this post to only the f/1.4 photos.
Since that post, I have repeated the ‘experiment’ at Disneyland a few times since then (admittedly, sometimes out of laziness when I didn’t want to carry my camera bag). I have also recommended doing this ‘prime day’ to others in similar creative slumps.
While I would be hesitant to recommend others fly halfway around the world and use only a 35mm lens at Tokyo DisneySea, I have tens of thousands of unedited photos sitting on my hard drives at home and figured just maybe I could afford to risk missing a shot or two.
Anyway, I think the end result of my afternoon and evening at Tokyo DisneySea with only my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens is a photo essay that’s worth sharing, and features some photos that differ in style and substance from my normal photography…
Ultimately, I’m pretty satisfied with the day and the collection of photos in aggregate. In hindsight, I do wish I had focused more on the smaller details, and maybe even frames that make the viewer question whether the photo was taken inside a theme park or in the real world. Like World Showcase, Tokyo DisneySea has many beautifully-replicated environments, and I think it would be interesting to see those highlighted in a way where the viewer questions whether it’s the work of Imagineering…or not.
I also wish I would’ve made a concerted effort not to photograph Mount Prometheus. It dominates so many photos of Tokyo DisneySea–and for good reason, since it’s breathtaking–but it would’ve been interesting to see how this experiment worked while trying to avoid the park’s icon. Oh well, perhaps during a future prime day with my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (or some other lens). I’ll definitely be doing this again, as I think this got me taking more creative risks, and composing scenes in a way I might not otherwise. Ultimately, I feel like I did well with the challenge I gave myself, and also captured some of what makes Tokyo DisneySea so wonderful.
Finally, I’ve posted my Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Review today over on TravelCaffeine.com. Many of you have requested more photography posts on this blog, and I’m going to do that with posts like this one. I think (hope?) this post has appeal to photographers and non-photographers alike. By contrast, a lens review is narrowly applicable to photographers, who constitute a small percentage of this blog’s readers. (Meanwhile, everyone else goes ?¿? at photography reviews on a Disney blog, so much so that I used to write a disclaimer in photography reviews here.) Anyway, I think this will be a good compromise and work-around!
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. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
What do you think of these photos? Any favorites? Any that you don’t think ‘work’? Does this set convey the beauty and romanticism of Tokyo DisneySea? Did you notice any details of Tokyo DisneySea here that you haven’t previously seen pictured? Share your thoughts in the comments! Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!