Disneyworld – Best Moments (Pt 5 of 5)

Welcome to the final set of photos from my Disneyworld trip. Now that I’ve had the chance to show you each of the parks, I wanted to do a final blog that highlighted some of my favorite shots or favorite moments from the trip.

The first spot in this blog was a no brainer for me. The whole impetus for this trip to Disneyworld was decided in Feb 2017. I discovered that Disney had a Star Wars Darkside Half Marathon (13 miles = 21k) and I thought that was something I wanted to do. So I embarked on a couch to half marathon training schedule over the next 15 months. While I started out training by myself, for the last 8 months of training I worked via email with my coach Jeff Galloway who created the run-walk method. We emailed back and forth every week and he helped my through the pains, frustrations and fatigue of my training plan. Jeff is the official running coach of RunDisney and one of my biggest moments was getting the chance to meet him and spend a few minutes chatting. While the race itself didn’t turn out the way I wanted (I had to pull myself out at the 10 mile mark) I was really proud of myself. The whole journey from that first step to crossing that starting line was incredible, and I credit Jeff and my amazing support team here at home with keeping me motivated throughout the whole process.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/15 – ISO 100 (photo cred DRW)

I’ve included this little guy because I practically stumbled across him in the parking lot of our hotel. I was within sight of home after a crazy day at the Magic Kingdom and he caught my eye when he scuttled along the sidewalk a bit. So I stopped and did a quick photo shoot with him. I had to wait for him to puff out his throat so it was a little tricky:)

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F8 – 250mm – 1/400 – ISO 640 – Exp comp -1

In Hollywood Studios they have a show called the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The conceit of the show is there is a film crew filming the bazaar fight/chase and airplane fight scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s really well done and ends with a ginormous explosion!!

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F8 – 52mm – 1/8000 – ISO 6400

In Epcot there is a ride that you can take that travels through various areas of scientific food growing areas. We got to see different ways of growing fruits and vegetables as well as other environmental advances. However, in one of the sections we came across this incredible creepy scarecrow and I just had to grab a shot of it. I loved the fact that Disney has some unintentionally weird things in their parks:)

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F4 – 70mm – 1/40 – ISO 6400 – Exp comp -1

This was a favorite shot from the flower and garden show in Epcot. I was playing around with focusing at various point in the frame, so in this one I wanted the sign in focus and the rest of the flowers to be a washout of color. If I could take this one again, I’d try to get the flowers even more fuzzy.

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F4 – 70mm – 1/1250 – ISO 200

This was a fun shot from Disney Hollywood Studios. I had just seen and been taking photos of the March of the First Order and was pretty excited. So this is an iphone shot of the picture on the back of my camera so that I could text message it to folks at home.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/120 – ISO 25

The next couple of shots came from the fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. At this moment in the parade, Pluto noticed my camera and waved right at me. The connection with the camera just makes this shot work so well.

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F8 – 22mm – 1/320 – ISO 100 – Exp comp -1

Below is the reason I was willing the get myself fried by the sun for this parade. The dragon made an appearance in my Magic Kingdom blog, but I saved this shot for here. You see, not only did I know this dragon existed, I knew it breathed fire! I had to get this shot.

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F8 – 38mm – 1/320 – ISO 100

The next few shots were important because they were planned and executed very carefully. I’ve been trying to be more and more mindful in my photography when I can and the next few are examples of this. I’ve also included how long it took me to get the shots, because waiting for the moment can take time.

I will confess I borrowed the idea for the next shot. When I was planning this trip, I came across an example of this and I wanted to see if I could replicate the image. It was a matter of waiting in front of the statue of Walt and Cinderella’s Castle and waiting for some ears to stop by:) Luckily it’s a very common photostop for people. (Time to get the shot: 15 mins)

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F3.8 – 60mm – 1/2000 – ISO 200

The shot below is the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom. I wanted to get a shot of a blurred roller coaster going by on the track to show the motion, but not too blurred that you couldn’t see the detail in the train. I had to play around with various shutter speeds to get the level of blur that I wanted and the timing of where the train was on the track. I probably had to wait for about 15 trains to go by before I had the combination I wanted. (Time to get the shot: 20 mins)

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F13 – 38mm – 1/50 – ISO 100 – Exp comp +1

Out of all the pictures I took while in Disneyworld, this in the one that I knew I wanted to get when I first planned the trip. The monorail going by Spaceship Earth in Epcot summarizes Disney for me. I had to try this shot from a few angles (originally I started on the other side of the track) to get one I liked. I moved around taking pictures to check the composition and when I was happy I waited for a monorail… well, I actually waited for two monorails because I’d forgotten to change a setting on my camera. (Time to get the shot: 20 mins). Here’s a secret to this shot. The monorail actually moves to the left on this side and this shot shows the end of the train. However, because the front and back are identical it looked like it was entering into the frame which is what I wanted.

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F10 – 22mm – 1/500 – ISO 200

For the final shot of this Disneyworld blog, my favourite unplanned one. This trip was the first one where I was using a wide angle lens for a number of shots. This stormtrooper and I were about a foot apart and I have the camera practically in his face. The wide angle not only captured his full image, it provided a distortion effect so he looks massive in the frame, plus there is a trooper on the stage to his left who looks like he’s miles away (he’s only about 15m away).

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F8 – 16mm – 1/1250 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

Well, that wraps up Disneyworld – I hope you’ve enjoyed the peek inside.  It was an amazing trip and I’m looking forward to going back again now that I know what I like and how the parks work:)

 

Disneyworld – Animal Kingdom (Pt 4 of 5)

As we round out the visits to all the parks, we’re now at my favorite of them all, Animal Kingdom. For the technically interested amongst you, this is a blog that contains about a 50/50 split between my “good camera” and my iphone. When we went for the full day I just couldn’t manage the heavier camera so I used my phone (any pic where you see F1.8 is the iphone).

Animal Kingdom is the newest of the parks and has been designed to give you that epic adventure feeling. There are little details everywhere, including lampposts like these.

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F4 – 80mm – 1/125 – ISO 360 – Exp comp +1

Near Expedition Everest (which is a roller-coaster inside of Mount Everest), they have the area set up as if you are pulling together a group to head up the mountain. I took this shot as it lined up the backpacks in front of this building.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/150 – ISO 20

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the entire park. With over 300 animals carved into the trunk of the tree it’s quite amazing.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/5300 – ISO 25

Here I was trying to get a reflection shot in the water. The proportion is a little off as there is a bit too much sky, but I liked how the evening sun was starting to hit it.

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F8 – 20mm – 1/30 – ISO 110 – Exp comp -1

One of my favorite parts of the park is Pandora. An area that has been designed to mimic the planet in Avatar. It’s just really funky and very cool and does feel alien. As a side note, anyone visiting the park must do the Flight of Passage VR ride as it is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/1800 – ISO 20

This giant triffid-like pod was my favorite. I was glad that there were people in the shot to let you understand the scale of it. Apparently, if you rubbed in on the side just right (where the fellow with the white hat is) you could make it… ahem… blow out steam.

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F3.2 – 32mm – 1/80 – ISO 100 – Exp comp -1

More funky plant life. I wanted to get this shot framed through the bamboo fencing.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/270 – ISO 20

and more… as mentioned, the landscaping was phenomenal.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/350 – ISO 20

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post the incredible detail that Disney puts into its designs. This drinks station was made to look like sections of a space ship and been repainted and re purposed to do this job. Just incredible.

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F1.8 – 4mm – 1/30 – ISO 25

The best part of the day were the night time shows. They have a show that lights up the Tree of Life with various lights and displays. We were sitting on the other side, and I loved how the tree was silhouetted.

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F3 – 22mm – 1/40 – ISO 5000 – Exp comp +1

The River of Light show is worth staying into the night for. It’s a floating light show that uses different color floats and images projected against water sprays to tell a story. As the show was nearing the starting point, they had some characters wandering the audience.

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F4 – 80mm – 1/40 – ISO 6400

This shot gives you a small glimpse into the show itself. It’s a beautiful mix of storytelling, lights and technology.

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F3.2 – 30mm – 1/60 – ISO 5000 – Exp comp -1

While I didn’t see any of the animals that are part of the Animal Kingdom (there is a safari area you can go to), I really enjoyed exploring this creatively designed park. As a final comment, go see the Lion King show as well it’s really good.

Stay tuned for next week where we wrap up this Disney Blog with some of my favorite moments and interesting shots from this trip.

 

Disneyworld – Epcot (Pt 3 of 5)

Well we’re back to Disney and this time I’m wandering around Epcot. You’ll notice a distinct lack of Epcot itself other than the giant ball (which is known as Spaceship Earth). Epcot is an odd little place which is basically a small copy of the world. So as you wander around the lagoon you see a small Eiffel Tower and other country landmarks. I found it a little too fake, so didn’t take many pictures of the park itself. However, we were lucky in that the Flower and Garden Show was on at the same time, so there were all these Disney sculptures made up of flowers.

As you walk into the park you are met right away with some of the sculptures and the rest are scattered throughout the park. Crowds at Disney are a matter of course and Epcot was no exception.

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F8 – 19mm – 1/500 – ISO 200

The level of detail of these sculptures is fantastic, and with the glorious weather, the colors were incredibly vibrant. I also wanted to get a sense of place whenever I could, so you’ll see Spaceship Earth showing up in a number of these pictures.

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F2.8 – 16mm – 1/6400 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

I was really playing around with angles when taking these shots. I was trying to avoid people where possible, but also trying to get an angle I liked. So imagine me photographing each of these sculptures like a fashion shoot, yelling “work it, work it” at a bunch of bushes!!

Thumper and Flower are probably two of the earliest Disney characters that I fell in love with and I thought this little group was adorable.

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F8 – 22mm – 1/500 – ISO 200

Tigger however, is hands down, my favorite Disney character of all time. I had taken a number of full body pictures but ended up really liking this closeup of him.

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F3.5 – 40mm – 1/400 – ISO 100

They had Snow White and all seven of the dwarves in a row, but I liked how Doc, Grumpy and Happy were set up at the back of the line. I was also able to get some of the international pavilions behind them.

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F8 – 26mm – 1/160 – ISO 100

They had set up Lady and the Tramp in the Italian section of Epcot, which considering the spaghetti scene in the movie is a great fit. As with the others, I tried this from many angles, but I ended up liking the staircase going up behind them. The diagonal line of the stairs combined with the Tramp’s glance to the right, leads your eyes over to Lady herself.

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F3.5 – 31mm – 1/640 – ISO 100

Disney souvenirs are everywhere in all of the parks, and most are pretty straight forward fully licensed items. However, just like other parks, some interesting items creep in. This one in particular caught my eye. Not surprisingly, this booth was in the U.S. section of Epcot. I think it’s supposed to the be the evil queen from Snow White… holding an American Flag. I think all these dolls are supposed to be various Disney characters with various flag adornments. Take a moment and guess how much this particular doll was selling for………………………………………………………………….$60 – I am not kidding you.

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F3.8 – 55mm – 1/800 – ISO 100 – Exp comp -1

As part of the Flower and Garden show, they also had a whole honey display, so I had fun playing around in this area. Here’s another example of Spaceship Earth out of focus in the background, so while you are focusing on the hives you still know where you are.

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F3.5 – 50mm – 1/3200 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

Here I was just playing with focusing on this bee and lid of this hive.

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F4 – 80mm – 1/5000 – ISO 200 – Exp comp -1

This was a closeup shot of Spaceship Earth. I loved the geometric pattern of the ball so I zoomed in on a small section of it. Because it’s a ball the light changes cause a transition in color from a light brown to a blue across the photo.

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F3.5 – 27mm – 1/160 – ISO 200 – Exp comp +1

Throughout all of parks there are apparently over a thousand “hidden Mickeys”. Display sections where you can find the Mickey Mouse ears and face. To be honest, I only noticed two of them the whole time, and this was definitely the most obvious. It would make an interesting scavenger hunt to poke around to find as many as you can.

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F3.8 – 60mm – 1/500 – ISO 100

In one section of the flower show, they had about a dozen fairy houses. They were all about the size of a birdhouse, but all different designs. They were quite magical:)

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F4 – 66mm – 1/500 – ISO 100

For the final shot of this blog, I’ve included this one. I love the monorails at Epcot, and there were a few different locations where I found a shot that I wanted to have a monorail as part of it. That involved settling in for up to a 15 minute wait. This particular angle looked very futuristic, so I found a spot where the buildings were not blocked by the monorail track and waited….

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F11 – 28mm – 1/400 – ISO 200

That wraps up Epcot, and for those keeping track that just leaves one park to go. Join us next time as we head to Animal Kingdom (SPOILER: my favorite of all the parks).

Canada Day Fireworks and No Traffic!!

Hi everyone, figured I’d drop a quick little post and give you a break from Disney. On Canada Day I was able to sit out on my balcony to grab shots of the Ashbridge’s Bay Fireworks. It was great to be home 1 second after the show was over.

I spent some time waiting for it to get dark, so grabbed this shot of the highway traffic next to Bridgepoint.

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F/11 – 122mm – 5 secs – ISO 200

Usually folks fire off the sparklers in the lower park area, but not this holiday. I did manage to capture this one a little further back.

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F/8 – 122mm – 5 secs – ISO 200

For the show itself, I was using a remote shutter release and manually controlling how long the shutter was open. As the show went on, the smoke was blowing in the right direction and we got some great red smoke on the bottom of the shots.

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F/8 – 200mm – 2 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 2 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 1 sec – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

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F/8 – 200mm – 3 secs – ISO 200

Back to our normal posts next weekend:)

Disneyworld – Hollywood Studios (Pt 2 of 5)

For the second blog post we’re off to Hollywood Studios. I actually visited twice, the first time after my race (and to be honest I don’t remember that much of it) and on my final day in Disney. I find it lacks that Disney feel, in that this area could have been in Universal Studios and I am not sure I would have noticed. Although the brooms from Fantasia that you meet on the way into the park might be a little on theme:)

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F8 – 32mm- 1/400 – ISO 200

Of all 4 parks, this one felt more like a mini-mall than an amusement park. Hollywood Studios is made of of mostly shows and exhibits with very few rides. This is the view that meets you as you enter the park.

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F1.8 – 4mm- 1/3800 – ISO 20

I did enjoy a few of the shows, and one of the current Disney properties is the Muppets. The Muppets and Jim Henson were and are a big part of who I am, and so I definitely had to attend the Muppet Vision 3D show. While the show itself was a simple 3D movie, we were treated to Statler and Waldorf in the balcony doing their thing.

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F4 – 80mm- 1/40 – ISO 6400

One of the things I enjoyed over my stay was watching the little ones really enjoying themselves. This little princess decided to try out the stairs in full regalia and I had to grab a shot of her. I loved that she did this as the stairs were empty, so she stood out a little more.

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F6.3 – 185mm- 1/640 – ISO 200

As mentioned in the last post, I’m still not tired of Let It Go, so my friend and I headed off the the Frozen Sing-a-Long show…. yep, I have the soundtrack and know most of the songs. My favorite moment came at the end when the audience got to experience an indoor snow storm during the big finale.

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F5 – 18mm- 1/125 – ISO 6400

I know some of you may be thinking, why did you visit it twice if you thought it looked like a mini-mall?? …… the answer is simple – STAR WARS. I was thrilled when Disney purchased the Star Wars brand because I knew they would be able to do it right. So right in fact they are opening up a Star Wars land at the end of next year and man, am I heading back to see that when it’s done!!!

They have stormtroopers patrolling the park throughout the day, and I have to confess I am fascinated by their armor. I just think it has a great look to it. My hats off to the troopers as well as it was incredibly hot and they just got on with their jobs. On occasion they would stop and “interrogate” the locals to see if they had any info on the rebels.

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F9 – 56mm- 1/100 – ISO 200

They have  a couple of Star Wars shows that run multiple times during the day. The first is March of the First Order, where a squad of troopers march in formation led by Captain Phasma. For shots like these, I was glad that I had taken a wide angle lens so I could get the whole shot. I was only about 20 feet in front of them at this point.

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F8 – 16mm- 1/1250 – ISO 200 -exp comp -1

I was really happy to get this shot of them marching out of the parade grounds. This was another time that I stood in the bright noon time sun for 40 mins so I could get a shooting location at the front of the ropes.

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F3 – 24mm- 1/4000 – ISO 200

The second show is In A Galaxy Far Away, and they have a number of Star Wars characters come out on the catwalk. From C3PO to Chewbacca to Rey, they have a great lineup of characters. As always, I gravitated to the Storm Trooper outfits. I may have a thing for the white trooper outfits, but I absolutely love the silver of Captain Phasma’s armor. Just for the record, I do not believe in or support the actions of the Empire, but I do think they are snazzy dressers!!

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F5.6 – 80mm- 1/320 – ISO 200

I thought we’d finish on the big bad himself, Mr Vader. I picked this shot as I was able to grab the cloak action as he spun around.

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F5.6 – 56mm- 1/320 – ISO 200

That wraps up my visit to Disney Hollywood Studios. I wouldn’t say it was a must see park, but if you are a Star Wars geek it’s worth a wander through. Next week we’ll be heading the Epcot for the flower and garden show….

Disneyworld – Magic Kingdom (Pt 1 of 5)

In April of this year, I got the chance to go to Disneyworld for the first time. A lot of people I know went as children and I was curious what it would be like to experience the place for the first time as an adult. It was an interesting experience. In some ways, no different that going to Canada’s Wonderland but it other ways truly magical.

I’ve been pondering the best way to share this trip with folks and after working through the over 2000 pictures I took during this trip, I came up with a plan. Step 1 – I’m not going to show you all 2000 shots… you’re welcome. Step 2- try to highlight the place and experience instead. This is going to be a 5 part series where I show you each of the parks plus a final post with some of my favorite shots.

I wanted to start with the Magic Kingdom as this is the most Disney place of them all, and this shot of Walt and Mickey in front of Cinderella’s castle was a shot that I knew I had to get. You do get caught up in the moment when you come across iconic views like this.

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60mm – f 3.8 – 1/2500 – ISO 200 – exp comp -1

As this was my first time visiting, there were certain rides I felt I had to do by law in the Magic Kingdom – It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. The first one in the queue was It’s a Small World.

The ride is a technical marvel with what feels like thousands of these child dolls from all over the world singing the song (about a dozen times at least by the time you make your way through the place). I really appreciated the complexity of keeping a ride like this going- that’s a lot of moving parts. That being said, it’s a ride out of time. There are a lot of cultural depictions that land on the wrong side of stereotypical and it feels very awkward in 2018. My friend had overheard that this ride will be shutting down in the next year or so, and I can understand why. Also, my horror movie watching side was convinced they all come to life after dark 🙂

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38mm – f 3.3 – 125 – ISO 3200 – exp comp -1

The Haunted Mansion was up next, and it was a lot of fun. Another dark ride (you sit is a seat and move through a place), you travel through the house and get to see a lot of fun setups, including one where holographic ghosts are dancing around a ballroom. One of the things that Disney has done very well is that the areas where you line up for rides usually have a lot of visual items to keep you occupied while you wait. The winding line for this ride starts with these family busts and moves you through  graveyards with cute tombstone epitaphs and architectural features.

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16mm – f 6.3 – 1/200 – ISO 200 – exp comp -1

As I walked around (and I did a lot of that, each day at the parks resulted in at least 20,000 steps on the old pedometer), I was trying to keep an eye out for shots and angles that I found interesting. This shot was me enjoying how the lamps lined up. I also framed it so you couldn’t see the hordes of people travelling under the archway.

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40mm – f 3.5 – 1/3200 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

Experiencing Disneyworld involves three things: hot sun, so much walking and crowds. There is no way to avoid any of them. I wanted to capture this shot of one of the gazillion stroller/scooter parking lots around the place to give you that sense of busyness. One of the things I can say about Disney is that they have crowd and traffic management down to science!

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16mm – f 5.6 – 1/400 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

As mentioned earlier, there are moments of Disney magic that caught me off guard. This was a show they do in front of the castle many times during the day. It has Mickey and Minnie going around to invite other Disney characters to a party they are having. As you might guess from this photo, they have stumbled into Frozen land and we are being treated to Let It Go once again (as I didn’t have small children through the Frozen time, I still love this song so much). This moment when Elsa produces snow in the 30C temps of Florida made me gasp a little, it was such a fantastic moment. This show also ends with them shooting daytime fireworks out of the castle:)

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80mm – f 8 – 1/125 – ISO 100 – exp comp +1

One of the things I knew I wanted to see was the Festival of Fantasy parade that takes place at 3PM every day. Getting a good photography location for this one resulted in my burning the back of my hand and ears as I waited in the sun- the price of photography!! The parade features a number of character floats, and the details on them were incredible. This one for The Little Mermaid (you can see Ariel’s tail at the top) was just one example of this detail.

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The highlight of this parade for me though was the steampunk designed dragon from Sleeping Beauty. As everyone know, I have a bit of a dragon thing, and watching this one go by was amazing.

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22mm – f 8 – 1/160 – ISO 100

In yet another example of detail, as this is the Sleeping Beauty dragon, the inside of the dragon is powered by the spinning wheel. I will confess I found out about this detail on the Disney shuttle we took in from the airport. It’s such a nice touch!!

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19mm – f 8 – 1/125 – ISO 100

As I walked around, I came across Rapunzel’s tower. I loved how it was framed with the trees and thatched roof. I used a wider aperture to get the tower in focus but blur out the flowers on the branches a bit, lending it a bit of mystery.

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80mm – f 4 – 1/1250 – ISO 100

The castle is definitely the key landmark in the Magic Kingdom and I was very happy when I came across this angle that let me frame it between these rocks in Tomorrowland.

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55mm – f 3.8 – 1/8000 – ISO 400 – exp comp -1

The Magic Kingdom was an interesting place to visit. As the oldest of the 4 parks, it does feel quaint at times, but definitely is the most Disney of all of them and is worth a wander around if you have the time. I won’t be redoing any of the rides again if I go back, but it’s a wonderful place to just experience. As I and several hundreds of my closest friends left the park at the end of the parade, I relished the atmosphere of the place.

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31mm – f 8 – 1/400 – ISO 100 – exp comp -1

Stay tuned for the next blog where we move over to Hollywood Studios and I come clean about my fascination with Storm Trooper outfits!!

 

Slimbridge (Let there be birds!)

Hi Everyone,

just dusting off the blog for a new year, and thought I would kick it off by just sharing some remaining photos of my trip to England last year. We spent the day at the Slimbridge Wetlands Sanctuary, and here’s some of the folks we ran across. It was a fairly overcast day (shocking for England I know), but it was a great property to wander around.

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F 13 – 1/200 – 32mm – ISO 800

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F 6.3 – 1/200 – 185mm – ISO 3200

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F 6.3 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 14 – 1/200- 90mm – ISO 800

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F 11 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 10 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 16 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 14 – 1/200 – 250mm – ISO  800

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F 20 – 1/250 – 250mm – ISO 800

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F 10 – 1/250 – 18mm – ISO 800

The blog itself will be returning shortly. The weather’s warming up, and my willingness to go out is increasing as well. This year’s posts will include Disneyworld, more Fan Expo and anything else I come up with. Stay tuned!!