I thought that it'd be nice to create a thread where people could share tips, tricks, or techniques favored while taking pictures in Disney. These could range from locations for the best views, to something as technical as ways to manage lighting levels for the perfect shots.
Several people have asked what techniques I've used to take some of the shots in my gallery. I'll attempt to describe some of the things I do within this post, but please understand that I am not a professional photographer nor have I ever had any type of formal training. I'm just your average Joe with the typical point-n-shoot digital camera. I hope that this thread will spark interest with some of the resident photography professionals, and that they'll be willing to share some truly useful tips.
What camera should I use?
I thought that I'd start off by attempting to address one of the obvious questions that could be posed. Unfortunately there is no easy answer for this question. Think of cameras at types of cars for a moment. One person may have a cheap beat-up Pinto and be very happy with the results. Yet another person may want/need some of the features of some higher priced sports coupe. Short of spending several thousand dollars on a camera, it's likely that you won't be able to find one that does everything that you want.
I'd recommend making a list of what types of pictures you'd want to take, and look for the camera that bets fits your needs. For example: portraits, scenic, macro (bugs, flowers, textures), twilight, action, time-lapsed. One of the best resources that I found to answer most of my questions and to compare different camera models is Digital Photography Review.
Some of my favorite pictures are the ones that I've taken near or after the twilight hours. I love pictures naturally saturated with a blue/red hues, as well as the stark contrast of vibrant colored lights against a near-black background. To take these pictures, you'll need a camera capable of prolonged exposures (sometimes indicated by the moon icon) and a tripod. The tripod is needed in order to keep the camera motionless while the aperture of the camera remains open to absorb additional light. Most cameras will require 2-3 seconds in this mode to take the picture, however longer exposures of 2-3 minutes would result in better shots. (The camera I use takes about 3 seconds.)
All too often I've seen people trying to take pictures of other people with the castle as a backdrop. It looks like it'll be a fantastic shot, and then *POOF* - the flash goes off. The resulting picture is one with the faces of the people well illuminated, yet the castle blends into the otherwise black background save for a few nearby tree branches and bushes.
I usually try to carry a bright flashlight for use in situations like these. You'll want to set the camera up on a tripod, have it set for twilight shots, and disable the flash. Once the camera is ready to take the shot, shine the flashlight on your subject and try to judge if the light being reflected is much brighter than the general luminance of the background. If the light is too bright, diffuse it by shining it through a white sheet of thin paper (receipts work well for this). Have the people stand as still as possible while the camera takes the twilight shot, and you should be able to see both their faces as well as the castle.
This is just my personal preference, but I tend to use flash to fill in shadows instead of trying to illuminate an object. For example, I'll use flash on a bright day when I'm taking a picture of a character to help brighten up the parts of the costume that are in the shade.
The nighttime parades always present a challenge to me. I've tried to use flash in the past to capture parade pictures at night, but they usually result in out-of-focus images with lots of red-eye. I've decided that it's not even worth trying to get these shots with my camera unless I find a spot with good lighting. Even thought the lights are dimmed for the parade, some areas along the route will have brighter lights. I will usually try to find these areas, or stand in front of a fairly bright street light or store window. In some cases I may still need to use flash, but I'll try to use it on the lowest setting.
I've found that some pictures can be enhanced by trimming away areas that are distracting or don't contribute to the aesthetics of the shot. It's amazing how a well-done crop can turn a so-so picture into one that is worthy of being framed.
Frame of Mind:
Another technique that I've borrowed from some of my favorite pictures is the art of natural framing. I've found that having a well placed tree branch, or something in the foreground near the edge of the picture often helps to add depth to the photograph. I tend to use this technique when I'm wanting a more artistic shot of a scenic view.
Fish in a Barrel:
I've discovered that taking pictures is much like shooting fish in a barrel -- If you keep taking shots, you're bound to hit a keeper. For every photo that I feel is worthy of being shared, there are hundreds of other shots that just didn't turn out. My advice is to take pictures often, try to be creative, and to have ample film/disks.
Great idea for a thread! You do have some great photos! I do not have time at this moment to post any info I may have to share, but I wanted to get subscribed to this thread so I can come back later to do so!
Great idea for a thread. I have had trouble getting shots of Illuminations and Fireworks - if anyone has suggestions to that.
I have a setting on my camera (I don't have it with me right now), that kinda gives a blue tint to the picture and that setting has been great for Spectromagic Pictures.
I also like taking shots of things you might normally not think of, like a duck with some little ducklings following, or yeah, my food!!!
Can't wait to see all the suggestions - great start!:hurray:
I've had the best luck with fireworks pictures using the "Burst" mode on my camera - it takes up to 6 pictures in rapid succession. Usually 2 or 3 of the burst are blurry, but the rest come out great!
Looking at them in slide show is cool, too.
Great topic, and great to see you again, Jacknife!
Thanks JK! You have some great and very helpful tips there.