Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Tale of Two Ships

Seeing the Sailing Ship Columbia and the Mark Twain together in the same scene is not common--except during evenings when FANTASMIC! is scheduled to be performed.  Then, it's quite common, because the two ships are lined up just at the riverbend to await their places in this nighttime spectacular!

On the same night when I watched FANTASMIC! from a different and unique view, I also snapped some photos of these two vessels waiting in the peaceful waters before the show.  It's such a lovely and serene scene, and despite the darkness of the actual setting, with the help of a trust railing, I was able to stabilize and hone in on the right spot to focus.  This picture definitely owes itself to the advances in DSLR technology!  Without the full frame and modern sensor, I doubt I could have achieved a shot as nice as this one!

The S.S. Columbia and the Mark Twain wait in their places before their roles in FANTASMIC! arise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Sign and the Tower

I don't have a version of this photo shot well enough to meet my standards of quality for feature on this blog, but once upon a time, the photo below would have featured a key difference--the entire Tower of Terror show building would have been visible from this exact same perspective.  Over time, the trees planted in the area have matured, and in particular, the palm trees have covered what used to be one of my favorite angles of photographing the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  The angle and juxtaposition is cool, in my opinion at least, so I think it's a shame that the vegetation has detracted from that a little bit.  But such is the way of the world.  Too bad Photoshop isn't good enough to completely remove the palm trees and restore the missing part of the building!

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror looms behind more fully grown foliage.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Light Painting with Jellyfish

So I must give inspirational credit for this shot to the exceptionally talented Michael Greening, because I first saw a similar photo on his Flickr account many moons ago.  At the time, when I saw this photo, I was blown away by how vibrant the scene look, and how the colors all blended together in beautiful harmony.  I also thought to myself, 'Well, dang, why didn't I think of this??'

This combined exposure is a mix of the individual captures after the paragraph below.
Fast forward to late last year, I was poking around Paradise Pier for night shots, when I recalled the image and decided to take my stab at it.  From a technical perspective, this is a relatively simple long exposure.  I started from a base of ISO 100, 30 seconds on the exposure, and f/8 on the aperture.  I had to tweak and time, and my shutter speed ultimately ended up being a little shorter and aperture a little tighter, but I was able to get the frames I wanted to paint the scene in a manner similar to how Mike had done his photo.

When it came time to edit, I was able to achieve the same saturation and luminance that entranced me.  What was more difficult was deciding which photo to feature.  Ultimately, I also played around with blending the three exposures.  And since I couldn't decide which one to exhibit, I've posted all four pictures here for your enjoyment.  Do you have a preference on any one? If so, let me know via a comment!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Morning Glory on the Cadillac Range

Shooting through the archway of the Pacific Wharf entrance into Cars Land never gets old.  That passageway into a spectacular recreation of the Old West, with its wide open spaces and rugged terrain, always inspires awe.  What is much more rare, however, is getting an empty shot of this scene--during the day!  But during a trip to the park last month, that's exactly what unfolded for a brief moment.  The morning light cast a warm haze over the Cadillac Range, but the view was still breath-taking.  And with no person in the frame, I made sure to capture this rarity!

Through the archway into Ornament Valley

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Carrousel Through the Portal

Disneyland is full of wonderful frames and angles that lead the eye onto other sights, so today, I wanted to spotlight a literal frame in the form of the Disneyland castle leading straight into the heart of Fantasyland.  The King Arthur Carrousel provides a wonderful glowing object for the leading eye, and it beckons through the castle gateway, inviting guests to experience the timeless land of fantasy.  At night, surrounded by the cool blue and purple hues of the castle, this golden lit attraction forms a regally colored composition!

Looking through the portcullis of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Setting the River Ablaze

Consider this a "FANTASMIC! Friday" of sorts... last week, I was hanging out at Disneyland with some fellow photographer friends.  We had gotten off Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and FANTASMIC! had begun several minutes prior at the nearby Rivers of America.  So we headed back to the little seating area next to Frontier Landing to meet up with the rest of the group and enjoy the show.

Maleficent in dragon form appears silhouetted against the blue spotlight.
I've never actually watched FANTASMIC! from this angle, and most of the show ends up being obscured, but it provided a unique angle to do a little bit of photography, and when Murphy (Maleficent to normal fans of the show, but Disney enthusiasts often refer to the dragon as "Murphy," after "Murphy's Law," because when it first debuted several years ago, it was plagued with malfunctions and mechanical issues) arose in all her fury, I saw a chance to get the fire breathing from a unique vantage point.

And then comes the burst of flame!
Even though the composition was obscured by the trees and buildings of Tom Sawyer Island, I thought the results were interesting.  So I present them here to you!

This climactic part of the show is always amazing to watch.

Apparently, water can burn!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blue Hour over the Wharf

The collision of colors after the sun has set can be pretty moody and dramatic in its own right too, and the purple and magenta hues around the DCA waterfront make for a nicely harmonious composition of color.  Add some wispy evening clouds for a bit of drama, and the result is a serene and graceful vista captured before night has fully fallen.  Here, I feel like the layers of icons make the scene look more inviting.  They almost call to you for a fun evening out by the pier, experiencing those classic beachside attractions of old.

Twilight over Pacific Wharf, with Paradise Pier in the distance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Ice Carver

Among the many different entertainment options at the Freeze the Night event is an ice carving exhibition.  Located on the stage directly opposite the main stage, the ice carving takes place while the DJ is playing and isn't a featured attraction like Laser Man was during the ElecTRONica days, but it's an interesting setup, and it's cool (pun intended) to see how these frozen pieces of art come about. The blue lighting also adds to the atmosphere.  Here are some pictures of the activities.

These photos were taken during the soft open of the Freeze the Night event, late last year.

She seemed to be enjoying her work a lot.

Even grooving to the beat of music being played.

This Olaf will not provide warm hugs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dusk at Adventure Isle

For those familiar with Disneyland Park (which, give this blog's subject matter, should be most of you), imagine Tom Sawyer Island.  Now imagine it bigger, grander, with more caves, more rocks, more vegetation to discover.  Now imagine it in France, and you have Adventure Isle, the center of Disneyland Paris' Adventureland, and an exceptionally fun playground for park guests.  This area doesn't have any actual rides, but it has a host of wandering pathways, mysterious caves, lush vegetation, tropical cascades, and high up perches that afford unique views across the land.  Here is Disneyland at its most naturalistic, and I certainly appreciate this unique feature of the park!

Adventure Isle is aglow at blue hour.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Golden Afternoon at New Orleans Square Station

I've made it to the Disneyland Resort too late for daytime photos most of the time recently, but last summer, when the days were longer, it was definitely easier to capture daytime shots, and while rummaging through my queue, I found these nice golden hour scenes from New Orleans Square Station.  I love capturing the blissful feel of the setting sun, lighting everything with a warm, radiant glow.  This is the most beautiful moment of the day, and it is fleeting.  So to have it preserved in photographic form carries a sense of reward. 

Hopefully, you can gaze into these scenes and be swept into the atmosphere and charm of such a magnificent afternoon at the Happiest Place on Earth!

All is golden as guests step toward the depot in New Orleans Square.

Shooting into the sun (and properly accounting the exposure) makes for a lovely scene.

Guests wait for the next train at New Orleans Square Station.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

L'Intérieur de Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy

I've made a couple of blog posts showing the outside of the new Ratatouille mini-land and ride, at Walt Disney Studios.  How about a look inside the attraction, and some photos riding along as we join Remy on a mad culinary dash through Gusteau's?

Guests board little trackless, radio-operated mouse cars on the rooftops of Paris.

We quickly come upon Remy and the spirit of Gusteau at the skylight of his restaurant. Remy ponders what to make.

Suddnely, a latch gives away, and we tumble onto the kitchen below!

At rat level, we hurtle around obstacles and dodge the cooks.

Eventually we find the pantry, a part of the attraction that uses physical sets rather than large projected big screens.

It seems other rodents have found the pantry too!

Back in the kitchen, we attempt to hide, but this may not be the best spot, given that it's an oven...

We move on and come upon more screens.

The ride uses the same trackless technology as Tokyo Disneyland's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but this experience is not quite as seamless and wholly immersive as its Japanese predecessor.

It's still a fun ride, though, and all ends well as Remy winds up at his own rooftop restaurant.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Last of Condor Flats

Last week, after the holiday season had concluded, the work walls went up, and away went another original land of Disney California Adventure.  Yes, if you haven't heard the news, Condor Flats is no more.  It is undergoing a several-month refurbishment and retheming, transforming into the Grizzly Peak Airfield.  Gone will be the sparse, desert air strip of Condor Flats, and in will be a more enveloping wilderness extension of Grizzly Peak.

Taste Pilot's Grill will be surrounded by much more greenery when it reopens, and the facade will be much different!
In truth, this is mostly a repainting of the buildings and the planting of trees. In addition, Soarin' over California is being outfitted with ultra high definition screens to catch the attraction up with the media standards of the 2010s.  Eventually, it will debut a new film called Soarin' over the World, but that won't be immediate.

Palm trees will be replaced by evergreens, and the area will have a more woodsy feel.  The mister will also be gone.
Although Condor Flats wasn't exactly unsightly (even the desert has its own beauties), it was less picturesque than most of the other lands in DCA.  This re-theme brings Grizzly Peak into greater cohesion and adds a more enveloping atmosphere to this area of the park.  Plus, it allows this combined themed area to have more than a single attraction to its name (since Grizzly Peak used to only have Grizzly River Run, while Condor Flats only had Soarin').

How many of these theme elements will remain?  No one seems sure.
I for one welcome the new changes, since they bring exciting new change that seems like it will benefit the park environment.  It will also give me new subjects to photograph, and of course, given my devotion to this blog, that's always a good thing!

Grizzly Peak Airfield will feel more like this scene than the previous three.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost

If you're ever in Disneyland Paris and are in the mood for some pizza or pasta, head on over to Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost, a pretty, very atmospheric quick serve restaurant inspired by that famous military pachyderm from The Jungle Book.  The jungle vegetation and the lovely frontier architecture give an ambiance of romance and excitement, and the scenery is especially beautiful during blue hour.  Plus, the food's pretty good too!

The bridge over to Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost.

The lush vegetation of Adventureland really enforces The Jungle Book theme!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Downtown Coffee

I've mentioned before that the new(ish now) Starbucks in Downtown Disney is a pretty gorgeous fusion of warm wood, sleek glass, and cool steel.  There's a nice combination of minimalist, contemporary design mixed with the warmth of something alluding to the Arts and Crafts that fits with the Grand Californian Hotel as its backdrop, and the company's Pacific Northwest roots.  And of course, being a Starbucks, it's pretty much busy all the time--except after the store has closed.  And then, only then, does there come some peace and quiet.

Looking westward at the Starbucks store in Downtown Disney.

A different angle, gazing more toward the face of the hotel beyond.

Glancing through the exceptionally clear storefront into the elegant interior.

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