Monday, March 2, 2015

A Town Square Afternoon

A cloudless blue sky day in Main Street is one of my earliest memories of Disneyland.  I recall eagerly wandering through this entrance to the Happiest Place on Earth as a child, hand in parents' hands, gazing up at the beautiful facades with awe.  It was such a nostalgic atmosphere, even then, and it was a beautiful, sunny day.  At such a young age, it was easy to connect to the emotional resonance of the park.  But even now, many many years later, I will still come upon scenes that strike up those fond memories and remind me just why I love coming again and again to this happy place.

A beautiful day in front of the Main Street Opera House.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some Old with Some New

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure building contains a relic from the original Disney California Adventure--the recreation of San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, which used to mark the entrance of the old Golden Dreams show that stood in this place before its transformation.  At some point in time in the scheme of Disney Imagineering planning, everything was to be razed, but this building was eventually salvaged.  I like the result--a classical structure that blends nicely with the Victorian style of the new show building, which fits the theme of the reimagined Paradise Pier being a classic Victorian boardwalk.  And it's definitely a beautiful structure.

A lone security guard stands in front of the facade of the Little Mermaid ride at Paradise Pier.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Rivers Blue

Silhouetted against the early evening sky, the moored Sailing Ship Columbia and the dramatic Splash Mountain make iconic monuments across the vista of the west side of Disneyland.  On this particular day, I found the clouds almost stretching over the Critter Country peak, drifting toward the Columbia almost as though they were reaching toward the sea.  Of course, it's just a "river" here, but the imagination can transport this scene to regions exotic and far too.  And that, I suppose, is the point of escaping to Disneyland.

Dramatic blue hour clouds cast over the Rivers of America and Critter Country.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Racing Through the Valley

Cars Land is beautiful and spectacular, of course, and I can never get over how convincingly it transports guests from Southern California suburbia to the splendor of the open rugged West.  The beautiful desert landscape complements the dramatic geology nicely, and the zoom of Radiator Springs Racers contributes to the natural air of excitement.  On a beautiful blue sky day, the views can't be beat!

Radiator Springs Racers cruising on a beautiful day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Suspenseful Skies

I almost always shoot The Hub facing north, toward Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Much more rare is when I face the other way, but last month, during one jaunt through the park, I found myself looking at a wonderfully dramatic afternoon sky.  The nicest view faced somewhat westward, so that is where I aimed my camera to capture the expansiveness of the sky juxtaposed with the open space of Disneyland's circulation center.  This photo may not have much of a subject, but I like it for the feel it brings.

A dramatic sunset falls upon The Hub at Disneyland.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To the Cosmos

It's been a long while since I posted a black and white photo, but the purity of Space Mountain and the skies that often manifest above it seem to beckon for the simplicty of a high contrast monochrome photo.  The spires in this photo certainly look like they could use some cleaning, but there's some grit and classicness added to the visual texture of this picture as a result of the less than pristine roof.  It didn't hurt that the clouds on this particular afternoon were rather dramatic--something I as a photographer definitely appreciated!

The iconic peaks of Space Mountain, rendered in a bit of a retro look.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Wonderful Wharf of Color

Beautifully restored, the old industrial waterfront part of Pacific Wharf sparkles today with new livelihood and vitality.  Reimagined as a dining promenade, with tours of the old bakery and a lovely chocolate soda fountain nearby, Pacific Wharf has cast off its dungier facade of the past and embraced a colorful, uplifting future. It's lovely to take in as one passes by, and on beautiful blue sky afternoons, this land really glows!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Gateway from the Castle

Tom Bricker has an absolutely incredible version of this scene that really captures spontaneous joy and energy that is the magic of Disney parks, and it was through this that I realized there were entire parts of Disneyland Paris I had missed on my first visit in 2006.  Last year, I made it a point to venture by this Fantasyland entrance off the side of the castle.  The way the towers frame the most beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle in the distance really substantiates the illusion of this being a fairy tale wonderland.  I don't have an innocent child running through, but I did snap this late in the afternoon, during the most beautiful part of the day, and through the scene isn't necessarily blatantly spectacular, it echoes with nostalgia, because looking at it reminds me of how wonderful everything was, walking around Disneyland Paris while being on a wonderful vacation.

This portal serves as the passageway to the east "back side" of Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris, but it retains a sense of fantasy, mystery, and wonder.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Filling Up at Flo's

Wide angle lenses aren't usually associated with detail shots, but depending on how you frame the photo, they can be used for that purpose. In the first photo below, the gas nozzle and pump form the main subject of the photo, and yet, they are theming elements of a larger overall scene, and highlighting the pump brings attention to this nice detail of Radiator Springs.  The angle also draws the eye toward the background and then back again, bringing some interest.

The second shot isn't really close enough to the pump to be a detail shot, but it does have the camera shooting into the sun, which despite being an elementary rule in photography to avoid, produces a nice result when you know how to compensate.

A close-up at a gas station nozzle.

Beautiful golden hour at Flo's brings breath-taking sunlight!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Chevy in Paris

For those who go to Disney California Adventure and enjoy the presence that the Buena Vista Street Packard gives to the area... well, there was a precedent for this.  And it's found at Walt Disney Studios, where a similar automobile from the past serves as a stationary photo op and theming element.  On this day, as I was walking back from the end of the Production Courtyard, I thought the vehicle made a great subject.  Crouching for a low angle really enhanced the drama of the vehicle, providing a grill-eye view and really making the car pop toward the camera.  I like this because of the ambiance, and I hope you do too!

A classic Chevrolet sits parked on the main street of the Production Courtyard.
(To be honest, since Walt Disney Studios shares a vein with Disney Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, I'm not sure if this was derived from its Orlando predecessor.  I don't exactly recall seeing something like this over in Florida, thought it could have been that I didn't look hard enough.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Catal Courtyard

The courtyard in Downtown Disney anchored by Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar has been like this since Downtown Disney opened 14 years ago, and though some of the surrounding shops have come and gone, the two dining establishments have held serve throughout the retail existence of this promenade.  The area is nice during the daytime, but it really comes alive at night. The electric neon and the bustling outdoor nightlife make for a great, festive atmosphere, and the food and aromas are delicious as well!  It's a nice place to sit and people watch, or enjoy drinks with friends, or just soak in the atmosphere.

I've always been enchanted by the Downtown Disney ambiance during the evenings, but probably nowhere more than around here.

The neon sign of Catal beckons hungry diners.

The two story restaurant overlooks its sister dining establishment, the Uva Bar, shown at the right.

Diners enjoy drinks and food at the Uva Bar.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sunset on the Hub

The Hub is a place to orient oneself, take a rest, and gather one up before proceeding to the next destination.  It's the center that all guests can return to, and though it's meant to be a temporal space, it actually serves as a destination for many guests, who take photos with the Walt and Mickey Partners Statue or venture farther on to photographically capture Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  It's also a great parade and fireworks viewing location, not to mention a locale to just relax and take in the day.  It's the heart of the park, with all of the magic and joy of the Happiest Place on Earth, and I often enjoy just savoring the moment when I walk by this part of Disneyland.

A sunburst through the trees around The Hub at Disneyland!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Welcome to Tomorrowland

I haven't posted a shot from Tomorrowland in a while, so I figured I'd share on today.  Speaking of Tomorrowland, have you seen the upcoming Brad Bird movie of the same name?  Brad Bird would be the incredibly talented head behind Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant.  I keep myself away from movie news these days to avoid spoilers, but this project has been in the works for a while and looks positively stunning.  I'm excited to see what this talented director has in store with this pretty amazing looking film!

The Astro Orbiter stands still at the end of the night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Luminescent Jellies

My post of a similar scene generated such a nice response last month that I figured showcasing another view might be a welcome way to start a Monday.  This composition comes from two different shots merged together and masked out to capture my favorite parts of each scene.  I love that the advancement of Photoshop allows me to explore this more artistic side of photography so much more easily.  I couldn't imagine trying to manually craft an effect like this back in the days of dark room processing!

The Jumpin' Jellyfish playfully dart up and down.

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