Friday, April 18, 2014

A Ghostly Balloon

On the night I was taking this shot, I was all set up to snap my photo, when I noticed a lone balloon, tied to the railing, floating in the air, the lone obstruction in my otherwise clean and clear shot of the Haunted Mansion.  At first, I thought of what I could do to hide it, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might actually be humorous to feature this souvenir as the lone subject in an otherwise surreal scene from Disneyland's most macabre property.  And so, I let the balloon simply waft in the almost-still air.  I let the exposure run for half a minute, capturing as much detail as I could from an ordinarily dark scene.  And when I was done, there was the balloon in the middle of the shit, drifting just ever so lazily so, almost like it was a hovering spirit itself. 

At least that's the story I'd like to think this photo tells. What do you think?

Gazing up the steps toward the Haunted Mansion.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another Afternoon by the Fountain

Man has always been attracted to being near water. Perhaps it's that innate psychological association between water and life and benefit, but people have always flocked to beaches, riverfronts, and lakes. And on a smaller scale, to pools, fountains, and water features.  Not only are they often beautiful, they are actually cooler and more physically pleasant to be around.  So it makes a lot of sense to make the focal point of Disney California Adventure's revised entry place a fountain.  The Carthay Circle Fountain is a beautiful homage to the art deco, with sleek lines and cool colors, and it's a popular waiting spot or relaxation bar.  On a beautiful day, it's certainly a lovely experience to just sit by the water and take in the sights!

Golden afternoons at Carthay Fountain are bliss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From 1900 to Space

I've always thought that the view from the head of The Hub over toward Space Mountain was an interesting juxtaposition between the turn-of-the-century Victorian charm of Main Street U.S.A. and the futuristic sleek lines of Tomorrowland.  There's such a contrast in styles, and Space Mountain seems to loom unnaturally large over the Plaza Inn.  This contradicts the basic theming philosophy of keeping each land contained and feathering transitions to prevent any jarring overlay of themes, but that's just what happens here due to viewlines.  On the other hand, this scene has been like this for so many years that everyone's just used to it. And indeed, even though it doesn't make technical sense, I actually like the way these two structure interact with each other, visually.  It just makes for an eye-catching scene!

Space Mountain looms over the Plaza Inn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Explosive Finale


The following post contains photos from the redesigned final lift hill on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. If you do not wish to know what the new effects look like, then read no further and do not scroll down to the photos!


Are you sure now?

Last chance... I want to make sure you read the warning in the second paragraph.

Okay, here we go...

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been open for a month now, and I think enough time has passed to be able to shed some light on the one new redesigned aspect of the ride experience.  Of course, the track has been completely replaced and is now buttery smooth, and the town of Rainbow Ridge (formerly named Big Thunder) has been rebuilt and given a fresh coat of paint, and all the theming elements and animatronics have a new gleam to them from their refurbishment.  But there has been one wholly different part of the ride, and it occurs at the third and final lift hill of this thrilling mine train roller coaster.

Previously, riders coming into the final lift hill ascended a crickety track with boulders shaking awkwardly, simulating an earthquake, with a silhouetted projection of falling rocks (or mostly rubble) reinforcing the instability of the cave.  However, in the new and improved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, riders find themselves in a blasting zone gone wrong.  3D mapping projections trace dynamite trails along the rocks, as explosives shoot forth from each side in a billowing discharge of smoke and "fire."  This culminates with a charge directly above riders' heads at the apex of the hill going off right into their faces!  The effect is achived with a combination of ejected fog, projections, and lighting, but it's quite impressive, and rather realistic! The first time I rode, I was blown away (pun intended)!

Here are a few photos showing how the effects go.

Climbing up the final lift hill.

Though I wasn't able to capture them in this series, there are explosions that rocket from both sides overhead.

And then the grand finale...

A big KABOOM...

Right at the riders! It's quite spectacular.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stars Over the Castle

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know I'm a fan of the hyper-real, luminously exposed, crisp and clear style of nighttime Disney park photography. I think it's a very cool way to view the park, through an aperture that is more sensitive than human eyes can perceive.  For example, in the photo below, upon enlargement, the stars start to come forth in the sky.  That's something that doesn't really happen in light-polluted Southern California, but in photographic form, after a long exposure, a bit of interstellar magic reveals itself.  And what better setting than at the most magical resort there is!

The stars shine bright over Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Whirling Zephyr

I've posted similar shots of the Golden Zephyr flying around at night before, but I love the long exposure light trails so much that I thought I'd post some more. After all, on that night, I took lots and lots of photos, each at least a little different from the last, and I think they form a cool series of captures of this fun little ride on the edge of Paradise Bay!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Across Radiator Springs

Most shots I've taken of Radiator Springs center down the main drag into town, but a couple of months ago, I found myself staring down Cross Street and finding myself enjoying the view down this perpendicular route to the view most people imagine at Cars Land.  The blinking traffic light (every third blink being longer) hangs out right in center, and the grandeur of Ornament Valley beyond gave this composition a nice layering that seemed different from a lot of Cars Lands views I've seen.

Looking down Cross Street toward Ornament Valley.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Pyrotechnic Wonderland (part 3)

Another Friday, another batch of fireworks photos.  This was taken from my meet-up with fellow Disneyland fan photographers last month.  In this batch, my primary struggle was getting the dark foreground to expose more evenly without overlighting the fireworks of the background--without using multiple shots.  My editing process ultimately decided to sacrifice detail in the shadows in favor of establishing clarity in the fireworks. I'm not sure if this is my preferred look or not, but this sort of playing around is part of how I'll discover my style of fireworks photography.

Hope you enjoy!

A patriotic start to Remember... Dreams Come True illuminates the air.

Look not into the eyes of the idol, during the Indiana Jones segment!

Wispy strings of light streak across the sky.

Fun explosions kick off the Fantasyland portion of the show.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunset at the Treetops III

My continuing series of sunset photographs taken from one of my favorite perches at Disneyland continues with a dramatic descent of the afternoon, lighting up the west side of Disneyland with a magical golden glow.  On this day, wispy clouds helped shine the skies with a soft and dulcet lumination.  The resulting framed view was rather breathtaking.

Another blissful sunset from above the trees at Tarzan's Treehouse.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guarding the Tower

For years, I've struggled to take a really striking photo of the Tower of Terror at night. But as it turns out, I merely need to wait until after the park closes, set my camera on a tripod, and take a long exposure photo on narrow aperture.  Although there isn't much movement to hint that this is a long exposure, the photo below had the shutter open for 30 seconds.  With that in mind, it's actually pretty impressive how still the security guard remained for most of that shot!  For the rest of the final product, I turned to editing in Adobe Camera Raw to edit the RAW format in which I shot the photo. Cooling the color temperature and amping up the cool blues and violets helped chill the ambiance, and I'm pretty pleased with the end result.  And now that you know my workflow for this photograph, you can go and give your shot at it!

A lone watchman stands guard by the Tower of Terror.

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