Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lamp Post by the River

At Disneyland, the Rivers of America provide a rustic journey back to a time before modern technology and electronics, before automobiles, before mass production and rapid transportation.  It harkens to the era of westward expansion in the United States, conveying the sense of exploration those first settlers had as they spread across our nation.  I enjoy the vibe here.  There's that nostalgia toward simpler times, that vision of adventure and bravery, and that recreation of history.  It's not exact, of course, but the feelings are there, and it leaves me wistful whenever I stop to ponder the symbolism.

A quaint detail in front of the Sailing Ship Columbia.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Chateau at Sunset

One of the most magical moments of my vacation to Europe last year occurred around sunset of the day I spent at Disneyland Paris.  A bout of good fortune brought some spectacular skies just as I was around the middle of the park as the sun was setting, and the warm golden light cast a magical glow over the park.  I quickly hustled over to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant--Disneyland Paris' Sleeping Beauty Castle--and soaked in the incredible atmosphere that stood before me.  Here, a fantasy castle was bathed in heavenly glow, while the overcast skies of the morning had given way to oversized cottonballs above dabbing across a canvas of azure.  The scene was positively divine, and after I allowed myself a moment to absorb it all, I set about snapping scenes to capture the moment. 

The sun sets over the Disneyland Paris castle.
Editing these photos reminded me of that wondrous time.  The combination of that magical light and this dreamscape around me was ethereal, and when I look at these pictures now, I'm reminded of how fortunate I was to have been able to experience this moment.  Certainly, back when I was in high school half a lifetime ago, I never imagined being able to visit these amazing places I had read about.  But life has a way of taking you along for unexpected journeys, and I feel extremely blessed to have participated in this one.

The gentle sunlight caresses the castle in the waning afternoon.
These photos capture ambiance as much as they portray something monumental.  It is my hope that they impart a bit of the emotion I felt on that wonderful day.  And hopefully, people reading this blog have or will also one day be able to experience this firsthand.

Sunset. Glorious time.  Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant head on.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Wetted Wharf

July has been a pretty humid month by Southern California standards.  Although it's been uncomfortable at times, I can't complain too much, since we've had a little bit of some much needed moisture.  It hardly puts a dent in our drought, but every little bit helps.  It reminds me of that evening last year when I was caught in a rainstorm at the Disneyland Resort.  Though my camera was dampened, I did have the chance to take some rare rainy night photos, and some of those turned out enchantingly.

A rainy evening last year from the entrance of Pacific Wharf.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clouds Upon Cross Street

I normally talk about how dramatic Southern California skies are generally limited to the winter, but possibly because of this season's extra strong El Niño, we've been getting actual weather in the spring and summer, and with it, some suspenseful skies recently as well.  This photo was taken a couple of months ago, in early May.  This particular day was one of those that threatened rain but never actually materialized it.  But those clouds sure did make an appearance come dusk!  And though the light was more gray and dreary than golden, the puffy, moody clouds certainly enhanced the scene.

The intersection of Radiator Springs' main drag and Cross Street on a moody spring day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cruising the Night

Continuing from the previous Paint the Night installment of Monsters, Inc. comes the fourth installment of the series, featuring floats from Pixar's Cars franchise.  This is the most commercially popular Pixar intellectual property, and it resonates deeply with children, so it's no surprise that Paint the Night features Lightning McQueen and company.  And this segment comes in spectacular fashion, with an illuminated dancing "pit crew" along with a spectacular Mack big rig unit that is a feast for the eyes.  Here are some photos of the floats!

Lighting McQueen follows the Monsters, Inc. float, bringing back-to-back Pixar floats.

Lightning is trailed by his trusty transporter, Mack, and some lit up dancers.

I love the shadows the red lighting creates.  It's quite sleek!

And this Lightning has headlights!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Castle in Monochrome

It's very difficult to get clean, crisp nighttime photographs without a tripod, and even more so via a telephoto lens, even if the lens can drop to a low aperture.  So when I was editing the photo below and not satisfied with the color rendering and noise of the single exposure, I decided to play around with the picture in black and white.  Amping up the contrast created a more atmospheric shot, and it also allowed me to clean up (darken) details that I didn't want so noticeable, such as people in the foreground.  The result is something a little different than my typical nighttime castle shot, but which I still kind of like.

A glimpse through the Hub to Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Toontown Skyline

It may not be apparent at first glance, because of the zaniness of the facades, but Mickey's Toontown actually has some pretty interesting architecture.  In the uptown part, on the west side of the land where guests first come in, the facades are bunch together, more commercial, and create some interesting (though small) avenues and spatial pathways.  Things open up a lot more on the west, which is more residential.  But the whimsical architecture is still fun to behold, and I imagine it must have been incredibly challenging to both draw and construct this land, where hardly any straight lines exist.  Mickey's Toontown may not receive a lot of love, as evidenced by some of the more faded paint and decommissioned attractions, but it's still got its own charm.

The "city" side of Toontown is aesthetically hustling and bustling.

Toontown's rolling hills behind Mickey's House.

The Gag Warehouse is kind of a blast--literally.

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin still commands a line, despite its presence in the back of the park.

This is just a fun area to zoom in on the details.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Golden Hour on Carthay Circle

When the sun gets low in the sky, Carthay Circle is a golden and gorgeous place to be.  The afternoon magic hour casts a brilliant and warm hue on this hub of Buena Vista Street, and the water features, trees, and blue sky combine for one memorable scene.  The one below is a bit of a throwback, as you can see Condor Flats in the background, but it just doesn't get old for me.  It's just beautiful.

Sunset of Carthay Circle Fountain--forever majestic.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Disney's Diamond Birthday Bash

Last Friday, the 17th, the Disneyland Resort celebrated Disneyland's 60th birthday with a one-day even ranging across both parks.  There were cupcakes, pre-parades (well, one), and photo ops.  Nothing overly spectacular, but just a fun event.  I arrived in the afternoon, after the 10am special ceremony in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, so here are some shots of my time at the park.

All around both parks, large screens were set up to display photo feeds of guests who tagged their photos with the #Disneyland60 hashtag.  I even spotted some people I knew on the screen!

The parks were offering free cupcakes for the 60th birthday.  These weren't the special and ginormous 60th anniversary cupcakes found at the Jolly Holiday Bakery, but they were still delicious!

Over in Big Thunder Ranch--one of several free cupcake locations, there was a team of cast members lined up with an army of cupcakes.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Portraits of a Hatbox Ghost

On my most recent visit to the Haunted Mansion, I decided to grab my 70-200 f/2.8 telephoto lens and see what photos I could snap with it.  Of particular interest was capturing more detailed shots of the Hatbox Ghost.  I've taken wider angle overview shots of the character before, but I thought it would be fun to get a little closer and compose shots that more resemble portraits.  "Hattie" is mysterious enough already, and these portraits emphasize his disembodied nature.  The wide aperture of the lens also allowed me to get some pretty crisp exposures, so I hope you enjoy how these turned out!

The Hatbox Ghost lingers in the shadows.

Hat on head and hatbox in head, he waits for Doom Buggy riders to pass on by.
And he's so excited to see them that he loses his head over it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Uptown Buena Vista

Buena Vista Street is composed of two main districts.  There is the cozy, more neighborhood scale closer to the entrance of Disney California Adventure, and then there is classier, more cosmopolitan uptown district composed of the area around Carthay Circle.  It's an interesting progression that doesn't feel jarring, and it even ends in a park icon, or "weenie," just as Main Street, U.S.A. does over at Disneyland. 

I post a lot of Main Street nighttime photos, but I don't do this as much at Buena Vista Street, in part because the monorail crossing at the recreation of the Hyperion Bridge creates an unavoidable break in the space.  But I figured it was about time I try to get a nice shot up the street over at California Adventure, so late last year, I finally decided to hunt for a view.  I don't think this quite mimics the cozy feel of Main Street, but it's still quite serene and inviting!

All peaceful at night on Buena Vista Street.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sunset Over Splash Mountain

So I've mentioned my enjoyment of the views from the top of Tarzan's Treehouse.  It's the most elevated [publicly accessible] view in the park, and it's my final spot to turn to when chasing the light at the end of golden hour.  From here, I'm afforded some great views of the Rivers of America and New Orleans Square below, but I can also get some cool silhouette shots of Splash Mountain and the icons in that corner of the park.  The photo below is once such example.  But here, I've chosen to reveal some details from the shadows, rather than cast a total silhouette. The results end up pretty interesting in my opinion, as the light upon the Mansion gives it an even more antiquated look, while Splash mountain seems even more majestic.  Such are the benefits of chasing the light.

Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion take on a different definition upon sunset.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spotlights Over Adventure

What I love about the spotlights over Sleeping Beauty Castle that are left on after the Disneyland Forever fireworks is that they completely change the nighttime composition of the park.  Now, these beaming "lasers" of light can be seen from almost anywhere in the park, and they provide a dramatic new definition to the nighttime photos that people can get.  On this particular night, I was strolling through the west side with a couple of fellow photographers, when one of them pointed out the view.  I thought it was pretty striking, so I snapped a few shots on my telephoto lens.  Suffice to say, I'm pleased with the final frame, since it gives some nice hints of the grandeur beyond while still conveying the tight space of Adventureland, emphasizing that sense of exploration that pervades this area.

The spotlights over Sleeping Beauty Castle are visible from pretty much anywhere in Disneyland.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Inside Out Before the Play Parade

The Pixar Play Parade has a little pre-parade float promoting the new Inside Out movie from Pixar right now, and it's kind of cute!  Performers tossing and juggling large balls appear before and after the float, which itself feature the five main character emotions from the movie--Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  They interact and banter about the the day and their roles in the parade, and it's all quite cute.  Here are a few photos!
Performers before the float.

Here comes the pre-parade unit!
Joy is so happy to be here, but the other emotions don't quite share her sentiments.

I thought the float was pretty nice.

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