Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Powers of Evil Imagination

It's such a powerful and incredible scene... Maleficent transforming into a fearsome dragon, laughing sinisterly as she gazes with disdain upon Mickey Mouse, and then, with a terrible roar, she roasts the air with a sizzling blast of flame, igniting the Rivers of America in a villainous firestorm.  Every time I watch, I wait for the fire breathing with great anticipation.  It's disappointing when the effect doesn't work (which it is sometime apt to do), but most of the time, the sudden burst of heat is thrilling and invigorating.  Very few Disney effects light up my inner childlike glee like this without fail. 

Is it any surprise that FANTASMIC! is my favorite Disney show of all time?

Maleficent breathes fire in the climactic scene of FANTASMIC!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wilderness Tranquility

As expansive as I try to get this shot to appear, it doesn't really compare to being in Grizzly Peak and taking in this simulated wilderness stretching out all around.  The way the light filters through the trees, the way iconic Grizzly Peak juts up in the distance, the way the mist hovers in the forest breeze, all contributes to a wonderful visceral and verdant sensation that really brings the theme to life.  All the green and blue transport guests away from the city and into the gorgeous and grand Mother Nature that the state of California has to offer, and that serenity never fails to soothe my soul when I stroll through.

A quiet afternoon in Grizzly Peak--except for the screaming rafters splashing down.
So, as I mentioned last week, I'll personally be taking a little vacation over the next two and a half weeks. Never fear, though, for there will still be updates to this blog!  They just won't be broadcast over social media.  However, it would be awesome if you would share new posts over Twitter and Facebook and beyond, even while I'm gone, because there will still be new content posted every day while I'm abroad.  Ah, the power of auto-scheduling!  And when I'm back, I'll have even more fantastic Disney photos to share!

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Inside the Oasis

It's relatively rare to be able to stroll through Aladdin's Oasis these days. The former dine and storytelling locale is usually closed to the public these days, which is a shame, because it's such a wonderful space.  Alas, it's been many years since this area has been in operation. But several months ago, I was walking through Adventureland when I saw the entrance unobstructed.  With no signage or cast members warning to stay away, I took the chance to explore and take some photos.  Here's a look at a beautiful, peaceful respite from the bustling nature of Adventureland!

This used to be the stage for the story telling of Aladdin.

Guests could dine and enjoy the show, which retold the classic story in an abbreviated version of the movie.

The tiered layout allowed less-obstructed views.

An overview, looking back in the direction of Adventureland.

What marvels and mysteries existing within the Cave of Wonders?

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Colorful Tea Party

The Mad Tea Party presents a wonderful study of luminous color at night.  Those whimsical lanterns over a bed of spinning tea cups create silly interplay of elements, but they also present a challenge photographically, since it's easy to lose color while trying to properly expose for a nighttime scene with multiple sources of light.  In this case, I've taken two exposures--one properly exposed for the lanterns, the other properly exposed for the rest of the scene, and compiled them together in Photoshop, using the masking tool to paint in the parts of the other exposure needed.  I think this makes for a vibrant but realistic scene, and if I did my job correctly, you wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't told you!

The Mad Tea Party is a colorful and glowing sight at night!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Jolly Trolley

It's definitely a shame that the Jolly Trolley is grounded these days, but lack of maintenance would lead to such a fate.  Nowadays, it's not much more than a glorified bench, but it's a pretty one for sure and still the target of many photos for families who want to snap something themed.  The relatively recent new coat of paint has freshened up this little locomotive too, and this made for a nice composition one lovely summer afternoon when I was in the park!

The Jolly Trolley may not run anymore, but it's still a fun fixture of Mickey's Toontown!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Fountain Luminated

I've posted about the beauty of the Carthay Circle Fountain, especially during golden hour, before. But today, I want to focus on the shimmering glow that the lantern atop the fountain seems to have when the light catches it just so.  This lovely art deco piece is a wonderful fixture to a lovely fountain, and that green glass goes so well with the blue and aqua tile.  The whole effect is one of comfort and tranquility.  It's a huge improvement from the old days of Sunshine Plaza and its mosaic wave fountain.  This one--classy and elegant--is a fountain I much prefer.

The Carthay Circle Fountain. It never gets old to photograph either!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The French Market Nouveau

One of my favorite eateries in Disneyland Park, the French Market has also been altered by the expansion of Club 33. Its second floor has been converted from a storage room to Le Salon Nouveau, a jazz club environment with Art Nouveau flourishes.  Here too, windows have been cut out to allow light in and views out, but they're certainly not as prominent as in some other locations. And at night, despite the glow and visibility into the second floor, there's a nice atmosphere about this area, as though the upstairs was some stylish, high profile party going on. Which, if you think about it, fits the mold of Club 33.

The back entry of French Market.

The front entry of French Market.

Looking upward and toward the entrance into the restaurant.

A more overview look reveals some of the second floor changes.

They seem to blend in pretty well here, though!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Saturated Portal

The night I took this dramatic shot of the Astro Orbiter was a lazy evening where I just didn't feel like breaking out my tripod. As a result, for a shot like this that required a long exposure, I set my camera on top of my bag, raised my ISO, and tried to keep everything as steady as possible for three brackets of exposure to capture the huge range in lighting in this scene.  At 100%, this ends up being quite noisy, but it's not so bad on a large thumbnail.  True detailing of the illumination requires more masking and exposures than I have the patience for, but I think this turned out okay for a "lazy shot," relatively speaking!

Colorful and iconic, the Astro Orbitor has become a fixture of Tomorrowland's entrance.
Folks, I'd also like to take this moment to let you know that I will be gone on vacation starting a week from today.  I'm taking a trip to Europe (including a stop at Disneyland Paris), so I'll be a lot less active on social media than usual. HOWEVER, while I'm gone, there will be new posts published each day, so you would do me a huge favor by sharing said posts while I'm abroad and unable to do so regularly myself.  Thank you all for your support!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From Where Stanley Sees It

There are many photos of Stanley's statue in Radiator Springs, but really, he's the one with the great view. Seeing all the hustle and bustle of people coming down the main drag of the town he founded must be a great sight and feeling.  With the town spruced up and restored to its former glory, things are certainly looking nice within this cutest little town in Carburetor County.  And can you beat those crisp afternoons, with a wonderful view of the sun setting behind Flo's?

The statue of Stanley looks over the honorary townspeople of Radiator Springs in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Treetop Perch

My favorite lens to shoot with is by far my 16-35mm wide angle zoom. There are a lot of great perspectives that can be utilized with the wide range, and even just the amount of scenery captures on this full frame lens really helps draw a viewer into a scene.  In the example below, the nearby window takes on an exaggerated perspective, but that gives it some power in the scene.  The very prominent foreground seems dominant, but the background starts to reveal details like the Union Jack and the quaint architecture of the River Belle Terrace.

Mostly, I think shots like this are fun, and while my love of wide angle is not quite so great as that of Tom Bricker, I certainly sympathize with the enthusiasm!

Taking a wide and slightly distorted look down to Adventureland.

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