Monday, September 1, 2014

Waterfront Dining

Once upon a time, I posted a photo from the direct opposite side of this view.  It's a little more obstructed from the backside of Paradise Bay, since the track and railings of California Screamin' are in the way, but I still enjoy this view of a more exclusive part of Ariel's Grotto. Often, this area isn't open, because there aren't enough people present, or perhaps because park operations doesn't feel like having it open.  But it must be nice to dine down there when the lower terrace is open.  To be on the water on a gorgeous day, just enjoying the sun... it certainly would feel like being on the edge of Paradise!

A glimpse at the lower dining area of Ariel's Grotto on a beautiful blue-sky day.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rainy Radiator Springs

Four months ago, when I was at the Disneyland Resort during a rain storm, I knew that I wanted this shot.  The main drag of Cars Land's Radiator Springs is already stunning and saturated at night, but with reflections on the ground, I knew that the scene could be even more spectacular.  The trick would be capturing the luminosity without going overboard exposing the neon, so like last week's post, I had to resort to some manual HDR to combine the most detailed parts of two exposures and replicate something closer to what the human eye would perceive when actually there.  Although I've been not completely satisfied with some of my Cars Land neon shots before, this ended up being a manipulated exposure that I'm largely happy with.  And hopefully, it pulls you into the scene to bring the same uplifting feeling I had when I was there photographing it!

Radiator Springs really glows in the rain!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Main Street Matterhorn

I have to give credit to my friend, Jake, for this angle.  Although I've probably gazed through this angle many times before, I never really registered the juxtapositions of the icons of different lands until I saw a photo he posted earlier this year (or perhaps it was last year).  So when I entered Disneyland Park during the late afternoon last month and saw the golden light cast upon Main Street and the Matterhorn, I spent several moments trying to get the right position and perspective.  I had to compress the view with a telephoto lens, but ultimately, it's the comparison that I find intriguing.  It makes no sense to see the Matterhorn from smalltown America, and it really isn't apparent except from one angle.  But this is the angle, and I think it's interesting.

The Matterhorn looms in the distance, far beyond Main Street.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Water-Washed Wharf

The magnificent glows and reflections of a rain-slickened night can be truly fantastic.  The ground gets this luminous tone that a completely dry surface just can't capture, and a raining evening scene is just so inherently peaceful and relaxing.  Everything slows down, and the atmosphere induces a feeling of revelry in the moment.  It may be late, but when Pacific Wharf looks like this, I'm in no hurry to go home.

A soggy night at the bay is still a beautiful sight.

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!

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