Monday, June 30, 2014

Aflame Above Paradise Bay

Remember that photo I posted of Paradise Park beneath an incredible sky?  Well, here's a shot taken the same day, with a more overall view of Paradise Bay as a whole. Indeed, on this evening, the setting sun coupled with the cloud pattern created an exceptionally magnificent scene in the atmosphere, and fortunately, I was at the Resort to capture it.  Moments like this definitely make me appreciate the miracle that is Earth and its place in the universe, where history has progressed to the point where I can take in such a breath-taking spectacle in a wondrous place.  For this, I am undoubtedly thankful.

A most dramatic post-sunset sky lights up Paradise Pier!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Fantasy Faire Evening II

Much of photography is simply patience--waiting until the right moment to take that perfect photo.  When Fantasy Faire first opened, I was eager to capture the charming atmosphere of this lovely mini-land, and I didn't really allow myself to explore the right vantage points or wait for the ideal night photo.  Turns out, I didn't really have to wait much.  Fantasy Faire pretty much closes down at dusk, and though guests can walk through the area afterward, the lack of shows, activities, and meet-and-greets means few actually do.  This means empty nighttime shots from this area are much easier to come across than at other parts of the park.  So in this case, after waiting until the later-but-not-that-much-later evening, I simply took my time, composed my shots, and fired off several long exposures to composite a properly exposed image.  Done and done!

A peaceful night after house at Fantasy Faire.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Grizzly Peak in Focus

I've always enjoyed the iconic shape of Grizzly Peak. This mountainous anthropomorphism is abstract enough to be potentially believable and detailed enough to be recognizable, and it's such a natural Disney-esque figure.  Looking from the side of the Grand Californian Hotel is my favorite angle.  When the park first opened, there used to be a viewpoint that showed both the peak and the grizzly bear that guards the entrance to Grizzly River Run together in side by side profile.  Since then, the trees have grown in and blocked that sightline, but this angle from closer to the lift hill is still prominent and still pretty!

A close-up of Grizzly Peak.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rainy Curios

The effect that water has on the ground during nighttime photos is sort of spellbinding. The reflections and extra radiance really bring out a nice pop in the composition and enhances almost any scene.  In Radiator Springs, with neon and light bulbs aglow, the effect seems even more amplified, and the result is a lovely evening evoking peace and quiet, the wonderful type of serenity after a storm.

A rainy evening in front of Radiator Springs Curios.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

People Moving Lines

A few weeks ago, Tom Bricker over at Disney Tourist Blog posted a great little article for some easy tips all photographers should adopt to immediately make their photos better by improving their composition.  These are all true, and one of the items addressed was "leading lines."  Tom has a great example in his article, but here's another example from a trip last Friday.  It illustrates the concept of what makes a photo interesting--in this case, the lines and recessed can light fixtures draw the viewer's eye diagonally across the photo.  The viewer takes in the entire photo by following the leading lines, making the photo dynamic and thus more visually interesting.  It holds one's attention longer.  In this case, I've even gone through the trouble of tilting my camera to reinforce the diagonal lines even more, but I think it works.  Hopefully, you agree; but if you don't, feel free to voice your opinion in the comment section!

Linear action on a compositional scale under the old People Mover track in Tomorrowland!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Undersea Adventures

Recently, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, reopened after an annual refurbishment.  Most noticeable among the changes was the lighting in several of the scenes to a black light based scheme, which made everything look softer and more realistic, but also a little more challenging to photograph. In addition, more static fish were added, and "Kiss the Girl" Ariel received a new hair treatment!

Here are some snapshots from my most recent ride aboard this attraction.

As usual, Scuttle greets guests at the beginning of the ride and begins his convoluted narration.

Changes are noticed immediately in the first scene, with the addition of more sealife and a change in lighting.

The "Part of Your World" scene remains largely unchanged.

...Except for the lighting, which is softer.  Less spotlights.

The "Under the Sea" scene remains wonderfully fantastic.  The entire room is under black light now.

This makes Sebastian easier to photograph in my opinion, though he's an exception to this.

Ariel's hair did not revert to "strawberry soft serve" mode in this scene. Even though that was more amusing (to me).

Ursula is just as impressive as ever.

The sea witch is all for helping those "poor unfortunate souls."

In "Kiss the Girl," Sebastian serenades Ariela and Prince Eric.

Ariel's hair has been changed here to more realistic "human" hair rather something rubbery.

Finally, everyone lives happily ever after, and there's a great celebration.

Princess Ariel and Prince Eric wave goodbye to the guests.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Seaside Structures

A little over a month ago, the wraps came off a recent refurbishment around the Boudin Bakery and Pacific Wharf Cafe building, and the results were quite colorful! Where drab and faded pastels had laid swaths across the building elevations before, now tomato red, sky blue, mustard yellow, and seaweed green lined the wooden clapboard.  And though I know this isn't entirely realistic, I still actually like it. It's a change but in a friendly and inviting manner.  Do you agree?

The newly repainted Monterey-inspired area of Pacific Wharf.

Although more vibrant than a seaside structure probably looks, I like the extra pop of colors.

The saturation provides a friendly and welcoming facade.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Full Moon over Splash Mountain

This is a view I hadn't seen before--Splash Mountain from the queue at night.  Of course, that's because I almost never ride Splash Mountain after the sun goes down. Heck, I've hardly do it during the day!  Not because it's a bad ride, but because I'm just not a water ride guy.  But it's certainly a wonderful subject, and I do enjoy finding new angles to engage this iconic feature of Disneyland Park!

Gazing up at Splash Mountain, with Haunted Mansion beyond.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Crossing the Night Bridge

The magic of a long exposure is how it (basically literally) opens our eyes to the our environment.  The literal part is the lens of a camera, opened up wide and continuing to absorb the scene set in front of it.  In a composition like the one below, it turns the sky a beautiful azure blue, reveals the colors in the foliage, and lights everything up.  In real life, the scene would have been much darker, but that's the thing about photography--it allows adjustments to suit artistic taste.  I like long static exposures because it makes me imagine the vision an owl might see, or some other animal with large pupils and enhanced night vision compared to our own.  Perhaps it's not quite this pretty for them, but it's an interesting thought, at least!

Gazing up at the rope bridge of Tarzan's Treehouse.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Soarin' Southern California

Condor Flats isn't as expansive or endlessly scenic as most of the other lands at Disney California Adventure, so the diversity of photo opportunities is limited. But on a beautiful Southern California day, it's definitely got a lovely atmosphere.  Those blue skies go hand in hand with the spirit of aviation that this area takes after, and palm trees lining the entrance to Soarin' Over California add to that Southern California vibe!

Staring straight up at the entrance of Soarin' Over California!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Big Thunder Queue

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad's return has generally been greeted with great excitement and positive reviews of the ride upgrades, but it wasn't just the roller coaster experience that was refurbished when the ride was down last year and this year.  Everything about the attraction was completely fixed up and repainted, and that TLC is very evident while waiting in line for the "Wildest Ride in the Wilderness."  The town of Rainbow Ridge (formerly named "Big Thunder") looks beautiful and vibrant, with fresh, refurbished sets and rockwork and signage and such.  It's great to take in the little details and observe the wonderful renewal the Imagineers have given this classic ride!

Mining equipment is all over the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue.

Rainbow Ridge looks absolutely gorgeous.

On a beautiful blue sky day, everything really comes alive.

Wayfinding around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The finale of the ride still has those nifty fossils, rocks, and waterfalls!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Two Years of Disney Photoblography

Can you believe it? It's been not one but two years since I started this blog, and 730 posts later, we're still going.  When I first started, I figured I could post a picture a day, or maybe a photo every couple of days.  But 24 months later, I've actually managed to post a photo a day.  Except for the third day after my first post, I've actually managed to have a new photo every single day this blog has been in existence. And since I (for some reason) uploaded two posts exactly two years ago on this date, the average is still once a day!

That's pretty much the longest commitment I've maintained, and at some point, the streak will certainly end. But we'll see how long I can keep it going. At this point, it's my personal competitiveness getting involved.

Fantasyland stands still after midnight--beautiful, luminous and serene.

Anyway, I'd like to once again thank everyone who's been around since the beginning or has joined along the way, whether it was twenty hours ago or twenty months.  As I mentioned at the very beginning, this is a fun melding of arguably my two favorite hobbies--photography and Disneyland, and it's been a great outlet to express myself creatively and also improve on said photo-taking.  But I also appreciate the support and kind words people have said over the years.  It's still surreal when people I don't know or don't expect to know about this site come up to me telling me how much they enjoy it.  I've even made new friends through this blog, getting to know fellow Disneyland fan photographers.  Pretty cool, right?  And though I may not have the biggest audience in the world, I do sincerely appreciate the audience I have.

So we'll keep on going.  This year, there's a chance I might make it to Disneyland Paris, which should hopefully provide some good content (weather cooperating).  I'll keep on searching for new and unique perspectives to photograph from Walt Disney's Original Magic Kingdom. And if you have any requests, never hesitate to voice them in a comment box or on any of the associated social media accounts!

The panorama above was composed of three photos. This one...

This HDR, a blend that focuses on properly exposing the castle and taming the highlights at the photo center...

And a look to the right. All taken from the site of Excalibur at King Arthur's Carrousel.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Paradise Sunset

As I've mentioned before, Southern California enjoys fantastic weather year-round, but it's relatively rare when we get dramatic clouds that light up the skies during sunset or sunrise.  Last winter, though, this seemed to happen with more frequency, and I was even fortunate enough to be at the parks to photograph the scenes on one such occurrence.  In this shot, though elements of Paradise Pier are noticeable, the wispy clouds and dramatic lighting of the sky are the real stars of the scene.  The cotton candy mix of warm and cool colors creates a vibrant scene as the sun sets--certainly not something witnessed in SoCal everyday!

A glimpse toward the corridor that leads to Paradise Pier.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Purple Hour at The Hub

It's quite rare to be inside Disneyland before dawn (unless you're part of the graveyard crew who does maintenance on the park overnight). So the 24-hour events the Disneyland Resort has had over the past three years have offered very unique opportunities to do just that.  This photo, from the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour day, was taken a little after 5:00PM.  Surprisingly, there were still a lot of people here this year.  Comparatively, last year, many people had left by this hour, although neither year approaches the packed-like-sardines nature of 2012's Leap Day event.  As the skies slowly began to lighten, I began my photo march, grabbing pictures wherever I thought I might have a good view.  This photo, after some processing, ended up with an interesting purple hue, which I thought was rather unique.  It certainly fits the mood, though!

Half an hour before sunrise at The Hub during the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Carthay Circle Restaurant Snapshots

Although it's not exclusive like Club 33, the Carthay Circle Restaurant is a higher tier dining venue at Disney California Adventure, and the pricier menu means that most guests don't really get to see this second floor food establishment in their everyday visit. So here are some more snapshots of some of the various dining rooms inside!

The center of the main dining room features a beautiful mural inspired by Snow White in the ceiling above.

One of the four private dining rooms inside the Carthay Circle Restaurant. I believe this is the Premiere Room.

Same room, looking back toward the entrance foyer of the space.

And then looking across the oblique direction.
Back outside in the main dining room, the furnishings are certainly ornate!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Blue Skies in Fantasyland

Here's another snapshot that isn't necessarily anything spectacular, but triggers some nostalgia of my own childhood spent at Disneyland.  This is looking southward from an area I featured in a blog post last year.  Long before I was even born, it was home to the Motor Boat Cruise, a quaint little underwater track boat ride in a far corner of Fantasyland.  When I took this photo last year, I was drawn to the sunny, relaxing atmosphere, and it conjured up memories of Disneyland as a kid, when every time I went seemed to be a beautiful day, and long hours of the day were spent in Fantasyland (because I was too young to ride much of anything else!).  Today, this area is a bit of respite from the crowds (except during parade time), and it's a pretty little serene place to just enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Looking back at the Matterhorn from the old Motor Boat Cruise area.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Radiator Springs Racers

Though I've posted many a photo from the exterior of Radiator Springs Racers, I've never really photographed the interior.  Yes, part-dark ride and part-thrill ride, Cars Land's premiere E-Ticket attraction is a combo experience that's fun for family and adrenaline junkies at once.  But the inside part is quite a challenge to shoot, because the scenes are dark, and the ride vehicles move briskly.  Still, a few visits ago, I did manage to snag a few shots of some of the characters guests meet while on the ride.

Sheriff warns the guest racers to slow down early on in the ride. After all, they're not racing... yet.

Red the fire truck waters some flowers in Radiator Springs.

Luigi and Guido await the racers before they take off.

After the race, Lightning McQueen and Mater are present to greet guests and congratulate them on a great race.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Rain-Slickened Wharf

A couple of months ago, when some nighttime rains washed the Disneyland Resort into a soggy glow, I knew I wanted to get a photo of the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain area, since the framing conjures up memories of Monterey for me, and a rainy evening scene seemed rather appropriate.  The complication was that the Boundin Bakery side of the Wharf was being refurbished with a fresh new coat of paint, which meant work walls and work curtains.  I did my best to frame outside of these as possible, but they're still somewhat visible. Nevertheless, I like the moody atmosphere this scene ended up capturing.  And I hope you do too!

Rain falls upon the Pacific Wharf area, making this scene look distinctly Northern Californian.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Docked in Color

As I walked along the Rivers of America on the second morning of the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event, I couldn't help but notice the colorful lighting still on as morning was beginning its creeping ascent.  Although it was definitely getting onto daytime, the overnight show lighting was still pretty prominent, and I thought this made for a great and unique photo opportunity.  In this case, the magenta hue on the tree, dock, and part of the Mark Twain is certainly not something you see everyday.  Coupled with the peacefulness of the morning, this made for a pleasant and relaxing composition, with a splash of liveliness in the form of the color.

The Mark Twain docked at dawn, waiting for new passengers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Glowing Jellies

The Jumpin' Jellyfish attraction seems to really come alive at night.  The luminous neon and sparkling colors make for a vibrant presence. This seems appropriate, since many jellyfish possess bioluminescent properties.  They need to in the deep, dark water.  Of course, at Disney California Adventure, they're not underwater at all, but the colorful light still makes them a great subject to photograph!

The Jumpin' Jellyfish is a colorful presence on Paradise Pier!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Mansion Looming

There are plenty of pictures of the Haunted Mansion from its approach from Frontierland, but I think the view from Critter Country is just as, if not even more compelling.  From this side of Disneyland, trees partially obscure the view, which increases the sense of mystery with this eerie manor.  This heightens especially when night falls, and I love the chill it brings to the ambiance of New Orleans Square!

The home of 999 happy haunts stands in the distance, beckoning.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Big Thunder Dawn

All the way until it didn't actually happen, I held out a tiny, tiny glimmer of hope that the second morning of the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event would yield a pretty sunrise.  And because of that, just before dawn, I found myself over at the waterfalls by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, hoping I might catch a glimpse of the sun shining over the horizon.  Alas, it was not to be, but the low light did enable me to get some nice long exposure shots of the falls, resulting in a velvety smooth rendition of the water in this photo, taken well after 24 hours of awake time!

Day breaks at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

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