Monday, July 7, 2014

Snow White's Scary Adventures

A little over a week ago, I took part in another meet-up of the "Capturing the Magic" Facebook group, a local get-together of fellow Disney fan photographers who enjoy photographing the Happiest Place on Earth as I do.  The theme of this particular day was photographing dark rides, because Michael Besant, famous all over the interwebs as a "dark ride photography master," was in town.  So those who came showed up with their finest fast glass--that is, lenses that had wide apertures of f/2.8 or lower--and we set about trying to snap photos on Disney's dark rides, which are notoriously difficult to shoot because of the very low light available.

Snow White comes upon the seven dwarves singing a song and playing music.
I didn't make it until the evening, but I did have time to hang out with the remaining members of the gang for a few hours. And among the rides we photographed was Snow White's Scary Adventures. This classic Fantasyland dark ride tells the story relayed in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, minus one key scene at the end, as I often joke about. But it's pretty challenging to photograph, because the ride vehicles never stop, there are lots of turns, and it is rather dark inside.

The Evil Queen casts a sinister spell...

And as she turns around to face oncoming riders...

It's revealed that she's been transformed into an old hag--an insidious disguise as part of a plot to kill Snow White!
So, the key is very much to have a lens that can take a photograph at a relatively fast shutter speed--1/30sec or above, while capturing enough light to produce detail in a scene.  Well, on this evening, Michael was so very kind enough to lend me his Nikkor 28mm f/1.8 lens, a full frame relatively wide angle prime lens that is not actually that expensive, and pretty dang amazing.  The shots in this post were all taken with this lens, and shooting in 14-bit RAW enabled me to recover a lot of detail and light, sharpen my images to compensate for any blur at full magnification, and tone down the noise that accompanies the high ISO I have to use to photograph this ride.

Care for a poison apple? This is one fruit that will not keep the doctor away!
All of these photos were taken at 1/50sec shutter speed, which for the most part can overcome the motion of the ride (although there were definitely a few I threw away because they were too blurry to use).  And I have come away very impressed with the quality of this full frame lens.  I have a 50mm f/1.4 lens that's even faster, but that's almost twice the zoom in comparison to this lens, which means I can't capture as wide of a scene.  There's still some technique and knowledge involved in getting shots inside a dark ride, but one thing's for sure, using this wide angle prime makes things a LOT easier!

At the end of the ride, the dwarves engage the Evil Queen.

The color that comes through is pretty remarkable.

Although it's worth noting that shooting at f/1.8 yields a very narrow depth of field, so while Sleepy is almost perfectly sharp, Doc and Bashful are noticeably out of focus.

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