Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Rivers Blue

Silhouetted against the early evening sky, the moored Sailing Ship Columbia and the dramatic Splash Mountain make iconic monuments across the vista of the west side of Disneyland.  On this particular day, I found the clouds almost stretching over the Critter Country peak, drifting toward the Columbia almost as though they were reaching toward the sea.  Of course, it's just a "river" here, but the imagination can transport this scene to regions exotic and far too.  And that, I suppose, is the point of escaping to Disneyland.

Dramatic blue hour clouds cast over the Rivers of America and Critter Country.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Racing Through the Valley

Cars Land is beautiful and spectacular, of course, and I can never get over how convincingly it transports guests from Southern California suburbia to the splendor of the open rugged West.  The beautiful desert landscape complements the dramatic geology nicely, and the zoom of Radiator Springs Racers contributes to the natural air of excitement.  On a beautiful blue sky day, the views can't be beat!

Radiator Springs Racers cruising on a beautiful day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Suspenseful Skies

I almost always shoot The Hub facing north, toward Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Much more rare is when I face the other way, but last month, during one jaunt through the park, I found myself looking at a wonderfully dramatic afternoon sky.  The nicest view faced somewhat westward, so that is where I aimed my camera to capture the expansiveness of the sky juxtaposed with the open space of Disneyland's circulation center.  This photo may not have much of a subject, but I like it for the feel it brings.

A dramatic sunset falls upon The Hub at Disneyland.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To the Cosmos

It's been a long while since I posted a black and white photo, but the purity of Space Mountain and the skies that often manifest above it seem to beckon for the simplicty of a high contrast monochrome photo.  The spires in this photo certainly look like they could use some cleaning, but there's some grit and classicness added to the visual texture of this picture as a result of the less than pristine roof.  It didn't hurt that the clouds on this particular afternoon were rather dramatic--something I as a photographer definitely appreciated!

The iconic peaks of Space Mountain, rendered in a bit of a retro look.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Wonderful Wharf of Color

Beautifully restored, the old industrial waterfront part of Pacific Wharf sparkles today with new livelihood and vitality.  Reimagined as a dining promenade, with tours of the old bakery and a lovely chocolate soda fountain nearby, Pacific Wharf has cast off its dungier facade of the past and embraced a colorful, uplifting future. It's lovely to take in as one passes by, and on beautiful blue sky afternoons, this land really glows!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gateway from the Castle

Tom Bricker has an absolutely incredible version of this scene that really captures spontaneous joy and energy that is the magic of Disney parks, and it was through this that I realized there were entire parts of Disneyland Paris I had missed on my first visit in 2006.  Last year, I made it a point to venture by this Fantasyland entrance off the side of the castle.  The way the towers frame the most beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle in the distance really substantiates the illusion of this being a fairy tale wonderland.  I don't have an innocent child running through, but I did snap this late in the afternoon, during the most beautiful part of the day, and through the scene isn't necessarily blatantly spectacular, it echoes with nostalgia, because looking at it reminds me of how wonderful everything was, walking around Disneyland Paris while being on a wonderful vacation.

This portal serves as the passageway to the east "back side" of Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris, but it retains a sense of fantasy, mystery, and wonder.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Filling Up at Flo's

Wide angle lenses aren't usually associated with detail shots, but depending on how you frame the photo, they can be used for that purpose. In the first photo below, the gas nozzle and pump form the main subject of the photo, and yet, they are theming elements of a larger overall scene, and highlighting the pump brings attention to this nice detail of Radiator Springs.  The angle also draws the eye toward the background and then back again, bringing some interest.

The second shot isn't really close enough to the pump to be a detail shot, but it does have the camera shooting into the sun, which despite being an elementary rule in photography to avoid, produces a nice result when you know how to compensate.

A close-up at a gas station nozzle.

Beautiful golden hour at Flo's brings breath-taking sunlight!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Chevy in Paris

For those who go to Disney California Adventure and enjoy the presence that the Buena Vista Street Packard gives to the area... well, there was a precedent for this.  And it's found at Walt Disney Studios, where a similar automobile from the past serves as a stationary photo op and theming element.  On this day, as I was walking back from the end of the Production Courtyard, I thought the vehicle made a great subject.  Crouching for a low angle really enhanced the drama of the vehicle, providing a grill-eye view and really making the car pop toward the camera.  I like this because of the ambiance, and I hope you do too!

A classic Chevrolet sits parked on the main street of the Production Courtyard.
(To be honest, since Walt Disney Studios shares a vein with Disney Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, I'm not sure if this was derived from its Orlando predecessor.  I don't exactly recall seeing something like this over in Florida, thought it could have been that I didn't look hard enough.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Catal Courtyard

The courtyard in Downtown Disney anchored by Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar has been like this since Downtown Disney opened 14 years ago, and though some of the surrounding shops have come and gone, the two dining establishments have held serve throughout the retail existence of this promenade.  The area is nice during the daytime, but it really comes alive at night. The electric neon and the bustling outdoor nightlife make for a great, festive atmosphere, and the food and aromas are delicious as well!  It's a nice place to sit and people watch, or enjoy drinks with friends, or just soak in the atmosphere.

I've always been enchanted by the Downtown Disney ambiance during the evenings, but probably nowhere more than around here.

The neon sign of Catal beckons hungry diners.

The two story restaurant overlooks its sister dining establishment, the Uva Bar, shown at the right.

Diners enjoy drinks and food at the Uva Bar.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sunset on the Hub

The Hub is a place to orient oneself, take a rest, and gather one up before proceeding to the next destination.  It's the center that all guests can return to, and though it's meant to be a temporal space, it actually serves as a destination for many guests, who take photos with the Walt and Mickey Partners Statue or venture farther on to photographically capture Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  It's also a great parade and fireworks viewing location, not to mention a locale to just relax and take in the day.  It's the heart of the park, with all of the magic and joy of the Happiest Place on Earth, and I often enjoy just savoring the moment when I walk by this part of Disneyland.

A sunburst through the trees around The Hub at Disneyland!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Welcome to Tomorrowland

I haven't posted a shot from Tomorrowland in a while, so I figured I'd share on today.  Speaking of Tomorrowland, have you seen the upcoming Brad Bird movie of the same name?  Brad Bird would be the incredibly talented head behind Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant.  I keep myself away from movie news these days to avoid spoilers, but this project has been in the works for a while and looks positively stunning.  I'm excited to see what this talented director has in store with this pretty amazing looking film!

The Astro Orbiter stands still at the end of the night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Luminescent Jellies

My post of a similar scene generated such a nice response last month that I figured showcasing another view might be a welcome way to start a Monday.  This composition comes from two different shots merged together and masked out to capture my favorite parts of each scene.  I love that the advancement of Photoshop allows me to explore this more artistic side of photography so much more easily.  I couldn't imagine trying to manually craft an effect like this back in the days of dark room processing!

The Jumpin' Jellyfish playfully dart up and down.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Presidential Intro

On this Presidents' Day, we give tribute to our former leaders and celebrate the freedoms and patriotism our country strove toward as it emerged from a colonial society and transformed itself into the most powerful nation on the planet.  The lobby outside the Main Street Opera House theater, where Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is played, showcases some of these hallmarks, from a wall of figures representing the great American ideals to the beautiful model of the Capitol, the spirit of America rings powerfully throughout.  So whether you have the day off or not today, please enjoy a wonderful Presidents' Day, and take a moment to think of the leaders who have guided our nation's path.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sailing Along the Rivers

Those peaceful Rivers of America are always a scenic sight on a beautiful Southern California day, and one of my favorite pastimes for Disneyland relaxation involves taking a cruise aboard either the Mark Twain or the Columbia as they set sail for the Western wilderness.  Once away from the bustle of New Orleans Square and the screams of Splash Mountain, the serenity takes over, and the rustic wilderness becomes bliss.

The Mark Twain, docked at Frontier Landing.

The Columbia is moored at Fowler's Harbor.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Bridge of Hearts

Disneyland is a magical place. It's a place of dreams.  A place of happiness.  A place of love.  That love comes in many forms, from the familial love of parents taking their children to the Happiest Place on Earth for the first time to the love that repeat visitors have for the park itself.  And of course, there's the love of "Happily Ever After."

The sense of romantic love burns bright around Snow White's Wishing Well, especially during the night.  The purple and magentas coupled with the hearts lining the bridge and the sweet melody of Snow White wishing for her charming Prince (not to be confused with Cinderella's Prince Charming) add up to a very lovey dovey atmosphere, and that is the ambiance I've tried to capture in the photo below. 

Snow White's Wishing Well bathed in the romance of the night.
If all of this is too mushy for you, well, I just wanted to post something in the spirit of Valentine's Day, for all those who are celebrating it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Golden Times at Grizzly Peak

It's no secret I love the rustic wilderness wonderland that is Grizzly Peak, and with news of the woodlands spreading (by victim of Condor Flats), the entire northwest part of Disney California Adventure will become even more cohesively forested.  Of course, that will take some work, and coupled with normal maintenance schedules, means that right now, this area is actually rather drab and mostly behind work walls. So here's a look at Grizzly Peak in sunnier days, wistfully brilliant in golden hour!

The waterfalls off the backwood path of Grizzly Peak offer some stunning sights.

The setting sun brings shimmering sunbeams into the frame.

The wilderness is wonderfully recreated around Grizzly River Run!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

La Parfumerie

Over in New Orleans Square, there's a little perfume shop called Madamoiselle Antoinette's Parfumerie, which offers the finest French themed scented products you can find. Or, well, perfume and cologne and that sort of stuff.  It's a lovely little shop that carries on a French theme pretty nicely (in my opinion), and while offerings inside may not be much different from what one finds at any department store these days, the charm of the atmosphere and paintings does recall a more baroque time.

A nice perfume stand greets visitors to Mlle. Antoinette's Parfumerie.

A glimpse inside the store.

Some scented offerings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Remy's Fountain

In front of the Ratatouille ride in Walt Disney Studios, there's a nice little fountain that marks the center of the Ratatouille mini-land inside the Toon Studios themed land of the park.  It's a pretty little monument, whimsical and cute like Remy is in the movie, and it provides a nice subject within this Parisian space.

Guests waiting for Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy wrap around the fountain.

I love the relief of Remy cast in stone.

It's a nice and lovely little bastion of water.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Disneyland Paris Hotel

The entrance to Disneyland Paris is probably my favorite because it is so unique.  Rather than enter through turnstiles or simple shade structures, guests enter by going under/through the Disneyland Paris Hotel, a beautiful Victorian style place of lodging that makes a magnificent and grand facade to a beautiful Magic Kingdom.  I think you'll agree, it's quite the pretty scene to come upon this before entering the park!

A floral Mickey greets guests entering Disneyland Paris under the Disneyland Paris Hotel.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Willy's Butte Part III

I take a lot of shots of Willy's Butte--that odd, anvil-shaped rock outcropping that doubles as a drift turnaround.  But it's a pretty nice formation, and it's gorgeous during the day or at night.  In this shot, I shot more head-on. So aside from the luminous Firewall Falls in the background, there's nothing else prominent in the scene.  And though I didn't expect to, I actually found that I like the shot! It's simple in its beauty.

A focus on Willy's Butte, front and pretty much center, with Firewall Falls in the distance.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Wharf Aglow

Pacific Wharf is the only land at the Disneyland Resort without a proper ride.  Instead, it as a walk-through attraction devoted to food, and many other establishments devoted to food.  And yet, it's Bay Area charm still makes for some pretty scenes, and the area seems to glow at night.  You just have to find the right angle!

Long after nightfall at Pacific Wharf. The streets are empty, and only the buildings stand watch.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Castle of the Past

If you haven't heard by now, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is currently undergoing renovations that promise to bring a new look for Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration. Although the exact details are unclear, diamonds will definitely be a recurring theme, and there is speculation that the castle may be restored to its more muted and gray previous color scheme, eschewing the pink that's become synonymous with the castle over the past ten years.

So at the moment, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is literally under wraps, and I figured this would be a good time to post a few castle shots I've taken in the past that never quite made the cut, but which show different angles and details of the castle.  You'll probably never see it quite like this again!

A freehanded shot one evening before the fireworks.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street at the end of the night.

Different angles from a spring evening.

You can attribute the different saturation to my shooting this and the previous photo in JPEG vs RAW, which samples more detail and photographic information.

Will these prominent pinks remain when the castle is revealed in two to four months?

And what about the backside of castle (shown here during blue hour)?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Queuing for a Splash

Long before the line for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye sprawled through the depths of Adventureland, there was the line for Splash Mountain, which began over by the exit of Haunted Mansion and arc'd all around the Briar Patch before heading in toward the actual loading station at the very end of Critter Country.  Along the way, there are many nice angles of the mountain, and his semi-wooded view is one I find a little more unique, at least photographically. 

The Splash Mountain line stands much more empty at night than during the day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weather Upon the Mesa

Both times I've visited Disneyland Paris, clouds filled the sky during the first half of my visit to Disneyland Paris park before giving way to blue skies later.  Most of the time, I'm not a fan of cloudy days, because I much prefer the warmth and vigor of a sunny scene.  But over in Thunder Mesa, where a rash of the supernatural already tinges the air, such a gloomy scene actually becomes appropriate.  The ghostly drama is enhanced when those somber storm clouds loom overhead!

Dramatic clouds loom over the buttes and mansions of Thunder Mesa.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Walt Disney Studios Welcome

Walt Disney Studios sort of has two welcoming figures inside its gates.  Guests entering the Frontlot will see a lovely Sorcerer Mickey statue, and after passing through Studio 1, they come upon the main crux of the park, the Production Courtyard.  This is where the park fans out--The Hub, if you will--though it mostly feels like the park has just begun.  So even though this plaza functions as the heart of the park, the Partner Statues that greets guests exiting the studio becomes a second salutation.  Beyond stand the Tower of Terror, the tram tour, and the beckoning of the Backlot and Toon Studios.  But here by Walt and Mickey, it's nice to take a moment and savor the ambiance.

At the Disneyland Paris Resort, the Partners Statue is actually in Walt Disney Studios, not the Magic Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Afternoon Drop

It's another "Tower Tuesday!" For the second week in a row, I feature the premiere attraction of Hollywood Land, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  And like last week, this photo is a daytime shot.  Now, I realize that such a shot isn't quite as thematically atmospheric, but that's ok, because the building still looks pretty nice in the sunlight.  And those unmistakable remnants of the part of building transported to the fifth dimension still call to the darker past of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  But the beauty of the building during the day time is one of the reasons I enjoy photographing this attraction. The juxtaposition of the Tower from night to day is... well, that same comparative expression, and I like how the different characters of the building become expressed this way.

The Tower of Terror seems less ominous in the golden rays of magic hour--but still a little ominous.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Evening-End Departure

I always imagine Walt and Mickey bidding guests goodbye at the very end of the night, after the park has closed.  Those are precious moments, when only a few linger, and it seems like the park has been reserved for said hardy few.  Walt and Mickey seem to appreciate this, looking on and expressing their appreciation.  And during this moment of tranquility and reflection, the Happiest Place on Earth really becomes bliss.

Gazing on to Main Street at the end of the night.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Golden over Radiator Springs

Although my preferred entrance into Cars Land is via the archway off of Pacific Wharf, the entry from A Bug's Land is no slouch either, particular during the afternoons when the sun is setting, bathing everything in a warm and invigorating radiance.  From here, the feeling of the expansive west captures the imagination through forced perspective.  Shrubs in the foreground, Luigi's Flying Tires in the midground, and that fabulous Cadillac Range looming in the back, the effect makes this seem much bigger than it really is.  So even though the photo below doesn't particularly focus on anything, I like the atmosphere it conveys.  It's a rugged but romantic ambiance from the cutest little town in Carburetor County!

Golden hour at Cars Land is a marvelous sight no matter where one gazes.
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