5 Tips for Photographing the Star Tours Queue

By Cory Disbrow on May 16th, 2012   |    Posted in:  Disney Photo Tips   |    5 Comments

We are preparing for this Friday when we will bring you live coverage of Star Wars Weekends 2012 opening day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With Star Wars on the mind, we thought it would be appropriate to share some tips today for photographing the Star Tours queue.

There are a ton of great photo opportunities within the queue, especially since the refurbishment last year for Star Tours 2. It is not the easiest spot for photos though due to the light conditions. You can always go the easy route and use your flash, though we all know that the flash will not produce the type of picture you were hoping for. Instead, check out some of the tips below and try your hand at shooting the queue next time you visit, which is hopefully for Star Wars Weekends 2012.

Let us know if you have any questions by leaving a comment at the end of the article.

1. Bump up the ISO!

The queue for Star Tours is pretty dark. So, you will have to bump up your ISO to get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze what’s happening and make for a sharp shot. The example photo above was at ISO 1000 with an aperture of f/2.

Depending on the exact scene you are looking to photograph and the lens you are using, you may have to adjust and test out different ISO settings. Remember though, it is better to increase the ISO and have a shot with noise in it as opposed to ending up with a blurry shot that you can’t use because you kept the ISO at 200.

2. Open up your lens!

To go along with bumping up the ISO, a wide aperture is also a must in this queue. If you have a f/1.8 or f/2.8 capable lens, this is the time to attach it to the camera. The above shot of the captain of the original Star Tours attraction, Rex, was taken with a 50mm lens at an aperture of f/1.4 and a high ISO of 2500.

This goes along with tip #1, not only do you need to make sure you have your aperture wide open but still make sure to have your ISO bumped up. If you have not taken photos in this queue before, you may be surprised at how dark it really is.

3. Don’t forget to compose!

Just because the queue is difficult to shoot technically speaking, that is no excuse to forget about composition. Compositions always help tell the story and can separate a good photo from a mediocre one. For the above shot, I used the first two tips and opened up my lens and shot at a higher ISO, but I made sure to look through the viewfinder and find something I liked. Not only is C3P0 in this shot, I also made sure to add R2-D2. This added an extra layer of depth to the photo, not to mention another classic Star Wars character!

Remember, anyone can hold up their camera phone for a shot of C3P0, but you are carrying around camera gear that can produce great photos. So make sure to take the time and create a composition that makes your photo stand out.

4. Use your elbows!

Star Tours thankfully has nice railings that run along the side of the queue. Use them! They can help you stabilize a shot and keep it sharp. For this particular shot, the shutter speed my camera called for was 1/15 of a second. Normally, my shaky hands can’t handle that, but I positioned myself on the railings, braced myself, and ended up getting a sharp shot!

Think of it as an alternative to using a tripod. It will not be as steady as a tripod, but by bracing yourself against the railings, you are able to increase your shutter speed.

5. Late in the Day & Using a Tripod

I wrote an article last year for the site, Shooting the new Star Tours Queue, where I discussed setting up my tripod in the queue. Given the light conditions in the Star Tours queue, a tripod would be a huge help in capturing the shot you want. Unfortunately though, the queue gets busy with guests and there is no room to setup your tripod without being in the way.

One way around that though is to plan on shooting the queue late in the day. Normally at night just before the park closes, Star Tours is not busy and you can get away with setting up your tripod in the queue. Remember though, if it is busy then the cast members will probably not want you using a tripod.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully those simple tips can help you capture something that makes you happy the next time you are en route to board your Starspeeder 1000. If you enjoyed this article (and we hope you did), please click the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, and StumbleUpon buttons at the top of the page. It helps us spread the word, and we really appreciate it!

Also don’t forget that we will be covering Star Wars Weekends 2012 this Friday! We will have coverage here on the site, and on our twitter account. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see ya real soon!


  1. Adam   |   May 17, 2012

    I know this has been discussed before but I am curious if you have had any new experiences with your tripod?

    Is Disney allowing them in the parks without question or are you having to hide them?

    • Adam Hansen   |   May 17, 2012

      Have not heard of any issues at WDW, just some cases of security not allowing them at Disneyland.

  2. rjl   |   Jun 9, 2012

    It wouldn’t hurt to mention that in situations such as this – dark interior with lit subjects, that you shouldn’t totally trust your camera’s meter, and under-expose a bit, as in most cases, you want the bright parts. The darks/shadows can remain just that, allowing for faster/easier-handheld shutter speeds.

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