Disney Photography Blog http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com Capturing the Disney magic in photos Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.6 2015 Flower and Garden Festival Preview http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/2015-flower-garden-festival-preview/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/2015-flower-garden-festival-preview/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9517 My favorite time to visit Epcot is just around the corner. That time, as always, is the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. The park undergoes a transformation which makes it far more photogenic than during the rest of the year. Beautiful flowers are everywhere, character topiaries are placed throughout the park, and in the past couple of years, they have even added Food and Wine style booths to get some tasty food to try while enjoying the park. Some parts of the park have had their topiaries installed already, and I wanted to share a little bit of a preview with you. They’re not done yet, and there will be more to cover with this soon, as the festival officially starts in early March. Here are some photos from this weekend!


The flower beds are back in Future World making for the perfect monorail shot.

The flower beds are back in Future World making for the perfect monorail shot.

Captain Hook resides in the UK. Peter Pan should be joining him soon.

Captain Hook resides in the UK. Peter Pan should be joining him soon.

One of the great opportunities is shooting into the sun for a different perspective on the topiaries.

One of the great opportunities is shooting into the sun for a different perspective on the topiaries.

Aside from the special character topiaries, the rest of the park also adds a ton of flowers for the festival and just looks great.

Aside from the special character topiaries, the rest of the park also adds a ton of flowers for the festival and just looks great.

Snow White is a Flower and Garden staple, and she has seen some rather realistic updates over the years.

Snow White is a Flower and Garden staple, and she has seen some rather realistic updates over the years.

This topiary in China is new for this year's Flower and Garden Festival and seems to be replacing the panda topiaries that were there in years past.

This topiary in China is new for this year’s Flower and Garden Festival and seems to be replacing the panda topiaries that were there in years past.

Are you guys excited for this year’s Flower and Garden Festival? Will you be attending to take in the sights and photograph them as well? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you have a moment, take a look at our Amazon link, where you can find the equipment I shot these with, the Sony a7, and the Zeiss 16-35mm and Zeiss 55mm lenses. Thanks for looking!

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A Year (and some months) Later: The Sony a7 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/year-months-later-sony-a7/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/year-months-later-sony-a7/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9507 Today’s post is an update on my not so recent switch to an entirely new camera system, the Sony a7 mirrorless line. For those who care for just pretty pictures, they’re scattered throughout the article, so enjoy!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…


I shot all Canon DSLR. I was equipped with a 5D Mark II and later on a 5D Mark III. I carried with me a 17-40mm f/4 wide lens, a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 50mm f/1.4, an 85mm f/1.4, a 135mm f/2, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. My camera bag was heavy. I know this because I took pride in it. I would weigh my bag and enjoy the fact that it weighed between 17-20 pounds before going on a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland to take photos.


Fast forward to 2012. I decided to make the move to the Orlando area and make WDW visits a weekly things instead of coming every few months. I still had most of the Canon gear, and was enjoying photography with the freedom and release of stress involved with living local to the parks. Along with that came me usually bringing only one lens with me to the park on the days I went, unless it was a special occasion, like a holiday party or Star Wars Weekends. During 2012, it came to my attention that Olympus had developed a very serious line of smaller cameras that still promised high image quality. I figured I would give it a try, and I purchased the Oly OM-D E-M5. It was a fantastic little camera! It had a lot of really nice features, like an electronic view finder, that would let me see changes in exposure and aperture in real time. I had in-body stabilization, which made shooting handheld easy, even at times like sunset and blue hour. And it had some pretty great image quality. I told myself (many times) and all my friends, “Man, if they could somehow figure a way to cram a full frame sensor into one of these, I’ll be set!”

And then, it happened. In the fall of 2013, Sony announced its a7 and a7R lines of cameras. They are only a very tiny bit bigger than the Olympus, but they have 24mp and 36mp full frame sensors respectively. I couldn’t believe that this type of technology had arrived so soon. That said, the Olympus gear all went, as did the Canon gear. This was the most terrifying thing I have ever done in my time taking photos. I was taking a giant leap going from something tried and true, the 35mm full frame DSLR, and being an early adopter for a camera system that no one really knew if it would work or not. Well, I’m here about 16 months later to talk about how it worked out.


In short, it has been amazing. Now, I could go on for hours and hours about tech specs and image quality, but when you’re getting into a full frame sensor, you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. For those who shoot Nikon, Sony makes your sensor, so you also have an idea of what we’re talking about. But what I want to discuss is the use of the camera, and the ups and downs that I’ve had with it since making that purchase.

First, let’s talk about glass. When the a7 first arrived, it had an extremely limited choice of options for which to shoot with. There was the 28-70mm kit lens and the 35mm F2.8 prime. Soon after came the 55mm f/1.8 prime, a 24-70mm f/4, and a 70-200mm f/4. That rounded out the initial native lens lineup. Of those lenses, I got the kit (since it came with the camera), the 35mm, and the 55mm. I was also adapting some Canon gear to the camera, the 17-40mm and he 135mm lenses, to be exact. The 135mm didn’t last too long as manually focusing with my shaky hands was pretty tough. At the end of 2014, Sony released the Zeiss 16-35mm wide angle lens, and I sold away the Canon 17-40mm and the Sony 35mm prime in order to buy it. Since then, Sony has also announced a 28mm prime, a 24-240 super zoom, a 90mm macro, and a 35mm f/1.4, the last of which has my wallet running and hiding in a corner. That said, I’m only using the Zeiss 16-35mm and the Zeiss 55mm now, and I’m very content with the system. I’d love a fast telephoto, and will probably get one when it arrives, but until then, things are good.


Now, all the glass for the system is wonderful, but boy, do they all come with a price, which is one downside to the system, in my opinion. The 16-35mm was $1348, which is almost double what I spent on my first wide angle lens. The 55mm, which is only f/1.8, not f/1.4, was almost $1000. Sticker shock is real when looking at these lenses. But, they are both in my top 5 when it comes to lenses I’ve shot with, and I’ve shot with a whole lot. On the bright side though, the bodies are pretty cheap compared to the latest Canon/Nikon offerings. The a7, which now has a mark II edition, is down to $1400. That is probably the cheapest brand new full frame option anyone has. The a7R, which packs the same 36 megapixels as the Nikon D800E, can be found online for between $1700 and $2000.


In terms of usage though, that is where the Sony has shined for me. Instead of having a giant backpack, I now have a messenger bag. In that bag goes all my gear. I’m talking camera, lenses, filters, remotes, batteries, everything. It weighs only a few pounds, and it really allows me to be liberated and enjoy my time shooting. Sure, there are still days where I won’t even bring a bag, and only have one lens, but having a much smaller and lighter kit certainly increases the chances of me bringing all of my stuff. That means having more tools to get the job done more often. That’s a big win.

Having the electronic viewfinder compared to a standard, DSLR with an optical viewfinder is something that is contested by lots in the photography world, but for me, I cannot live without the EVF now. Seeing my aperture changes reflected in real time and knowing what I’m under or overexposing has changed the way I shoot. It allows me to get things right in camera and then having to do less work at the computer. Couple that with the amazing dynamic range of the Sony sensor, and I’m spending way less time in Lightroom than I did a year ago. Another win.


Now, another drawback. When out shooting, it is 100% necessary to have a backup battery or two. These little cameras can only house little batteries, and if you’re shooting all day, chances are that you will need to change that battery at least once.

The a7 has a built in Wi-Fi transmitter, which allows you to send 3mb JPEGs to your smartphone via the Play Memories app. This is a huge advantage in the world that we live in. By using this, I can send an image right to my iPhone 6 Plus, edit it in either the Photos app or the Snapseed app, and then immediately post it to Instagram and Twitter. For me, this was a feature I didn’t think I would care for, but it ended up being something that makes it easier for me to share my work with a large community, and share it (almost) in real time.


I feel like I could go on and on about this topic, but if you’ve made it this far, I salute you. Like I mentioned earlier, Sony has released a Mark II of this camera, and it adds things like better ergonomics and in-body stabilization. If you can spring for it, that would be the one to buy. But, the a7 is still an amazing piece of technology, and for someone like me who really specializes in travel photography, it is one of the best solutions out there. If the budget doesn’t allow for the full frame sensor, there is also the a6000 crop sensor body, which also accepts all of the full frame FE lenses. If you’re looking into purchasing any of this gear, you can check all of it out on Amazon.

How do you guys feel about these cameras? Have you gotten the chance to shoot with one? If not, would you like to? Let us know in the comments!!

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Welcome Back! http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/welcome-back/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/welcome-back/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9502 Hello everyone! It has been quite some time since we last had a post here. Our last post was basically just us keeping you up to date with some of our projects, which have been delayed way longer than we wanted them to be. We promise, the 2015 version of the Photo a Day app is coming, it’s just a matter of when. We’ll make sure to really promote it when it does come out so you’re all aware. Before that post, it has been since September that this blog has been dormant. Apparently, things like getting married and then buying a first house take up a lot of time! So, my apologies to anyone who would frequent this site that has been a little upset about the lack of new content. Here’s a pretty picture for all of you.


So, what has happened in the world of photography since September? Not a lot for me, but for Canon shooters, there is a lot to talk about. Canon announced a 50mp set of cameras, which is a crazy high number of resolution. They also announced an 11-24mm full frame lens, which looks pretty amazing albeit at a $3000 price tag. For me, I’m still happy that I switched to the Sony mirrorless E-Mount system, which I’ll talk about in another post this week.


In the world of Disney, a lot has changed. We’ve seen the Sorcerer’s Hat at DHS get almost fully removed, and trust me, there will be a post in the near future once that is all the way gone celebrating the clean view down Hollywood Blvd. Magic Kingdom’s Hub has been completely changed, and that project should be wrapping up soon, and looks like it should look very nice and lead to a bunch of cool photo opportunities. Animal Kingdom has also seen a major change in its entrance area, with new animal carvings up near the Tree of Life which really spruce the place up a bit. You can see one of them right here!


Lots of new stuff is always happening, and that keeps it fun, and helps us all search for new angles to photograph the parks. I recently sold off the rest of my Canon gear, and acquired the new Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm wide angle zoom, which has been a lot of fun. Look for a review on that in the not so distant future once I get more of a chance to shoot more with it. That makes me down to just one camera, the Sony a7, and two lenses, the aforementioned 16-35 and the Sony/Zeiss 55mm f/1.8. This is the least amount of gear I’ve had in a long time, and I think it is really helping my photography. I travel light now, and I’m less concerned with what gear to bring, since there are only a few options. I’d like to Sony to either add in a Zeiss 85mm or 135mm prime lens, since I am kind of missing having a nice telephoto, but I’m feeling pretty great about the system right now, so I have plenty of patience to wait for it.

It feels good to get my thoughts out there again! Look for some more posts this week, and hopefully a more consistent schedule of posting for the future. If you’re interested, check out Amazon to find all of the gear I shoot with, the Sony a7, Zeiss 16-35mm, and the Zeiss 55mm. Thanks for reading!


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Happy New Year from Disney Photography Blog!! http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/happy-new-year-disney-photography-blog/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/happy-new-year-disney-photography-blog/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 20:24:48 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9498 Editors Note: Today’s post was written by our App Developer, Keith Kolmos!
Happy New Year to everyone that reads DisneyPhotographyBlog.com!  2014 was a good year – Cory got married to Samantha in October and Adam got married back in September.  Here’s hoping that 2015 is going to be even better. 
Blah, blah, blah.  So where’s the 2015 Photo a Day app?  Good question!  Thanks for asking.  We had submitted a 2014 Christmas Photo A Day app (Free) but it got rejected from Apple.  They felt that we had too many of the “same” app up on the store with multiple Halloween Apps, Christmas Apps, and the yearly Photo A Day apps.  They said rather than cluttering up the store, they would only take expansions of existing apps and offering new content as either subscriptions or in app purchases.  We really didn’t want to do that, but we really couldn’t figure a way around it.  So there is going to be 2015 content.  It’s coming and it will be into the review queue at Apple by the weekend.   Currently App Review is taking about 8 days, so expect an app announcement in a week to ten days.  We’re sorry for the delay, but it was out of our control.
What else is going on in 2015?
2015 is going to be a big year.  Cory, Ryan, and I have had numerous conversations about this site and the apps over the past couple of months.  We’re going to start contributing new articles on a more frequent basis.  I’ve got a ½ dozen articles planned myself and I know Cory and Ryan are chomping at the bit to get back to writing again.  They’ll be posting a lot more to the Instagram account too.  If there is something in particular you would like to see, make sure to leave a note in the comments. 
We’ll also let one cat out of the bag now.  Something for Android will be coming soon too. 
P.S.  There’s a bug in the 2014 app, the captions will be off until the update is approved.  You would think after three years of doing this I would have the code that handles the end of the year down pat, but you would be wrong.
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Spaceship Earth Fiber Optics http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/spaceship-earth-fiber-optics/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/spaceship-earth-fiber-optics/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9494 Today’s photo comes to us from Innoventions Plaza and features Spaceship Earth and some really cool fiber optics!


The other night when I shot this, Epcot was reasonably dead. Thank the Tiki Gods for the off season! I did not have to wait to long to capture this, only about an hour after park closing. I’ve shot from this area before, but never the way I did for this shot. For this one, I decided to change out lenses from my nighttime staple, a wide angle lens, to my normal 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens. By doing this, I was able to capture Spaceship Earth nice and sharp, but by shooting at f/2.8, the fiber optics in the ground are nice and diffused, which makes for some pretty cool patterns.

For this particular shot, I probably could have gotten away with capturing all the range of the scene with one exposure, but I decided to bracket anyway. I’m glad I did, because since the last time I shot Epcot at night, it seems that they have either changed the lighting package on Spaceship Earth, or they have changed out to more powerful light sources of the same colors. Either way, it seemed that SSE was overexposing more than it usually does. So, having a -2 EV version of the shot ended up being very beneficial to retaining the detail in those highlights.

This shot was taken with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 35mm F2.8, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!

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Fall at the Magic Kingdom http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/fall-magic-kingdom/ http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/fall-magic-kingdom/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:29:12 +0000 http://www.disneyphotographyblog.com/?p=9490 For today’s photo, we celebrate the beginning of the fall season at the Magic Kingdom.

Fall at the Magic Kingdom

Fall at the Magic Kingdom

It’s still super hot here in Florida, but the first Halloween party was last night, and the Magic Kingdom is all dressed up for the fall season. The orange and yellow bunting is up all over Main Street, the Mickey pumpkin lanterns are there, and the vibe of the park entrance is definitely changed. This photo was from the Magic Kingdom opening show, which is why you can see the Fire Chief there, which I think is a nice little touch that adds a human element to what is normally just a shot of a building.

This fall Magic Kingdom photo was taken with the Sony a7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!


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