Fireworks over a Mad Tea Party

By Katie Marino on September 23rd, 2011   |    Posted in:  Processing   |    3 Comments

For today’s post, I wanted to share a fun location to shoot Wishes, in Fantasyland, near The Mad Tea Party.  On the final night of my last trip, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom just as the Main Street Electrical Parade was starting.  We had not yet eaten dinner so our first priority was to head straight to Cosmic Rays.  Rather than rush through dinner to find a spot on Main Street, I decided to see what I could capture right around the corner.  I looked at the sky; I knew where Wishes appeared in Fantasyland and I knew where the fireworks would be if I stood in Toon Town.  I visualized the angles and thought it was likely that they would appear over The Mad Tea Party.  Since I was right there, I decided I might as well set up my tripod and see if I was right!  Well, I was, and it were beautiful!

Straight out of the camera, the frame was a little dull and lifeless but with a few quick adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop, the change was dramatic.  The key changes I made were to brighten the photo and open the shadows, while still preserving good contrast.

The original photo, straight out of the camera.

In Lightroom, I adjusted the while balance, cooling off the warm lights of the Tea Party.

I increased the exposure and the fill light, added some highlight recovery and also increased the blacks.  I changed the contrast curve to strong.  I used a heavy hand with the vibrance and increased the saturation specifically to the orange and purples (+30 each).  Finally, I cropped and straightened the photo.

The photo with adjustments made in Lightroom - Click to Enlarge

At this point, I felt that the image still needed some more shadow adjustment and contrast but I wanted to be able to selectively apply this with masking so I opened the picture in Photoshop.   I duplicated the original layer and used the shadow/highlight tool on this layer to open the shadows; I then masked out areas, like the sky, that I did not want to brighten.  Next, I used a curves layer and also applied Nik’s tonal contrast filter to bring out a little more definition in the tea cups and in the firework burst.  I followed this with noise reduction (lately, my tool of choice for noise reduction is Nik’s Dfine but there are many plug-ins available for this purpose).   I made a few local adjustments, cloning out a stone wall that had creeped into the frame and also using the clone tool to smooth out a few areas in the sky that remained noisy.  Finally, I sharpened the image and I was done!

The final image, after adjustments in photoshop.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post.  I’m looking forward to visiting WDW again really soon and hope to come back with some more new and interesting fireworks photos to share.


  1. @MaryD73   |   Sep 23, 2011

    All I can say is WOW! It is amazing what you could pull from that photo.

  2. Samantha   |   Sep 23, 2011

    That is an amazing photo!

  3. Tonya Holcomb   |   Feb 16, 2013

    Katie, after reading your posts on locations for Wishes, I will not be returning to the Tomorrowland Bridge! This image is simply amazing!



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