Looking for the Light

By Cory Disbrow on July 16th, 2012   |    Posted in:  Disney Photo Tips   |    4 Comments

Hey everybody. For today’s post, I’d like to share with you something I’ve been paying a whole lot more attention to lately, and that is searching for good light while it is available.

Good lighting is something that simply has no substitute. You can mimic it only to a certain extent in Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom, or whatever else you use to edit your photos. But, in the grand scheme of things, if you nail a quality frame in good lighting, it will turn out better than anything else with less post work nine times out of ten.

To drive this point home, I’d like to share with you two photos that I took this weekend at Walt Disney World. Sam and I had a nice dinner at Big River Grille and Brewing Works at the Boardwalk (highly recommended by the way, especially if you enjoy a nice, freshly brewed beer!). After dinner, we decided to take a walk around the entire Epcot Resort Area to burn off some of the heavy food we just ate. It was getting close to sunset, so the light that was available was only hitting in certain places. Where it was hitting was gorgeous, soft, and warm. Where it wasn’t, not so much. I snapped this shot of one of the Boardwalk benches right outside Big River, where the lighting wasn’t really hitting.

Now, I’m not saying this is a “bad” shot, by any means. I actually like it. Nice and sharp on the bench, good bokeh, with that beautiful pre-golden hour light in the background. But, the bench isn’t getting that beautiful light like the background is. Because of that, it feels cold to me. Less inviting, not as interesting. So, knowing that there are many benches like this on the Boardwalk, Sam and myself made a beeline over to the ESPN Club side of the resort, where I captured this shot.

Ahhh, now that’s the stuff right there. These two shots were both taken within minutes of each other, with the same lens at similar apertures. The first was at f/1.4 at 85mm and the second was at f/2 at 85mm. No white balance edits were made, and the only editing done was minor blacks/contrast in Camera Raw with some sharpening done in Photoshop. But in my eyes, even while the first “cold” one might be a little bit sharper in focus on the bench, the second one blows it away. The warm lighting kissing the bench and also shining in the background is so inviting. It puts me right back into the scene, as if the bench is saying, “Please sit here and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of this resort.” Opinions may vary, and some of you may like the first one better, but in my eyes, the stellar lighting of the second shot puts it over the top and makes it worthy of sharing with others. So, I suppose the moral of the story is that while shooting, whether it be at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, a major city, or even your own neighborhood, searching for and finding nice lighting is remarkably important, and is one of the key steps in creating a memorable photograph. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!!


  1. Mike Christoferson   |   Jul 16, 2012

    Great article and advice Cory! The second image is definitely more inviting to me. The light plays a a big part but the people in the background actually enhace the image of the bench for me…

    • Cory Disbrow   |   Jul 16, 2012

      Funny you mention that. I feel the exact same way, but I purposefully did not mention it in the article since I wanted to keep everyone’s attention on the lighting! Nice eye!

  2. Shawn   |   Jul 16, 2012

    See I’m different. The lack of people in the first one attracts me more, since that’s a RARE thing in WDW. I do agree about the look of the first shot — looks more fitting outside the haunted Mansion, lol, but it seems more appealing since there is no one around. Those quiet places you find in WDW are always an exciting thing to me.

  3. Shawn   |   Jul 18, 2012

    I like that both convey something different. The first gives me a feeling of being alone or out of the way. The second one is a bit more inviting. Keep up the great work!



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