Disney Photography Blog

Seeing Double on Expedition Everest

By Guest Contributor on January 10th, 2013   |    Posted in:  Disney Photo Tips   |    4 Comments

Hi everyone! The name’s Brendan Bowen or otherwise known as “bowenbee”! This article marks my first official emergence into the wonderful world of the Disney Photography Blog; wahoo! I’m quite excited to show off my Disney photography passion and skills! And without further adieu, I have a quick and easy Photoshop tutorial for you!

Have you ever photographed the runaway trains going down Everest? Maybe you were waiting for someone on the ride and could resist getting a few shots off as those trains scream down Everest. If so, then you’ve probably taken a shot similar to this:

brendan-everest-1

And while there’s nothing particularly wrong with the shot, I couldn’t help but notice the empty track in the background from which the trains make their ascent. So! Let’s have a little fun with this shall we? We’re going to combine two shots into one and have both trains going up and down at the same time! Here’s the other shot I’ll be using:

brendan-everest-2

Planning the Shot!

Okay! First things first people! You’re going to need two separate shots: one with the train going up and one with it going down. Next, you’ll need to switch your camera into manual mode. Why? Well, because you don’t want the camera to change the exposure between the two shots. In this case, we’re trying to freeze the motion of the trains, so a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second will work. Then, adjust your aperture and ISO as needed to get a good exposure. The last step is to use a tripod…what!? Left it in the room you say? Well…don’t fret, for all it not lost! As long as you keep as still as possible and don’t change your composition, Photoshop will be able to align the two shots with good success. Ideally, a tripod would work nicely, but I didn’t use one here. I kept my camera pre-focused on the track going down. Then, I shot a frame when I saw the train going up, held that composition, and shot again when I saw the train go down.

Creating the Magic!

The first step is the open both images into Photoshop. Next, we need to get each image on its own layer. Take either image and Select All (Ctrl +A), Copy (Ctrl +C) click the other image and Paste (Ctrl +V). Both images will be on their own layers now.

This next step is optional, but I recommend naming the layers out of good habit. I called the photo with the train going up “up” and the other layer “down”.

Now, Ctrl Click so that both layers are highlighted and go to Edit -> Auto Align Layers. Within the dialog box, choose “Perspective”.  After a brief moment Photoshop will align up the layers and do a pretty fine job provided you didn’t move too terribly much between shots.

At this point the two layers are aligned, but you don’t see the train! What gives? Well, we’re going to add a layer mask to make the descending train appear like magic! With the “Up” layer selected, add a layer mask. Now, get your brush tool and paint black on the layer mask where the tracks are. Now you see the train! Keep painting until all of it is revealed. Finally, crop down the sides a bit to get rid any dead space and mask in any areas that didn’t align quite right.

And the final shot:

Expedition Everest Double Roller Coaster

And we’re done! You could apply this technique to all sorts of shots beyond Expedition Everest. Try it on Big Thunder Mountain, or even the Disney Monorails!

Your Thoughts…

Have you used this technique before for other shots at Disney or maybe are planning to now? Let us know in the comments below what locations you would use this at the parks.

4 Comments

  1. Adam Hansen   |   Jan 10, 2013

    Great article Brendan and we are glad to have you contributing to the site!

    This is a technique I have tried before at Epcot on the monorails. It did not come out exactly as I had hoped, but I definitely plan on giving it another shot next time.

  2. Aaron Betts   |   Jan 11, 2013

    Great article Brendan. Here is a shot I just posted to Google Plus. I had been thinking about composites at Thunder Mountain. And before you ask… No the trains would not collide :)
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102341294814233554135

  3. Brett Kiger   |   Jan 12, 2013

    I like the close up with the two trains, makes for a great shot! I’ve tried this same technique on EE, but from further away at Flame Tree. I also masked in two additional trains for a total of three on the mountain, each spot that they are visible… http://bit.ly/ZUqZyQ

  4. Alan Rappa   |   Jan 15, 2013

    This was an awesome idea Brendan. Post-processing, trickery sure, but I think it makes for a great looking shot which is all we’re really after, isn’t it?

    Having one train going up and the other coming down conveys a great story and really adds to the excitement and anticipation. Appreciate the write-up, might have to try playing around with this technique if I can think of anywhere creative to incorporate it. thanks

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