Getting Ready to “Focus” on Disney Trip Photography

Chris W. (NDD #300) (73 Posts)

Since going to Walt Disney World and Disneyland at a young age, Chris has always enjoyed Disney music, TV shows, movies, and trips to Walt Disney World. But his appreciation of the overall Disney experience has greatly increased over the last few years. While waiting for the next chance to work on his Disney photography skills, Chris passes the time listening to Park/Resort audio, WDW podcasts, and checking out the work of other Disney photographers. To Chris, there are no bad Disney trip photographs or photographers.

Non-Disney pursuits include spending time with his wife and children, watching and listening to baseball broadcasts, and cheering for the Chicago Cubs and LSU. Chris is a third generation professional engineer in Louisiana, working mainly on asbestos, lead, mold and demolition projects. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisWhitePE and you can check out his Flickr photo stream: chris_white2323.


 

how does this thing work?

how does this thing work?

For Disney fans, starting a trip countdown is pretty exciting. Making resort and dining reservations, FastPass+ selections, and just talking about travel plans and what we’re going to do are fun ways to pass the time while the countdown clock ticks down. If you’re into Disney photography (or travel photography in general), there are a few other things to do besides standard trip planning.

Rather than silly things like clothes and sunblock, I’ve spent more time thinking about what camera gear to take, and things I need to make sure I have before we leave.

There are the basics, like these:

  • Camera (well, yeah)
  • Lenses (another great insight)
  • Batteries or battery pack
  • Memory card
  • Camera bag
  • Camera battery charger

But I’ll also carry these:

  • Spare batteries or battery pack (I’m going to shoot a bunch, so don’t want to run out of power)
  • Spare memory cards (not fun to have a memory stop working, leaving you with the inability to shoot)
  • Lens filters (in case I feel courageous enough to try shooting some daytime long exposures or fireworks)
  • Camera cleaning kit (especially for lenses and filters)
  • Tripod (in case I try to shoot fireworks, and definitely for long exposure shots)
  • Remote shutter release
  • MacBook Pro & external backup drive

The cleaning kit is pretty basic – a couple of microfiber cloths, a little spray bottle of alcohol for my lenses and filters, and a bulb squirter to blow air onto the camera frame to remove dust. Mainly I want the ability to remove smudges and finger prints from lenses and filters. Otherwise I could end up with blurry spots in my photos.

Even if I don’t carry the tripod with me all the time, tripods are essential for long exposure photography. Even if you have super steady hands, chances are you can’t shoot a photo much longer than 1/30 (or maybe less) of a second without some blur, depending on your camera and lens type/focal length. Even if your lens has vibration reduction (VR), you’ll have some camera movement and blur in the shot – it’s just a question of where this crosses the line into unacceptable territory for you.

Try adjusting your shutter speed and see how long you can leave the shutter open without having an unacceptable amount of blur in the frame. Even if you hold your breath and tell yourself to stand really still, you’ll move the camera. Trust me, you’ll see what I mean. At some point, I’m going to shoot some long exposures at night at the parks and resort, so I can’t skip having a tripod.

So, even though you may have been your neighborhood champ at the old Operation game (remember that?), any long exposure photography needs a tripod or some steady object on which you can place the camera. The thought of sitting my camera on a trash can or railing seems a bit risky, so I’ll end up carrying the tripod for at least part of our time in the parks.

I’ll also have my remote shutter release – if you’re using a tripod or other setup for long exposures, pressing the shutter release, even as gently as possible, may introduce camera shake. So a wired or wireless shutter release should allow operation without bumping the camera.

Along with making sure I have all my stuff, I’ve actually tried to shoot some here and there. Some of my practice shots are below – the thinking was to practice the kind of shots I’ll want to take when we’re on our trip.

practice nighttime shot

practice nighttime shot

intentional handheld blur - showing my artistic side

intentional handheld blur – showing my artistic side

At some point each day, I’ll take a look at the day’s photos, and as nice as it is to have a good display on my camera, it’s not the best for fully inspecting a shot. So I’ll pull the photos off the camera and look, and if I’m disappointed, I can hopefully return to a shot location and get a better photo. At the very least, I’ll be able to copy photos to my Mac & the external drive I’ll carry.

And if I have time, I’ll try to share photos while still on the trip, either on Twitter or Flickr. But I hope to be too busy having fun and taking photos to spend much time on social media. We’ll see. But I have spent some time thinking about what I could try to share via Periscope or other platform. Some of our other Disney Driven Life contributors have posted via Periscope before, and I constantly get on them for showing off. That’s mainly because I’m just jealous that they’re at Disney and I’m not, but I have vowed to retaliate by live Tweeting my bus ride progress or posting video of the monorail doors opening and closing.

a little practice before Flower and Garden

a little practice before Flower and Garden

But if you’re at the parks, I’ll be easy to spot – look for the guy who looks like he’s off to climb up the side of Expedition Everest, rather than ride it. But those of us who’ve taken small children to the parks also know you’re already carrying a bunch of stuff, so what’s one more bag? And this is where the stroller helps me out – we can always hang stuff off the stroller or place a bag or two underneath. On a side note, isn’t it awesome when you exit an attraction and search all over for your stroller? I can’t wait for the post attraction search-for-our-stroller adventure. Who says you can’t have fun for free at the parks?

Anyway, I hope to have a ton of great photos to share pretty soon, along with what I did to capture the shots. In the meantime, what do you pack in your camera gear bag and get ready? Send us your tips!