This is my first post from our recent trip. I’d intended to process photos and write posts in chronological order, just because I tend towards straight line thinking, and it’s easier to keep track of things that way. And I also wanted to somehow process a ton of photos and write many articles about the trip and my continued efforts to become a better photographer – pretty much immediately. But that’s not the best thing to do. For one thing, the quality of the photographs I’ll eventually share would suffer, and the writing would lack the perspective that time brings.
I took around 2,000 photos on this trip, many of which I deleted immediately when I looked at them in camera. But I managed to get some that are quite good, at least for me. As I was going through photos, I came across the shots from the only night I got to shoot at EPCOT and decided I’d have to post these first.
Night photography fascinates me. When I saw some of the images from the parks and resorts where dark areas come alive without flash, I was hooked. So I decided I’d try for some of these shots on our next trip.
But I had some work to do first, like figure out how to do long exposures and change camera settings for darker areas. For one thing, until about 2 years ago all my night photographs were either too dark because I knew no other shooting mode than Auto without any flash, or I have photos with harsh lighting very close to the camera because of Auto/flash mode. So I have really bad photos of the Contemporary where you can see the lights, and maybe the building outlines. I also have terrible Main Street Electrical Parade shots with people standing in front of me, and harshly lit shots of the floats.
At the end of Illuminations, I made my way to the China pavilion, noting that the conventional wisdom is correct – pretty much everyone makes a mad dash to the front of the park to get out. 95% of them at once. That’s usually what we do too, but it was fun to take it slow this time and go against the grain, so to speak. I got a few questioning glances from the people who saw me heading the other direction.
When I got to the China pavilion, there were people still on the walkway, but the pavilion was empty. So I got set up and took some shots. I’d shot World Showcase earlier in the day, and I got some good shots. I knew where I’d want to shoot after dark too.
My setup wasn’t sophisticated at all. I had my Nikon D5300, a Promaster folding tabletop tripod, and a Nikon ML-L3 wireless for shutter release. A few things here – first, to shoot long exposures (in this case 30 seconds), you have to have a tripod or something to hold the camera. Otherwise you’ll have a blurry mess. To avoid shaking the camera after getting setup on the tripod and getting dialed in, a wireless remote is a good idea, or you could wind up with just enough vibration to aggravate you. Long exposures are easier at night – no filters or anything like that, unless you want to get really fancy. And long exposures will have the tendency to “ghost out” people who walk through as you’re shooting. Trust me, it’ll happen.
I set my camera to Shutter Priority mode, let it pick the aperture, and set the ISO to 100 in the hopes of getting the cleanest pictures I could.
Here’s what I got:
I used Lightroom 5 to make all the edits, and didn’t really take too long.
I didn’t take many shots here – the goal wasn’t to stay until security ran me out of the park. I wanted to shoot a few things, then get back to the resort. Maybe someday I’ll stay super late.
Here’s the bottom line: these shots were the best of any I’d ever taken at EPCOT, and getting these wasn’t really that hard since I’d practiced setting up and using the small tripod and remote. Post processing in Lightroom was also pretty easy. You can do this too.
I’ll have other posts coming up with different shots from different park and resort areas. If you’d like to see other shots I already have processed, check out my Flickr photo stream.