May is one of my favorite times to visit Walt Disney World, especially EPCOT. I’m a big fan of Flower and Garden Festival and enjoy shooting topiaries all over the park. I was really excited to shoot Illuminations.
I found a spot, setup my tripod and my faithful Nikon D5300, and waited. The crowd was milling around a bit so I thought I’d try a few long exposure shots just to see how they turned out.
In this case, I got a ‘2-for-1’ of sorts. I was checking my camera settings, making sure my remote was working ok, and I got this shot. This is pretty much straight out of the camera. I adjusted for the lights because they were almost blown out, but otherwise left it alone since I was going for the blurred crowd effect. And it’s always fun to people watch.
This shot wasn’t hard. My camera settings were 10 second shutter speed, f/11, ISO 100. When shooting long exposures, it’s best to use a tripod or stable place to hold your camera. Since it was dark, I set my focus and then switched to manual when shooting. If your lens has built in vibration reduction, turn it off when your camera is mounted on a tripod. Leaving the vibration reduction on while on a tripod might mess up the shot.
As a bonus, I had time to listen to the Illuminations pre-show music, which I really like. When Illuminations starts, you’ll hear the phrase “gather around the fire”, and this shot brings me back to that moment. If you’re in EPCOT when Illuminations starts, you’re probably going to make your way to a viewing point along World Showcase Lagoon and enjoy the show. You and your family will gather around the fire with the rest of us, and hopefully add another great memory to your awesome trip.
You’ve probably heard or read the rumors of a replacement show for Illuminations. Illuminations has had a great, long run. I know a lot of people who are ready for a change. There are others, like me, who don’t want the show to change any time soon. I get it – we don’t go as often as others, so if you’ve seen a show 20, 50, 100+ times, you’re probably ready for something new. But I’m not.
I hope to see (and shoot) Illuminations at least one more time. Whatever show is there when we go again, I’m sure we’ll all gather around the fire before the show. Maybe I’ll see you there.