Picture Perfect: The Dumbo Ride

Today’s Picture Perfect moment is your family on the Dumbo Ride. This isn’t the most artistic or aesthetically pleasing shot, but I love the quintessential Disney-ness of it. Dumbo is a classic ride and if you time it right you can get the castle in the background.

You can only fit two per Dumbo, so just get in the Dumbo in front of your family and turn around to shoot them. Keep the young ones on the inside so they don’t get blocked by the Dumbo head (I think that is a safety rule anyway). Don’t wait for the perfect moment. You’ll take a lot of shots like this because the kids will move the dumbos up and down and getting everyone in a line can be challenging. You may want to ask everyone to try and get at least one revolution with their dumbos in the up position for the best shot. Also, Keep one eye on your background. As you can see, the castle will be there for a good portion of your shots, so you should be able to capture it. DSCF3023

This shot works well on all the rides of the same style and it can be another fun, active shot to remind you of your magical experiences. This shot also works pretty well with your camera (or phone) on automatic, so it is easy for anyone to achieve.

Technically Speaking: Remember to skip this if you aren’t interested in the details and just want to shoot on automatic. For this shot you want a higher shutter speed, but because you are outside, it shouldn’t matter. You should have plenty of light. Also, stop down your aperture to give you a longer depth of field so your whole family, or background castles stay sharp. I was at 800 iso to balance everything. 

It can be tempting to worry so much about taking great pictures that you forget to enjoy yourself. Use this guide to help prioritize when to be shooting and when to be just enjoying the trip. Just remember to keep a firm grip on those cameras, use the strap, have fun, and keep shooting.

Crystal Palace: Character Dining

One of my favorite Character Dining experiences is at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant itself is so light and airy. We go there for breakfast on just about every trip and the morning sun pours through the windows making the white and green decor glow. It sits right between Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle and fits beautiful into the decor of Americana from Main Street as well as the romantic whimsy of the castle. DSCF1370

The characters at the Crystal Palace are our pals from the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh and friends. As someone who doesn’t like hunting down characters in the parks themselves, this is always a great way to see some of my all time favorites and enjoy a relaxing meal to begin the day.

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My nephew meeting his favorite Disney Character.

 

I’m not much of foodie, but I go on a lot of Disney trips with little ones and they can be very picky eaters. The Crystal Palace is buffet dining, so even little picky eaters can see and pick out food they will like (including the all too tempting dessert area). As of yet, we have never had a hard time finding something everyone will eat there. I’ve never had a bad meal either.

If you are on a dining plan, this is a sit down dining credit, but for the opportunity to meet these characters for a nice breakfast to begin a epic Magic Kingdom, I don’t think you can go wrong. Always a credit well used for us!

Hidden Gem: Tom Sawyer Island

It is getting toward mid-day and you are just finishing the first third of an epic Magic Kingdom day. You are hot, you are tired, you just had something to eat, or you are looking to find a little space to enjoy a snack you just picked up. Well then, step right up to the wooden rafts in Frontierland and head over to today’s hidden gem, Tom Sawyer Island. It is a quiet spot that has been through a lot of iterations over the years, and rumors have it disappearing altogether soon. Visit Tom Sawyer Island before it is gone. It has great tree coverage and shade with lots of little nooks and crannies away from the bustling crowds. It can also be a great way for kids to explore and roam a bit more freely given the only access on and off the island are those rafts.IMG_5825_6_7_8_9HDR

Often, on Disney vacations, we just want to get from point A to point B in the parks. Tom Sawyer Island is off the beaten trails, doesn’t connect any two places, and takes some time to get to and back from. If you need a rest and a little breathing room, it can be a nice mini-vacation from your vacation. The views are also really unique. The photo bugs out there may want to visit just to see things a little differently. You don’t often get to see the Great Thunder Mountain or Gracey Manor (Haunted Mansion) from those angles. I recommend, on your next long Magic Kingdom day, you take a few moments out out to explore a bit of a forgotten piece of Frontierland and Magic Kingdom history.

 

 

 

 

Picture Perfect: Tea Cups

Disney is one of my passions, another is photography. Combining the two is one of my great joys in life. In addition, much of my Disney photography involves my family, so that is the trifecta of my life’s joys.

The name of this feature is a little bit of a joke. As anyone who has ever taken a picture before knows, there is no such thing as perfect. My goal in this feature is to give some quick tips to those who have a camera and want to take a cool picture no matter what skill level. I will talk a little bit about things like shutter speed and depth of field. I’m happy to go into more detail if anyone has any questions, but most everything I talk about can be achieved almost as well on automatic. The most important thing is to take the pictures. Perfect doesn’t matter.

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My wife on the Tea Cups. This was my first attempt at this particular shot and I loved it.

My first tip is actually a great example of perfect not mattering. I love the Tea Cups in Magic Kingdom. They are a fun classic Disney ride, the line is rarely very long and it is hard not to smile on them. It is also one of my favorite spots to snap a photo of some loved ones.

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My wife took this picture of me in the Tea Cups with my sister’s family and my GoPro (another great option for this ride).

I like this photo opportunity because it won’t be part of anyone else’s PhotoPass so you get a unique shot and it can be done pretty easily. Just get in the cup with your subject (you can even do a selfie if you want). By sharing a cup, you and the camera automatically share the same movement which will keep your subject pretty sharp and will create a great blur in the background. The photo looks so active and fun, much like the ride. Make sure to use your camera strap and hold on to it tight, the g-force can get intense if you have someone who spins the cup like crazy (I’m looking at you, my niece and nephews).

Technically Speaking: For those of you who just want the basics and aren’t interested in some of the more technical details, feel free to skip to past this part. For those of you interested in some of the technical stuff, here it is. I use a Canon 6D dslr. I had the 24-105 f/4 L lens at 30 mm and was shooting pretty wide open, maybe f/4.5 or 5.0. You need to balance you shutter speed a bit to blur the background but keep your subject sharp. You’ll have to fudge a bit here. I used something 60 – 80 range. I had a somewhat high ISO to make sure I had enough light. I was around 1600.

You might end up with your subject a little blurred or without the perfect composition, don’t worry about it. It is such a fun shot, those little imperfections just add to the overall mood of the photo. Just remember to be safe, have fun, and keep shooting.