Thunder Mountain

This was always one of my favorite rides from Disney World. It was fun to get a chance to take my son there so he could experience the terror of being on a runaway mine train on his own.

I think my other favorite ride was Space Mountain. There were some really great ideas for shots I had inside there, but it’s kinda tough to jump off the roller coaster to get the perfect vantage. Since I do roam around the various parks with all my equipment, getting my tripod into a roller coaster is always kinda tough. I would leave it there with a 16-year-old who pushes the green flashy button to start the ride, but, most of the time at Disney, the exit is a mile away from entrance. So, I usually collapse the thing and put it under my feet. The negative-G humps always make pinning the tripod to the ground more than a little tough.

You might notice this one has a certain look that is different from my typical shots. It’s using some of the effects from my textures tutorial on that subject. Thanks to those of you that have been sending me your images that use the textures — it’s always cool to see how people have combined their stuff with the textures! Miss Aneila (guest blogger) from a few weeks back, did one as well, which is on that page… it’s the one with the pink dress.

Thunder Mountain (by Stuck in Customs)

Where Geothermal Steam Covers the Land

Every time I go to Yellowstone, I see something different. There are hundreds of great locations, each one of which should be visited for at least an hour during three different times of the day.

This is a new area I visited on my most recent trip there. I don’t think it is always this steamy, since the air temp has to be a certain delta to the water. I don’t know why, but it’s always fun to sit there and watch the boiling water. I don’t enjoy watching boiling water in my kitchen, but the sight there is always mesmerizing.. There is also the strong smell of sulfur carried through the area. It wasn’t repulsive at all, but it did give me the just-took-off-my-helmet-on-an-away-mission feeling.

Where Geothermal Steam Covers the Land (by Stuck in Customs)

Meditation

It’s sort of hard to find time to meditate nowadays, eh?  I mean, there is a lot of stuff going on.  I wonder if the old-school Buddhists would be as good at meditating if they had broadband.  It’s quite easy to distract yourself online.  By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for distracting yourself with the blog!  I guess I’m happy to be a source of distraction for you.

And, should you find the inspiration to meditate a little, maybe this shot from Siem Reap, Cambodia will help.

Meditation (by Stuck in Customs)

The Arabian Roof

Nothing makes me feel more like being in a foreign place than having the ceiling being entirely composed of cloth fluttering in the breeze.

Well, I am pretty sure that is what the Disney Imagineers intended when they designed this place. This was an Arabian-style restaurant right in the middle of Disney World, which has to be one of the coolest places in the world for photography. One of the problems there, frankly, is that there is so much to see that it is simply overwhelming. I think, now that I have been there multiple times, you just have to force yourself to drink in the details slowly over time. Wouldn’t being a Disney Imagnieer be just about the coolest job in the world?

My other piece of advice for parents (although, may Disney veterans already know this), plan a nap into the day. There is just no other way to do it with kids. Do the morning and lunch in one place… then maybe one ride on the way back to the hotel for nap time. Get a nice 2-hour nap in, then head out to different park for the evening. It will decrease stress levels by a factor of pi, and, besides, we adults are the ones that really like the naps, right? It’s a vacation, after all.

The Arabian Roof (by Stuck in Customs)

Guarding the Beaches of LA

Being a lifeguard in LA must be a great job. Or it might be a boring job. Or it might have occasions of greatness filled with a long periods of boredom.

There was a lifeguard sitting here in the station on Manhattan Beach when I took the shot. I guess I could have asked her while I stood outside her station for 10 minutes with all my glass aimed right at her. I kept giving her a nod of confidence, indicating that everything was okay. I was really just waiting for the colors to get right in the reflection.

Guarding the Beaches of LA (by Stuck in Customs)

Lunch at Chateau Rodin

I had been hiking around Paris with way too much equipment for several hours. Whenever, I’m in photo-gatherin’ mode, I am fairly tireless. I go from spot to spot like a Navy SEAL… but this day, I actually planned to have lunch at Chateau Rodin, the famous estate of the great French sculptor.

I had some food in my backpack that I had picked up at a small store a few hours before… a fresh baguette, a selection of cheeses, some fruit, and few truffles for dessert. I sat down at the edge of the fountain with my tripod up, aimed, and ready to go. I relaxed for a bit, listened to some Gotan Project on my iPod, and waited for the clouds to get just right.

Lunch at Chateau Rodin (by Stuck in Customs)

A Mini-Land of San Francisco

Everyone always seems to like San Francisco, eh? It’s one of those places that people either have fond memories of, or an ongoing feeling like they need to go there.

I know some photographers are probably familiar with this tilt-shift type of shot. For those of you not familiar with it, there is a way to take photos and convert them into something that looks like a miniature. You can do it in-camera with a certain kind of lens, or afterwards with some post-processing. I don’t do a lot of tilt-shift stuff, but I thought I would share this one! :)

The Mini-Land of San Francisco

A Canyon Oasis

This place is deep inside Glacier National Park. The only bad thing about photography is I can’t show how deafening the sound of the waterfall inside the canyons was! It ricocheted around the rocky walls and seemed to be perfectly acoustic echo chamber. I didn’t get in, but the water seemed super-cold.

It was a nice spot to stop and take a break for a bit. You would think the noise would kind of relaxing, but it was less of the alarm-clock-bubbling-brook and more of the 747-emergency-landing…

A Canyon Oasis

Sometimes, I’d rather be in Disney World

Actually, maybe I should change that title to: “I think I’d like to always be in Disney World!”

They shoot off fireworks every night in the Magic Kingdom, and I feel bad if I miss it. I’m sure that’s a strange thing to feel bad about… To get everything in, I have to plan the days and nights like a neo-Clark Griswald to ensure the perfect storm of technology meets up with whatever spectacular events are happening that day. For this shot, I had got reservations three months in advance at the California Grill restaurant, which has a nice majestic view of the show as the restaurant empties out onto the roof of the Contemporary Resort.

There is not much of a viewing area up there, and there were a bunch of people around me while I tried to get my tripod in place. I could deal with the crowds and fleshy shouldering, but the one thing that always annoys me is people beside me with little cameras that use their flashes to take photos of something a mile away. Sometimes they see I have a big camera, and they turn to ask for advice. They ask, “Do you think my flash helps?” I am really a totally nice and approachable guy, but since this is one of the very few things that annoy me, I usually just give them a shameful negative nod of the head.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the shot, but I had some great sushi in that restaurant. It was made by a Japanese female sushi chef, and she is one of only three “official” sushi chefs in the world (or so the matri’d told me). The Japanese do not let women be sushi chefs normally, as their hands are too “weak”.

Sometimes I'd rather be in Disney World (by Stuck in Customs)

The Lotus at Sunrise

Thank you for all the feedback yesterday. I appreciate it very much; indeed the negative feedback was quite constructive and helpful. Thanks for taking the time, as usual, to share your thoughts.

Now that we are getting back in the normal groove of posting beautiful places and beautiful things, here is a nice one for your Sunday!

This is Angkor Wat in Cambodia at sunrise. I think I went there every single morning around 5 AM to see the clouds and light in different formations. I got to know some of the locals there. A small girl from a family would see me in the dark by the lake, and come over to say hello. She would then bring me a chair and some Vietnamese coffee (quite thick and sweet with condensed milk). I would pay her just a few dollars and she was thrilled… I paid extra to keep the coffee coming in dangerously quick intervals. The sunrise lasted for several hours, and I was in no hurry…

The Sunrise in Siem Reap (by Stuck in Customs)

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