Balloons at Disney

Daily Photo – Balloons at Disney

I’ve been trying to capture a shot of balloons at Disney forever… it took a while before I found something with which I was happy!

Do you know these balloons cost $10?  TEN DOLLARS!  A ten dollar balloon…  but they do light up.  So that’s kinda cool.  What isn’t cool is that you have to buy one for every single kid in your retinue.

One other cool thing (kinda secret) is that if it ever goes flat or pops, you can bring it back to get a free one.  Technically, you could even bring it back the next year and still get a new one.  This might go against the spirit of the deal, but it is a ten dollar balloon for the love of Disney-god.

HDR Photo

To Another World

Music in your mind…

Do you all listen to music when out taking photos? Have you ever tried it? I love putting on my noise-canceling earphones and listening to all sorts of things when I am out taking photos… I never see anyone do this, so maybe I am alone in this practice?

Daily Photo – To Another World

There are no short days at Disney! They are all long escapades, filled with happiness, crying, sticky fingers, strollers hitting you in the achilles tendons, and scary people that should not really be allowed to the buffet area.

This was another one of those very long days. Sometimes, towards the end of the day, one of the only things on my mind is getting back home to collapse — especially after carrying around my tripod and D3X the whole day! But, on this particular exit from Epcot, everything lined up so nicely that I just could not help myself!

HDR Photo

The Grand Entrance

The International HDR Tutorial!

Here is a reminder that we have our tutorial in 3 different languages now!

Daily Photo – The Grand Entrance

This is the entryway to the Portofino Hotel at Universal Orlando. It’s a pretty posh place. I get nervous when I see young kids running around these places at full speed. I get really nervous when I see my own kids doing it!

We stayed here a few nights and it proved to be a perfect location for accessing Universal Studios. There is a little lake/canal system in the back that connects to the main park so you can take little boats back and forth. More importantly, there are a ton of interesting things scattered around for photography!

HDR Photo

The Lego Dragon

New Print Available!

The Adventure Tree, one of my favorite, warm photos, is now available as a limited edition print. This is a wonderful tree I found sticking out alone in a forest in Patagonia. I used a variety and mix of textures to give it a warm and timeless feel.

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – The Lego Dragon

There are these Lego stores popping up everywhere it seems. That’s okay with me… Who doesn’t like a good Lego set?

This one is just outside the Lego Store at Downtown Disney in Orlando. They have a few of those gigantic Lego beasts that were mysteriously built. Anyone that is sensible knows that it takes many hours to build something roughly the size of a human hand. So, these monstrosities must be either built by aliens or an army of industrious Germans that parachute in during the wee hours.

HDR Photo

The Tori Gate

Free London PhotoWalk!

Don’t forget! It will be a lot of fun… It will be at sunset on September 10th. Exact details to come soon.

My general plan is to get started about 30 minutes before sunset. We’ll get started and meander through an interesting and scenic route for about 90 minutes. My PhotoWalks are always laid back and fun. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. I’ll stop several times along the way to set up, talk about my shot, answer questions, and the like. And then we’ll meander more until we find another cool spot. Of course, no one is required to listen — people can come and go as they please and seek their own scenic fortune!

After the event, we can all meet at a local pub or cafe and get drinks/snacks and hang out… that will be fun too. I look forward to meeting y’all!

Daily Photo – The Tori Gate

What a perfect post-storm dusk! I was going photo-crazy.

This is a replica of the exact same place I have been near Nikko, Japan. The Nikko one is quite hard to shoot! There are many things in the way, and setting up for the ideal shot is no easy matter. Plus, when I was in Japan, the sky was not so great that evening. It’s the luck of the cards sometimes!

But this evening in Disney World was ultra-perfect. Epcot is the park that has all the little international areas. Japan, Germany, France, etc etc. It’s all a little silly and fake — but it’s also very cool and scenic! I don’t know how it can be both… but it is. Those Disney imagineers do an incredible job of making things look dreamy. I do the best I can to capture the magic as I saw it.

HDR Photo

The RAW Fireworks & a Photomatix 4.0 Preview

Two Weeks in Iceland!

Watch for me Live on This Iceland Webcam. I should be strolling in and out of those from time to time.

To the right, you can see some of my upcoming notes from the trip. I’ll be focused on the coasts with a concentration on the fjords in the northwest part of the country. We are getting close to 24 hours of daylight, so I think this will be an amazing time to go. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, feel free to let me know!

As you all know, Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world for photography. You can see the entire Iceland Photo Collection here — several pages there for you to enjoy!

Planning the trip to Iceland-1

Full Photomatix 4.0 Preview

I’ll be sure to post it when it is ready on the Photomatix Review page. Actually, even better than a preview, I will do a quick head-to-head with Adobe Photoshop CS5. It’s all pretty much complete… just want to get a few more metrics for you.

I would like to get it up this weekend… not sure – a lot of busy stuff lately!

Daily Photo – The RAW Fireworks (and yes, that is a handheld single shot)

So, I have in my hot little hands an Advance Copy of Photomatix Pro 4.0 (BTW, the TREYRATCLIFF Coupon Code will still save you the most money). Wow this thing is cool! I’m in the middle of a full review/preview. This isn’t really it… just a preview of a preview. I know… how lame of me, but I am so excited that I want to leak out a few details.

Today’s fireworks photo below from Disney World a few nights ago was just processed with Photomatix 4. This is from a single RAW photo. This was a handheld shot as I was walking along a pathway near the Crystal Palace. Amazing, eh?

Well, I can’t take all the credit – so much goes to Photomatix Pro. Here are a few points for you to chew on:

  • There is all new Noise Reduction code in there…  a fresh dialog appears when loading a RAW photo like this one.
  • If you already own Photomatix Pro 3 (or buy it now), the upgrade to Photomatix Pro 4.0 is FREE.  (cool!)
  • There is a new way to control ghosting… very nice.
  • So far in my testing, it’s way way way faster than Photoshop CS5’s new HDR feature.  But I am still testing with metrics… full results soon.

HDR-Photo

Beautiful Disney World at Sunset

Minor Altercation

A few nights ago, I had a minor photography/police incident at Downtown Disney (Twitter followers saw the ordeal realtime). Everything is resolved now, and maybe a result of the whole thing is that security will be easier on photographers in the future. We live in hope!

Now, I’ve never had a problem using tripods or “professional-looking equipment” at any of the Disney Parks, like the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, but Downtown Disney seems to have a special set of rules. I was approached by security when they saw the tripod – they asked what I was doing. I said I was a blogger and was taking personal photos. They pressed me more. They asked if I had permission, and I said that in fact I did have permission, although that should not matter; I’m just a photographer taking photos of a place to show the world some beautiful things.

I didn’t have my ID with me, since everyone in Disney World carries around these little Disney ID cards that you get at the resorts. You charge food, goodies, and everything on it. You don’t need a wallet or anything, so I just leave that back at the resort. Since I didn’t have ID, they called in the Sheriff’s Department. I called my wife, who was shopping elsewhere with the kids to swoop in and vouch for me.

My wife was of course quite worried and upset, seeing me surrounded by four security guards and a newly-arrived member of the Sheriff’s department. Luckily (I guess?), she had her ID with her. The police took all her information down (why?) and then left. I assume they finally got the right people on the phone at Disney that knew who I was and that I had permission.

However, I still strongly believe that even if I didn’t have permission, that I, or any other photographer, should be allowed to take photos. It’s 2010! Everyone else is taking crappy photos with their mobile phones and uploading to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and all over the place. I’m doing the same thing as them, but mine are simply taken with a bigger, nicer camera. What’s the crime? Even more importantly, all I’m doing is promoting the beauty of this place to hundreds of thousands of people here on the blog.

With what little influence I have at Disney, I suggested that they tell the powers-that-be to stop bothering photographers (I know good man William Beem, among others, also had a run-in). I understand there are some new conversations in the works, but I don’t know if anything will really change.   Let’s hope so.

Daily Photo – Beautiful Disney World at Sunset

Hey, you know… I can’t stay mad at Disney for too long.  I think those issues are just at Downtown Disney.

This photo below, from Epcot, is one of the reasons I keep coming back again and again.  It’s such an amazing place, and Epcot may be my favorite new spot for photography at Disney.

This is the “France” area of the World Showcase, which is a huge lake that is circumnavigated by about 10 different countries or so.  Each one has a cluster of buildings set in the theme of the country.  They are all quite authentic, and the areas are staffed with people from the countries.  The Norway area has authentic-looking and -sounding Norwegians.  The Germany area is filled with Germans in postcard-German-clothes.  The Canada area has people that look and sound like Americans.

The afternoon had ripped open a wicked thunderstorm on the whole park.  It was subsiding around sunset, so the clouds were swirling about with these wonderful tempestuous formations.  I set up to take this shot before moving over to the Japanese area to watch the big fireworks show on the lake.  While I was taking these shots, by the way, I had sent my family into one of the pastry shoppes here in the France area to load up on wonderful little morsels to keep us fully loaded during the fireworks show!

If you have seen the wonderful fireworks show at Epcot — where is your favorite place to stand?  I’ve got a new spot.. I’ll reveal that with a bunch of new tips/ideas soon!

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The Galaxy Cafe

New Prints Available

In the fray of the new servers, I missed a week’s announcement of new prints that are now available. They are two of my favorites, of course. As always, each of them is a Limited Edition Numbered Print, so each one is unique and collectible.

The first one, “A Razor to the Sky” nearly killed me to capture… even if I accidentally shattered my camera into a million pieces whilst climbing that icy cliffside in the Andes at 4 AM in the pitch black — I would have been happy just to see the morning sun hit these mountains. It was so lucky to see the mystical peaks of Fitz Roy without them being covered in clouds… but I felt happy enough to survive!

The second one, “The Skeletons at Sunrise“, is a different sort of photo.  These are the old dead trees from the fires of Yellowstone back in 1998, just as the morning fog is beginning to burn off.

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HDR-Photo

Daily Photo – The Galaxy Cafe

When I was recently at Universal Orlando, Ethan and I made a late night getaway to do some exploration. We were staying at the Portofino, and they have a wonderful boat system that skirts you down to the main park. We jumped on the boat after dark to go down and visit this little area of shops, restaurants, and dozens of other interesting things to see and experience. I’ve gotten him used to the idea of roaming aimlessly, taking photos of this and that, with no real goal other than exploration and noticing little things.

Ethan and I stopped at a tiny trinket store and bought a few necklaces and bracelets for ourselves and the girls. After that, we grabbed a few hot cocoas, got on the boat, and drifted back home. We took our time, drank our hot cocoas, and helped each other put on our bracelets.

Galaxy Cafe

The Hellenistic Ruins

Great Time on the Hobbiton Movie Set!

Did you know they are already getting geared up to make The Hobbit?  And it will be a two-movie event?  Cool!

It turns out that Ian Brodie, who is a fan of the site and a big HDR enthusiast, works there on the Hobbiton Tours and offered to give my family and me a private tour of everything!  It was really cool to walk around the Shire and see all the various bits and pieces from the movies.  They are starting to move stuff around and get ready to shoot the next Hobbit movie there sometime in the near future.

I took a lot of photos and even made a little video of how I took one of the shots.  After I get back and get everything edited, I’ll get it uploaded so you can check my settings and all that good stuff!

New Print Avail – The Red and White Lighthouse

This new lighthouse print is a perfect little place was spotted in Iceland.  The skies are have such a nice tone there, and they are even better with the high icy clouds.  It’s such a treat to shoot there and to find wonderful things like this lighthouse that complement it so well.

Alone in Winter, Against the World...  (and I am selling my camera on eBay)

Daily Photo – The Hellenistic Ruins

For our weekly photo mystery, which is, mysteriously, neither weekly or all that mysterious, is up again!  Who can tell me where these strange ruins are from?  Or, maybe, at least, some creative guesses?

Fog in the Fishing Village

Black and White HDR Photography

In case you missed this article a few months back, I did a post on Black and White HDR Photography over at Photofocus. It’s a long-form article with a bunch more information, in case you are interested in this sort of thing!

Daily Photo – Fog in the Fishing Village

You all know that I hate waking up early in the morning. This is very true. A lot of my somewhat older friends say that as you get older, waking up early comes naturally. I look forward to this day. For now, it’s all hard work… but I know that is when the light is interesting and the weather patterns can be unexpected.

This is very early morning with a dense fog over this little harbor. I loved the details on these bits, so I did my best to capture them in the morning wetness. In the distance, you can see the anchored boats. This is also from the little bay of Portofino — the same location as the photo I posted a few days ago.

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