The Ultimate Carnival


I did not include this photo below in my most recent eBook, but maybe I should have! It’s a pretty good example of setting up a composition on the scene… you can only do some things while there, and no amount of Photoshop can save a bad placement of the camera.

In this case, there was actually a big boring block of space in the sky. I kept moving my camera around until the string of lights ended up bifurcating the sky. Also, this gave us another leading line that stopped at a phi point, to help the eye travel around.

Frankly, I don’t like to over-analyze photos too much in text… it makes them lose their magic a little, don’t you think? But, on occasion, I will provide a little bit of play-by-play analysis!

Daily Photo – The Ultimate Carnival

I’ve been to Disney World many many times, but this is my first time as a grown-up to Disneyland. I always feel strange, by the way, calling myself a grown-up!

Disneyland has two parks on the premises. This one is from California Adventures, the second and newer park. Towards the backside, there is this perfect street, full of carnival-like activities. As most of you know, I’m a big fan of graphic design, so it was great fun to look at the delicious details in all of these signs.

HDR Photo

  • casusan

    Oh wow! Beautiful lights and scene there – how in the world do you have no people in some of these kinds of shots I will never know – I know….patience, patience!

  • Love the analysis! Great shot! Always enjoy how you can transform a scene. You have an amazing eye for composition.

  • Great shot as always. I don’t think the analyzes makes the photo loose its magic. Unweaving the rainbow doesn’t make the rainbow any less beautiful either, as prof. Dawkins would have you know 🙂

  • The composition and lightning is so nice. So beautiful colours. But from my point of view, there is a problem with the processing in the lampposts. There is a black edge in the lamps and outside a yellow halo. From my point of view this is so few realistic and I will soft the edge to avoid the black.

  • Wonderful! Splendid colors and sky.

  • I have to ask the same question as Susan – I can never find a place that has no people around! What’s the secret?

  • Gail in Montana

    Wow, I don’t remember that from when I was there in the mid 60’s, lol. All I remember is riding a horse and Small World. That was my favorite. Great photo, so colorful. Really nice night scene. And I agree with Susan, too, amazing how you manage to get photos with no people, but I guess not many are running around in the middle of the night. And you do have great patience!!! WTG!

  • Richard (Oldhickory)

    Thanks for the tip on set-up there. I doubt it would have occurred to me to break up the sky with the string of lights. Amazingly simple and yet so effective. Cool shot too. Yes.. and where the heck are the people??

  • Great shot. Thanks for the insight on how you set up the composition. I don’t think it destroys the magic of the photo. Understanding why I like something always makes it more intriguing to me.

  • I have to say you really do seem to have a knack for clearing people out of a scene. Did you ask permission to stick around after they’d closed or something? Just curious. Very cool shot and I love hearing how you came up with an angle to get rid of the plain sky.

  • Great shot, although I wish some people were walking there at the bottom left of the image. Just a little static.

  • I think I can answer the question about the lack of people. If you close down your lens and take long exposures (as I am sure Trey did with this shot at night), any movement by people will render them almost invisible or will leave “ghosting” which is easily removed in Post. For example, if you look closely at the photo just right of the center lamp post, you will see what was left of some ghosting that Trey removed….am I right, Trey?

    Great shot as usual. Your wide angle lens makes the tower in the background the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”, but it is Disney, so I guess we are supposed to use our imagination, right? Ha!

  • Michele

    What is a phi point?

  • Sheree Altobelle

    What lens did you use here? Almost looks like a fisheye. I just purchased the 14-24 after reading your review. Just got it yesterday, I can’t wait to use it!

  • Carnival photo good in HDR photography coz its full of colors especially at night

  • I’m guessing that Trey’s secret for getting shots at Disney free (or mostly free) of other guests is the same secret I use when I’m there– a special combination of Great Amounts of Patience and Waiting Until Most People Leave.

  • Thanks all!

    Sheree – I used the 14-24mm here

    Scotty – you are right – using f22 or something crazy like that at night will make most people disappear. Also, I shot this during a big water show, which most ppl were away watching! 🙂

  • Trey, I do a lot of photos with similar subjects to this one, and I have a few questions. How many exposures did you use for this image? When you’re shooting a scene like this — at night, but with lots of bright lights in the frame — do you rely on the camera’s meter to determine your base, “normal” exposure, or do you deviate from what the meter gives as your starting point? I find that sometimes in such situations, I have trouble getting a wide-enough range of exposures, especially underexposures. Will you go to manual mode if you need an exposure longer than 30 seconds (especially if you’re using an aperture like f22 at night), or do you increase the ISO to the point you don’t need anything longer than that?

  • Aha – well… here is what I do in this case. Note that most of this is based on experience and feel, so it is hard to give a standardized answer.

    Essentially, I take 5 exposures, right? I want the 5th to be 30 secs. That means the others will be 15, 8, 4, and 2.

    If 2 or more of the exposures are 30 seconds… that’s no good. I usually adjust my F stop or ISO to make just one 30 second exposure at the end. Lowering my f stop usually does the trick – everything stays in focus (usually) with the wide angle lens) for landscapes. Inching up the ISO is a bit scary because of noise, but a simple change from ISO 100 to ISO 200 will cut your shutter speeds in half.

  • I see. That makes sense. While I often get good images, it can be frustrating to shoot a sequence where more than one of my exposures is 30 seconds long. I’ve adjusted my ISO up a few times; maybe I should try it more often. Interesting that I’ve rarely considered opening up the aperture much. I tend to do most of my shots with the Sigma 10-20 f/4, which I know you used to use (I have a Nikon D300). I usually shoot the full nine bracketed exposures and then process the five that are two stops apart (why, oh why can’t we have a camera that will let us bracket more than three exposures AND space them more than one stop apart?). I know I don’t always need more than three, but often at night it seems to make a difference.

  • Steven J P

    That is one stunning photo, HDR really does that justice.

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